Tobi Hill-Meyer

Bert & Ernie Should Be Friends with Benefits

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | October 05, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Bert and Ernie, gay marriage, marriage, marriage equality, New York, same-sex marriage, Sesame Street

Thumbnail image for Gayrumor.jpgHave you seen the internet petition after New York legalized same-sex marriage to have Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie get married and the subsequent backlash against it? Okay, I know I'm coming a little late to this issue, but I've been moving, didn't have the internet for several weeks, and have been catching up since.

Anyway, I feel there is an important compromise to be had here. One side feels that this obvious couple should come out of the closet with a New York same-sex marriage, and the other side insists that they aren't a couple at all and are just friends.

Because the truth is always in the middle of two extreme viewpoints, the solution should be obvious: Bert and Ernie should be friends with benefits.

Others have already pointed out how extremely close the two are, how they seem to buy matching sets of furniture for themselves, and wondered how many platonic friends they know of who share a bedroom? Sure, I can buy the "close friends" part, but is the "platonic" all that likely?

Still, does that mean they are marriage material?

Think about it simply on the facts for a moment. Everyone mentions their shared bedroom, but how likely is it that a couple, especially one on the path toward getting married, would sleep in separate beds? I mean, this isn't the 1950s. The only couples I know who have separate beds are polyamorous couples or folks who have been married for so long that they need some space. In each case, they don't just have separate beds but also separate bedrooms.

Besides, if they were a monogamous couple, heaven forbid Bert ever walks in on Ernie in the bathtub singing, "Rubber ducky you're so fine, and I'm lucky that you're mine," "Rubber ducky you're the one." I suppose it could be a great way to teach about affairs and the reality of how couples deal with them, but I'd prefer to see the pair as positive role models engaging in ethical non-monogamy rather than a negative model of what not to.

Regardless of what you think is most likely, the facts are that Bert and Ernie have a very unique relationship that isn't commonly represented in the media - including in LGBT media. Setting them up as friends with benefits is a good way to explain the facts, but most importantly, is a politically expedient way to resolve the growing tension between Sesame Street fans arguing over the nature of their relationship.

We all know that liberals are very much in favor of recognizing gay relationships, and conservatives absolutely love no strings attached clandestine gay sex. This way you can have the long term relationship and domesticity alongside occasional physical gratification free from a commitment to monogamy and without the need to discuss what the relationship "means." Certainly everyone can get behind that.

Especially when so many youth and young adults are struggling with these very issues, perhaps it is worthwhile to have a set of role models for how that can be done in a long term successful way.


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Benefits? I doubt that could be explained well to an audience of juveniles.

Ironically, that's one of the conservative arguments for why Bert and Ernie shouldn't get married - that homosexuality shouldn't be or is too difficult to explain to children of such a young age.

Many times such things are actually easier to explain to children than to adults. Nonetheless, as difficult as it might be for some parents to discuss the situation, it can be done effectively and that's part of the reason it would be great to have a tv show famed for explaining things to children in effective ways undertake the endeavor.

I've had the same thing said about discussions of queerness and transness in elementary school - it's too hard to explain. The reality is that many children have family members who are queer, trans, or non-monogamous or otherwise have to learn about those subjects. It's not like there aren't children discussing issues around issues of sexuality, gender, and relationships, it's just that they don't necessarily have accurate information.

Let's not forget that it was juveniles who came up with the phrase "friends with benefits" to begin with.

And 5 year olds don't need to understand what sex is to know that their parents share a type of affection that isn't shared with others.

Ironically, that's one of the conservative arguments for why Bert and Ernie shouldn't get married - that homosexuality shouldn't be or is too difficult to explain to children of such a young age.

Many times such things are actually easier to explain to children than to adults. Nonetheless, as difficult as it might be for some parents to discuss the situation, it can be done effectively and that's part of the reason it would be great to have a tv show famed for explaining things to children in effective ways undertake the endeavor.

I've had the same thing said about discussions of queerness and transness in elementary school - it's too hard to explain. The reality is that many children have family members who are queer, trans, or non-monogamous or otherwise have to learn about those subjects. It's not like there aren't children discussing issues around issues of sexuality, gender, and relationships, it's just that they don't necessarily have accurate information.

Well perhaps you are correct but I have observed that most 5 year olds have about zero knowledge of sexual acts unless they have been raised on a farm. In fact that is one of the key differences between the nineteenth century and the late twentieth century through today. Maybe we should start with animal breeding cartoons to regain lost ground. Someone raised in say 1835 not only witnessed plenty of animal sex but also saw the resulting births months later. In many ways society has regressed in what children know about "benefits" and I seriously doubt that Bert and Ernie is the place to start recapturing lost ground.

Oh, please! ... Could we drop it already?

Would you like a list of all my friends that I would like to add to my "benefits" coverage? ... At this point, I'm even worried about whether my Social Security will be there when I turn 62.

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | October 6, 2011 11:02 AM

Leave Bert and Ernie alone!!!! Seriously, they're friends that share, I think that's the main message sent to children. I think they should simply be left alone. Stuff like this will do more for supporting what the fundies say about the gays trying to indoctrinate the children than anything else. Let kids be kids and don't try to use them to further the drive for marriage equality.

Bert and Ernie seem happy with the way things are. Marriage is not the ideal for every LGBT person. I am more concerned with finding a date for Tinky Winky.

A.J., I appreciate the pun, but I'm not quite sure what your argument is. Social security is at risk so we shouldn't discuss the media? Or were you making the argument that health care and other benefits should not be extended to a chosen designate regardless of marital or sexual status?

Jamie and Ron, did you read my article or did you only look at the picture? Because my main argument is that they are not marriage material and are happier that way. I agree that they are friends that share -- friends that share quite a lot.

There is no argument ... I was just being cute ... or if not successfully cute, then non sequitur (noun, sense 4).

Tobi, don't over-think my silliness. Life is too short.

Lucy and Ricky had separate beds. I'd like to imagine that that's just a stylistic hold-over in much the same way Jughead's (of Archie fame) hat was inspired by Depression-era fashion yet hasn't been removed any time since.

But no marriage for them. They're supposed to be, what, like 8 years old? That's too young for contracts.