Change.org recently put up a petition for allowing BFFs and often hypothesized homosexual couple, Bert and Ernie, to marry.
Forget that David Kleeman, President of the American Center for Children and Media put it perfectly when he noted in the Huffington Post that Bert and Ernie — Bernie, as I think their Brangelina name should be —- hadn’t been asking to be married, that children don’t question their living together and that, in so many words, Sesame Street knows what it’s doing. Forget all that: marriage is the only way to live, so let’s get some fictional characters hitched.
Snap, Crackle and Pop, for example, have been in a triad for ages: it’s obvious. They even work together, having pioneered the art of cereal audio engineering. Let’s get them tied down and make it clear that marriage is the only acceptable path and that everyone who spends time together is doin’ it. When that Change.org Bernie petition states “Let us teach tolerance of those that are different,” that clearly didn’t include those who stay single — they’re weird.
Wallace and Gromit have been living together for ages, too and Wallace’s cheese addiction is clearly due to stuffing his feelings of unwedded misery. Surely Ren’s anger management problem comes from he and Stimpy not being socially legitimate. And what about Fry and Bender on Futurama? They live together in Robot Arms apartments — with Fry literally in the closet — and are “best friends” (wink-wink…like anybody’s really ‘friends’). Robosexual marriage was legalized last season already, so what’s the effing hold-up? We have to make sure everyone is living conventionally or we’ll be just as bad as those homophobic bullies who thinks everyone should live conventiona….oh.
Actually it would be kind of fun to see a push for a Snap, Crackle and Pop marriage just to get the option on the table for polyamorous people (lots of people get married to more than one person, they just do it consecutively instead of concurrently. Why wait?). As for Bert and Ernie, the petition seems to miss a serious point, which is choice. Same-sex couples should have the choice marry legally, of course, but everyone should have the choice to opt out. Singleness gets to be part of diversity, too.
Naturally I feel like a blue-ribbon jackass for getting so fatootsed about the social freedom of two clumps of foam….beloved clumps of foam, clumps of foam I prefer to many humans, but clumps of foam nonetheless. I’d say my reaction was personal but frankly, it was visceral. I was raised by married people and it’s a lifestyle that I wouldn’t touch with your classic cartoon 39 1/2 foot pole. Like Bert and Ernie, though, I have a best friend who I do just about everything with. Unlike Bert and Ernie we were a couple briefly 14 years ago, realize we were better off platonic thus sparing ourselves — and everyone else — a failed marriage. Yet for years afterwards people said to me — like I’d asked — “Why don’t you two just get married?” It made me want to punch them in the face. I have never asked anyone whose marriage looks unappealing to me, “Why don’t you two just get divorced?” It’s woefully antiquated, but I think some things are none of my business.
Arguments in favor of leaving Bert and Ernie in peace have been superbly articulated by plenty of people. Aside from Mr. Kleeman, there’s Matt Blum at Wired’s “GeekDad,” who points out that Bert and Ernie appear to be children and that the way to introduce a gay couple to the block would not to have two old stand-bys make a sudden change that would be weird for the kids watching it. Finally Blum suggests introducing a human gay married couple to the show. This is also a point made by Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post who says it should be done without “political fanfare” or “sweeping anthropological explanation” - just “at school pick-up, PTA meetings and in the park every day,” as real-life parents do. That’s something that kids would be able to understand, even if some adults can’t.
Still, the vigor with which I rushed to ensure Bert and Ernie were left in peace made me worry, not for the first time, about the degree to which I’ve been influenced by fantasy genres and mediums, from cartoons to sci-fi. The beauty of these things is that there are no real social rules and you can never assume anything about a character. Did you know that Elmer Fudd is a vegetarian, fergoodnessake? Of all the kids in South Park, who would think Cartman would speak any Spanish? Does anyone remember that Nell Fenwick was actually in love with Dudley Do-Right’s horse? You can’t assume anything in cartoonland and in that way it’s more like real life than those who can’t shake social constructs might want it to be.
Finally, everyone knows that Bert is Evil. You push Ernie into a wedding and the next thing you know he’s going to end up on “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?” He may be just a clump of foam but I want better for him than that. Don’t you?