NEW YORK — An online petition calling for the nuptials of Muppet flat-mates Bert and Ernie has sparked comment, controversy and lots of tweets.
But don’t bet on wedding bells to ring.
Chicago resident Lair Scott, who posted the petition, is seeking matrimony for the “Sesame Street” chums as a way to make gay and lesbian kids who watch the show feel better about themselves, and to promote tolerance for people who are different.
The marriage could legitimately happen, he reasons, since Sesame Street is located in New York, where gay marriage became legal in June. Others agreed. By Thursday afternoon, Scott’s petition had collected 5,800 signatures.
But there were alternate petitions also waiting on the website, Change.org. They included: “Stop Bert and Ernie from getting married”; “Stop the senseless false labeling of these two best friends”; and “Leave Bert and Ernie alone.” You could take your pick from those or nearly two dozen more.
Or you could just tweet about it. On Thursday, “Bert & Ernie” was a trending Twitter topic.
One tweet wondered why so much attention was being showered on Bert and Ernie’s domestic status, when poor Oscar the Grouch remains on the curb, dwelling in a garbage can.
Another tweet questioned why SpongeBob and Patrick seem above any suspicion, just because they maintain separate residences.
And a fretful post expressed hope that this raging controversy “doesn’t affect stocks.”
Sesame Workshop, which produces the long-running children’s series, seemed to be throwing water on any marital plans.
“Bert and Ernie are good friends,” the company declared in a statement. “They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.”
For some four decades, then, Bert and Ernie have stood for promoting tolerance — just by being themselves.
But getting hitched?
Despite recurrent insinuations about their living arrangement (Bert and Ernie share a bedroom, though they sleep in separate beds), neither they nor Sesame Workshop has ever declared them to be gay, much less romantically attached.
While they may act childishly, they are indeed adults, according to Sesame Workshop, though of indeterminate ages. But the vagueness of their birth dates suggests an absence of birth certificates. Wouldn’t this pose a difficulty in obtaining a marriage license, even if they sought one?
Besides, maybe they share a bedroom just to save a few bucks. Who knows what the rent is these days at 123 Sesame Street?
And — oh yeah — not to get too technical, but they aren’t flesh-and-blood. Or even alive. As Sesame Workshop noted, Bert and Ernie “remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
But while settling some questions, the statement raised others. For example, wouldn’t there be a tax advantage even for puppets if they married, then started filing a joint return?