Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Ok on the muppets

Now there has been some talk about trying to get Bert and Ernie married on the muppets. On the whole I don't think it's ideal – I'd much rather have fresh, new GBLT characters created who are GBLT, rather than some hasty retconning of previously straight characters for obvious inclusion cookie-ness (and it would be retconning since the people who make the muppets have always leaped up and down desperately screaming that there's no gay here – oh no, nononononononono)

But rather than address that, I'm going to look at the response because this is another of my side-eyes to people who can suspend disbelief amazingly to encompass any fiction. Let's have a look at it:

"Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics...they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

How silly are we? They're muppets! Of course they don't have sexual orientation! They're not people, they're not alive – they're puppets!

Of course, puppets don't have gender. Or names. Or personality. Puppets don't have friends. Puppets don't sing. But of course they don't have sexual orientation! I mean, what muppet would actually get married?!

Wait, what is this? A muppet?! Proposing marriage?! Yes, that is the Count, with one of his Countesses (I believe he got through 3 in the series. VON ex-wife! TWO ex-wives!)

Yes, even Oscar had a girlfriend and sang a song about how much he loved her.

But how can this be? Surely this is a sign of *gasp* depictions of sexuality

So apparently, in contrast to their dismissive brush off – Muppets CAN have a sexual orientation. So long as it's straight or straight seeming. And don't tell me how wonderfully inclusive Sesame Street is as if being progressive for some marginalised people makes it perfectly ok to ignore others.

Now, I don't care if they got married – I'd much rather have fresh GBLT characters than a retcon – but don't feed this tired old homophobic excuse and expect us to swallow it. It's insulting and just compounds the erasure on a show that is supposed to be so “inclusive” for all children – well, straight ones anyway.

And why does it matter? It matters because children's programming has zero GBLT representation. We're invisible, freaky, strange and dangerous – and don't tell me that doesn't hurt our young. Straightness tries to 'shield' all kids from our existence until the heteronormativity – and the homophobia – is well and truly locked in place. I'm sick of being considered a threat to kids – and I'm sick of our kids growing up feeling like freaks.