Friday, June 28, 2013

Not everything needs a connotation

Congratulations gay people! DOMA was called unconstitutional - as well it should have been because that's exactly what it was. Whether you're for or against gay marriage, I'm sure you're not for the government weighing in on it and calling it legal or illegal. If they can say that gay marriage is not marriage at all, then they can say that straight marriage is not marriage. I know that's highly unlikely and not a worry, but the point stands that if we leave it up to them, we lose control of our own lives. Nobody wants a nanny state (unless you're Michael Bloomberg, of course).

So, go on and get married my gay friends. You now have the same right to lose half your shit as the rest of us. And with gay marriages on the books, that's more dependents, more combined insurance policies getting paid on each month. Maybe my premiums will go down. All joking aside, I'm glad for you. Truly, truly I am.

To the extreme right that invokes scripture, by the way, I'm not going to argue against scripture because A) it's not my place and B) it would be moot because you don't hear anything anyway (this coming from a born and raised Roman Catholic that can still say the Lamb of God in Latin). So what I will say is this: let's pretend that your scripture is 100% right and it's a sin and all that jazz. At the end of the day, that scripture and The Constitution still have nothing to do with one another. So make a religious beef all you want, that doesn't hold water in the world of legalities. And for the record, divorce is a sin too and I doubt that 50% of Americans now divorced are all non-Christians.

Anyway, I'm working on arriving at the point. In spite of all the gay people being gay about it being legal to be gay and married (let's just use all definitions at once since this is about connotations in the first place), do we have to assign sexual preference to just about everything so we can make a point?

This is very specifically in reference to The New Yorker cover with Bert and Ernie watching the SCOTUS repeal DOMA; Ernie with his head on Bert's shoulder. In the event you haven't seen it, here you go; I'll pick up after the jump:


There you have it. So here's my opinion. Why do Bert and Ernie have to be gay? Why do they need to be straight? They aren't either. They are just Bert and Ernie. In a world where our children are exposed to so much more at such a younger age, does this even need to be part of the equation? And I'm not saying this to make them anti-gay. I just don't see sexuality in either of them. Besides, Ernie is too goofy to be sexual and Bert is too grumpy to be loved (usually because Ernie is acting like a moron). 

The target age for Sesame Street is 3-6 years old. That isn't published; that's my take on it because the characters have ages. Elmo is/was 3 and a half years old. Zoe is 3 years old. Big Bird is 6 years old. Let's split the difference and call it 4 and a half. The only time a 4 and a half year old is talking about sexuality is then we put it in his/her face. That is not something they are inherently curious about at that age, plain and simple. So let Bert and Ernie spend their time worrying about sharing, Rubbery Ducky and whether or not Ernie has bananas in his ears (you can tell I was a watcher) instead of creating a non-existent relationship around them.

Just in case you think I'm going off the deep end by even considering this, I'd like you to read the following statement, issued by The Children's Television Workshop, just two years ago:
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 (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.
So, do we need to draw context around their relationship? Does it need a connotation? I don't think it does, and in my business I can't stop talking about the importance of context. And there's the rub, the context determines what needs context. I care about context in my business, but 4 year olds aren't watching Sesame Street for business.  So, in my book, Bert and Ernie are just Bert and Ernie. As The Children's Television Workshop said in another statement in 2007, they "do not exist beneath the waist," let alone use the area below the waist between nap-time and lessons on sharing.

And Cookie Monster still eats cookies. And kids can be kids.

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