Cheers to the 2018 news story taking more unnecessary twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie about bottoms. The long, tumultuous love story — covered in felt — of Bert and Ernie has a new chapter. After previously indicating that he didn’t see why puppets need to be gay, the legendary Puppeteer who actually played Bert, Frank Oz, has reversed course and supports people who see the couple as lovers.
“A last thought: If Jim and I had created [Bert] & [Ernie] as gay characters they would be inauthentic coming from two straight men,” Oz tweeted. “However, I have now learned that many view them as representative of a loving gay relationship. And that’s pretty wonderful. Thanks for helping me understand.”
A last thought: If Jim and I had created B & E as gay characters they would be inauthentic coming from two straight men. However, I have now learned that many view them as representative of a loving gay relationship. And that’s pretty wonderful. Thanks for helping me understand.
— Frank Oz (@TheFrankOzJam) September 28, 2018
Oz also wrote, “I feel there would be many subtleties and nuances that I would miss if I was to attempt it.”
Oz’s tweets come as a reversal after dismissing the question of whether puppets had sexuality on September 19, after Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman’s comments to Queerty left the internet celebrating at the reception of Bert and Ernie.
It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It's fine that he feels they are. They're not, of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There's much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.
— Frank Oz (@TheFrankOzJam) September 18, 2018
Saltzman told Queerty, “I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were [a couple]. I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as “Bert & Ernie.”
In a follow-up interview after Oz’s comments, Saltzman told Queerty, “Frank Oz, the director of In and Out has always been a gay ally.”
He added, “The fact that he stumbled in a tweet is no indication of homophobia. I hope he now joins with us in pushing for gay characters on Sesame Street and in the rest of children’s media. I’ve got my laptop open and ready to begin writing the scripts. For me, personally, and people close to me, this whole are-they-aren’t-they sugarstorm has really not been about outing Bert and Ernie, but remembering Mark and Arnie.”
Though they have since deleted the tweet, Sesame Street Workshop tweeted a response to Saltzman’s comments.
“As we have said, Bert and Ernie are best friends,” the tweet read. “They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they identified as male and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation.”
Anyone else have anything they want to add?