Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"Symbolic Icons"

A long-time Sesame Street writer, who happens to be gay, revealed in an interview that, when he wrote the characters “Bert and Ernie”, he imagined them to be a couple.


“Don’t raise your eyebrow like that.  It may never come down.”



Pieces of felt, with defined sexual orientations?

I just sighed.

(Because my eyebrow was too tired to go back up.)

Never mind there are enough controversies in the world without contriving a new one about educational puppets’ nighttime proclivities.  Never mind what’s “dredged up on a ‘Slow News Day.’”  (Although, in fact, is there ever a “Slow News Day” anymore?)  And never mind remembering “Bert and Ernie” are inanimate objects.  Remove the hand, and they’re just lying there.

“Yeah, but what are they thinking about?”  

“Stop it!”

To me, wondering if “Bert and Ernie” are gay is like pondering if “Stick Figures” are anorexic.

Which, from a certain “agenda perspective”, they well might be.  

Less interesting than whether hand puppets are homosexual is what we passionately choose to believe.  (And what we passionately refuseto believe.)  And how our “selective believing” decides our perceptions of “The Truth.”  (Especially when there’s enabling “company.”)

Keep in mind the Sesame Street writer’s unclaimed assertion that “Bert and Ernie” are gay; he simply explained that he tended to writethem that way, “basing them a bit off himself and his late (male) partner.”  

Someone, apparently, then moved the pot-stirring ball, wondering if “Bert and Ernie” are gay.  The elevating next step being, “‘Bert and Ernie’ are gay.” The next reactive step being, “‘Bert and Ernie’ aren’t gay!”  The pushback response being, “What’s so terrible if ‘Bert and Ernie’ are gay?” Followed by, “But they’re not!”  Followed by “Well they certainly act gay.”    

And that’s the name of that dance.  Something which may actually be nothing takes on a volatile life of its own.

The thing is…

I cannot exactly explain why – and see no need to if I could – but 

I like “true things” to be actually true. 

Others, concerning “the passionate issue of their choice”, only need things to be “symbolically” true.

To wit, a paralleling example:

I have heard on numerous occasions – and it admittedly bothers me more than it reasonably should – that Lucy was an early feminist icon.

Not Lucille Ball, who unquestionable is one.

But sitcom character Lucy Ricardo.

Who demonstrably is not.

Still, people of a pronounced socio-cultural leaning see 50’s Lucy Ricardo as an oppressed housewife whose sexist husband Ricky Ricardo refuses to let her into the show, a lifelong dream Ricky is thwarting, simply because she’s a woman.

Two problems with that rickety narrative.

One, Ethel Mertz, alsoa woman, isin the show.  (Doing a “Double-Act” with her husband Fred.)  And Two – and more significantly –

Lucy Ricardo is a congenital klutz, with no shred of actual talent.  (Now, if they wanted a “Comedy Act”… But apparently they didn’t.)  (And if they did, her performed ‘Screw-Up’ routine would have been funny, but the overall show wouldn’t be.)  (Besides, Lucy Ricardo thought she was gifted.  Imagine infiltrating the show and she’s good.  Where’s the comedy in that?)     

At its task-mastering essence, show biz is a strict meritocracy – unless you know someone, and, even then, a semblance of “natural ability” is helpful.  

“Final Decision”, therefore: 

Ethel – “Yes.”

And Lucy – “No!”

Encouraging t-shirts:

“Lucy Ricardo – She Found Her Way Into The Show.”


It’s not what’s actually true that counts.  (It would seem.)

Based on… frequently not much – and the total denial of contrary evidence – 

People believe – often combatively – what they wantto believe.

After that,

It is “Katie, bar the door!”

KATIE:  “Bar the door, is it?  Like I’d be takin’ my orders from the likes of you!

Now that’s an icon.

And Muppets, sharing a bed – 

That’s a couple.

1 comment:

JED said...

I read your blog the first thing every morning. It gets my mind working like a morning walk lets my body ease into working for the rest of the day. Thank you, Earl.

This post makes me think that life is one, big ink blot test. We read our own ideas into everything - insignificant or not.