For a long time, a "gay marriage" meant a legal relationship that was exceptionally merry, or lively in mood. Then for awhile the term was used to describe a legal relationship which was kind of lame or uncool. Recent events have given us yet another definition, this time now for a union between a pair of fellas or lady-fellas. And that's just swell, unless you're one of those folks instantly furious at the idea of a couple Randys slicing a tiered cake with two little action figures atop it.
I'm outraged with delight at the idea of it.
On the Internet, people have gotten so gay for gay marriage, that things have even gotten a little gay, if you know what I mean. (Do you? I'm seriously asking. I've kind of lost track.) Aside from the obvious jokes (see the paragraph above for a pretty good sampling) there have been efforts to publicly out and badger gay or possibly gay fictional characters. Most notably, last week the makers of Sesame Street had to respond to an Internet petition requesting the beloved children's characters Bert and Ernie get married. This is actually something people on the Internet do all the time, just finding things that people like and gaying them up. I've done it, you've done it, we've all done it: it's just a normal, healthy part of growing up.
In this particular case, the Internet gay-mongers were keying in on a couple well known facts about Bert and Ernie, like the fact that they're both men and share the same bedroom and have lived together for 40 years. The producers of Sesame Street have since pointed out that that's all perfectly reasonable, because a) they're Muppets, and b) seriously people, they're Muppets. Bert and Ernie are just good friends, characters meant to show that people who are different -- in this case an orange moron and a yellow asshole -- can still be good friends. But why were we told second hand? Why couldn't Bert and Ernie respond to this themselves? As an enterprising fictional reporter, I had to find out. So after a few phone calls and some desperate leveraging of Cracked's reputation as a fellow children's entertainment empire, I was able to visit Bert and Ernie on the set of Sesame Street last week.
Cracked: Hi guys. It's a pleasure to meet the both of you. I'm just a real huge fan of your stuff.
Ernie: Oh thanks!
Bert: Yeah. Good.
Cracked: As I was preparing my notes for this interview, I realized that you two are actually possibly the first reality TV stars, in a sense. You've got cameras installed in every room of your house that watch you as you go about your day. Watching pigeons, admiring numbers, preparing for bed, everything.
Bert: We never really get the credit for that. The media is a little biased against the innovations and craftsmanship that occur in daytime TV.
Cracked: Of course. Like how special effects wizards and daily cat blood infusions kept Bob Barker alive until the age of 118, but it's never been mentioned in any medical journals.
Ernie: Or how it's sunny out during the day time.
Bert: Don't mind him. He's trying. That's not quite what we're talking about, Ernie.
Ernie: Oh. Sorry Bert. I get confused. Maybe they should call it suntime instead of daytime? Maybe that would be less confusing.
Bert: Maybe. You want to keep going?
Cracked: I guess ... sure. Wow. OK, one question I guess I have to ask is: How much of the drama that we see on Sesame Street is scripted?
Bert: It's all basically real. These are the actual events that happen in our lives. But when you've got a camera crew there all the time, what's really real?
Cracked: So you guys maybe play things up a bit for the cameras?
Bert: Sure. I mean I'm the boring kind of assholey guy. That's my appeal, my role to play. I know it.
Cracked: And Ernie you're not as dumb you sometimes act?
Ernie: Oh, I wouldn't say I'm that fat, no. Just shorter than Bert, that's all.
-Bert's eyebrow crinkles. We share a look-
Cracked: Right. OK. Also on the subject of reality shows, Bert, as someone of Italian descent who's from the New York area, how do you feel about the antics these Jersey Shore kids get up to? Do you feel they're demeaning your community?
Bert: What? I'm not Italian. Why would you think I'm Italian?
Cracked: I ... But you're from somewhere around the Mediterranean?
Bert: Nope. Why would you think that?
Cracked: I ... don't know. -checks notes- Bad research. Although, I guess that brings me as neatly as possible to my next point, which is also on the subject of things you're not. Bert, Ernie: Are you gay much?
Ernie: What's gay?
Bert: No. Is that what this was all about? -Bert's eyebrow looks annoyed
Cracked: It's pretty classless of me to ask, I agree, but, I think, more honest than simply implying you're gay behind your back, like so many lesser organizations have done.
Bert: -Eyebrow still obviously angry- Let me show you something.
-Bert shifts over from behind the table upon which we've been having our interview. He lifts up his shirt, revealing a bespectacled puppeteer beneath him.-
Cracked: No genitals.
Bert: Precisely. -retreats behind table- It doesn't make sense to assign a sexuality to us, because we're clearly not sexual beings. We're Muppets.
Cracked: I hadn't thought of it that way.
Bert: The only Muppet who has ever had sex was the Swedish Chef in the 1970s. It happened one time, and his puppeteer was fired the next day. It took three weeks to get the smell off him.
Cracked: The puppeteer or the Swedish Chef?
Aweenda shmure da spredem legs. Bork, bork, bork!
Ernie: Bert? Bert? What's sex Bert?
Bert: I'll tell you later.
Ernie: Is this that bent line thing again Bert?
Cracked: The what?
Bert: When this gay marriage thing hit the news, Ernie asked me what "gay" meant.
Cracked: I see. And you told him it was the opposite of straight, and he decides that meant something actually bent.
Cracked: Also wrong.
Bert: Also wrong. Anyways, once the cameras were off, I sort of walked him through it. It was hellish.
Cracked: Here I'm imagining you showed him a picture of something straight rubbing up on a girl.
Bert: No, I basically explained to him it was a special type of hug that makes babies.
Cracked: It can also be used to consolidate your family's political strength, Ernie.
Ernie: Ohhhh. I get it now!
-Ernie runs off-
Cracked: Where'd he go?
Bert: I don't know. I stopped asking about 20 years ago. Just appreciate it while it lasts.
Cracked: Trouble in paradise, Bert?
Bert: Ha ha. Even best friends need some time apart.
-Ernie runs back-
Ernie: Bert! Bert! I just had straight sex, Bert!
Cracked: Well this sounds promising.
Bert: I'm confident that you did not, Ernie.
Ernie: No! I did! With a girl, Bert! Just like you said!
Cracked: Which girl?
Ernie: I didn't catch her name.
Cracked: Wow. You're just diving in at the deep end, hey?
Bert: I wouldn't get too excited about this. If I know Ernie, this is some stupid confusion centered around a misunderstood word. He hasn't had sex with anyone.
Ernie: No! I have, Bert! Watch!
-Ernie runs off-
Bert: How are we supposed to watch if you keep running off?
Cracked: I don't know, but whatever is happening, I'm feeling strong, basic urges that I need to watch it happen.
Bert: I'm pretty sure you'll change your mind after you have.
Cracked: What do you think Ernie's actually doing?
Bert: Let's see ... He thinks sex is a special type of hug that makes babies, so ...
Cracked: He's spooning a stork?
Bert: Or fondling eggs at the supermarket.
Cracked: He might be wrestling with a doctor.
Bert: Because doctors make babies?
Cracked: I mean if you don't understand the process, yeah, you could imagine a doctor rooting around in there, fabricating a baby. That's basically how I understood things until I was about 20.
-Ernie races back in-
Ernie: I did it Bert! I had sex again!
Cracked: Who was it this time Ernie?
Ernie: The pink martian!
The pink one is the hottest one.
Cracked: Is that even a girl?
Bert: No. He's not.
Cracked: Is it even a he? I mean it's got a man's voice, but are we actually assigning genders to a fluffy mop head? Although it does look a little like a vagina.
Bert: That's nasty. Ernie, you're nasty.
Ernie: You're just jealous, Bert.
Cracked: Ernie, I'm going to have to agree with Bert here, although I do think that he's also a bit jealous. Whether you're straight or gay or an asexual being of felt, you don't need to prove anything to me or anyone else. Running around sleeping around with a whole mess of Muppets because of what people say about you is a bad idea. That's muppet-sluttishness -- Sluppetishness?
Ernie: But then people will stop saying I'm gay.
Cracked: People won't stop saying that, Ernie. Because people are jerks.
Bert: Easy. I don't know if he's ready ...
Ernie: No, people are good. Everyone I know is so nice to me.
Cracked: That's because you live on Sesame Street, Ernie. Oh, that we all could live on Sesame Street, my friend. But we can't. It's just for you and your friends, Ernie, and you should be glad for it. The rest of us live in a far worse world. It's full of Internets and griefers and Kardashians, and it's all just awful.
Ernie: What do you mean?
Cracked: You know Oscar the Grouch? You know how he's kind of mean?
Ernie: Sure I know Oscar!
Cracked: Now imagine if Oscar was on fire and had a sword. That's what everyone is like all the time in the real world. Furious and screaming in pain and seconds from killing you.
Ernie: That sounds awful.
Bert: He's exaggerating, Ernie.
-I show them my sword; more of a long knife really-
Bert: Holy shit.
It was just my basic Cracked-issue work machete, not the weekend one.
Cracked: You understand now why you never need to do anything to impress us? Or to change our minds about anything? We're awful people, Ernie, and you shouldn't care what we say or do. Just be yourself. Be your own beautiful tangerine shaped self.
Ernie: Please don't kill me.
Cracked: Ernie, Ernie. I could never kill you, Ernie. Bert, I could probably never kill you.
-puts away machete-
Cracked: I don't even like killing. But you know, I take public transit and all. There's going to be some killings.
Bert: What did you mean, probably?
Cracked: It means likely, but not definitely. -looks at watch- Well I see I've soiled another one of my childhood icons, though only figuratively this time. So ... -checks notes- I'm going to mark you both down as not gay, and let the Internet know. You make sure to let me know if anything changes, and if it does, I'm really happy for you.
Most rich kids just want to be pop stars.
How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.
It's easy to work the system and win these awards even if you don't deserve them.