The New Yorker’s Bert and Ernie Controversy, As Told by Twitter
Riding the wave of the Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act ruling, The New Yorker released a preview of this week’s cover featuring Sesame Street icons Bert and Ernie snuggling while watching the Supreme Court on TV. According to Mashable, the cover was originally designed by artist Jack Hunter as a submission to Blown Covers, a Tumblr that consists of “New Yorker covers you were never meant to see.”
People have speculated for a long time about the nature of the friendship between the Sesame Street characters, a fact that contributed to virality of The New Yorker‘s cover as people both praised and criticized the magazine’s choice. Did The New Yorker do well to recruit childhood cultural icons to represent a complex topic? Was the magazine forcing a sexual agenda on nonsexual puppet characters adored by children across the Nation?
Tyler Coates, writing in Flavorwire, claimed that the cover showed The New Yorker’s disregard for real people who’ve fought tirelessly for marriage equality. He said,
“…The whole ordeal was summed up in a conveniently cheap and cloying image of puppets looking at a frozen image of the Supreme Court justices on their TV. Because Bert and Ernie are now apparently gay icons, at least in the eyes of The New Yorker‘s staff. And that’s a shame, because I can list off a ton of names who have done more for the marriage equality fight with level-headed dignity and pride. Are these America’s most recognizable gay icons? Because that’s a shame. We deserve better.”
Here are other ways people responded on Twitter:
I say let’s push all this hype aside and forget that anyone claimed the magazine was trying to be infantilizing and offensive; The New Yorker obviously just wanted some buzz. And that’s nothing new. Let’s just get back to celebrating the overturning of DOMA.
Last week the Supreme Court ruled DOMA, which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states, unconstitutional. DOMA also prohibited same-sex couples from receiving federal marriage benefits. With DOMA gone, married same-sex couples are now given more recognition at the federal level as well as more freedom to live in the state of their choice.
What do you think about The New Yorker’s Bert and Ernie cover? Do you think the magazine was right to use fictional cultural icons to represent such a human event? Maybe you think people are pushing the issue a little too far? Let us know in the comments.