Bert and Ernie to marry?

A gay rights group is currently collecting signatures on a petition that requests Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie tie the knot!

From the outset, I want to make it clear that I completely support the right of gay couples to marry and have full equality with heterosexual couples.

But marrying Bert and Ernie? I’m not even sure where to start in listing my problems with this.

For starters, B & E have never exhibited any overt signs of being gay. Their behaviour and interactions lead some to believe they’re best friends, some believe they’re brothers, and others think they’re just house-mates. It might be different if they had ever been shown sharing a bed, or holding hands, or partaking in any of the usual behaviours of pre-marital couples. But they haven’t.

Secondly, if they did get married, it would be for all the wrong reasons. As outlined above, there’s no evidence that they are in love, and so the wedding would be a politically-motivated statement rather than a genuine celebration of a dedicated life-long partnership. That’s not a great example for the kids.

Thirdly, why take a long-standing arrangement which is obviously working (for B & E, for the viewers, for the ratings) and change it? Marrying B & E would change their entire vibe, changing Sesame Street itself, not necessarily for the better. It could easily make long-term viewers, who haven’t previously seen B & E as being gay, feel uncomfortable – even those in favour of gay marriage in general.

A more effective move, I feel, would be to introduce new characters on the Street who are already a gay couple. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, and can be dealt with subtly and effectively in a similar manner to what Playschool did a while back. Admittedly that stirred up some controversy, but I’m pretty sure that was mostly media-driven to sell more papers.

And so I say, leave Bert and Ernie alone! They are innocent victims of an over-zealous socio-political movement which, if successful, may even alienate more people than it wins over. Let them continue to live in harmony (or lack thereof, their conflicts being the basis of most skits) as besties, roomies, or brothers.

Fairytale Endings

“And they all lived happily ever after.”

Well, did they? I’m sorry, but I don’t think they did. I think they had a few fights, they disagreed on certain core values, and had communication problems. I think they probably sorted out their problems in the end, but it took them some time and hard work first.

There’s a certain type of story that always ends with a wedding. It happens in books, on TV, in cinemas, in theatre. It’s a love story, a romance, and there might have been some misunderstandings along the way, but eventually the happy couple realise they were meant to be, and get married. And that’s it.

Those sorts of stories seem to have led us as a society (particularly women) to think that all relationship problems can be fixed by getting married. Once you’re married, everything will be alright. What people fail to take into account is that marriage is just a legal status, a wedding is just a day. After it’s done, you’ll still be the exact same two people who had some problems, and will continue to have problems.

I’ve heard, second- and third-hand, about a couple of “Why don’t I have a fairytale marriage?” stories recently. And in each case, it is clear to me that problems existed prior to entering the marriage state, and the resolution of those issues was not discussed beyond “We’ll get married and then it’ll be alright.”

Whilst I hold no religious views on the matter, being an Atheist, I do believe that marriage is a serious commitment which should, if at all possible, be life-long. That means that the state should not be entered without serious consideration and discussion. The discussions should include problem resolution techniques, acceptable compromises, expectations, goals, and the likelihood of the relationship being viable in the long-term.

The purpose of such frankness is to avoid reaching a point where you’re four weeks into marriage and complaining that your husband expects you to do all the cooking and housework, even though you work longer hours than he does. It’s to avoid being four months into marriage and having him threaten to leave you if you won’t have his babies immediately. It’s to give both parties a realistic and achievable idea of what the partnership is about.

Marriage itself does not lead to fairytale endings. Marriage itself is not a fairytale ending. Marriage is just another beginning, and love’s course will not run true without a bit of effort and common sense.

In short, marriage doesn’t fix anything. Fix it yourself, you lazy bum!