Bert and Ernie aren't gay?

After a petition for Bert and Ernie to get married grew to more than 5,000 signatures, Sesame Street felt compelled to come out and say that no -- Bert and Ernie aren't gay and won't be getting married.

A statement on Sesame Street's official Facebook page, entitled "Sesame Workshop Statement on Bert and Ernie Petitions," stated:

 "Bert and Ernie are best friends.  They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

Is this getting a bit too real for anyone else but myself?

Was it really necessary for Sesame Street to have to publicly deny that Bert and Ernie were gay together?

I'd argue not at all.

Most fans really don't want to even think about that stuff when it comes to their favorite characters.

Like most Americans, as a child I was an avid Sesame Street viewer. My favorite characters were Big Bird, Grover, and Mr. Snuffleupagus, though I certainly had a special place in my heart for Bert and Ernie.

Who hasn't enjoyed listening to Ernie sing about his beloved rubber ducky? Or laughed when Ernie refused to "put down the ducky"?

Bert and Ernie represent the innocence of two good friends with vastly different interests. Bert with his pigeons and bottle cap collection, and Ernie as his natural foil with his tendency to get into mischief.  

But it's quite indicative of society for not only groups to pressure Sesame Street into announcing the two as a couple, but for Sesame Street to feel the need to respond.

Perhaps the more than 5,000 petition signatures were all a big joke, but the comments on the Facebook announcement indicate otherwise.

The Facebook thread quickly descended into a debate on the pros vs. cons of having a gay character on the television program, among other discussions.

Has it really gotten to the point where we as consumers can't take something at face value and enjoy it?

As the Seinfeld show famously said, "Not that's there anything wrong with it," but why do two best friends have to be turned into an issue?

Worse is Sesame Street's need to even respond to this petition. They say there's no such thing as bad PR, but this might disprove that notion.

In what should have been a non-issue -- I personally had no idea about the petition before today -- will now be a source of conversation over dinner tables, newspapers, and radio and television airwaves.

Is that really what Sesame Street wanted to accomplish? Attempt to disprove a silly notion by bringing it to light?

One Facebook user, named Nick Stein, astutely said that he was "saddened that this statement even needed issuance."

Couldn't have put it better myself.