Sesame Street’s characters Bert and Ernie
Recently, as reported at Newshub, screenwriter Mark Saltzman, himself a gay man, told LGBT news site Queerty that the beloved Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie were created based on his own loving relationship with a man. Of course, in the Newshub article, Saltzman back peddled a bit, but too late to quell the internet buzz, including on twitter.
Among other rumors was the idea that the two muppets were going to publicly come out as gay on the Sesame Street show and even get married.
Wait! What? On a television show made for pre-school age children?
Even the (in my opinion) left-leaning Snopes.com declared that rumor as false.
And yet, an opinion piece at Chron.com declares It matters that Bert and Ernie are a happy gay couple, and here’s why. Here’s the core of the article by Nora Reed:
I follow the blog of African-American author Steven Barnes, largely because his commentaries on writing were recommended by another author. Mr. Barnes has an an impressive set of credentials and has written novels with such Science Fiction luminaries as Larry Niven (look right) and the late Jerry Pournelle. But while I find some of what Barnes presents on his blog interesting and useful, I can’t say I agree with him about everything (although to be fair, I’m sure he wouldn’t agree with me on a lot of things as well).
However, in a recent blog post of his called What Are You Offering the World?, he made two seemingly unrelated points that I found highly useful. I’ll present them over two blog posts here because each topic deserves individual attention.
The first is about masculinity. Now, given many of the topics upon which Barnes writes, I can reasonably assume he leans more left on the social and political scale than I do, probably quite a bit more, but here’s the important part. The important part is that we shouldn’t stereotype (and I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone) and here’s why.
Internet meme of character Ron Swanson
I wasn’t going to write anything “political” today (unless you count my tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which I guess could be political, or nationalistic, or some other horrible thing), but this one just popped into my head.
You may or may not recognize the above posted figure of Ron Swanson (played brilliantly by Nick Offerman) from the television series Parks and Recreation (2009-2015). I’ve only watched certain portions of the series, but Offerman’s performance is always one of the highlights.
Swanson is a “dyed-in-the-wool” libertarian, almost (but not quite) to the point of caricature, which allows him to say and do the most outrageous things, get away with it, and be hysterically funny. It also allows him to say certain “truths” that people might otherwise balk at. One excellent example is when Ron explains what government is (and isn’t) good for to a little girl using her lunch (Vimeo video). He’s actually very sweet with her and it’s an endearing transaction (not so much with her mother later on).
However, the point he makes above is the point I’m trying to make. Even leaving Nike and Colin Kaepernick out of it completely, the internet and particularly social media is constantly trying to grab your attention and convince you of this or that (and failing that, accuse you of being evil such that there’s no way to “win” short of surrendering your free speech rights if not your free will).
Promotional image for the 2014 film “Captain America: Winter Solder.”
After all the you’re a racist if you don’t believe Colin Kaepernick gave up everything to be Nike’s “Just Do It” 30th anniversary spokesperson garbage a few days ago, I decided I needed to unwind and experience something to restore my spirit. So I again chose to dust off the DVD and watch the 2014 film Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Why, you ask?
I can’t find the quote online, but I recall that actor Chris Evans, who plays “Cap” in the Marvel movies, said something like “Captain America does good for the sake of doing good. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted to be as a man.”
That’s probably not exact, but I’m betting it’s pretty close.
In the film, he says stuff like:
I know I’m asking a lot. But the price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.
Yeah, we compromised. Sometimes in ways that made us not sleep so well. But we did it so the people could be free. This isn’t freedom, this is fear.
He didn’t act ashamed of America and, after all, the guy’s uniform is basically the American flag (I’d like to see someone try to stomp on or burn it while Rogers was wearing it). Steve Rogers is a living reminder why it’s okay to still believe that our nation is made up of people who do good and want to be even better.
NOTE: As I come across more strangeness and silliness pertaining to this topic, I’ll add edits to the bottom of my missive, so this essay has become something of a “living” document, or at least a wee bit of streaming consciousness. Keep checking back for more.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
-Attributed to Evelyn Beatrice Hall, Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), and many others
Yes, I’m going to get political again, but this time it has nothing to do with WorldCon, Comicsgate, or any of that other stuff. Still, I suppose it’s related, since more or less the same players are involved.
I’ve read a ton of articles recently about Colin Kaepernick and what he’s supposedly sacrificed relative to being the “poster person” for Nike’s 30th anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign. According to writer Hank Berrien in the linked article I just posted above, Kaepernick has been on Nike’s payroll since 2011, even though he hasn’t been in any of their ads for the past two years up until now.
As you can see from the image of his tweet, he believes in something even though (supposedly) it’s cost him everything. But what does that mean?
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”
If someone is critical of you in a harsh tone of voice, try telling them the following:
“I appreciate your strong feelings about the matter, but I would appreciate the comments more if they were expressed more pleasantly.”
From Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book Gateway to Self Knowledge, pp.184-6
Given all of those shrill voices in social media and occasionally in real life, this is a much needed reminder that we can ask folks to turn down the volume a bit.
Okay, so in doing research to respond to some of the readers of my flash fiction story We Don’t Want Your Kind Here, I had to revisit my essay Who is a Nazi and Why Should I Care?. This led me to search the #WorldCon76 and #WorldCon2018 twitter hashtags for any mention of Nazis, which led me to this twitter conversation by Patrick S. Tomlinson (here’s one of his books on Amazon), and the screenshots below:
Yeah, what a great guy, huh (However, if the allegation that the protesters deliberately were blocking access to a bloodmobile was true, I’d have a problem with it, too)?
Screenshot taken from twitter
Okay, so the people on twitter who (very politely) accused me of being a moron because I was clueless about exactly what the Hugos are, and how creative works are awarded Hugo Awards are correct. I didn’t do my homework. I did have one woman accuse me of not even being a fan, and admittedly, in my youth I read a ridiculous amount of science fiction and fantasy compared to today.
So many books, so little time.
That said, I do read science fiction, but not every book I read is SciFi. Am I still a fan? Maybe not by that person’s standards, and I especially don’t read brand new science fiction, since I can’t afford to buy a bunch of brand new books, digital or otherwise. I usually depend on the public library, or occasionally a friend will lend me a book, but those works are usually several years (or decades) old.
That brings me back to the Hugos and twitter. I’m not getting any more tweets, but some of those previous tweets are being “liked” on twitter, and they show up in my notifications. I saw the tweet again yesterday that I posted a screenshot of above.
So really, the Hugo voters, those who nominate a work for a Hugo, and then those who vote for finalists and winners, aren’t all that many folks. Who are they?
I went to the Hugo Awards FAQ page and found out:
Found at io9.gizmodo.com – No image credit available
I’ve continued to consider the problems I’ve read about recently regarding the upcoming WorldCon 2018, which I wrote about yesterday.
Since I’m not published in SF/F (although I am as far as textbooks and self-study guides go), I suppose it shouldn’t be particularly relevant. To the best of my understanding, the Cons (and it has been over 20 years since I attended any SF/F convention), allow fans to meet and greet their favorite authors as well as up and coming talent, plus provide authors a big marketing opportunity, so ideally, it should be a win-win.
Also, again to the best of my understanding, a number of awards, including the Hugos are presented at WorldCon, which traditionally has been a big deal.
But are the Hugos still a big deal?