The Whatever Digest, 9/20/18

Good morning! Let’s see what’s up.


I posted the tweet above the other day about the recent contretemps regarding whether Bert and Ernie are a gay couple, which was prompted by one of Sesame Street’s former writers noting he always wrote them as if they were a gay couple, which in turn prompted but Sesame Workshop and Frank Oz (creator of Bert) to aver that they were not, which in turn made Twitter explode, because, well, Twitter.

I’m not going to speak to the main thrust of the discussion about whether Bert and Ernie are a couple except to note that this discussion is cyclical, and this is probably the fifth or sixth time in the last fifteen years it’s become a point of contention, so it’s not like anything around this discussion is new. What I will note is the number of dudes in the Twitter comments of the tweet above saying things like “They can’t be gay THEY ARE PUPPETS” with a smug “BAM HASHTAG MIC DROP” implied immediately after.

Which is, mind you, a genuinely stupid and thoughtless position to have. Puppets can be as gay or straight or bi or sexually fluid as any fictional creature, who can in turn be as gay or straight or bi or sexually fluid as any non-fictional creature. Fictional characters aren’t real, in the sense that they are independent of their creators (or at least, owners), but it doesn’t mean they aren’t imbued with characteristics.

Puppets are fictional creatures; puppets have characteristics. There’s no reason one of those characteristics can’t be “sexuality” and of course there are lots of examples of puppets having a sexuality, Kermit and Miss Piggy being the obvious contextual example. You can say Kermit and Miss Piggy can’t be heterosexual THEY ARE PUPPETS, but that’s not true (and also, no one does). The best you can say is that Kermit and Miss Piggy are not actual persons with their own agency, and therefore present only the characteristics given to them by those who operate and control them, which is true, and also a mouthful.

It can be truly said that Frank Oz, when he created him, did not think of Bert as being gay; it can also be truly said that at least one writer on Sesame Street, when writing Bert and Ernie, wrote them as a gay couple; it can also be truly said that the Sesame Workshop, at least publicly, doesn’t want Bert and Ernie to be considered as beings with sexuality at all. Importantly, however, none of this would be a discussion at all if, at the very heart of it, we (generally) didn’t believe that puppets could be gay. It looks like we do, and also, it looks like there’s a number of people so uncomfortable with the idea they they would rather subvert the entire thesis of fiction than substantively approach the concept of gay puppets in any way. Which is interesting.


My note to Frank Oz that kids come out as gay no matter how much their parents conceive of them as otherwise has led some “wits” to say that from now on they’re going to say that all my characters are white, straight, cis Trump lovers, I suppose again with a “lol CHECKMATE” bit after that strongly implied. My response to that is: Hey, your headcanon is your own, so go ahead if you want to. Just don’t expect the actual text I write to support this view.

This does bring up the point that if one wishes to make assertions about characters, it’s helpful to have them supported by text or the idiom and context of the characters. Positing that Bert and Ernie might be a gay couple because of their genuine affection for each other and also their decades-long cohabitation at least makes sense, whether you agree with it or not. Positing that they are millionaire day-traders who secretly run a late-night fight club for other Muppets in Oscar’s sub-basement doesn’t. I mean, they might, you never do know, but there’s nothing in almost five decades of their on-screen lives together to support the hypothesis.

Let’s just say I don’t ever expect Sesame Workshop to ever post a tweet denying that Bert and Ernie consensually beat the crap out of Elmo and Big Bird in cathartic early-morning pummeling sessions. Some rumors (and headcannon) never get off the ground.


Today’s hottest take on Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulting a woman when they were both teens: Maybe it was his evil twin! I’m embarrassed for both Kathleen Parker, who wrote this, and for America.


After that bit of patent dumbassery, a cat-based palate cleanser.

Please enjoy the rest of your Thursday.

48 Comments on “The Whatever Digest, 9/20/18”

  1. If I remember my cultural studies properly, John Fiske wrote that (and I’m paraphrasing) “[cultural] meaning is made by the consumer, not the producer.” So enjoy your headcanon, everyone!

  2. As a child, I really loved watching Bert and Ernie and Ernie’s antics. As an adult, I admit I find that I don’t much give a damn whether they were, are, or ever might become a gay couple. From my standpoint, it changes nothing about what made them such a delight to watch; so why all the angst?

  3. “Maybe it was his evil twin!”

    … god DAMN these glasses…

    You know, I liked living on Earth when I thought characters as dumb as Steve Martin’s “The Jerk” were just comedic fiction.

    He hates these cans!!!!

    Re: Bert/Ernie. Meh. Sure, some people want Bert/Ernie to be gay, the creator does not. But this can be taken too far when homophobic nutjobs whip up a boycot of teletubbies because they swear Tinky Winky was gay.

    I can see how it would be nice if Bert and Ernie were gay, but if a creator diesnt want their characters changed by others in certain fundamental wsys, i kinda want to respect that. Potter/Malfoy shipping might be fun fan fic, but its not canon.

  4. Judging from the last couple of lines, I don’t think Ms Parker believes it was his Evil Twin Skippy.

    A real problem facing the GOP is that Maryland doesn’t have a statute of limitations for felonies. “Kavanaugh confirmed for Supreme Court, indicted for rape” would be an ugly headline for them. Well, ugly for all of us, but especially for any Senator who voted to confirm.

    Important question: Can someone’s headcanon explode if too much powder is put into it?

  5. This was a topic for discussion back when I was in grade school/junior high, more than 40 years ago. I’m not part of the Sesame Street generation (I watched Captain Kangaroo growing up and I still remember that show with fondness). To me, Ernie and Bert are kids and will always be kids. But the relationship dynamic is more like they’re brothers than it is like a couple in a relationship (i.e., they don’t fight like Kermit and Miss Piggy do). You can act in certain ways with your brothers (blood or the ones you choose) which might not be wise with an SO. I think people will believe whatever works for them.

  6. “I would like to relax and have a proper sleep, but that kitten is on the arm of the sofa, must stay awake, must stay awake, must stay …”

  7. A previous Whatever post and discussion that might be relevant here: What Authors Know About Their Characters. (That’s from about 10 years ago, when J. K. Rowling remarked in public that Dumbledore was gay, and again much of the Internet went nuts.)

    I think our gracious host argues well for his viewpoint there, though it’s (understandably) somewhat more tilted towards authorial control than my viewpoint. As a reader, I consider what’s on the page (or on the screen) to be the definitive evidence of the nature of a character. Authorial intent is important, especially when they’ve mentioned it in public, but for me it has a similar relationship to the text as hearsay has to testimony.

    Other readers (including our host) may disagree. Though I think there’s a stronger case for it when there are multiple “authors” involved, as they are in here. Based on that , and what I’ve seen of Sesame Street, I’d consider Ernie and Bert’s sexualities to be unspecified, as is the case for most of the other Muppets on the show. (Kermit being one obvious exception, though even there in the absence of Miss Piggy on Sesame Street one could argue that Sesame-Street Kermit is not the same character as Muppet-Show Kermit.)

    Which leaves a lot of room for different interpretations, headcanons, fanfictional takes, New Yorker covers, etc. And that’s just fine with me.

  8. Robertreynolds66:

    “To me, Ernie and Bert are kids and will always be kids.”

    I have so never understood this interpretation. I think it’s because I’ve always seen Bert has having male pattern baldness. Even when I was in the Sesame Street age demographic, I saw them as being adults.

  9. How many men have been released from prison because DNA evidence showed a woman’s recognition of her attacker was flawed? Your characterization that mistaken identity was a suggestion of an evil twin is not a reasonable comparison.

  10. The one thing I have to contribute is that, as a queer man, it irks me when people insist that B&E are clearly gay. Sure, they MIGHT be, but insisting on seeing any and all intimacy between two men as queer reinforces stereotypes, teaches straight men that they cannot be intimate with other men, and reinforces toxic masculinity and homophobia. We cannot criticize straight men who use “No homo” if we are going to point to every example of two men (even two puppet men) who share a close bond and announce that they are obviously queer. Straight men should be comfortable engaging in intimate, non-romantic relationships with other men without thinking it changes their identity or sexual orientation, or how those things are perceived.

    I realize this isn’t the argument you are making, John, but it’s one I see from a lot of people, especially queer people, and I wonder how people don’t realize it’s more harmful than helpful. If anything, we should respect B&E in their privacy–if they ARE in a romantic relationship, they haven’t come out publicly, and the era of forcibly outing people is over.

  11. Interpetrex channeled, “[cultural] meaning is made by the consumer, not the producer.”

    Pepe the Frog could not have said it better.

  12. Rod: Given that one of Kavanaugh’s high-school friends says that he was there and it was just “friendly roughhousing”, I think your interpretation is the one that doesn’t fly here.

  13. Two things both be true. Bert and Ernie, can be both gay in one person’s eyes, and not gay in another. There’s no objective truth here. Is there such a thing as Sesame Street Canon? Looking at them as an adult, they’re a happy gay couple. I can see some writers thinking that back in the day. As a kid, laughing along with Ernie, I had no clue. I didn’t know what gay meant, other than you didn’t want to be called a queer. But then again, I thought kissing was yucky.

    I am somewhat puzzled by all the hooha this is causing. Except that everything seems to become part of identity politics these days. Even a couple of lovable puppets whose gayness is in the eye of the beholder.

  14. Rod Rubert:

    Delighted that you appear to suggest a complete and thorough investigation by the appropriate law enforcement agencies is necessary. Let’s hold off on trying to confirm Kavanaugh until such time as such an investigation is complete.

  15. Bert and Ernie. Not the original Odd Couple. But close.

    1965 – Odd Couple – a stage play by Neil Simon.

    May 2, 1968 – Odd Couple – a film, featuring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau.

    November 10, 1969 – First episode of Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie enter public awareness.

  16. I think Bert can do better. I agree that their dynamic is much more like siblings (my sister acted like Ernie with respect to me well into her 20s)—if it is a romantic relationship it’s not a particularly healthy one. Poor Bert.

  17. If Frank Oz had been the sole writer for B&E, and had full creative license to the characters, I’d say, fine, he’s God Almighty where those characters are concerned. But what actually happened is more interesting; they’ve been a gradual, emergent creation of a community of artists over decades.

    (As for the original Bert and Ernie in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, if either of them were gay, he’d have to stay deep in the closet to keep his job as a cop or cabbie. That applies in both Bedford Falls and the alternate-timeline Pottersville.)

  18. “Positing that they are millionaire day-traders who secretly run a late-night fight club for other Muppets in Oscar’s sub-basement…”

    Okay, now I want to see this.

  19. Lee:

    I had not seen that information. Do you have a link to it or source for it?

    (At this point, I think the most likely explanation is that the assault described by Dr. Ford happened and Kavanaugh was sufficiently drunk that he truly has no memory of it.)

  20. “How many men have been released from prison because DNA evidence showed a woman’s recognition of her attacker was flawed?”

    How many were nominated for the supreme court?

    Oh, some have been exonerated, so no accusation is worth digging into, even if the person who might be an attempted rapist is up for the supreme court. Especially if a republican.

    Message received loud and clear.

  21. Merick Garland: on hold by republicans for 293 days. Because they wanted to be sure he’s the right man for such an important position.


    to be a republican is to be a fucking hypocrite.

  22. So on the Bert & Ernie thing-I’ve always loved the idea that they were gay, because frankly if they aren’t, they don’t really make sense. Who do you put up with in life who irritates as much as Ernie and Bert enjoy irritating each other? Someone suggested it’s not a healty romantic relationship, and agree or disagree, if they are roommates why the hell didn’t one of the move out years ago. (Someone cited the Odd Couple, but if you remember Simon had a very specific reason they were living together, it’s not something that would last years).

  23. Where John’s joke, about children coming out regardless of what their parents think, is relevant is that Frank Oz may have created Bert, but he hasn’t done all the writing for them. And so the people who reply that they’re going to declare that Scalzi’s characters are Trump-lovers have missed the point: if they want to write fan fiction in which that’s the case, that’s up to them. They’re not in Scalzi’s books.

  24. (Argh I always wind up posting when I want to start a new paragraph)

    The reason I think this is even worth my time is that it really speaks to how we discuss sexual orientation. We’re still stuck in a model where gay sexuality is about sex, and cis/hetero sexual identity is just a fact. So adults frequently act like discussing or modeling gay people and families for children is discussing sex. It’s not. Seasame Street has had weddings and pregnancies. Pregnancies more directly imply sex than anything else children will see but we don’t try to hide the fact of pregnancy from children. When my kids were younger they went to a private school that was very supportive of LGBTQIA families, and on pride they managed to explain every piece of that acronym to kindergartners in an absolutely age appropriate way. “Men who love men are Gay, women who love women are Lesbian, People who love both men and women are bisexual.” Done. If you think mentioning relationships between gay people is explicit and mentioning relationship between straight people isn’t, that speaks more to what happens in your own head than to the world as a toddler understands it.

  25. Bert is clearly a trans man (always hated the birth name Bertha, but kind of liked how it worked out when he figure out who he really was), but both Bert and Ernie are Ace. Ernie is, by the way, short for Ernesto – he’s Puerto Rican by heritage.

    But what they mostly are is a vehicle for kids to learn about how people interact with one another, so that they can better understand their own emotions, and how other people react to them. None of the sexuality or gender or ethnicity or anything else is really critical to canonize in light of their raison d’etre.

    At least, that’s what I think. I wasn’t conscious of that sort of thing 49 years ago when I started watching the show as an impressionable three-year-old, but it fits with how I remember the experience.

  26. On Monday, Judge Kavanaugh answered Senate Judiciary Committee questions concerning Ford’s allegation. He did so under penalty of perjury. (Committee Democrats refused to participate.)

    The country is waiting on Ford to testify before the Judiciary Committee. But Senate Republicans will not wait for much longer.

    If Ford misses Senator Grassley’s Friday deadline to agree to testify (in open or closed setting – her choice), the Judiciary Committee will move to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment faster than you can say “ramming speed.”

  27. I think Ernie & Bert provide young people with a positive, realistic example of a “loving relationship” whether they’re gay or not. So few relationships that we present to children have actual conflict (and conflict resolution) and Ernie & Bert were always unique in that regard. I imagine that a queer viewer watching them would likely see a lot of their own relationship(s) in the characters, as would a viewer with a sibling who is close in age, or a viewer with a “best friend” (of any gender, romantic or otherwise). Good writing allows the viewer to take from it what they find relevant and apply it as they see fit.

    The need to declare them gay (or to declare them “definitely not gay”) strikes me as adults advancing a particular socio-political point of view, and using the young Sesame Street audience as pawns in that game. The fact that so many of us “always just assumed” one way or the other is proof that the segments work on multiple levels and for multiple audiences.

    (On a far less serious note: I always thought of them as kids. Ernie bathes with a rubber duck, for chrissake! Then again, they live alone with no adult supervision, so there’s evidence the other way too. Same as above: each viewer can see it for what makes sense to them).

  28. There is a Muppet family long on Sesame Street that has a Muppet Dad and Muppet Mom and Muppet kids — they are Muppets with a sexual orientation that is straight. Elmo has parents, a mom and a dad, so those parents have a straight or bi sexual orientation. So do several other of the younger Muppet characters and Snuffleupagus and Cookie Monster. The Count is a player, who has been shown romancing several vampire Countessa girlfriends over the decades, so he is straight or bi. Oscar the Grouch has a girlfriend, Grungetta. They are friends, they kissed, they have been together since 1980. So Oscar, despite being a puppet, has a sexual orientation — he’s straight or bi. There are numerous humans on Sesame Street who were presented as heterosexual couples — Gordon and Susan who marry and raise kids on the show and Luis and Maria who over the course of the show fell in love, got married and raised a kid, Gabriela. Both of those storylines were part of the love, marriage, families CURRICULUM that Sesame Street specifically designed for little kids. Buffy Saint Marie brought her son regularly on the show and showed kids about breast-feeding, as well as Native American culture, in the 1970s.

    In addition to his off-Sesame Street relationship with Miss Piggy — whose lust for Kermit Frank Oz voiced for decades — Kermit has had romances on Sesame Street with Sleeping Beauty who is turned into a female frog, and a princess who turns into a frog when she kisses Kermit. He has also flirted with Cher on her show, with numerous female guests on Sesame Street and gone on dates with Dolly Parton and Lady Gaga. Kermit has always been presented as a heterosexual frog and a flirt.

    What Sesame Street has not had are any gay humans, gay human parents, gay Muppet parents or characters. All they’ve managed are some openly gay guest celebrities the last couple of decades. So for years and years, gay people and gay kids had no representation on Sesame Street. There may be more to humans than whether they are straight or gay, as Oz claimed, but Sesame Street has only been interested in showing straight romance and marriage on the show.

    So gay people chose characters who they felt seemed possibly gay and they could relate to, notably Bert and Ernie, two adult Muppets living together, and sometimes Bob Johnson, the music teacher played by Bob McGrath. Bob Johnson had a long time romance with Linda, who was deaf, for decades, but they didn’t have them get married and produce kids, so sometimes speculation was that he was bi, etc. When you give people no representation, they will try to imagine their own, as Sesame Street knows well since the entire show is about early education, representation and treating people equally. Lambasting them for doing so when you’ve given them nothing, when you give gay kids nothing in such an important show, is cowardly and bigoted. Turning on one of your writers, who is gay and drew on that for inspiration, is also cowardly and bigoted. I am deeply disappointed in Frank Oz right now. Even if Bert and Ernie were meant to originally represent his and Jim’s friendship, you would think that a man who has spent most of his career in childhood education would understand the importance of saying different interpretations that mean a lot to gay people can certainly be had.

    But homosexuality is a live third wire for Sesame Street because of homophobic conservative politicians who constantly try to jerry-rig reasons for cutting off the show’s funding. Sesame Street should have long ago created an openly gay couple on the show. Maybe this latest squall will compel that, because representation of gay people as the “people in your neighborhood” is rather crucial to getting rid of the repression of LGBTQ people.

    As for the argument that we can’t scare the straight guys by saying men who live together might be gay — everything scares straight guys because gay men are presented as inferior and strange and lower status. Having an honest, loving male gay couple portrayed who are respected and loved by their friends and neighbors does more for letting guys be more relaxed about their emotions and intimacy — around both straight and gay people as equal human beings — than trying to insist that Bert and Ernie should only be seen as straight or asexual so that straight guys can continue to stay comfortable in their learned homophobia with their male friends. And just because straight guys are the majority, doesn’t mean that we should always have to prioritize their feelings and issues over gay and bi-sexual men’s as if they are the center of the Earth. I get the concerns, but more gay representation has done more for combating homophobia than presenting cuddly straight male friendships.

  29. The example of fictional character sexuality that has long bemused me is Willow. First she shows every sign of being straight, with a serious relationship with Oz, who is a great guy apart from the werewolf thing. That ends badly. Then she goes to college and hooks up with Tara. Yes, there were the “lesbian until graduation” jokes, but ignore them. Willow and Tara were about the most adorable couple ever. OK, so it turns out that Willow is bi. I am happy that she found the right person, regardless of that person’s gender. (OK, that didn’t end well either, but in fairness this was neither Willow nor Tara’s fault.) But I have been assured that the show’s producers (which presumably mean Joss) told us that Willow was gay. So what was going on with Oz? Is this being retconed as Willow in culturally induced denial about her sexuality? Or was she straight until she wasn’t? Or are we supposed to pretend that Oz never happened? Mostly, and this is the part I really don’t get, what was the hangup with identifying Willow as bi? How would that be a bad thing? Very weird.

  30. I imagine Sesame Workshop wants as many children as possible to be able to identify with Bert and Ernie no matter what their burgeoning sexuality is, so they intentionally leave it open.

    Kinda like Chris Shane isn’t assigned a gender.

  31. Willow was an odd example because she wasn’t written as gay before the fourth season. In real life a person can have straight relationships but later come to understand that they are gay, and I think that’s what we’re supposed to accept as canon for Willow after the fourth season. But in actuality, she was straight, and then she was gay. Which is perfectly possible for a fictional character. I’m assuming bisexuality was never seriously considered because the very idea gives even supposedly accepting people the vapors.

    Personally, I don’t care what she calls herself. I just want her to end up with Xander, as the gods intended.

  32. I think it’s pretty clear that Ernie and Bert aren’t *canonically* gay, which is fine. It’s the author’s privilege to define their canon, and if we disagree, that’s why God invented fanfic — slash fanfic in this case.

    To me, the more interesting point is that we still feel the need to define “gay” solely in terms of sexuality. Sexuality is only one aspect of how we furless house apes love others, and it’s sad that so many people treat this one aspect of love as if it outweighs all others. I think it’s amply clear that Ernie and Bert love each other, despite the absence of onscreen sodomy. Is that love gay? Probably, though of course we can get into all kinds of word games over just what that word means.

    As evidence, I offer two of my male friends who have been a loving couple for 30 years, and recently married. They self-identify as gay and would never be mistaken for anything else, yet they have (as they’ve described it to me) an essentially asexual relationship. Which works just fine for them by all the evidence. Anecdata isn’t proof, but in this case, it’s *proof of possibility*, which is good enough for me.

  33. @scalzi – If Sesame Workshop came to you to write the script for the underground fight club episode how fast would you jump on it?

  34. I never saw Bert and Ernie as a gay couple myself, tho’ I have not seen any version of the chara’s after the ’70’s. I watched the TV series ‘Odd Couple’ and that was where My impression of the pair comes from. Pedro mentioned above the stage play and the movie versions. As for them staying together in spite of Ernie irritating the heck out of Bert, being gay is not the only explanation. The other could be splitting the rent in a rent-controlled tenement. (Especially being located in N.Y. N.Y.)

    As for the Kermit / Ms Piggie romance (or should it be the Ms. Piggie -slash- Kermit romance), in the first (at least) three Muppet Show TV series seasons and the first Muppet Movie the Romance was only in Ms. Piggies’ mind

  35. This discussion is not complete without reference to the song “If you were gay” from Avenue Q.

  36. Willow on Buffy, VS was bisexual and probably more than a little attracted to Buffy (there was shipping on that too for that show from contextual clues,) but didn’t think about it because she relied on and cared about Xander. Her involvement with magic and with Tara got her to understand that she was also attracted to women. This was presented as her being “gay” instead of bi because she was written by a straight man who was trying to offer representation and have it be clear cut and so messed it up. However, they did tackle the issue a bit more later when Tara was worried about Willow and Willow thought it was because Tara thought she would go back to a relationship with a man.

    Kevin Smith did the same thing when doing his movie Chasing Amy. The love interest in the film is bisexual and even explains how it works for her, but Smith promoted the film as her being a lesbian instead of simply bisexual to push the premise of a straight man falling for a “lesbian”. He got a lot of flack from the gay community about that, since it presented being gay as a lifestyle choice rather than an orientation. Bisexuals run into prejudice from straight people and prejudice from gay people who seem to think only one of two wirings on orientation are possible. What we know is that multiple different wirings on orientation are possible, including with gender fluidity. But writers who are mainly straight are slow to catch up. They still tend to take a character who has been shown only having straight romantic interests and just switch them up to be gay. Reality is much more complex.

    So for Sesame Street, the better option is to introduce new gay characters, either Muppets or humans. But even if they do that, people can still imagine Bert and Ernie as gay if they want to do so. And it doesn’t have to have anything to do with erotic slash fiction either. It’s about LGBTQIA people being seen as actual people who exist in a neighborhood, same as cis straights. It’s a way of seeing the characters that resonates with people for whom such representation over the decades has been important in their lives. There is no need to crap all over that or treat it as only a dirty joke. Oz and Sesame Street had a real opportunity here and they blew it. At this point, Sesame Street seems to be more intent on survival rather than serving the kids the show exists for. Having been raised on the Street, this saddens me.

  37. I recall that many of your Old Man’s War characters were, in fact, quite green. I think that means something vis a vis race, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

  38. “Positing that they are millionaire day-traders who secretly run a late-night fight club for other Muppets in Oscar’s sub-basement…”

    God I want to see Muppet Fight Club now.
    Narrator – Kermit
    Marla Singer – Miss Piggy
    Tyler Durden – Brad Pitt.
    Robert Paulson – Sam the Eagle.
    Other Fight Club members – Waldorf, Statler, Beeker.

  39. Well, now that the Whelan thread has been posted. Umm. Clearly the Kathleen Parker op-ed was written with the knowledge this was coming, so it’s a co-ordinated attack on the other guy, in an attempt to defend Kavanaugh.

    God-dammit GOP, why do you have to make me believe whacky conspiracy theories?

  40. This idea (things that support the pair being a gay pair) kind of reminds me of an essay I read recently about how hard it is to find a work of fiction where a close friendship between a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman would be a central theme, that is, without any reference to potential romantic tension between those two. Or if there are such stories, then there has to be some external explanation, such as the “older male mentor” story, where the age difference is the thing that frees the author/director/creator to explore the friendship. I mean, from the lack of such stories, you’d think those friendships were rare things. Whereas everyday life shows us they’re anything but.

    Sorry if this is too far off topic. I just find it interesting to ponder closeness / intimacy / friendship vs romantic interest.

  41. Janne, not really off-topic at all. When I was college age, it was assumed that a “friendship” between men and women had a sexual aspect. Assumptions about sex are all over the place, and they’re wrong a lot. Good grief, I’ve slept with cats, does that mean I’m into bestiality? And what does Ernie DO in the tub with that rubber duck? How silly do we want to get over this?

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