There was a weird little sense of deja vu this week, when the latest little social media controversy erupted over a Sesame Street writer suggesting that muppets Bert and Ernie had always been gay.
Hmm, where have we seen this scenario before, and, question number two, why don't we just get everyone on board with the term "headcanon" and leave it at that?
But what these debates always bring out isn't anything about the characters in question, but the characters of those in the debate itself. The histrionic claim of "My childhood is ruined!" The personal views of a given word's definition. ("Puppets can't be gay, because they can't have sex.") And the jokes. The cavalcade of jokes, some of which are usually pretty good.
But while the jokes can amuse, there are those who actually go to war over these ethereal concepts. While this silly little puppet sexuality debate flared, elsewhere on the internet, folks were brining up the damage done by the Johnlock Conspiracy. (Should I say "allegedly," since it hasn't been put to trial yet? No, I suspect any disagreement is probably on level of damage, but, really, what do I know?)
CBS's Elementary ended its year with its two main characters each having conceded that they "are two people who love each other." Romantic love? Familial love? Platonic love? They don't really say, and, if that had been the show's end, we were all left to decide for ourselves what the love between them actually was. (Me, I was going romantic, because I'm an old romantic at heart.)
Love is love.
Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson are much like Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson . . . I think we can all agree that they love each other. I would worry about anyone who saw absolutely no love in that relationship, and be a little sad for them. (Or frightened. They could be a literal machine in human form.) Bert and Ernie are the same. They plainly love each other at this point.
Romantic love? Familial love? Platonic love? You choose. Unless you're making up their legal papers, planning for their offspring's future, or any of those other things that fictional characters can only do fictionally, but somehow doing them for real . . . well, it doesn't really matter.
And, as with Holmes and Watson, if you're somewhere and you see them start kissing or something, just cover your eyes if you don't want to look. (I was covering my eyes a lot when Joan Watson and Mycroft Holmes were doing icky love stuff on Elementary.) Keep your own headcanon your own, just don't do it in a crazy, kidnapping sort of way like Herbert Blount in the movie Director's Cut. (Currently on Amazon Prime. Worth a look if you like wacky R-rated experiments in film.)
Puppets and other fictional characters are just shells we bring to life with our own experiences, emotions, and reactions, even if other people create those shells to begin with. Sometimes it's easy to forget that someone else's Sherlock, John, Bert, or Ernie is filled with someone else's inner life . . . the same sort of essence you filled your version with, just not exactly the same, and not negating yours either. All headcanon people are created equal, really. Maybe more equal than real folk, and yet we try to believe, at least in American lore, that all folk are created equal.
I doubt I have the arguments available to persuade anyone who believes otherwise, but laying it out in a blogspace for the rest of you lovelies is a pleasant hour spent. May all your folks love each other in the best way possible. Your call.