Bert is Evil

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Bert is Evil is the name of a web site, founded by Dino Ignacio in 1996, which featured Bert, a character on the American children's television program Sesame Street. In 1998 Dino Ignacio, Wout J Reinders and Jasper Hulshoff Pol accepted the Webby Award and the People's Voice Award for Best Weird Website at the Palace of Fine Arts auditorium in San Francisco.

The website featured manipulated images of the puppet consorting with nefarious figures such as Adolf Hitler[1] and Osama bin Laden as well as being present at events such as the JFK assassination[2] and September 11 attacks, humorously offered as "proof" that Bert was no mere innocent children's television character. The "Evil Bert" phenomenon was picked up by other humorists, who created their own images linking Bert to current and historical atrocities.

In the summer of 1998, due to the website's immense cult popularity, it became too expensive for Ignacio to continue running. Instead of shutting the site down, he offered to allow anyone who was willing to mirror his original website the opportunity to host it.[3] As a result dozens of mirrors appeared, increasing the website's popularity and visibility.

Notoriety[edit]

The very first mirror, maintained by Dennis Pozniak, became the most popular by continuing where Ignacio left off by adding new "evidence" of Bert's evilness (such as Bert's connection to the Ramsey Family[4] and infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper[5]). In late 1998 Pozniak posted a contribution submitted by humorist J-roen photoshopped to depict a then relatively unknown international terrorist, Osama bin Laden,[6] posing with Bert.

In 2001, an undoctored Reuters news photograph was published showing a pro-Osama bin Laden protest rally in Bangladesh.[7][8] One protester is seen holding a large collage-style poster of bin Laden with a small image of Bert over his right shoulder – the same image posted to the Bert mirror in 1998 – which prompted much confusion and joking among Western audiences.[9] Being unaware of Sesame Street, Dhaka printer Mostafa Kamal had copied the collage from the World Wide Web, leaving the image of Bert in his collage.[10]:735

After this photo was released on the news wires, the owners of Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop, raised the possibility of pursuing legal action against Ignacio. In response, he took down the "Bert is Evil" section of his website,[10]:736 also stating that he did not want to undermine the character in the eyes of children who watched Sesame Street. "I am doing this because I feel this has gotten too close to reality", he said.[11] Since the original Bert/Osama picture had been posted to Dennis Pozniak's mirror, he too was bombarded by the international media seeking interviews. As a result of all the attention Pozniak also closed his mirror.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Image of Bert with Adolf Hitler
  2. ^ Image of Bert at the JFK assassination[dead link]
  3. ^ Dec 06, 1998 Archive.org copy of the original Bert is Evil
  4. ^ Image of Bert with the Ramsey Family[dead link]
  5. ^ Image of Bert as Jack the Ripper[dead link]
  6. ^ Image of Bert with Osama bin Laden[dead link]
  7. ^ "Osama bin Muppet? - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. 2001-10-11. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  8. ^ News photographs: [1] [2] [3] [4]
  9. ^ For a detailed account of the use of the image, in South Asia as well as by Western news agencies, see [5]. This also argues against the notion that inclusion of the Bert image is some kind of coded communication. It is more likely that the protester did not know who Bert is.
  10. ^ a b Rosenzweig, Roy. "Scarcity or Abundance: Preserving the Past in a Digital Era". The American Historical Review 108.3 (2003): 735-762.
  11. ^ Oct 14, 2001 Archive.org copy of the original Bert is Evil
  12. ^ Oct 31, 2001 Archive.org copy of the original Bert is Evil mirror

External links[edit]

News Coverage: