Bert is Evil

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Bert is Evil is the name of a parody website, founded by Dino Ignacio on March 30, 1997, 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 character consorting with nefarious figures such as Adolf Hitler[1] Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, and Osama bin Laden, as well as being present at events such as the JFK assassination,[2] and Oklahoma City bombing, 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.

Osama Bin Laden image[edit]

The first mirror, maintained by Dennis Pozniak, continued in the same vein by adding new "evidence" of Bert's evilness (such as Bert's connection to the Ramsey Family[4] and serial killer Jack the Ripper).[5] In the end of 1998, Pozniak posted a contribution submitted by humorist J-roen photoshopped to depict the then relatively unknown international terrorist, Osama bin Laden,[6] posing with Bert.

In October 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]


  1. ^ "Image of Bert with Adolf Hitler". 1998-04-19. Archived from the original on April 19, 1998. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  2. ^ Image of Bert at the JFK assassination
  3. ^ "Dec 06, 1998 copy of the original Bert is Evil". 1998-12-06. Archived from the original on December 6, 1998. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  4. ^ Image of Bert with the Ramsey Family
  5. ^ Image of Bert as Jack the Ripper
  6. ^ Image of Bert with Osama bin Laden
  7. ^ "Osama bin Muppet? - ABC News". 2001-10-11. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
  8. ^ News photographs: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-11-07. Retrieved 2004-11-17. [1] [2] [3]
  9. ^ For a detailed account of the use of the image, in South Asia as well as by Western news agencies, see [4]. 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 copy of the original Bert is Evil". 2001-10-14. Archived from the original on October 14, 2001. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  12. ^ Oct 31, 2001 copy of the original Bert is Evil mirror

External links[edit]

News Coverage: