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.[1]

The website featured manipulated images of the character consorting with notoriously nefarious figures, such as Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il, 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.[3]

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.[4] As a result, dozens of mirrors appeared, increasing the website's popularity and visibility.

Osama Bin Laden image[edit]

The image in question (1998)

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 and serial killer Jack the Ripper).[5][6] At the end of 1998, Pozniak posted a contribution, submitted by humorist J Roen, digitally manipulated to depict the then relatively unknown international terrorist, Osama bin Laden,[7] posing with Bert.

In October 2001, an undoctored Reuters news photograph was published showing a pro Osama bin Laden protest rally in Bangladesh.[8][9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

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 due to Sesame Workshop's DMCA takedown notice,[11]: 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.[12]

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.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bert is Evil - The Webby Awards". The Webby Awards. Archived from the original on April 28, 2023. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  2. ^ "B E R T I S E V I L : JFK assassination". February 8, 2004. Archived from the original on February 8, 2004.
  3. ^ "Image of Bert with Adolf Hitler". April 19, 1998. Archived from the original on April 19, 1998. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  4. ^ "Dec 06, 1998 copy of the original Bert is Evil". December 6, 1998. Archived from the original on December 6, 1998. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  5. ^ "Bert is Evil - Ramsey Family Friend - Mirror Exclusive". June 24, 2001. Archived from the original on June 24, 2001.
  6. ^ "Bert is Evil - Bert the Ripper? - Mirror Exclusive". April 13, 2001. Archived from the original on April 13, 2001.
  7. ^ "Bert and Osama bin Laden - Bert is Evil - Mirror001 Exclusive". December 9, 2000. Archived from the original on December 9, 2000.
  8. ^ "Osama bin Muppet? - ABC News". October 11, 2001. Archived from the original on November 6, 2018. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  9. ^ News photographs: "Bertsama bin Laden". Archived from the original on November 7, 2004. Retrieved November 17, 2004. [1] [2] [3]
  10. ^ For a detailed account of the use of the image, in South Asia as well as by Western news agencies, see [4] Archived November 21, 2001, at the Wayback Machine. 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.
  11. ^ a b Rosenzweig, Roy (2003). "Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era". The American Historical Review. 108 (3): 735–762. doi:10.1086/529596. ISSN 0002-8762. JSTOR 10.1086/529596.
  12. ^ "Oct 14, 2001 copy of the original Bert is Evil". October 14, 2001. Archived from the original on October 14, 2001. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "Bert is Evil - the OFFICIAL SITE - is GONE FOREVER". October 31, 2001. Archived from the original on October 31, 2001.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]