Granted the names translate to “Plug” and “Socket” in English, but that’s because the Israeli Muppet duo appear in TV ads for the Jewish state’s electric company. (Get it? Electrical plug goes in electrical wall socket?) Besides, even if you wanted to read sexual innuendo into the names, the copulative action called to mind could apply equally well to heterosexuals.
Except that Sheka and Teka, as they are known in Hebrew, are both male. So when the pair appeared with a “baby” puppet in a recent ad campaign, Israel’s homosexual community decided that that somehow settled it: The fuzzy creatures were gay, as had long been suspected, and failure of the electric company to say so amounted to discrimination and a refusal to acknowledge gay pride.
The ads highlight a striking paradox of the Holy Land: Although religion holds great sway and there is no civil marriage [or, it follows, gay marriage], gays have gained a widespread acceptance that is increasingly noted around the world….
Some gay rights advocates accuse the [electric] company of being intentionally ambiguous about [the puppets’] sexuality in a cynical publicity ploy.
Someone named Dvir Bar writes in nightlife magazine “City Mouse”:
This should weigh on the conscience of everyone who worked on this campaign, who will come home and ask themselves whether they would want to raise a child in a country where the electric company says: ‘Hide, don’t be proud.’
Gil Kol, a spokesman for the Israeli national LGBT task force, takes it a step further, declaring:
Sheka and Teka have represented the Israeli Electric Corp. for years and have been gay for years. Having kids and expanding the family seems to be a natural stage in the evolution of the story. That pretty much represents what is happening in the LGBT community.
That’s all well and good except that Sheka and Teka are inanimate objects. Demanding that they come out of the closet makes as much sense as demanding that a tennis racquet or overcoat admit to being gay.
If this story sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been down this road before, right here in the U.S. In 2011, gay rights activists circulated a petition online demanding that Bert and Ernie, the Muppet stars of “Sesame Street,” come out of the closet. Sesame Workshop, which produces the show for preschoolers, released a statement to the effect that Bert and Ernie are best friends but that in the last analysis, “they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.” That didn’t stop the left-leaning magazine The New Yorker from “outing” the puppet pair on its cover in July of this year. A man and a man can dream.
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