'Muppet' producers miffed over Bert-bin Laden image
October 11, 2001 Posted: 2:16 PM EDT (1816 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The producers of the popular children's program "Sesame Street" said Thursday they are upset because protesters in Bangladesh are carrying protest posters showing the Muppet character Bert with Osama bin Laden.
The pictures showed up in posters carried by anti-American demonstrators during violent protests in Bangladesh this week.
The posters show a variety of images of bin Laden; but over the left shoulder of the largest image of the accused terrorist is a smaller image of Bert beside a smaller image of bin Laden.
"Sesame Street has always stood for mutual respect and understanding. We're outraged that our characters would be used in this unfortunate and distasteful manner. This is not humorous," Sesame Workshop producers said. "The people responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves. We are exploring all legal options to stop this abuse and any similar abuses in the future."
The image is similar to those on a Web parody site "Bert is Evil," which first appeared around 1996 on the site www.spacecat.com/bert/. The site has amassed a collection of doctored photos that depict the children's character as an evil madman working alongside villains like Hitler and grand dragons of the KKK.
But the originator of "Bert is Evil" says on his main Web page -- www.fractalcow.com/index2.html -- that he had nothing to do with the Bert and bin Laden image. He points to another Web page -- www.j-roen.net/bert/how/how.phtml -- where he says the image originated, but that page now shows only a message saying the image has been removed.
It appears that the photo in question, in which an angry Bert can be seen alongside bin Laden, was lifted from the Internet by the creators of the protest posters in Bangladesh.
It is not clear whether the protesters actually knew who the character Bert is, and what he means to U.S. children.