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Bert is Evil

Bert, a muppet character on the American children's television program Sesame Street, was the subject of a heavily mirrored web site, "Bert is Evil", founded by Dino Ignacio. The website featured manipulated images of the puppet consorting with figures like Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden and present at tragedies like the Hindenburg crash, humorously offered as "proof" that Bert was no mere innocent children's television character. The "Evil Bert" meme was picked up by other humorists, who created their own images linking Bert to current and historical atrocities.

In 2001, an undoctored photograph of a protest rally in Bangladesh supporting Osama bin Laden, showing a collage-style poster of bin Laden with a small image of Bert over his left shoulder, was distributed by the Reuters news agency. The original image of Osama and Bert had been created (using an image editing tool) by a humorist earlier and placed on a website, and the person who made the poster in Bangladesh copied it from the World Wide Web, leaving the image of Bert in his collage.

After this photo was released on the news wires, Ignacio took down the "Bert is Evil" section of his website, stating that he doesn't want to undermine the character in the eyes of children who watch Sesame Street. "I am doing this because I feel this has gotten too close to reality," he said. For the full message text, see [1].

For a detailed account of the use of the image, in South Asia as well as by Western news agencies, see [1]. 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, or that the image he used was a parody.

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