Do you want to read the most godforsaken assemblage of words I’ve had to pen lately? Here goes: President Joe Biden defended Big Bird after the Sesame Street character was slammed by Republicans for announcing that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
What the fuck? you may rightly ask. I would advise you not to fall deeper into this rabbit hole that we have found ourselves stuck in, but if you insist, please follow along.
Despite towering above grown men who quake in his elongated shadow, Big Bird is canonically 6 years old, putting him in the same age group as children 5 to 11 years old, whom the CDC are now recommending get vaccinated with a Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric shot. This recommendation has sparked the latest wave of anti-vax sentiment, with many conservative lawmakers railing against the idea of inoculating kids against a virus that has killed at least 791 children in the United States and hospitalized thousands more.
Big Bird tweeted on November 6 (his first tweet in half a year!) that he had just gotten the COVID vaccine. “My wing is feeling a little sore, but it'll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy,” he said. He added that he had learned from CNN journalist Erica Hill — who hosted a show on Saturday answering questions about vaccination for children — that he had been getting vaccines since he was “a little bird.” Big Bird has been advocating for public health measures, including encouraging the public to get vaccinated, since at least 1972, when he earned a balloon for getting his measles vaccine.
Conservative figures then started attacking the fictional fowl. Ted Cruz called Big Bird’s tweet “government propaganda,” Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe called it “brainwashing,” former Trump advisor Steve Cortes called it “evil,” Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers labeled the beloved children’s character a “communist,” etc. You know, the usual. Then Biden had to get involved, replying to Big Bird: “Good on ya, @BigBird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe.”
Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, and Grover also tweeted encouragingly about vaccination on November 6, although their posts didn’t attract nearly as much attention as influencer-in-training Big Bird. Notably missing from this list are Cookie Monster and Bert and Ernie, whose silence speaks volumes…