Bert from Sesame Street is evil

Warning: Bert is really a nice guy and is a tad upset by all these images created by an evil body double.

OK, so the story starts off with a chap called Dino Ignacio, an artist and designer, setting up a joke web site in 1996 called “Bert is evil”. It was clearly satire of course because we had Bert from Sesame Street hanging out with various individuals who were rather obviously not nice people (Hitler, Osama bin Laden, etc…) and also showed that Bert was present at well-known events (JFK assassination, 9/11, etc…).

In fact, here is a mirror of the site. (Side note: it became a tad expensive to run, so Ignacio offered it to anybody who wanted to mirror it).

And here is an example, it is Bert hanging out with his good friend Osama bin Laden …

OK, so far we are in what could best be described “Mildly Amused” mode, now this is the point at which things set the stage for a truly bizarre surreal twist.

The above image was not created by Ignacio as part of the original, because he had quit adding to the site. Others, seeing the value in mining the humour proceeded to mirror it and posted contributions submitted by others. The above Osama image originally comes from a mirror run by Dennis Pozniak, who added it when humorist J-roen submitted it in 1998, and yes Osama was not so well-known at the time.

Time to start getting really weird

Now it just so happens that various factions of Islam living in other parts of the word are rather fond of holding anti-US protests and also like to wave big banners of Osama about during such protests.

Now since Osama was in hiding at the time, there were no readily available pictures, so what to do?

Easy, just go on the Internet, google Osama and use the top hits. OK, you can perhaps see where this is going … and yes, sure enough they actually picked the above for a collage on an Osama poster.

What had happened is that a Bangladesh printer located in the cite of Dhaka named Mostafa Kamal had nicked the Bert with Osama image from the Internet for an Osama poster – yes really, he had no idea who Bert from Sesame Street was and simply assumed that if the image was associated with Osama then it was appropriate for the poster. (The source for this detail is a book by Roy Rosenzweig, “Scarcity or Abundance: Preserving the Past in a Digital Era”).

And so what happens then is that the protesters hit the streets of Bangladesh with this (Bert is just to the right of Osama’s main image)…


Which in turn led to many Journalists and commentators thinking “WTF”, and reported it …

.. and so Internet Meme’s such as this soon popped up …



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