Puppets have a long story as excellent spokepers… well, spokethings for sexual topics, as their apparent innocence can make easier for audiences to learn about basic truthsand difficult situations alike, thus jumpstarting an earnest discourse about sexuality. This time, however, the story is really getting ridiculous.
In Israel Sheka & Teka (pictured above) have been the mascots of the national electricity public utility since 2002, appearing in lighthearted advertisements and safety campaigns. They are both males, and the fact that their names are translated as ‘Socket’ and ‘Plug’ have always been the subject of jokes about their private inclinations. That’s not a real problem in that country, which is historically very open-minded and opposed to any sort of discrimination unless ethnic.
This notwithstanding, the latest campaign about «the new generation» of power sources is sparking a raucous debate due to the introduction of a new character representing innovation. Sheka is now the father of a lookalike baby – and no mother is ever mentioned. This was applauded by gay activists, who saw the news as a very visible reflection of the family rights of same-sex couples, who are legally recognized and can adopt children in certain circumstances – although not with the same ease allowed to heterosexual couples. Many public figures have asked the Israel Electric Corp. to «drop the ambiguities and finally admit the puppets are gay», as such a media event would further the fight for full equality.
The company however remained noncommittal. The official position is that they are just mascots, and LGBT organizations are reading too much into them. This escalated the argument to accusations of «perpetuating a situation of unspoken shame about homosexuality», while the about 40% conservative population is equally worried about a possibly scandalous revelation. In short, a big part of the national culture of acceptance is now in the fuzzy hands of two puppets, and their parent company is caught in a crossfire. How will it end?