“Hey Dad, I’ve got the coolest thing to tell you about. Do you wanna hear it?” Well of course, after a long work day, how could I turn down that offer? “Yes,” I replied, with as much half-hearted zest as I could muster, which wasn’t much. He continued as if it wouldn’t have mattered what I said. “Ok, Dad, how do you spell (the name of that bear family from those books you read me when I was little)?” He actually said the name. I looked him in the eyes and with as much sincerity as was possible, I calmly said: “B-E-R-E-N-S-T-A-I-N.” He looked crestfallen and stupified at the same time. I know, not an easy look to master, but my son is very talented.
His disappointment was because I spelled the name Berenstain the same way that is on the children’s books. Apparently, however, some believe that the spelling hasn’t always been that way. There are thousands of people all over the world, who apparently all have access to message boards on the internet, who remember that for many years the beloved cartoon and book bear protagonists spelled their last name B-E-R-E-N-S-T-E-I-N. So many people in fact that half of the Internets bandwidth is currently consumed by this discussion. Remember in the Spring there was that blue dress/gold dress thing? This is kind of like that, except it’s been going on for six years. Don’t believe me? Check this list of articles about it.
The problem is, that so many people believe that it used to be spelled Berenstein that some have said this is proof that either we slipped into a parallel universe where some things are only slightly different than what we remember from the universe we were born into, or that someone traveled back in time and changed the spelling for some nefarious reason. (Actually, I don’t know if the reason is nefarious. I just like using the word nefarious. Seriously, how many words can you think of that are cooler than that? I wish my blog was nefarious)
I believe both sides are right. The remembering of different spellings is proof of parallel (am I the only one who can never remember if the two L’s in parallel are in the middle or at the end? Thank you spell check) universes and/or time travel. Yes, that’s right. I’m supporting the internet crackpots. Quick, how many of you already considered me an “internet crackpot”? Also, how many of you believe that I could use a little Ritalin to keep me on topic?
Yes, you heard me. I believe there are parallel universes or alternate realities, but not in the sci-fi/Dr. Who kind of way. It’s the time that we live in. Due to the plethora of media, different generations, different countries, or different groups have different realities. (Yeah, I used plethora, but it’s not as cool as nefarious) There is so much media that no one can consume it all, so we choose what we see and hear. Perception is reality and reality is like a telescope. It only sees what you aim it at. Prior to coming home today I had no idea there was a Berenstain Bears parallel universe theory, but there were thousands of people in the world who think this is a pretty important piece of information. That’s what they’ve aimed their telescope at. My telescope is aimed at McDonald’s, wondering if they’re bringing the wings back this Fall and when they’ll start offering breakfast all day long. Seriously, if breakfast food is all they had, I’d eat every meal there. Currently my cholesterol is so high that there are entire McNuggets floating in my bloodstream. Our universes are parallel to each other but we are seeing entirely different things.
Here’s the answer to the Berenstain Bears conspiracy theory: Hey children of the late 80’s and 90’s! Guess what? When your parents read those books to you, you were four years old and didn’t give a rats ass about spelling. Your telescope was aimed at Tommy Bear, or whatever the hell his name was, and you were wondering if he’d fess up to eating the last cookie. Then twenty years later after you read about or met hundreds of people whose named ended in stein like Albert Einstein, Frankenstein, or Ben Stein (Bueller? Bueller?) you just assumed that the bears last name was the same. Just because some idiots made a typo in TV Guide thirty years ago does not make it a reality.
Look, I don’t know what else to say. I know I’m starting to verge into “Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!” crazy old guy territory, but c’mon! How can thousands of morons buy into this? Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it true. Guess what? I’m on the internet and I make stuff up all the time? Anybody remember ‘catfishing’? I invented that. All you late 80’s and 90’s kids, listen; Nickelodeon really was awesome when you were little, but nobody changed the spelling of the cartoon bears name, except Mrs. Berenstain Bear who went back to her maiden name after she divorced Mr. Bear because of his drinking and “sex addiction” problem and left him to get her own groove back. You’re adults now. Pay your college loans, get a real job, and shut the hell up.
As always, if you enjoy #ThePhilFactor, feel free to share by hitting the Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or re-blog buttons below. Do it quick before someone goes back in time and changes it. (Oh yeah, I am SO sharing this on those Reddit message threads) Have a great weekend! ~Phil
See > Read > React > Respond. There’s little room for thought or research in today’s fast-paced, reactionary, online world, where being the first person to share some fury-inducing story or comment their outrage is of prime importance. I’ve had to mute one of my aunt’s on Facebook because I got bored of feeling obliged to post Snopes responses to 90% of the things she shared.
Also, I prefer ‘plethora’.
I’d prefer a plethora of nefarious comments like yours!
Now, try and work shibboleth into something, THAT is a fabulous word 🙂
I wasn’t aware it was a word. Is it English? It looks Yiddish.
Not sure of the etymology (actually, just checked, it’s from Hebrew). It’s a custom, practise, way of speech etc. that immediately distinguishes a certain group of people, usually outdated or old fashioned.
And it sounds awesome when you say it 😀
Hey I was a ‘Winnie the Pooh” kid!
Loved the post! The books are sold here, but I was brought up reading Enid Blyton and haven’t read any of them, although I will now! Incidentally, The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton has also undergone changes, the characters ‘Connie, Dick, Bessie and Fanny’ have been changed to Connie, Rick, Beth and Franny to make them more PC (and far less humorous as fanny means something very different in the UK that it does in the states…)
Hmmm….that’s interesting. I’ve never heard of Enid Blyton.
Never heard of Enid Blyton. Man, you don’t know what your missing! Also, I remember the spelling of these bears as Gummi…my parallel universe must be way off course lol.
I’ve an answer for this schism
It’s when the Bears converted to Judaism
And then they had to change their name
From Berenstain to Berenstein
Remember that big cartoon hit the
One where Brother gets Bar Mitzvahed?
Could you work “hubris” into a blog post one day? It’s got a certain ring to it.
Will do just for you!
I heard MacDonald’s plans to start selling breakfast all day, Phillip. I never read the Berenstain Bear books, but I always thought it was spelled Berenstein. I was a Stuart Little gal. 🙂
I am laughing a lot at this crazy way people get so carried away with things, Phil. I am not worried you and I are on parallel universes or any such wild assumptions! I will check my old books but the spelling is probably “stain” at the end. My kids are in their 30’s. They would laugh about this and my 86 year old Mom would wonder if this is somehow related to persecution and the Jewish people. She cracks me up!
The Jewish persecution theory was in one of the articles I read.
OMG – I could probably recite whole portions of the books as we had all of them through the ’80’s and my son loved them! They got us through the dentist and shots at the doctors, etc. etc. I missed the whole controversy over the name spelling which gave me a chance to walk down memory lane about those goodhearted goofy bears! Anita
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