The Misappropriation of The Muppet Show
In today’s news:
Disney+ gives The Muppet Show an “offensive content” disclaimer before select episodes.
Before certain episodes of The Muppet Show, Disney+ now airs the following:
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together,” the disclaimer states.
I grew up with The Muppets, and I suspect many of you reading this did too. For those of you who may not know or remember, The first Muppet Show aired in 1976 and it ran for 5 seasons. Featuring Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, The Muppet Show was what happened if Sesame Street met Vaudeville. It was sketch comedy for puppets. It was Saturday Night Live for children of the 70’s.
Even my parents loved The Muppet Show! They got to see stars they knew, like John Denver, Johnny Cash, and Jim Neighbors, make a guest appearance on the downside of their careers, while I got to see the stars I knew, like Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie Bear on the upside of their careers.
I loved the craziness of Animal playing the drums, or how The Great Gonzo stunts always went awry. The experiments of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew always backfired on his assistant, Beaker. The Swedish Chef never quite got the recipe right, and everyone on the show was subject to the ridicule of Statler and Waldorf…the two wise-cracking old guys in the balcony.
“I guess that all’s well, ends well.”
“Doesn’t matter to me, as long as it ends!”
~ Statler and Waldorf
The Muppets were so loved at the time, they were followed with the horrific “Muppet Babies,” which is what every successful show did at the time to try and attract new audiences and further develop a brand that should’ve been left the hell alone. Just ask Scrappy Doo and Tiny Toons.
40+ years after The Muppet Show curtain closed for the last time, what does Disney+ now find so offensive about 18 episodes? The only episode they mentioned in article was Johnny Cash performing “Ghost Riders in the Sky” while standing in front of a Confederate Flag.
Let’s put this in perspective. I think it’s fair to note that Disney was making “offensive” shows (by today’s standards) LONG before The Muppet Show.
Snow White (1937) and Sleeping Beauty (1959) received their “true love’s kiss.” Never mind that both women were “out cold” when they received that kiss. In today’s view, is that a romantic notion or a non-consensual kiss? Maybe it was even a pre-meditated act of assault, the pre-cursor to date rape.
The 1941 movie “Dumbo” has a black crow in it named “Jim Crow,” and the other crows speak “jive talk.” The faceless black circus workers sing lyrics “We slave until we’re almost dead.” Did I mention that baby Dumbo drinks a little too much and gets drunk? Is it fair to ask Disney about the differences between entertainment or covert racism? Is giving your kid some booze just being a negligent mom or child abuse?
Remember the tune “Zip A Dee Doo Dah?” That’s from Disney’s movie “Song of the South” which remains locked in a vault. The movie portrays the ideal master-slave relationship. And maybe their was such a relationship…back in 1946…but not now!
Pinocchio (1940) was locked in a cage and could now be considered an illegal immigrant if he were in Mexico, or just a victim of child-trafficking.
Yep! Disney+ sure knows “offensive” when they see it, and I think it’s important to point out they’ve been profiting from it for years. It’s also fair to say millions of people truly enjoyed Disney movies, and didn’t even think about it being offensive at the time. But now? We’re on high alert! Very sensitive people are constantly crying “that’s offensive!” and demand warning labels, or worse yet, the removal of people, ideas, and things from public view.
There are some people that will spend their time fretting that Snow White will no longer be a vegan thanks to that poisonous apple. Or maybe they’ll worry that she was unconscious when that prince thought about date raping her while her vertically challenged friends looked on. They’ll complain that Snow White wasn’t trans or lesbian. They will miss the fun and beautiful message of finding love, and love is universal.
Some people will focus on the Muppet Show episode with the Confederate flag in the backdrop, and and totally spin a tale of racism in their head. But hopefully, those people will be able to enjoy a few seconds of a legendary performer sing a duet with The Great Gonzo.
People who are constantly looking for things that offend them, will only find things that offend them.
People who look for things that bring them joy and happiness, only find things that bring them joy and happiness.
People can choose darkness, or they can choose light.
Which one do you think will bring about a happier life?
If you ever need assistance on changing your focus, don’t hesitate to give Wings Hypnosis a call. This is, after all, what we do.
As for me? I will spend the next few seconds choosing between whether to glean un-cooking tips from “The Swedish Chef” or appreciate the genius of the USS Swinetrek in “Pigs in Space.”