Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center once attacked the Muppets for being conservatively incorrect in having an oil tycoon as a villain in a movie, so recent moves in the Muppetverse were sure to set the MRC off.
Gabriela Pariseau complained that some episodes of the 1970s "Muppet Show" being rerun on Diskey+ now have disclaimers at the beginning warning viewers of outdated offensive content:
According to Kermit the Frog, "It's not easy being green," and apparently it's not easy being The Muppet Show, either. Disney+ just couldn’t resist slapping an offensive content label on the beloved family show.
It seems Disney is keenly aware of the popularity and profit value of Muppets content so the streaming service must defend why it refuses to ban the show entirely. The Disney warning explains, "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." That’s all fine and great but most families don’t need Disney’s parenting advice to decide what is appropriate for their kids and when it is appropriate to have conversations about racism and cultural appropriation.
It’s interesting that Disney singles out the cultural offenses of The Muppets. Part of what makes the Muppets funny is the fact that, like all good humor, it lightheartedly offends and makes fun of everyone. Anyone who has seen The Muppets knows the franchise is politically incorrect about a whole bunch of things that make viewers both cringe and laugh at its brilliant comedic charm. As it is with many shows designed to keep the whole family entertained, much of so-called “offensive” or inappropriate content goes over kids’ heads and is left for them to enjoy or understand when they are older.
We would remind Pariseau that, again, her employer didn't think it was being "lightheartedly offended" through its choice of a villain for one film.
The MRC then took offense for being mocked for taking offense at this. A March 3 post by Alex Christy raged at NBC late-night-host Seth Meyers for calling out right-wingers pushing "invented culture war grievances" like the complaints over the Muppets, insisting that conservatives are "merely responding to the left's culture war offensive" and huffily adding: "Meyers, sounding like the political hack he is, of course omitted that it is the left's culture warriors, who motivated by "invented" grievances," urge content advisories for The Muppets on Disney+ and the turning of Mr. Potato Head into a genderless spud."
MRC executive Tim Graham similarly went into defense in his March 5 column, just like he did regarding Dr. Seuss: "Our family watched The Muppet Show every Saturday night when it originally aired. These defined the words 'family entertainment.' Conservatives are mocking the Left for attempting to turn wholesome products into loathsome products."
Then, Liondsay Kornick spent an entire March 25 post being mad that "Sesame Street" is adding two African-American Muppets:
The famous children’s show Sesame Street is determined to talk about race whether we like it or not. Their latest terrible example is the introduction of two African-American Muppets to “educate children about race.”
On March 23, the educational series introduced two new Muppets in an online video. As part of the series "ABCs of Racial Literacy," Elmo talks to 5-year-old Wes and his father Elijah about race and what it means to them. Elmo asks the two why their skin is dark and Elijah explains that it’s because of melanin and how “the color of our skin is an important part of who we are.”
Color me skeptical but telling kids that skin color is “an important part” of them doesn’t feel like it’ll end racism. In fact, suggesting that children can inherently judge others by race is far more racist than anything I’ve seen lately. Besides, we all know that the “racial justice” they’re talking about is the BLM abolishing the police variety. It always is.
Also, considering the most famous characters are colors not seen in the human race, Elmo (red), Big Bird (yellow), Cookie Monster (blue), and other more human-like characters like Bert (yellow) and Ernie (orange), was there really anyone really whining about Muppet color representation? And it’s not like Sesame Street was lacking in actual black characters beyond ones made of felt. How can a show that premiered in 1969 somehow think it’s more racist in 2021?
I can’t answer those questions, but Sesame Street will be sure to avoid them. And then they’ll claim it’s racial justice.
And the MRC will claim it's racial pandering.