A Culture That Regards “The Muppet Show” As Offensive Is A Culture Without Humor, Nuance, Or Proportion. Thanks, Disney!

Muppets

Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, made episodes of “The Muppet Show” available to subscribers last week, and attached the disclaimer:

“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. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”

This alone will prevent me from ever considering a subscription to Disney+. How many negative descriptions apply to that disclaimer, in addition to the obvious “stupid”? Shameless woke virtue-signaling? Cowardly betrayal of a genius’s art? Grandstanding to curry favor with our new censorious and fascist Masters of the Left? Utter crapola?

Let’s see:

  • “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.” No, it doesn’t. Who was “mistreated”? Do any humans besides the mentally ill identify with puppets? Who ruled that making fun of anything was automatically “negative”?
  • “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.” “Wrong” how, exactly? The “Muppet Show” was vaudeville comedy in which all of humanity, and much of the Animal Kingdom, was mocked. Unless one believes that comedy and humor are inherently cruel and “wrong,” the show was not wrong then, and is no more wrong now.
  • “Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact…” What harmful impact? The burden is on Disney to show how “The Muppet Show’s” content ever harmed anyone or anything, or could. How did it do that? Quantify the harm. That claim is even more strained than the claim that the Washington NFL team’s former name was “harmful.”
  • “….learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.” Presumably this boilerplate means “learn to never challenge the speech and thought-restricting political correctness edicts now strangling the nation’s creativity, public discourse, art and education.”
  • “Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.Translation: “We pledge to make certain everything we create is political in intent, and furthers the Leftist narrative. “The Muppet Show” doesn’t qualify, because it had no political intent, and was just light-hearted and clever satire from the bad times before people realized that satire, unless it is directed at approved targets like Donald Trump, men and whites, is intrinsically harmful and offensive. But we still can make money from it, so we’ll still present this material we say is so bad, while making sure that we sneer at it in the process.”

I just checked, and Ann Althouse covered this story. She whiffed badly. She defends Disney, writing,

“Disney wants to be able to keep showing them and has — clunkily but wisely — slapped on a warning to fend off demands that the show be taken off the air. I’d like to give Disney some support here. They have a big old archive and they ought to make it available, not replace it all with paternalistic… maternalistic pablum.” 

Wisely?? Talk about a false dichotomy! Disney’s only choices were to either capitulate to the woke mob or preemptively agree with it while smearing innocent works of entertainment art? No, their other choice, the right choice, was to have the courage to say, strongly, prominently and clearly,

“The Muppet Show” is and was brilliant TV comedy and satire. It harmed no one, and brought–and will continue to bring— laughter and joy to millions. The effort to censor and otherwise denigrate and impugn the comedy and satire of past eras is a slippery slope leading to an absence of cultural diversity, and the leveling of our cultural landscape. Disney will not participate in or condone that effort, now or ever.”

Ann is applauding Disney’s grovel. We, corporations, Ann, anyone who cares about our values and liberties, have to stop groveling and stop giving the grovelers a pass. What is needed are principles and courage. Disney obviously has little of either.

30 thoughts on “A Culture That Regards “The Muppet Show” As Offensive Is A Culture Without Humor, Nuance, Or Proportion. Thanks, Disney!

  1. I learned about this yesterday. It’s ridiculous. The Soviet Union wouldn’t have been prouder of us if we’d completely wiped out all culture prior to 1990.

  2. Again, the basic problem is that these episodes are 40-45 years old, and they’re not in the public domain yet. If you invent an airplane part or a drug that saves lives, you get twenty years to exploit it, but if you come up with something that’s completely frivolous, you get 100 years. And so these enormous media companies are just managing portfolios, taking the easy route to continued profits while crowding out innovation.

  3. What I think we all have to take a step back and understand, and this is concerning all on it’s own, is that Disney does not actually have a “woke” culture.

    I mean, really…. These are the guys that airbrushed Finn’s picture out of the promotional material for “The Force Awakens” in Asian markets because they thought a black lead wouldn’t sell well among the racists over in China. These are also the guys that made a special effort to thank the regional Xinjiang government, who was actively genociding Uighur Muslims for all their support on the Mulan live action picture. “Cultural sensitivity” should be really low on the priority list for a company actively fellating dictatorial genociders, but I digress.

    Please. Please. Mr. Disney, tell us all about racism, fascism and genocide, we desperately need your moral compass. Or at least your experience.

    And they’re not alone. remember the stink about “Free Tibet” and the NBA? Blizzard’s Response to “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”? Bethesda’s “regional” gay pride logos (apparently the gay rainbow is just their normal black in the Middle East)?

    What does this tell us? Corporations are still primarily interested in money. They have no values. None. Zero. Racism? Pfft. Religious persecution? Please. Gay rights? So 2015. Active genocides? Don’t break the top 10. What they have are the values they associate with the markets they operate in, and that is a constantly shifting goalpost. Right now, they think that Americans care about these issues, so they are performatively pretending that those issues matter.

    Why should this concern us? Because they have massive PR engines dedicated to nothing other than figuring out how to milk more money out of their markets, and these are the values they’ve decided to perform. I think that the math is that you have two groups: Woke and Not Woke. Not Woke people tolerate Wokeism, and will subscribe to Disney+ for WandaVision and The Mandalorian because they want to watch it. Woke people bitch and scream, and tantrum like a herd of actively pinched babies on Methamphetamine, and the ruckus is bad for PR. So the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

    What positives can we take away from this? If there is one, it’s that if the culture changes, these institutions will turn off the BS spigot so fast your head will spin, not because they think we’re right, but because the wind blew that way. These are very reversible attitudes.

    • Ah, I see someone beat me to it. I had not refreshed the webpage.

      Disney only puts on a “woke” facade because it is a clever way of driving drama in the Twitter-verse, which creates free publicity and panders to the millennial audience, which right now has the largest amount of disposable capital.

      Then there may be internal reasons for promoting woke culture.

      Did you ever read the employment study that Whole Foods ran on some of their stores? The study suggested an inverse correlation between “diversity” in a location and the chance of employees unionizing. When you are working in a creative field, such as Disney’s entertainment division, you have a harder time getting diversity hires who have the prerequisite skills, so why not supplement that with diversity of ideology instead?

        • I don’t think they have to lie to be profitable, but I think they need to lie to be the *most* profitable.

          To an extent, this attitude has always been around: It’s not good enough to have a healthy profit margin, you have to have the best profit margin. All the profit is better than some of the profit. But something I’ve noticed in recent years is a really blatant push towards all the profit in a way that I don’t think is viable ong term.

          And Disney has always been on the cutting edge of these trends. DLC and Lootbox economies in videogames have been on the rise, but it was only when StarWars Battlefront 2 came out that the lootbox economy was so egregiously gambling that the US senate started to consider whether it should be classified as gambling and made illegal to sell to children. (My take: It probably should be. It’s very similar to the endorphin-hooking razzledazz of a slot machine.)

          It would be great if a company would actually have some kind of baseline on values… Y’know… Like “We won’t touch penises with genocidal dictatorships” or “We won’t put highly addictive, real money costing features in children’s games.” But that might hurt the bottom line.

          At least, in the meantime, if they could refrain from attempting to moralize at me, that’d be swell.

          • At some point, even having the most money isn’t the reason anymore. Disney has (and has had) a ripe opportunity embed a variety of images into impressionable (young) minds. Images that last a lifetime.

            That’s a lot of power, especially to those without ethics alarms.

    • The problem is they are crushing people and properties for not being woke enough, when they are doing and enabling and cheering some un-woke areas. They are talking out of both sides of their faces. If they really believed BLM was important, Finn should have been one of the largest characters on the posters. If they really believed Muslims should be abused or discriminated against, they should have filmed in a country where Muslims were dying in camps. If they respected the elderly, they would not have broken the OT trio to try to make their shallow characters look better. If they really wanted to be gender inclusive, (Rey would have been developed with flaws) and would have gone off in the sunset with Rose. They mouth these slogans and beat on moderates for woke points, but don’t actually walk the walk.

      I’ve heard many say the ST is only expensive fanfiction. I’ve probably read thousands of fanfictions, far more than hundreds of which are far better stories and better Star Wars than the sequel movies. Woke people seem to be unable to subsume their agendas enough to take a familiar world and new/familiar characters and tell a good story that satisfies.

  4. I try not to do business with companies that directly praise private military companies that perpetuate forced sterilization, live organ harvesting, state sanctioned rape and slavery. I dropped Disney+ after learning that the credits of the 2020 Disney movie “Mulan” included a special thank you for those responsible. It is almost impossible to fully divest yourself of “Made In China” (or “Made in PRC” that they have cleverly been using) but this for me was beyond the pale and “signature significance” as it’s called.
    If you cannot take a stand against this kind of evil, then nothing actually matters does it?
    The banality of it all I suppose, people will ignore anything as long as it’s happening to someone else far, far away.

    Quote from a Reason article on the subject:
    “After the movie’s Friday release “observers noted [that] in the final credits Disney offers ‘special thanks’ to eight government entities in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang where several re-education camps have been documented,” notes The Guardian. In addition:

    The film also expresses thanks to the “publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee”, the Chinese Communist party’s propaganda department in Xinjiang.”

  5. The problem I have with this (one of them, anyway) is they don’t even tell us what they THINK is offensive.

    I would not be the least bit surprised if Disney does not even know.

    The mob will determine that and Disney can simply acknowledge that it had already acknowledged that.

    If that is their strategy, we should make them look really foolish by raising a false uproar about the Swedish Chef.

    -Jut

    • Oh My God. If that Slate article isn’t “signature significance” that Slate and the entire Scandinavian peninsula are absolutely devoid of a sense of humor, I don’t know what does. Perhaps Kermmie can explain it to them.

  6. I’m guessing there’s a witch doctor sketch? I can’t think of what else would be so horrifying. The Muppets didn’t really tell a lot of Polack jokes.

    Oh no! They’re coming for Barney Miller next!

    • Actually there are 2 witch doctor sketches, one where Marvin Suggs performs the song “Witch Doctor” with the Muppaphone, after which the real witch doctor appears and replaces his head with a Muppaphone head, another where Kermit is lying in a hospital bed and a doctor and nurses sing “The Lime in the Coconut” while gradually changing into jungle denizens. There are also some Japan and China based sketches that rely on tinky-tinky music and deliberate confusion of the r and l sounds, a Mexican sketch or two using stereotypical “Speedy Gonzalez” talk, and so on. It’s really just cartoonish silliness, but at this point the race hucksters have become like academic feminists who snarl “that’s not funny!” at everything.

  7. It’s a game you can play today… we call it “spot the issue”. Old cartoons are rated PG 13 due to violence. Wreck it Ralph has “alcohol”. We have yet to find out what it is. Finally we decided they’re talking about the root beer. Good times.

  8. This is terrible. How will all of our children, at home, abandoned by the educational system, learn about the latest developments without the Muppets?

    OK, I do find this extremely offensive. Why can’t I be that funny when I am giving a presentation?

  9. We’ve have been gradually watching, because genius. The disclaimer doesn’t seem to be on all episodes, although some are ‘rated’ PG for tobacco usage – which is funny, because the skits set in bars with people acting drunk didn’t get a mention. The third episode got the mandatory 10 second boilerplate warning. Wayne and Wanda sang a line from “Indian Love Song” (When I’m calling yoooo-oooouuu…) before a muppet dressed as an Indian walked on screen with a feather in his headband and a tomahawk in his hand and asked “Did you call me?” No accent, green skin. End sketch.

    That’s the bit. That merited the warning. Thankfully, there wasn’t one on the fourth episode, either. Redneck stereotypes don’t seem to get a warning. We did note that in the first 4 episodes, there were two numbers which were largely female guest star dancing/beating up a full sized muppet. Those were a little uncomfortable to watch beyond the initial laugh. But neither one merited the warning, apparently. Did start an interesting discussion about if there is any way to square the circle of incorporating various cultures and races in art WITHOUT resorting to anything which could be regarded as a stereotype, especially one which could be seen as negative. Possibly the tomahawk could be construed as depicting Indians as warlike? Of course, many were, but others were not, and wouldn’t want to be associated with the rest, I suppose. That also assumes that “warlike” is a negative trait, which also reveals a fair bit about our current social mores, doesn’t it?

    All in all, it’s an annoyance as I try to watch the show, a point against Disney, and a situation wonderfully absurd enough that I’m hoping one of the upcoming episodes has a bit about it – although it might be a bit TOO ridiculous for the Muppets. Reality has bypassed satire once again.

    • Miss Piggy doing her karate chop and shouting “HIYaH!” Sorry, that’s just priceless: Hot Lips Houlihan as an aggressive sow. Perfect. Room for all kinds of indentifants to be offended, including anyone who identifies as a sow.

  10. My son grew up with the Muppets. He was reading at age three, and as an adult is an astoundingly independent thinker. What part the Muppets played in this I do not know, but I DO know that we watched several Muppet shows with him. He has no biases related to the Muppets that I can see, though he is adamantly against stupidity and bias.

  11. HT and Samuel are correct that corporations and businesses are motivated by their bottom line and care very little about the social costs to these kinds of actions. To Disney, the issue is, “Will putting a disclaimer in a Muppets show really harm our brand? Can we leverage this to increase our brand’s market position?” And, if the motivation is making money for its shareholders, then Disney is going to take a risk expecting that the company will not suffer financially. When the smoke clears, the disclaimers will stay or go, but Disney will not care one way or the other. Disney put the disclaimer on and the credits to China because China has a bigass market to sell stupid goods to, so what do they care? Genocide? Who cares? Shit to sell.

    The bigger cultural issue is that this is about power for the Left. And, that is important.

    jvb

  12. Will the warnings extend to Sesame Street? There is often math (known to the state of California to cause racism) involved in their episodes.

    • Early Sesame Street already carries a warning that it’s no longer considered appropriate for kids, due to evolution in childcare theory and the trippy and sometimes scary nature of some of the 1970s cartoon shorts, some of which were drawn by Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things are”).

  13. Can’t count the number of times that I’ve been watching an old movie and commented “Well, they certainly couldn’t remake this today.” Let the current woke ridiculousness and hypocrisy remind you to purchase DVDs of the original unedited/uncensored versions of the cartoons and classic movies that you grew up enjoying – e.g. Looney Tunes, Blazing Saddles, Animal House – to share with your grandkids…at the appropriate age, of course.

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