In the Great Conversations of our Times, the debate over whether or not Kermit the Frog has a secret communist agenda is probably pretty low on the list. Yet here we are in the wake of a rant by Eric Bolling:
Ethan Sacks from the NYDaily:
The Muppets and their cousins “Sesame Street” have long been targets for conservatives convinced liberal writers shoehorn their politics into shows and movies targeting kids.
Except, of course, this may not be necessarily true, via The Blaze:
But is the idea really that far-fetched? Consider the news that broke in May. Then, author Ben Shapiro in his book “Primetime Propaganda” revealed that Sesame Street executives admitted to sneaking in liberal messages:
For example, Shapiro quotes Mike Dann, one of Sesame Street’s founding executives, saying it “was not made for the sophisticated or the middle class.” Using the premise, the team worked in all sorts of messages, including Grover breaking bread with a hippie and Oscar the grouch who was supposed to address “conflicts arising from racial and ethnic diversity.” Dann also admitted he used the program in the wake of 9/11 to highlight peaceful alternatives to war.
“Sesame Street tried to tackle divorce, tackled ‘peaceful conflict resolution’ in the aftermath of 9/11 and had [gay actor] Neil Patrick Harris on the show playing the subtly-named ‘fairy shoeperson’,” writes Shapiro, according to THR.
And that raises a point I think some conservatives don’t think about enough. Yes, one reason Hollywood doesn’t routinely come out with movies depicting social workers and environmentalists as evil murderers is that Hollywood is run by liberals. But there’s another reason Hollywood hasn’t come out with such fare: Because it would be really, really, hard.
Movie villains need power to be plausible. They need the ability to tell their henchmen to go do bad things. Rich people have that power. That’s why rich people — rich drug dealers, rich gangsters, rich politicians, rich cult leaders, and rich businessmen — are often cast as villains. Villains also tend to need a big ego and fairly selfish motives. They also need personalities or lifestyles that elicit envy or resentment from audiences. The simple fact is that it’s easy to cast businessmen with those characteristics.
Yes, personally, I would love it — and find it vastly more plausible – if the villain in the Muppet movie wasn’t looking to pump oil in downtown Los Angeles, but was instead trying to use eminent domain to create a new halfway house for drug addicts and sex offenders. But come on, that’s just not going to happen, and not just because Hollywood is liberal.
Sigh. The use of an oil tycoon in the movie as a villain is supposed to be a generic and ridiculous caricature (maniacal laugh?), not some insidious communist Muppet agenda to brainwash children. Here’s a good tweet conversation from Ryan Lizza and Goldberg:
Ryan Lizza – @JonahNRO A lot of the criticism (not you) assumes that there is something inherently wrong–even corrupt–w/cultural products have a POV.
Jonah Goldberg – @RyanLizza I agree that’s dumb. But what offends many on the right is the needless politicization of movies. People want safe harbors.
Ryan Lizza – @JonahNRO I don’t think being a bad guy in Muppets movie being oilman is all that political. Only became truly politicized by conservative media.
I think some people, like usual, confuse their spot on the political ideological spectrum with being the center of the ideological universe. Thinking it more plausible, or even desirable, to present social workers and environmentalists as evil murderers strikes me as a minority viewpoint (one dominated by pundits who habitually see altruism as the primary driver of modern enslavement), and therefore not a profitable target segment for Disney. The fact that you interpret themes and messages in the Muppets as being overtly liberal says more about yourself than it does about Kermit the Frog.
(updated for clarity on the Twitter conversation)