This began as a simple post over the weekend, after I spotted a story on Facebook about Fox News’ recent attack on the Muppets. On Dec 2, Fox business anchor, Eric Bolling was shocked – shocked, he said, that the villain of The Muppets Movie was an oil baron named Tex Richman. Bolling asked his guest, Dan Gainor, if Hollywood was trying to brainwash children. “Absolutely,” said Gainor. “And they’ve been doing it for decades.” Bolling “wondered aloud why the Muppets couldn’t, for once, “have the evil person be the Obama administration” http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/shortcuts/2011/dec/06/muppet-movies-communist-plots-revealed.
Silly me! I thought the Muppets were all about friendship and kindness. Now we learn that Fozzie and Gonzo are really Occupy operatives! I guess the 1% need hugs too!
The Guardian article, referenced above said, “The discussion…didn’t just typify the Fox News mission to recast the outside world as leftwing propaganda; it threatened to usher in a whole new paradigm of stupid.” My initial post ended by questioning the phrase, “usher in,” since the new era of stupid has been here for a while.
But I held up my posting because Sunday night, I witnessed an escalation: the Administration struck back, via the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. It was broadcast at 11:00pm – sensible, since it wouldn’t have drawn many prime-time viewers. In essence, it was a boring political add, thinly disguised as a heartfelt “event.”
“Reality TV,” I said.
“You mean surreality,” my wife replied.
In a word, it was yucky. Nothing spontaneous or from the heart – the whole thing was as carefully choreographed as an episode of Glee, but without the humor, (good) music, or fun. I took the dogs out and was ready to call it a night when I heard Kermit’s voice. There he was, part of the festivities, ushering in a new era of political celebrity wars.
Celebs always appear in political dog and pony shows, and the Democrats usually win the game. They have the likes of Springsteen and Joni Mitchell. Hank Jr. is no match for them by any measure. And now the Dems are poised to win a war of non-human stars as well. Sure, the GOP can draft Buzz Lightyear, but Kermit and Piggy will always be fuzzier. And yet…
The whole thing strikes me as sad. I’m really sorry to see Jim Henson’s creations dragged into political nonsense. We’re used to a popular culture of false fronts and illusion, but I always hope our politics will be a little more real than commercials of happy shoppers dancing through K-mart.
Ain’t gonna happen. The parties learned their lesson from Jimmy Carter – only smiley faces get elected. [**for those too young to remember, during the 1980 presidential campaign, after a decade of stagflation, Carter said the country was “in the grip of malaise.” He lost the election by a landslide.]
My hope is that our collective attention-span for news has grown so short that the Muppet foray into politics will soon be forgotten. Let’s hope the PR machinery will roll on and focus on human folly, leaving the Muppets alone to be what they always have been – ambassadors of joy and goodwill, regardless of anyone’s politics.