The Kermunist Manifesto*
This week, Fox Business accused the Muppets of trying to brainwash kids. “It’s amazing how far the left will go to manipulate your kids and give them the anti-corporate message,” guest Dan Gainor of Media Research Center tells Eric Bolling, Fox Business host and Professional Tool.
Now, I tend to avoid writing about politics. It’s not my strong suit and I don’t like to write about topics where I don’t feel like I have all the information. But Fox decided to come all up in MY MUPPET HOUSE. So fine. Let’s do this.
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled on major plot points.
At its big, warm, fuzzy heart, The Muppets is about nostalgia. I grew up with the Muppet show and the Muppet movies so I was worried about how a new movie would translate and the changes that would be needed to appeal to an audience that hadn’t seen a Muppet on the big screen in 12 years.
The movie makers decided that they couldn’t ignore this timespan, so the movie is essentially a story of rebirth. The Muppets have gone their separate ways and Kermit is in a big, somewhat run down Hollywood mansion, on his own. The Muppet Studios are in ruins, with all its attractions shut down or condemned. The Studio is about to be sold to an oil baron named Tex Richman ostensibly to turn it into a museum.
Enter Walter, a young Muppet from Smalltown, U.S.A. who is the Muppets’ biggest fan. Walter discovers that Richman is actually planning on demolishing the Muppet Theater to drill for oil under it. Walter finds Kermit and explains that due to a loophole in the original Muppet contract, they can save the theater if they can raise $10 million dollars to buy it outright.
Richman’s character is at the heart of the problem Fox has with the movie. “Liberal Hollywood depicting a successful businessman as ‘evil,’ that’s not new.” says Bolling. And here’s the thing. I don’t fully disagree. The archetype/stereotype of the Evil Corporation or the Corrupt Corporation is a common one in many storylines. It makes for an easy target and an easy villain. And, propagating stereotypes to kids isn’t a great idea. The Mad Scientist engenders a mistrust of science, the Evil Genius fosters a mistrust of intelligence and the Mutant Absolutely Corrupted with Power makes kids refuse to eat genetically modified food. So Evil Tex Richman may be making kids think all oil companies or corporations in general are bad.
The best villains have depth, shades of grey and layers of complexity. The best villains make you wonder if they really are villains.
But this is a Muppet movie. The movie isn’t about the villain. It’s about the Muppets. The villain is essentially a plot mechanism for the Muppets to showcase their talents against. He’s a giant wall against which the Muppets can hit their fuzzy tennis balls for our entertainment.
So is it possible that Fox is right? Is the Muppet movie sending a bad message to our kids?
Oh, of course not. And not because Fox has never been right about anything, ever. Because the message of the Muppet movie is actually all about capitalism and the American dream:
- Walter, the Everyman Muppet, comes from nowhere and eventually surpasses his wildest dreams by becoming a Muppet himself by working hard and believing in himself.
- When the Muppets realize they need money, they decide to put on a show to earn it. They don’t want any handouts or bailouts! They use their talent and do it all on their own.
- While apart, the Muppets don’t just fade away. They build careers on their own, to varying degrees of success. Ms. Piggy becomes the plus-size editor of Vogue in Paris. Gonzo becomes a hugely successful plumbing magnate.
Plus, at the end, they FAIL. At the end of the movie, they DON’T RAISE THE MONEY. They don’t even come close. That’s how real life works – even if you work hard, sometimes you fail. At the very end, as they leave the Muppet Theater, Kermit says that it doesn’t matter. That if they have to start at the bottom and work their way back up, that’s what they’ll do.
AND, Richman even redeems himself by giving the Muppets the theater back! Admittedly, that’s only because Gonzo threw a bowling ball at his head but STILL…
So, yeah, I don’t really know what Fox’s problem is. Maybe they’re mad that in the movie, Fox is the first network to turn down the Muppet telethon. Or that the most Republican representative, Sam the American Eagle, is basically relegated to a background singer in this movie. Or maybe they just didn’t actually watch the movie.
In conclusion, Penguins.
*Thanks to Steve D for the title suggestion 🙂 And to Maggie and Brian G for the amazing Muppet/Communist artwork!