Fox is wrong to criticize Muppets movie

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I was recently browsing the news online when I saw a headline that caught my eye: “Fox accuses ‘The Muppets‘ of brainwashing kids.” Being a fan of The Muppets — I saw the movie two weeks ago — I was intrigued to see what nefarious hidden message that Fox had apparently uncovered in the latest tale of Kermit the Frog, his porcine love and their wacky friends.

To be fair, it wasn’t all of Fox that was saying The Muppets was brainwashing kids, it was only Fox Business Channel newsman Eric Bolling. His argument was based on the fact that the villain of the new Muppets movie is a slimy oil tycoon named Tex Richman. Richman wants to buy the Muppets’ studio so that he can demolish it and drill for oil under it.

“What’s actually going on here? Is liberal Hollywood using class warfare to brainwash our kids?” Bolling asked.

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I would like to think of myself as relatively conservative, and I would certainly agree that Hollywood leans a bit to the left, but I think Bolling’s argument is ridiculous.

First, if you watch the movie, you realize that it’s campy and completely tongue-in-cheek. The film makes fun of a variety of movie conventions, including spontaneous song-and-dance numbers, and breaking the “fourth wall” to acknowledge the audience. The plot is supposed to be ridiculous and that’s the reason the villain is an over-the-top oilman, complete with a maniacal laugh.

Second, well-meaning parents who don’t let their kids watch The Muppets, because of Bolling’s argument, are doing their children a real disservice. Unlike many children’s movies out there today, this movie doesn’t talk down to its audience and there’s very little that parents would find controversial (other than maybe Fozzie’s “fart shoes,” but fart jokes seem to be a requirement for any kids’ movie nowadays).

The film has subtle but meaningful messages about finding your hidden talent, learning who your true friends are, and working together to accomplish a goal. It would be sad for children not to hear these messages just because parents are worried about “brainwashing.”

Third, if parents are that worried about a movie’s messages, then they should talk to their children after watching the movie. They can let them know that even though the villain in the film was mean, there are a lot of really good rich people in the world as well. After all, isn’t that part of being a parent?

I grew up watching The Muppet Show, the Muppets’ other movies, and Sesame Street, and it was a nostalgic delight to watch those characters take to the big screen once again. I would hate to think that some children out there might be denied this joy and entertainment, just because their parents are worried their kids will turn into little Marxists if they see the film.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. His column will appear regularly each Wednesday. To reach him, email