And then they came for the Muppets...
If you want to catch Johnny Cash singing "Ghost Riders in the Sky" with a posse of puppets, you'd better act fast. The Man in Black could get away with uttering the word "Hell" on The Muppet Show. He will likely not, however, survive that Confederate flag hanging on the set.
In what is but the latest to be hit by the destroyer of mirth that is "wokeness," eighteen episodes of The Muppet Show — all five seasons of which are now on the Disney+ streaming service — have been marked for shame.
The "offensive content," which also includes episodes with Kenny Rogers and Steve Martin, now carries the following disclaimer before the show:
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.
In some regions, The Muppet Show is available only through an adult's Disney+ account. Arguably, its target audience is shut out completely absent a grown-up in the room.
Yes, it has come to this: the Muppets are damned as being racist and perpetuating unfair depictions of ethnic groups. Kermit the Frog is now the ringleader of a gang of offensive hoodlums. I'm waiting for der Swedish Chef to get yanked as an offensive stereotype of Scandinavians. Animal is obviously a parody of manic depressives. And they don't get much more Hispanic than Pepe the Prawn.
I am convinced that few of the people responsible for these disclaimers of "objectionable material" have children of their own. They are the third and fourth generations of the "child psychologists" who brought Sesame Street into our living rooms fifty years ago. That series was a wild success and commendably so.
And then its producers — and the child "experts" backing them up — didn't know when to stop. Sesame Street became too politicized...and now I'm veering into "Elmo bad" territory.
But by that point, everything was becoming politicized. What Disney has done to The Muppet Show is the natural extension of an ongoing trend. It would be downright laughable...except that the ones who are paying the price most are young children.
These declaimers are micro-sermons about the virtues of inclusion. They are meant to "foster dialogue." But anyone who sits the children down for a heart-to-heart discussion about Muppet morality probably doesn't get the point of the Muppets anyway. These disclaimers, along with all the others that Disney is slapping onto Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan and other films, accomplish nothing of the sort. They are nuisances at best. By the end of the show, the average child will have forgotten all about them.
Does anyone sincerely believe that twelve seconds of patronizing about cultural misappropriation is going to be taken seriously? Are the average parents going to hit the pause button and spend the next five minutes talking to their children about the insensitivity of Miss Piggy and religious proscriptions against pork?
No, they are not, at least if they are not wokesters. They want the seven bucks they pay to Disney each month to fund an escape from the cares of this weary world, not to be plunged into it that much more. They want entertainment, not haranguing about political correctness. Cue the music, light the lights...and get on with the show already, dammit!
Progressivism destroys nearly everything that it touches. It is especially merciless toward whatever is pure and enjoyable to young people and the young at heart. Twenty-five years ago, Clinton-championed regulations at the Federal Communications Commission destroyed Saturday morning cartoons in favor of "educational" programming. In a previous article, I touched upon how the Star Wars franchise is being diminished by cancel culture. It is becoming ridiculously difficult to find a Speedy Gonzalez animated short, out of the inane notion that they belittle those of Mexican heritage.
At this rate, the only acceptable children's entertainment will be ancient reruns of Clutch Cargo. And maybe a Krofft Brothers series. Even then, we're left with speculating about the connotations of H.R. Pufnstuf, but I digress.
It is an imperfect world. It always will be. For good or ill, stereotypes will forever be part of that. I am rather glad that they are. Created without malice, they are but one way in which we can laugh at ourselves. They mean we don't have to take ourselves too seriously. I am a person with a severe mental condition called bipolar disorder...and I don't mind being compared to a Muppet or a cartoon character if it comes to that. Because I learned long ago: You have to be able to laugh at yourself. The ones who don't? The people who insist that we must be sternly policed by political correctness lest we actually enjoy ourselves? They are the truly insane ones.
And really, who wants to live in a world with humor ripped from it?
Children have only a few years of innocence to enjoy, before they're confronted with the harsh cruelties of the world. We do them a dire disservice when we foist the troubles and politics of adulthood upon them. Is it deliberate? Could it be that child-rearing "experts" actually intend to — gasp! — corrupt the minds of our young people?
Because whether by design or by good intention but wildly flawed execution, that is precisely what they are doing.
Christopher Knight invites you to visit his blog at TheKnightShift.com, which like the Muppets has been likened to a variety show of colorful characters.
Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.