The Common Good

"The Muppets": Triumphant Return of Beloved Frog or Insidious Communist Propaganda??

Maybe I was so excited about seeing Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo make their return to the big screen in the new film The Muppets that the insipid rendition of The Internationale, running behind the opening credits, didn't register on my radar.

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Or maybe I was so entirely enthralled by what I had just witnessed in the thoroughly charming, unabashedly joyous 98-minute movie that I failed to notice that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were listed as executive producers when the end credits rolled.

Thankfully, a report on the Fox Business Network brought both of these terribly troubling details to my attention.

While I was watching a movie that chronicled the valiant attempts to reunite the world’s favorite frog, pig and a um ... errr ... whatever (sorry Gonzo) by a plucky new Muppet named Walter, Fox's Eric Bolling and Dan Gainor — with their decidedly more finely-tuned left-wing conspiracy detectors — were witnessing, apparently, “liberal Hollywood using class warfare to brainwash our kids."

 

 

It's OK. You may now be quite confused, which is understandable. 

What could Bolling and Gainor have against The Muppets?

What could the movie have done to cause so much offense?

I mean, Sam Eagle got loads of screen time.

Did Fozzie make the GOP presidential candidates the punch line to one of his high-caliber jokes?

Did Bolling Statler and Waldorf heckle Bolling and Gainor?

Were the Fox talking heads offended that the greatest love affair of modern times is between a frog and a pig?

Or perhaps they detected a tacit nod of approval to the gay community in the Muppets' cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" even if it didn't make it into the film?

 

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. It turns out that The Muppets committed a far more serious transgression — the gravest of sins — it poked fun at corporate America.

That’s right, poor defenseless corporate America — in this case, the particularly vulnerable oil industry — faced the mighty wrath and unmitigated cruelty of felted bullies. 

Mee mee mee mee. Galileo. Meee mee mee mee. Galileo!

The villain of the new Muppets movie, one Tex Richman (see what they did there?), played perfectly, down to the last maniacal laugh by Oscar-winner Chris Cooper, is an oil baron, intent on destroying The Muppet theater so that he can drill for oil below it.

It’s up to The Muppets to save their decrepit theater from Richman's evil plans the only way they know how — through montages, big musical numbers, and travelling by map.

All are orchestrated with virtuosity. Jason Segel’s script and Brett Mackenzie’s songs (what could be more perfect than half of the kiwi comedy team Flight Of The Conchords penning all-new songs such as  “Man or Muppet”?) do justice to everything you love about The Muppets and bring it up to date for a whole new generation to enjoy. It is the very best of what a cinematic homage can be (see Hot Tub Time Machine for a more adult example on the same.)

The Muppetsmovie is, of course, filled with the classic celebrity cameos, laugh-out-loud moments of physical comedy, and plenty of jokes that are there for the benefit of the grown-ups in the movie theater.

This is not a movie about the villain — it’s a triumphant return for everyone’s favorite amphibian.

But is that the conclusion that Fox Business News brain trust reaches? Nope.

Rather than, as this Huffington Post reporter notes, the film's plot comprising “puppets looking to save a place they once loved,” Bolling and Gainor insist that The Muppets is a targeted attack on the wealthy – a piece of propaganda against the "1 percent."

“The only thing on that screen that should be green," Gainor said, “is Kermit."

Oh, Mahna Mahna. Whatever.

Even if this movie does have a message of environmental sustainability and economic justice, is that such a bad thing?

What frog wouldn’t be concerned about the effects of climate change on his swamp? And as members of a community — an acting and performing troupe — the Muppets naturally are concerned about the welfare (financial, physical and psychological) of their compadres as they edge closer to their retirement years.

Sadly, Bolling and Gainor probably still are annoyed that Kermit and Fozzie turned left (and not right) in the bear's pre-catalytic-converter, pollution-spewing Studebaker at the fork in the road in 1979.

That's their loss.

The Muppets is a great movie. Fun and honest, celebrating the best in people (and their felted friends) and doing it all with song, dance, ample puns and smile-inducing good humor.

Go see it. Love the puppets and leave the politics to the pundits.

 

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Palmer is a communications assistant at Sojourners. Follow Jack on Twitter at @JackPalmer88.

 

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