I will say up front that I don’t have any 9-year old nieces and nephews readily available that require me to go to kids movies. Therefore outside of holiday season I’m not going to see movies like Cars, or Kung-Fu Panda, preferring my more sophisticated fare like Captain America, Thor and whatever movie that guy in the Dr. Pepper commercial is starring in.
I guess that explains why I missed the fact that the Muppet Movie is apparently the newest entrant into the ‘unnecessarily racist movie’ hall of fame.
Over at Tumbler Feed Millenium Kids there is a pretty extensive break-down of the new film The Muppets and how the characters The Moopets are a really obnoxious and blatantly racist foil for the main characters. Apparently like most film series that have had a long hiatus, the Muppet movie revolves around getting the whole gang back together. While Miss Piggy and Kermit have moved on to different careers, Fozzie has joined this modern knock off version of the Muppets called The Moopets.
What distinguishes the Moopets? Well first they are (*gasp*) gangsta rappers! They wear gold chains, are rude and obnoxious, none of them really talk save Ms. Poogy (the miss Piggy knock-off) and they are all conspicuously darker in color than any of the main Muppet characters. You can see where all of this is going.
The idea of ‘blackening’ up or ‘urbanizing’ classic characters is usually on an incredibly steep and banana peel-laden slope down to racial stereotyping and general bigotry. It runs the gambit from those lame knock-off Black Bart T-Shirts from just about any 90’s Black culture festival to the incredibly overdone joke about ‘hood’ or ‘ghetto’ Barbie. Pretty soon you’re into Skids and Mudflap territory and I’m about to walk out the theater.
I’m not the first person to start screaming that’s racist, but mining tired racial stereotypes is pretty damn lazy on the part of the Muppets writers. Mr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem were obvious knock offs of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, and while popular, the funk bands in the 70’s weren’t as mainstream as rap groups today. If anything, the real anti-thesis to the large musical numbers that defined the Muppets wouldn’t be an ensemble rap group but some soulless pop bubble gum boy band or teen crooner. I’m sure that M’Pets, Fozzie Beaver or the Back of Sesame Street Boys would’ve made the point just as well, but inspired less irritation.
Dr. Jason Johnson, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson