The "Muppet Show" disclaimer "This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures."

"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." 

The NY Post reports, adding "It’s unstated precisely what Disney considers to be offensive on the show, but some characters depict Native American, Middle Eastern and Asian people. And in season five, legendary country singer Johnny Cash is seen performing in front of a Confederate flag." 

"Native American, Middle Eastern and Asian people"? The ethnic group I remember getting poked fun at was the Swedish... 


But who cares about the feelings of the Swedish these days? 

As for Johnny Cash, he took his mark within some set designer's complicated notion of what "country and western" must mean and it had a Confederate flag and a U.S. flag as wall hangings:

These shows were made between 1976 and 1981. Basically, during the Carter administration. Disney wants to be able to keep showing them and has — clunkily but wisely — slapped on a warning to fend off demands that the show be taken off the air. I'd like to give Disney some support here. They have a big old archive and they ought to make it available, not replace it all with paternalistic... maternalistic pablum. 

I'm seeing some criticism like: "Nothing screams offensive like fury puppets. When I think of a cultural danger to society, it’s obviously Jim Henson’s Muppets." 

I object... and not just because that critic wrote "fury" for "furry." I object because that criticism is offensive to puppets.

Puppets can excel at delivering offense. Here's an example of striving to use puppets to offend:


From the clip: "[Puppets are] human enough to be believable, but imaginary enough to be convincing when they're doing things that are crazy."

Read about "Spitting Image" and its U.S. counterpart "D.C. Follies." There are deliberately offensive puppets — real satire. I'd like to see more of that — satire of specific individuals.

But many things done with puppets are just stereotypes. I know I had some marionettes when I was a child circa 1960. One was a clown. One was a cowboy. And one was a Chinese person. It was blatant stereotyping, similar to the idea of the Chinese seen in "Fantasia": 


"Fantasia" is, of course, one of the gems of the Disney archive. There are people today who would demand that no one be allowed to see that film — that film and many other works of art. Disney seems to be trying to manage the pressure. I wouldn't just laugh at Disney for taking its problem seriously and putting up a warning. 

"This program includes negative depictions" — ha ha. How can you do comedy without negative depictions? Isn't that the whole idea?

ADDED: "Gary, I hate to break it to you, but the world is on the brink of disaster...."


AND: Speaking of "South Park" and disclaimers, "South Park" has always — or it seems like always — begun with this disclaimer (which is also a parody of disclaimers):

[Author: [email protected] (Ann Althouse)]

Tags: Comedy, Law, South Park, Censorship, Disney, Puppets, Ethnicity, Children's Tv, Flags, Warnings, Ny Post, Gary, Carter, Johnny Cash, Fantasia, Jim Henson, Ann Althouse


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