Column: Triggered by Dr. Seuss and ‘The Muppet Show’

The hottest theme in liberal punditry is mocking conservatives for their objections to Woke Culture doing its long march through American entertainment conglomerates. It’s not “real news.”

NBC late-night “comedian” Seth Meyers denounced the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, claiming “the only truly unifying thing at CPAC, the beating heart of modern conservatism, were the dumb, invented culture war grievances, as evidenced by their complaints about total nonsense, like the Muppets and Mr. Potato Head.”

First, let’s not accept Seth Meyers as a champion of nuance. Last May, he compared Donald Trump and George W. Bush to serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. Talk about total nonsense.

Second, everyone understands why you talk about beloved toys and puppet shows. They’re well-known by nearly everyone, unlike oh, all the goodies the liberals hid in the $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” package.

These were called “cancel culture” controversies, but that’s not exactly precise. Hasbro mysteriously suggested it would remove the “Mr.” from Mr. Potato Head, and then backtracked. The Disney Plus streaming service has added content warnings to 18 episodes of The Muppet Show. That’s not “canceling Kermit the Frog.”

Then the publishers of classic Dr. Seuss books announced they would no longer sell six old titles they decided had racially insensitive imagery. Once again, this isn’t “outlawing Dr. Seuss” or banning The Cat in the Hat. But it can be defined as very negative branding of Dr. Seuss and the Muppets. Dr. Seuss and Muppet creator Jim Henson weren’t racist, but these controversies might imply they were.

Fifty years ago, I adored the Dr. Seuss books, the drawings and the poetry. Our family watched The Muppet Show every Saturday night when it originally aired. These defined the words “family entertainment.” Conservatives are mocking the Left for attempting to turn wholesome products into loathsome products.  

This debate needs more precision, not less. What pages in the Dr. Seuss books are objectionable? TV stories on it won’t show any images. Some images of African savages clearly seem like antiquated stereotyping, but others are more debatable. You can’t debate it if no one will show it.

Disney claimed “Rather than removing this content, we see an opportunity to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all.” Open dialogue? Disney has failed to offer any explanation over what exactly earned a content warning in The Muppet Show.

The Guardian reports in the third season, an episode with British comedian Spike Milligan closes with the song “It’s a Small World After All,” including about eight seconds as “as a Chinese person with exaggerated front teeth and a long braid.” That’s surely a stereotype. But he gets repeatedly shooed off the stage by Sam the Eagle.

It’s also suggested that in one flagged episode from 1980 Johnny Cash sang with several Muppets with a Confederate flag in the background. Cash didn’t sing “Dixie” or speak warmly of slavery. He sang “Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog,” with the gag that it offended Rowlf the Muppet dog.

 

Meanwhile, left-wing media outlets like National Public Radio offered “Song of the Year” honors to the smutty rap song “WAP” (for Wet Ass Pussy), and there are no content warnings for that on YouTube, not even the explicit version with the N-words.

That is not wholesome family entertainment. Naturally, Cardi B doesn’t let her daughter listen to her music. It just pays the bills. But everyone else’s children can access that on iPad with no more limitation than five seconds of advertising video. 

So save us the trigger warnings about people being harmed by Dr. Seuss books or Muppet Show episodes.

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