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Racial Coding in The Muppets

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Epictetus, Dec 11, 2011.

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  1. Epictetus

    Epictetus Active Member

    Here's an interesting article on the new film:

    I need to be cautious about jumping into this personally, as the fact that I did not like the new film makes me very likely to be prejudiced in favor of anything that criticizes it. But I'd be curious what other folks thought of this critique.
  2. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I'll admit I did think this might happen when I saw the Moopets. But I don't think the filmmakers intended anything offensive, definitely not.
  3. Epictetus

    Epictetus Active Member

    It's very, very easy to be offensive, racist, or cruel without ever intending to do so.
    Nasubionna likes this.
  4. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Or it's very, very easy to be misunderstood. If people are looking for these things, they tend to find them.
  5. Epictetus

    Epictetus Active Member

    That's something of a non-sequitur - you noticed it yourself, as you admitted above. Then you said that despite your concern, you "don't think the filmmakers intended anything offensive".

    My point is that your argument is not a good one: I can very easily believe that the filmmakers did not intend anything offensive, but that they created something that promoted offensive, racist images. Racism has never required that a person be cruel: one of the most awful things about it is that people can believe they are being incredibly kind to the very people they are harming.
  6. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I noticed what could be misinterpreted. I did not notice any actual racism. There's a huge difference. ;)
    Puckrox likes this.
  7. Scooterforever

    Scooterforever Well-Known Member

    I loved the new film, saw it 4x so far, but I also noticed the Moopets were meant to look and sound "urban," and I found the Moopet Fozzy (Foozy?) a bit offensive, he seemed like a rapper stereotype or something, and I could understand if others found it offensive too. At the same time, the argument made that Smalltown is a "white" town is not true (again, I've seen the film 4x so I think I know what I'm talking about), as there were people of all different races in the opening scene. I think people in general still see the suburbs as being safer than the inner city, and that doesn't necessarily make them racist. Also, Reno is a pretty unsafe city, I think most cities reliant on gambling for their main revenue are unsafe, so there's that.
    CensoredAlso and We Got Us like this.
  8. Epictetus

    Epictetus Active Member

    Your report that Smalltown contained people of many races is useful; it doesn't surprise me too much, either. Until I was twelve I lived in a very small town in rural America, and I don't think it had too much overt racism. But there was a huge distrust of urban culture - or, indeed, any other culture. My memory is that people felt somewhat guilty about past American racism, and would've loved to incorporate people of different races into their town - so long as they became exactly like them. Brown-skinned, yellow-skinned, anything-skinned people who behaved exactly like proper, upstanding small-towners would have been (by most) embraced with enthusiasm.

    Many people think that this means there was no racism involved. I would argue that this can involve racism: when one's comfort involves a model of life that will only tolerate people who behave exactly like you, it excludes anyone whose culture might value very different things.

    Smalltownism - the longing for a never-really-existed idealization of '50s America involves by its very nature racism and sexism. It's like looking back fondly at plantation life in the south. Sure - maybe you don't mean any malice to black people when you think fondly about sipping mint juleps under some Jeffersonian columns in a jaunty straw hat. But the way of life you're imagining requires - by its very nature - slavery. Would you blame a black person who heard your fantasy if he said, "Hey, you *******, that little scene you summoned up requires a whole staff of my ancestors working as slaves in the fields!"

    I, personally, am not concerned that the filmmakers of The Muppets intended racism of any sort. I am concerned that they summoned up lazy, unexamined stereotypes of smalltown life, of urban life, and spared not a second thought for the possibility that there were some ugly things buried beneath those shared stereotypes.

    It would have been a better film if they had been reflective enough to realize this and probe for deeper, truer ideas.
    Nasubionna likes this.
  9. We Got Us

    We Got Us Well-Known Member

    Uhm...it's a Muppet movie, which means a movie that's supposed to be an hour and and a half of all different color Muppets with different 'cultural values' and certainly no 'small-townism' involved. (Gonzo is an alien from outer space who dates chickens and shoots himself out of cannons. That doesn't seem like any 50's American idealization) but people still have to find ridiculous things like an opening dance number, filmed with extras to point fingers and call racist. I've seen the movie with friends of different races, and even religions: they all told me how much they loved that, as something other than humans, their were never any stereotypes or undertones in a Muppet movie. Huh, go figure. It would have been a better article if the people who wrote it had tested their theory that people would find it offensive.
    Muppet fan 123 likes this.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I have to disagree on one thing... this ISN"T an interesting article.. it's poop short and simple.

    It's Reno. Reno is the ugly fat depressing sister of Vegas. The film wasn't making a statement about safe clean imaginary 1950's towns are good and urban settings are evil... just Reno is a depressing place where once famous celebrities end up if their careers tank. Crime? in a city full of gambling? Never heard such a thing.

    The fart of an opinion starts to go onto whining about Tex's Gangsta parody rap, suggesting only black people can use this style of music. I'm convinced this was written by an overly sensitive white boy who's trying hard to not come off as a racist himself (I KNOW those kinds of people).

    Yeah, Foozie's a parody of a Gangsta. Dude... you know how many cultureless suburban white boys I knew in High School dress up rap style and act rap style when they come from pretty well to do families?

    I hate these grasps at straws pushing pointless and idiotic agendas they enforce. I don't know what's full of more hot air... this or the claims by Faux news that a bad guy in a movie that's rich automatically means the movie promotes Communism.
    We Got Us likes this.
  11. We Got Us

    We Got Us Well-Known Member

    Couldn't. Agree. More.
  12. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Racism's an easy thing to claim. Some easily offended doofus thinks they see something and shrieks and squeals until they get heard. Being heard equates them with being right. And if they're loud enough and someone actually does something about it, then they complain that it makes them all the more right.

    Yet, why is it then we still have the Tech and Talk guys advertising mobile phones?

    For true racial silliness, read this crap about someone hearing a slur in Fraggle Rock
    We Got Us likes this.
  13. We Got Us

    We Got Us Well-Known Member

    Wow. I'm trying to laugh while signing up for anger management classes. Seriously? You could hear entirely what he was saying, and even sounds like they tried garbling the audio to make it worse. Really? Their Fraggles! And a Rasta hat? Come on people!!
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Let's look at the Moopets, shall we?


    I'll give them Foozie being a Gangsta stereotype... but come on. Kermoot is CLEARLY a white emo kid, Roowlf's just a punk (or maybe from the Star Trek Mirror dimension... he DOES have a goatee... that's quite obviously the reference)... Poogy's a drag queen clearly... Joonice has a weird accent that I couldn't make out at the end of the movie. It was either a very effeminate Hispanic accent or an extremely effeminate German accent.


    And Animool is racist to humans.
  15. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    You know, seriously folks, "Racial Coding?" In something the Muppets has done? AND You're supposed to be "fans?"

    This is ridiculous. I'm coding this thread as ridiculous. I suppose the same folks finding something racist in The Muppets also agree with FOX NEWS' impression that they are corporation bashing against big oil companies? Gimme a break.

    We wait (how long?) for a movie and folks post this junk?

    Closing the thread if I can figure it out.
  16. We Got Us

    We Got Us Well-Known Member

    T.H.A.N.K. Y.O.U.!!!
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Actually, it seems like two political opposites... but I don't take crap off the Muppets from the far left OR the far right. I was just as annoyed by Fox bashing Sesame Street's Hope against Hunger as I was for some far left loser bashing the Cookie Hood episode for promoting commercialism and consumerism. People always want to see something sinister in something kid friendly and turn it into one of their own soap boxes.

    The Muppets are supposed to appeal to everyone from any background. I'd rather hear "I used to love them... Then I COULD WALK!" than some lame political rant about how they're swaying kids one way or another... at least those people are devoid of magic and don't need to rationalize it.
  18. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    I find it racist when a light brown bear in a rapper outfit is automatically supposed to be black. Why? Isn't it racist to assume it's a thing about black people? I'm not that much into the whole music scene, but I remember seeing a white guy rapping here and there over the years. If we're going to argue it's racist, wouldn't it have made more sense to have Roolf, who is darker brown, wear that outfit?
    We Got Us likes this.
  19. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    People who claim not to be racists usually are... but they feel really guilty about it. Cartoon characters (in this case puppets) that are anthropomorphic usually are raceless. Foozie doesn't look like a black stereotype to me, just the opposite... he looks like the stereotype of a fake white rap gangsta. Plus, let's not forget the subtle, subliminal criticism of kid's movies the Moopets brought. They have to "hip" up characters, give them a 'tude, and turn them into something they're not. If that isn't the point, at least that's what I got out of it.
  20. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Well yeah but they're often seen as jokes. Not saying I agree, but just pointing that out. ;)
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