In other words, if the Muppets doesn't get "cancelled," is that evidence that "cancel culture" is a hoax, or is it evidence that "cancel culture" doesn't actually care about things like Swedish chefs, it only cares about conformity to a progressive worldview, which the Muppets arguably conform to?
Fawlty Towers 6th episode "The Germans" is a classic case in point. The entire premise of the episode was not "Germans are stupid" but "the idiot who is xenophobic who is being horrible to Germans is stupid". I don't know anyone - least of all any Germans - who are in the slightest bit offended by this. It's one example, but it happens time and time again. Literally the only people actually being offended are - who...?
Things like this are never cut-and-dried. There is room for both celebrating the good stuff and criticizing the less-good stuff, even within a single creative work.
And I had to look up this one:
> Beverly Sills: Most likely for the Chinese Gorillla Muppet.
Yeah, that one was pretty bad. I think a disclaimer is appropriate.
I get what you're saying. There are casualties in this effort to contextualize or remove the humor of previous decades. I totally agree about the Fawlty Tower episode. But I think it's easier to have simple rules than to try to evaluate these things on a case-by-case basis. Humor is subjective after all.
> Literally the only people actually being offended are - who...?
It's not really about being offended though is it? The ones being offended and actually complaining is just the tip of the iceberg.
This kind of humor can create attitudes that can be a constant pain in the side for certain groups of people. I mean, you've still got shit like this going on today : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc1GhI1Dwyc
How would you approach this problem?
> probably the vast majority
Ugh, naw, not at that time if you ask me. Most comedians are not as smart and tactful as John Cleese. He was ahead of his time in many ways.
You can still get away with quite stereotypical humor today if you frame it correctly, and I think most comedians today are more clever about it. They're not all smarter now, there's just a better culture around it.
There was a show in Norway that was pulled from streaming because an actor was using "blackface". But that comedian/actor has a thing about playing lots of different characters (men, women, older, younger, etc), and in that case he just happened to portray a vaguely middle-eastern character. There was a big counter-reaction, particularly from immigrants saying that this wasn't offensive to them. And the show was put back online, with a disclaimer. So I think it shows that there is course-correction when the humor isn't actually in bad taste.
Those who have been the target of persecution, slavery, police and other systemic discrimination up to outright genocides for hundreds to thousands of years.
It's not that hard to have fun without having to step on other people's toes, or to recognize that what was acceptable 50 years ago is not acceptable today, because society has progressed.
Isn’t part of the joke that Germans are being discriminated by an innkeeper? And it’s the innkeeper who is in the wrong.
Note of course German Jews and other subpopulations were horribly persecuted in the Holocaust. If this episode targeted those subpopulations then there is a real case.
But we Germans don't care or complain because we Germans haven't been the target of relentless, historical injustice. For persons of color, for Jews, for Sinti/Roma the situation is different - every time some "comedian" uses their plight for cheap laughs, it's yet another slap in the face.
"Dad, this is weird. This is really weird. It's not even a show! Just weird little scenes!"
["not even a show" = no connective plot]
These kids have all kinds of precision-engineered laser-guided entertainment aimed squarely at their cerebral cortex. They don't need the Muppet Show like I did, I guess.
The Muppet Show is kind of the height of this with celebrities, silliness for kids, sly asides for adults, etc.
- 25 for adults
- 25 for kids
- 25 site gags for toddlers
And media now is like: that should be 3 separate shows.
And I hadn't noticed, really. I do miss the old "variety" style holiday specials that Major Celebrities used to do. There have been a couple (ironic?) one-off stabs at revivals, but nothing sustained. (Stephen Colbert did one; so did Lady Gaga and Bill Murray.)
(Can you tell I've been watching these with the kids this weekend?)
My kids have loved both, but the Muppet show a bit less when they don’t know who the guest star is. Thankfully, there are a few guests whom they recognize (Julie Andrews, for example).
When I watched the show as a kid I did not know they were supposed to be famous, I though they were just people from the street.
I love this :-)
Does this not describe YouTube too?
The warnings are not for us, they are for Disney. Let's face it, a lot of Disney content has not aged well. The company has a long history of racist and sexist depictions of characters and cultures. Of course Disney wants to distance itself from that and say "hey, this isn't who we are!" Honestly, I'd much rather they do than just bury or edit the content.
The real issue I see is that Disney has so much control over this content due to continual extension of their exclusive copyright. To crib a line from a noted (now) Disney owned character, these episodes belong in a museum! They are more valuable now as part of our history than as exclusive Disney+ content, and it shouldn't be up to Disney whether or not anyone gets to see them.
Sometimes I hear people talking about "negative depictions" and "negative stereotypes" I'm either not convinced they're negative (Apu from The Simpsons) or other times I find a stereotype being depicting as overtly negative yet seemingly it's acceptable because (I assume) it's a negative stereotype about some group society doesn't care so much about (the white police officer stereotype, the useless dad stereotype, etc).
> a multitude of caricatured national costumes as part of a performance of It’s a Small World After All, including as a Chinese person with exaggerated front teeth and a long braid.
> Peter Sellers appears in a segment titled A Gypsy’s Violin wearing a black headscarf with gilded trimmings, a red vest and a large red satin belt, and singing in a heavy accent
It seems like almost everyone interested in a good faith discussion would agree that these two examples are offensive stereotypes that don’t really belong in a children’s show. Considering the episode’s aren’t being removed I can’t imagine why anyone would object to this in good faith.
Unfortunately there are a ton of people who are fully aware that these stereotypes are offensive but, in bad faith, pretend that they are innocuous jokes and that this is just a moral panic. Although HN rules prevent me from accusing anyone of bad faith, I will suggest that someone who doesn’t have a problem with Apu from the Simpsons is someone who affirmatively supports using racist stereotypes.
There are more examples here: https://old.reddit.com/r/Muppets/comments/lnwse2/muppet_show...
I'm wading into shark-filled waters here but could someone please explain the racist bits of Aladdin to me?
I mean, it really couldn't be worse from an entertainment standpoint than the live remakes, right?
It is impossible to ignore that Jasmine/Aladdin both have light skin, European faces, and American accents, whereas Jafar and all the hostile guards or street merchants are grotesque Arab caricatures. Seriously - the only Arab “accents” come from bad guys, they tend to have huge hooked or bulbous noses and very dark skin, and they’re all psychotically violent. Most of the references to Arab culture are superficial and rely on stereotypes for cheap laughs (watch the opening scene with the merchant again).
No, IMO, it wasn't.
It was a dramatically less antiracist era, which isn't the same thing.
(That is, active racism wasn't much more prevalent in 1992, and maybe even less prevalent, but active antiracism—especially in the US concerning targeted groups other than blacks—was much less prevalent.)
The country has become more progressive since then (despite the Republicans specifically becoming more reactionary on the whole).
In the early 90s, roughly 80% of whites were opposed to laws against interracial marriage, but a larger share thought “disapproved” of it. Was that racism, or an assessment of it's viability based on life experience of older adults growing up a society where racism had always been prevalent? A hint might be that it wasn't until the mid-1990s that Black support for interracial marriage started climbing from where it had been since the 1970s. 
> . In 1990 David Duke came dangerously close to becoming a US senator (after serving four years as a representative) and in 1992 was still very powerful in LA politics.
And in 2000 his superior performance with his appeal to his white supremacist base was explicitly cited by Donald J. Trump when he dropped his bid for the Reform Party nomination—before reinventing himself politically and coming back 16-years later using the same tactics and appeal to the same ideals to win first a major party nomination and then the Presidency.
Whites in America seem to think that racism continued being less of a problem over time through to today, but for blacks, in a number of areas, that perception increased starting in the late 1990s. 
> The country has really become dramatically more progressive since then (despite the Republicans specifically becoming more reactionary on the whole).
I think that's arguably true, but only in a way consistent with my description earlier: it is much more that (a significant subset of) the not-racist segment has become much more actively anti-racist than that the country has become less racist. This has also resulted in racial issues being much more polarizing.
I have yet to come up with any explanation besides racism for why the live action Aladdin, and specifically the casting of Smith as the Genie, is the thing among all the recent live-action Disney remake films and TV recyclings that is disproportionately singled out for this treatment. I mean, sure Disney is a particularly aggressive money making machine and this description is accurate for basically everything they ever do, but why this one gets singled out above all others?
IMO all the live action remakes are shameless money grabs. Remakes in general are creative bankruptcy. Very rarely do they bring something new to the table.
Did you watch it? It's actually not bad. It's different—and honestly, the parts where it holds too closely to the original are probably the weakest bits. When it does its own thing, it ends up being fun to watch. I still miss Gilbert Gottfried, though.
One has to dig deep and have a basic understanding of chemistry to understand that insult. If we are digging that deep for insults there are bound to be hundreds more. The Muppets are all in primary colors. Many of them do silly things that other characters laugh at. And they each display exaggerated characteristics that never really evolve. If we draw out venn diagrams of color/race, slapstick comedy bits and offensive historical stereotypes, surely we can find something more insulting than this. Swedish Chef would be in my crosshairs, excepting the fact that in one episode it is explained that he isn't actually Swedish.
The price for doing anything about the concentration camps in China is higher than anyone is willing to pay, whereas the price of putting warnings on tv shows is negligible
This used to be crazy for me to think, but this article literally says Disney has hired people to review all content. Makes sense that they would review their recent blockbuster, Mulan, before Muppets episodes from decades ago.
So it seems Disney is pretty much saying the concentration camps in China are fine. Or at least are more fine than Petter Sellers dressing as a gypsy. In the spectrum of messed up stuff, I think making fun of gypsies is on there. Maybe 3/1000 on the butthurt-o-meter (with literal Nazis carrying out Holocaust being 1000/1000 and Triumph of the Will being like 600/1000).
So I would guess that just putting money into a region where people are rounded up, sterilized, retrained, etc must rate at least a 50/1000 right?
In this situation should Disney put a preroll that says “While we filmed this movie in an area where people are being oppressed and gave financial support to the oppressors, we don’t support concentration camps?”
I’m not sure I understand what reasoning Disney is using to put a preroll before a muppet episode where someone dresses as a gypsy. Or even a generic warning around a specific episode where someone sings in front of a confederate flag in a way that sounds pretty racist.
It seems like Disney has made a decision that one situation requires one and the other doesn’t.
Personally, this is why I don’t pay much attention to these things and don’t draw conclusions based on them. They are so cloudy and subjective, it becomes hard to try to address all the hypotheticals.
I’m not concerned with being happy, I’m just trying to understand the value system that Disney is using to make these notices.
I don’t think it’s potential harm to the viewer, but maybe we’ll never know. One theory was that they were trying to atone for previous harm caused while making stuff (eg, using the confederate flag when they shouldn’t, etc).
I think it is sort of whataboutism, but only because Disney is literally whataboutisming their own content library. Usually I don’t think it applies since it’s not relevant that Y is bad for whether X is bad.
But in this scenario, Disney has stated that they reviewed and updated content. So if Disney reviewed content and didn’t find it preroll worthy, it gives a signal what Disney thinks is relatively bad.
I suppose the x/1000 scale would need to objectively measure the harm and suffering caused by a thing and normalize.
In a children-oriented program.
In the 70's.
It should be updated to mention that content warnings are presented as meaningful to make us believe that criticism elevates us above an experience. The real point of the content warning is to indoctrinate kids into that particular critical framework.
It seems like a simple and effective way that would allow one to have their cake and eat it too.
Also that Disney does it rubs me the wrong way. There is so much content in that is not racist but affect attitudes and views of children in much more unfortunate ways. And I speak from experience when not keeping an eye on my child watching Disney Channel and having to undo that damage. I'm not sure that managed to undo it totally.
I'm not bringing this up to make Disney out as any kind of villain. These old films are a reflection of the times they were made. The nation was at war and Disney wanted to do their part to help the effort. Times change.
The Germans were the same race as the whites that dominated America in the 1940's, including Walt Disney himself. To think that race played no part of the propaganda of the times is delusional.
My German friends told me that WW2 at school was presented in much details, explaining how Germans fucked up. Some people still expect Germans to apologize 80 years after the fact.
If I was German I would be pissed off and I am not surprised that the are neo-Nazi waves because of that. The treaty of Versailles should have taught everyone a lesson.
My children speak German and when they meet penpals from Heilderberg you could see that history was history for them (they child not care less, they had Instagram stuff to share).
With this in mind, I still do not know what to make out of this : https://youtu.be/HMQkV5cTuoY