Arts Post
Posted at 01:49 PM ET, 12/28/2011

Muppet controversies: The year in review

Some of the year’s most controversial figures stand only a few feet tall.

The long-awaited revival of the Muppet franchise divided fans, former Muppeteers, the Academy and even political idealogists, who debated some very furry and very serious issues, like the notion that the entire film was communist propaganda. One group that wasn’t divided by the return of the Muppets? Critics. They gave the film a 97 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Previously: The year in Photoshop catastrophes.


Amy Adams, left, and Jason Segel, with the muppet characters in a scene from "The Muppets." (Patrick Wymore - AP)

The Muppets fail to secure Oscar-hosting duties: After the Academy Awards host/director combo of Eddie Murphy and Brett Ratner went up in flames, the field was wide open. Muppets fans launched a Facebook campaign, but their tens of thousands of “likes” weren’t enough to convince the Academy, who went with professional awards-show host Billy Crystal. Muppet fans being Muppet fans, they reacted with polite resignation. However, there’s still a kernel of hope: Disney CEO Robert Iger said, “‘I wouldn’t count the Muppets out.”

The Muppets disappoint original Muppeteers: “The Muppets” was written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, both new to the franchise. But Muppet purists and original puppeteers wondered publicly whether Segel was good enough to pay tribute to the characters they helped to create. "They're looking at the script on a joke-by-joke basis, rather than as a construction of character and story," one anonymous complainant told the Hollywood Reporter. Frank Oz, the original voice of Miss Piggy, did not participate in the film. “I wasn't happy with the script," he said to the British paper Metro. “I don't think they respected the characters. But I don't want to go on about it like a sourpuss and hurt the movie.”

The Muppets confuse wrestling fans with awkward WWE cameo: Maybe those Muppeteers have a point: How else can you explain this awkward Muppet promotional appearance on the WWE’s “Monday Night Raw”? Having a muscled lunkhead shout “It ain’t easy being green? How about, it ain’t easy being a plate of frog legs!” at Kermit isn’t exactly honoring the brand.

The Muppets indoctrinate your children with communist rhetoric: The newest Muppet movie isn’t just a heartwarming story about working together with friends and finding your self-confidence — it’s a liberal conspiracy to brainwash children, according to Fox Business Network host Eric Bolling. Bolling said on his show “Follow the Money” that the Muppets were pushing a communist agenda because an oil baron was the bad guy in the newest flick, and that the puppet pals’ attempts to save their beloved theater was a kiddie Occupy movement. Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri went even further, decrying the “slippery slope” of pig-frog relations and normalization of anti-social behaviors like bursting into song for no reason. “Hollywood has departed far too far from the early days when it made unbiased, agenda-free films like ‘Song of the South’ and ‘Birth of a Nation’ and — well, I will come up with better examples and get back to you,” she says.


In this photo provided by Disney Enterprises, Kermit the Frog tries to persuade Miss Piggy to help save the Muppet Theater from being torn down in a scene from "The Muppets.” (AP Photo/Disney, Scott Garfield) (Scott Garfield - AP)

By  |  01:49 PM ET, 12/28/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company