“Why is being rich bad all of a sudden in today’s society? We’re teaching our kids class warfare. Where are we, Communist China?”
Those were the musings of Fox News anchor Eric Bolling on the new Muppets movie. And he wasn’t joking. He really thinks they are “brainwashing our kids with an anti‑capitalist agenda”.
Readers of Socialist Worker might wonder whether that means this movie is worth a look. Have the Muppets turned Marxist? Has Kermit stopped being green and turned red?
Let’s review the evidence starting with the villain that so angered Bolling. He’s an oil baron named “Tex Richman”, a quintessential fat cat out to destroy the Muppets by demolishing their theatre.
“Gentlemen,” he tells his evil-looking minions, “there’s oil under this studio.” He almost licks his lips as he says it. “In two weeks, we tear this place to the ground and start drilling.”
He’s up against Walter, a young muppet growing up in a human dominated Smalltown USA. Walter struggles to fit in—until he discovers the Muppets’ TV show and becomes its biggest fan.
Director James Bobin says Richman “is not an allegory for capitalism”. But once you start looking, you do notice a theme.
Gonzo, for example, has become a plumbing magnate since the Muppets broke up. But upon getting a visit from Kermit and pals, he happily hits an “automatic destroy plumbing business” button and blows his empire to smithereens.
You can build a case for the film as a condemnation of capitalism’s casual destruction of things people hold dear. But while these felt creatures unite in a common cause, they are far from fermenting revolution.
The movie is a musical, complete with dance numbers. It’s about telling bad jokes, falling over and singing happy songs. As for that Fox anchor—what a muppet.
Directed by James Bobin. www.disney.co.uk/muppets