While The Muppets Show has long been considered a clean, good-humored show, Disney + recently added a content disclaimer to several of its episodes.
Created by American puppeteer Jim Henson, The Muppet Showstarted airing almost five decades ago. The variety show featured a mix of puppets like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, alongside a wide variety of celebrities. The Muppet Showremains timeless. It is, however, with a few exceptions.
Rather than completely removing every episode with questionable content, Disney + released all five seasons of the show in tandem with a content warning label. Warnings, this program includes negative representations and / or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. The 12-second non-skippable warning was previously considered an addition to many animated classics available on the platform, includingDumbo, the Lady and the Tramp and Swiss family Robinson,due to cultural insensitivity and racial stereotypes. For the same reasons, several episodes of The Muppet Show have now done the same.
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One of the most The culturally insensitive episodes are from the third season of the shows. Guest starring the late Spike Milligan, the episode portrays more than a few very offensive stereotypes. Set to the tune of Its a Small World, a musical number subjects Milligan to several costume changes, including one in which he wears a stereotypical Chinese outfit and makes fun of the Chinese language. In another moment, Milligan uses a Nazi salute.
Adding to an episode brimming with cultural stereotypes, the closing minutes feature Mulligan wearing a Native American headdress. He then begins to speak broken English, painting an incredibly cartoonish portrait. Overall, the episode feels largely irrelevant given the good-humored content. The Muppet Show was known to produce. While the episode is still available to US subscribers, it was deemed too inappropriate and wiped entirely from UK screens.
Much like the Milligans episode, James Coburn participates in a racist-insensitive skit during the shows’ fifth season. In the final musical sequence, he admits that he doesn’t want to do a cowboy sketch, choosing to do something a little more enlightened. During the sketch, The Muppet Show but confirms that superficial stereotypes are not only factual, but that there is no need to learn more about cultures other than your own. Maybe the jokes weren’t intentional at the time, but that doesn’t make him any less uncomfortable to watch.
The Muppet ShowCertainly contains its fair share of racial insensitivity and damaging cultural stereotypes. Steve Martin, Joel Gray, Sylvester Stallone, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, and Crystal Gayle are just a few other celebrities who star in sketches that warrant a warning. The Muppet Showdeserves to be remembered as an incredibly impactful show, but that doesn’t mean its troubled history should be glossed over.
KEEP READING: The Best Muppet Show Episodes To Stream On Disney +
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