Disney+ is warning viewers that some episodes of the classic series The Muppet Show features “negative depictions” and “mistreatment of people or cultures.”
The variety show ran for 5 seasons (120 episodes) in the 1970s and 1980s. It was highly popular in both the United States and the United Kingdom, where it was filmed. It features the famous puppet characters Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and failed stand-up comedian Fozzie Bear and these characters usually interact with celebrities. The series were added to Disney’s streaming service on the 19th of February and the warning labels are shown for 12 seconds before 18 episodes for different reasons.
The warning says that the show “includes negative depictions and mistreatment of people or cultures,” adding that “these stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.”
For example, an episode hosted by Johnny Cash in which the country star performs in front of the US and the Confederate battle flag (associated with white supremacy) is one which got the warning. Another features folk star Joan Baez doing an Indian accent, while the opening to an episode with Kenny Rogers shows Muppets dressed in Arab apparel drilling for oil. Two episodes were left out entirely where Brooke Shields and staff writer Chris Langham are the guest stars.
The service already uses the disclaimer on several other films and programs, including The Aristocats, Peter Pan, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Aladdin for depiction of stereotypes.
“Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe,” the statement adds. “Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together,” the disclaimer says.
The Muppets are a bit more nostalgic than some other kid’s content, but they are still beloved by a devoted audience. After the TV series The Muppets have starred in films, grown into internet memes, sung hit songs and won Oscars.
Money wasn’t the reason for Disney+ to bring in the show as they already have nearly 100 million subscribers, yet in the streaming world there’s no such thing as too much kid’s content. By adding The Muppet Show Disney+ is trying to make a connection, that will keep old fans of the show and will surely create new ones.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Variety