A puppet-occupied den of anti-democratic sin

Right-wing Media Research Center warns of “damage” inflicted on children by anti-corporate, anti-American characters.

The  Media Research Center is accusing cartoon characters of spreading anti-corporate hatred [GALLO/GETTY]

Lock the doors. Pull down the shades. Bring in the exorcist, stat.

As I write this, my humble abode is being transformed into a puppet-occupied den of anti-democratic sin. Yes, my kids are watching the Muppets, with some newly discovered zeal since the theatrical release of the film by the same name.

That is only part of the agenda, of course. Upon finishing and chowing down on some premium Borscht and Beluga, the plan is a mixture of Marxian performance art, Che Guevara hat-fitting and then the coupe de grace (that’s right, I used the language of the land of non-freedom fries), finger painting images of Fidel Castro throughout the house in cigar-ash.

I know, I exaggerate. Slightly. But as the supremely hypocritical again begin what seems like a yearly ritual of complaining that kids’ movies or TV shows are detrimental to their emotional or physical health (“think of the children!”), it is hard to respond with much other than contempt.

This time it is the right-wing Media Research Center going for gold, with their Vice President For Business And Culture (redundant, judging by his belief system) Dan Gainor, making television appearances just freaking out: “Hollywood, the left, the media, they hate the oil industry. They hate corporate America.”

In addition to his fear of a Muppet planet, Gainor also throws Cars 2 (released recently) into the witch’s brew of the corporate-hating cacophony endangering our children, and then somehow moves onto railing about Syriana and There Will Be Blood – which presumably he screens for his kids just before the good stuff starts on Cinemax after midnight.

What is rather unfortunate about Mr Gainor’s argument – besides almost everything – is that Cars 2 and The Muppets were both released by The Disney Company.

A Socialist Swedish chef?

See that word “company”, as in “corporation”, or in The Media Research Center’s world, “an organisation that enjoys all the benefits of being a person but none of the liabilities?” Yup, that kind of makes it hard for them to “hate corporate America”. But, hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story.

This sentiment is consistent, however, with a long line of cultural and political hypocrisy served up by those on the Right. Whether it was the Late Reverend Jerry Falwell cruelly criticising that innocent and loveable Teletubby, Tinky Winky. Or Dr James Dobson’s crusade against that yellow sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea, for not openly and loudly declaring his lust for Sandy Cheeks or another of her gender.

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The key thing to keep in mind, however, is that it’s the very same people who constantly bellyache about how kids might be brainwashed by making an oil baron not so cuddly in a movie, who, through vocal support or their vote, deprive children of health care. It is these same pearl-clutchers who deny financial aid to the 15 million children living in poverty, or just keep the environment in which they live buried in a Miss-Piggy-sized stew of toxins.

Because, you know, while your kid is gasping for air and looking for a sawdust snack, it’s definitely the Swedish Chef you want to watch out for. My God, that Scandinavian culinary maestro must be a socialist!

This is not to say our culture hasn’t become a mess – it sure has. And that parents such as myself are not concerned about some of the things we see on television. We are.

But it is not movies such as The Muppets that those of us in the reason-based community fear, but the values of selfish, rampant consumerism and corporatism pushed by organisations, like say, the Media Research Center. Groups that try and teach our children that there is no value in respect and virtue for its own sake. That everything is to be judged by its dollar value, and not by its contribution to society.

This is what endangers our children, as it has increasingly, since the economic counterrevolution back in the 1980s. Ironically enough, conservatives used to get this. It might be why none other than Herbert Hoover once said “The only trouble with capitalism is capitalists – they are too damn greedy.”

While even I wouldn’t go that far, too-big-to-fail corporations and their hand maidens in Congress and at well-funded “media research” organisations most certainly pose a far greater danger to our children than a green frog-like puppet.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, and the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain.

Follow Cliff Schecter on Twitter: @Cliffschecter

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.