Fox news caused a stir when Eric Bolling accused the new Muppet movie of promoting a left-wing agenda because the villain in the movie, played by Chris Cooper, is in the oil business.
Nonsense. There’s no agenda here. This charge shows a stunning ignorance (or intentional disregard) of the basic facts of film-making — and of capitalism. The budget for this movie was around $50 million, which could only be undertaken as a matter of pure business. The movie was made by Disney, one of the biggest corporations in the world. They made the film for the most capitalistic of reasons: to sell tickets, DVDs, MP3s, and Muppet toys, lunchboxes, toothbrushes, and anything else they can associate with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and their friends. They don’t want to offend anyone.
But it’s true that a lot of movie bad guys are corporate. As I wrote earlier, corporations are convenient bad guys for movies because they are big, faceless, institutional, and offend no cultural sensibilities. I explained on the Ebert show that is not because of any political agenda, however. Most movies are made by corporations. Corporations want to make money, and if that means making a corporation the bad guy, that is what they will put in movies. It’s been going on since the silent movie days through films like “The Apartment” and “Resident Evil.” That same capitalistic zeal just might just be why Fox, a part of News Corp., decided to try to make Muppets the villains, too; taking on the universally beloved Jim Henson creations attracts attention. But it’s worth noting that another portion of News Corp., is in the movie business. Bolling might want to check out the portrayal of the corporate world in films like “Shame,” “I (Heart) Huckabees,” “Fast Food Nation,” and “Rise of Planet of the Apes.”
Be sure to check out the Twitterverse response on this issue, with the hashtag #GOPMuppethearings. I like this one from dvnix:
“Mr. Grover, can you tell me WHICH one of these things is not like the other and why? Please remember you’re under oath.”