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Seven Years Later: Disney buys Muppets and Bear

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Phillip, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Isn't Crazy Harry a Muslim? Oh I kid, I kid.

    I'm not sure what the message of Disney films are, I just see it as pretty solid entertainment with adventure. Never notice dany Christian themes, But that's my take. And that's the great thing about being able to infer interpretations from things.
    A charge I see leveled against classic Disney is racism, citing Song of the South...tho people forget the movie was about combating reconstruction era racism.

    In America we have the luxury to be of any religion or no religion.
    Elsewhere in the world, like in the Middle East, people get punished or even imprisoned for being anything other than Islamic(and even then it has to be a specific strain)
    In China, all religion is banned...Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims routinely get rounded up or beaten.
    In some parts of the world, still some 70 years removed from WW2, simply being Jewish is a very dangerous thing.

    So we definitely need to have tolerance, and heck I loved seeing those Jewish Sesame specials. I also appreciate difficult but necessary films like The World According To Sesame Street which shows how Sesame Workshop has been able to go into very challenging areas of the world to bring a ray of hope.
  2. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Again, I was not labeling Disney a "Christian studio." I'm saying that it's not true that they didn't have religious themes. They did, often, and in good taste. And not just because society demanded it.

    I do think we Americans have a tendency to forget just how fortunate we are, despite our own problems. :)
  3. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    No offense taken, but I completely reject your point and premise in its entirety. I think we live in a much more tolerant place than we did when I was a kid and the many years of America before that. I hear religious stuff of all sorts all the time and this is San Francisco! We're known for our hedonism. There's really nothing in what you've just stated that I can support in any way so I'll move back to topic. :eek:
  4. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    You know, my mother and I have been watching Stargate SG1 on Netflix. For any not in the know, the basic gist is that the gods of humans were really aliens of various sorts. We've seen at least Egyptian and Norse pantheons mentioned. The funny thing is, I don't recall at any point, even toward the end of all the Stargate series, where you've got "ascended" types trying to destroy the world with more Christian themes (you need an Ark to destroy them, etc), there seems to be ONE god not really mentioned as an alien of any sort, at least not that I recall. Is it because the shows didn't want to go there, or is it because if they went there, they'd be flamebroiled to a crisp? Sometimes, I don't think it's about trying to hide something as people don't want to see it. Muslims aren't the only ones who can get all ticky about the portrayal of God. I've seen people comment on internet videos who flamebroil comedic portrayals of the bible, calling these folks all kinds of names, completely unaware that, sarcastic as the tone may be, a lot of those ugly things mentioned actually DID happen. But that's not what they want to hear. They want the sterilized Cliff Notes version, where everyone is happy and the only ones who aren't were just evil monsters anyway. So, honestly, I can see why a lot of shows might keep blatant references to the dominant cultural tradition to a minimum. Just because it's the most popular doesn't mean all those people are well-educated in the topic.

    Is it necessary to slap on the religous label, or can one agree that many morals are shared among different groups? I mean, does the Golden Rule HAVE to be signed off by Jesus, or can it be kept neutral because, after all, He's hardly the first nor the last to think of it?

    I'm just trying to imagine where there aren't "many points of view". How so? In just about every series I've ever watched, from Gunsmoke to LOST, there are "many points of view". The only time, though, they seem to mention a specific tradition at all is when it's probably a group the mainstream's never heard of or knows little about (though I've seen studies to suggest that mainstream actually knows VERY little about just about everyone).

    Well, there's a difference between mentioning God in a story that clearly takes place in a Christian nation (like Sword in the Stone -- or, rather, one still on the fence) and preaching specifically from that tradition. There's Sword in the Stone and then there's Hunchback of Notre Dame. The latter is really overt ... aaaaaaand probably should have stopped while it was ahead.
  5. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    I definitely agree that we're more tolerant than we used to be (I have no problem supporting parts of what you've stated ;) ). I just think we're not done yet. We're still struggling to figure out what tolerance actually means.

    And I apologize for the snarkiness. Again, no offence intended, it's just a debate. :)

    As a Christian, I wouldn't mind if another religion preached specifically from its tradition. There's nothing wrong with other religions doing that and there's nothing wrong with Christians doing that. For that matter, there's nothing wrong with athiests doing it. THAT'S what tolerance is all about. Again, something we're still struggling to actually make a reality.
  6. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Tolerance is not acceptance of a belief. It's merely accepting the right of others to follow it without enforcing personal judgment. That's a good thing in my book. However, that sometimes gets confused by all groups as the need for personal conversion in order to be tolerant. That is not so and never should be.

    Case and point, one young pop star just stated his belief that being gay is a choice and that womens' reproductive rights shouldn't be. He was certainly baited and maybe he misspoke. I kind of figure the statement wasn't fully formed or thought through. Maybe he didn't misspeak and he was expressing his right to disagree with people. He's a self-professed role model so that topic will be explored. It's fine if fans stop buying his records because of it. It doesn't mean they're intolerant of his views that he has every right to state. Some people don't want to line the wallets of influential people with whom they disagree. That's why we don't usually know people's point of view no matter what it may be. It alienates others. There are carefully crafted ways to state one's beliefs that minimize such alienation and that's always been the case.

    Being thoughtful (not PC or unPC) should be a way of life for everyone. To me that's the Muppety method and one I hope and believe will continue under Disney ownership. They can get away with a lot of things and let's hope they continue to do so with the heart that always remains intact. :)
  7. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    And again, we don't disagree on this point and we never have. ;)

    If I know the pop star you're referring to, heh, I disagree with him on one issue, but agree with him on the other (I won't get into which, hehe). But anyway I understand if some people are intolerant of his views, that's their right too. There are occasions where intolerance is a good thing. Well you know what I mean, for instance, I'm intolerant of racism and that's a good thing because in this country, we consider racism an evil.

    I'm not sure I said that perfectly, but we're probably just playing with semantics anyway! ;)
  8. The Disney ethos was Christian. The morality inculcated over and over again in the films and T.V. shows was Christian. Sort of a Christian humanism. Hope was part of the fun. A core message was that you could live (really live) and be good. And share, and grow. Then you had Pinnochio, which is maybe the best redemption tale on-screen of the last century, with a resurrection at the end.

    Which is not to say that non-Christian companies, or non-Jewish film companies are bad. Au contraire! Vive la différence.

    My own hopes for the Muppets are maybe too high, and I guess I wanted a new home for them as good as Jim Henson's own hands, which to me would necessitate being true to your roots as a studio - whatever those roots are.
  9. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    I agree there's a lot of Christian themes in Disney films and Christians can learn a great deal from them. There's nothing wrong with that. And that doesn't mean it's not for other religions. A Buddhist might say there's a lot of Buddhist themes in Disney films that Buddhists can learn from. It's the same thing. :)

    That said, I wouldn't label Disney a Christian company, that's all.
  10. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Christian Supremecy hasn't ever been a Disney Value

    I can agree that many Disney films past and present have themes that are inclusive to Christian values, but they were never beholden to them. Any idea that they were or are smacks of religious narcissism. And such narcissism is creepy and isn't a Christian value as I understand it.

    Disney classic films, including the Aristocats, have racially insensitive segments that contradict modern values. While I'm not a big fan of political correctness, I'm glad Disney has become more sensitive to minorities of all sorts. I'm also glad they've largely left these old works unedited so we can be aware of how far we've come. The company wasn't perfect in Walt's day and it isn't perfect now. Some fans look back with nostalgic rose-tinted glasses.

    Many of Disney's classic films, just like other good cinema, act as litmus tests that we connect with through our own personal levels. I believe that's intended, but not as any particularly literal statement of fact or endorsement of religious dogma.
  11. Bannanasketch

    Bannanasketch Active Member

    *jumps into conversation*

    I'm gonna go with Heralde on this. I don't think that Disney was a definite Christian company but there were Christian themes in several movies. I sometimes think that people lose sense of what that really means. Alot of people out there think that if a Christian theme in a film, that must mean that they're preaching to us and we have to get rid of it. Or some people might think that they have to represent all religions in the movie if they're going to represent one. This is not true. Just becuase there is a certain religous theme in a movie, it does not mean that the company is blatantly supporting that faith. Disney does not definitely support Christianity but they can still put those themes into their movies (For example, Narnia.) So, Disney in no way tries to have a Christian Supremacist message into their films and that is not what Heralde or Starchamber is trying to say here.

    Oh, and BTW, Walt Disney was a Christian. :)
  12. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Maybe people are thinking about the "Disney was an Anti-Semite" thing... I'm completely lost with it and just skimming through.


    There is no greater quote I could say than this:

    Okay... Unmade Disney projects:

    America's Next Top Muppet (stupid idea anyway, was sure to suck)
    Muppet mockumentary (actually kind of sad this one didn't see the light of day)
    2008 Presidential special (Would have been rushed and dated, and not all that funny)
    Halloween special (held over for being rushed one year, held over another because they didn't know exactly when the movie was going to film... might happen this year).

    Unmade Henson projects JUSt of the Muppets...
    uhhh.....

    There have been several show ideas, including the Fox show which never happened, several scripts were looked at and passed around, hungry to do another telefilm after the success of VMX, and NOTHING happened for years until Oz... uhh... there were 2 cartoon shows planned, but to be fair, they decided against them themselves... uh...

    As you can see, they didn't even get to the focused rejected proposal stage. And that's JUST the Muppets. We have a Fraggle Movie that will happen when Hades freezes over (and maybe not even then), Dark Crystal 2, which will keep coming this much closer to being made before they put it in permanent moth balls, a Doozer CGI cartoon that will yeah right happen :rolleyes: not to mention all these unused pilots for internet shows that are half finished. And I'm not even counting the stuff that made it to air for 3 glorious episodes.

    Let's be honest. If Henson still had control the BEST we could hope for is a TV special or Telefilm down the line. Their tent poles, once again are Puppet Up tours and Dinosaur Train. Now I'm happy they're successful, but a CGI show (forget what country it's from) with Canadian Voice actors (not even Henson puppeteer voice overs) that only really has them as a producing credit.... that's not really that great, if you ask me.

    Sure, there are some things that bug me about Disney. Why do they insist on hiding Bear in a pile while cheap CGI Dora clones are their preschooler fare? Come on... at least let the reruns out to play. They're dragging their feet on Season 4 for whatever reason (still could be beyond their control music rights), and I'm not happy with politicking with Boom's comic license. Plus, would it KILL them to get some Muppet stuff in stores regularly? They're starting to carry Marvel stuff, granted, unoriginal products you can find other places... some new shirts would be nice. But Disney's pretty much the ONLY entertainment company that knows what they're doing.

    Warner Bros? if it wasn't for Batman or Scooby-Doo, they'd go bankrupt. They said, "You know what would make Yogi Bear even better? Making it a total ripoff of the Garfield film!" Would you want the Muppets somewhere they can't even market their own Looney Tunes correctly?

    Sony... Oh ho ho! Look at what they've done to the Smurfs... prior relationship with Henson nothing....

    Universal completely disowned Jay Ward productions after Bullwinkle flopped.

    That's about it... all entertainment is owned by like 5 companies.

    The only other deal that happened after EMTV I would have enjoyed was the fifty fifty Classic Media/ Sesame Workshop co-ownership.. but it was a co-ownership. One petty squabble and it's 1960's Batman time...
  13. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Agreed! :)

    Double agreed! ;)
  14. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    You guys see the genius of Jim Henson and his legacy.

    So many Christian churches use puppets pretty much patterned off the classic Muppet look. The LGBT community can find great anchoring and celebration within many things Muppety and Henson. In 1969 Sesame Street said to America: This is the inner city ghetto. And you're going to have your kids waking up to this ghetto of celebration, education and awesomeness for the rest of their lives.

    Sesame Workshop has made it a mission to bring the Sesame Street muppets to places where ethnic and religious hatred has ruined whole generations...and has tried in part to reconcile a new generation. Ethnic Albanian Muslims/Serbian Christians. Irish Catholics/Protestants. Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East. Even the joint Israeli/Palestinian/Jordanian efforts bridging Jewish and Muslim cultural traditions.

    As highlighted in Harry Belefonte's famous number or Fraggle Rock, the Muppets are about inclusion and bringing in everyone.
  15. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Bieber is the Elmo of the pop world(ie: all over the place and annoying) I don't ever watch tv and I can't go anywhere online or shopping without hearing or seeing him.

    I honestly don't think too many follow what pop idols say, be it positive or negative. Unless it's the Dixie Chicks circa 2003, rarely does what pop icons or music stars say hold too much sway
  16. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    And yet...so much of the time, I've seen so much Christian puppetry that's just terrible. Either they do terrible lip-synch, create either creepy puppets or ones that completely ignore the "Magic Triangle" to give them focus. I've seen so many puppets like that.

    Then there are things like this...or this...or this which simply defy explanation.

    But back on topic...there have been some times where I have been wary of the Muppets' being owned by Disney. Still, you gotta think, what state would the Muppets be in if still owned by Henson and the deal was never made? I'd like to see the Fraggle movie made, but man...I've lost faith in that ever getting done. Pity. It sounds like it would've been a good film.

    Convincing John
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Though, to it's credit, Henson has been better at releasing its back catalog. We have the complete Fraggle Rock on DVD, and a whole bunch of specials we thought we'd never see, while Disney has yet to really bring anything out... though it's still in question if TMS seasons were halted do to renegotiating rights that were supposedly hammered out years ago. Though that doesn't mean they can't or shouldn't release a collection of TV specials in a box set. However, in the case of Henson, the Lionsgate deal hasn't given us anything for months since Henson's Place. And quite frankly, Henson's best chance at money making IS said old specials. Though, they're clearly trying harder to reach an audience with Fraggle Rock merchandise... but other than the comics, they've been expensive and inaccessible.

    Other than Muppet Monopoly, Muppet Yatzee (both been out since before Christmas) and some Key covers (which suck, trust me. You need flat head keys for it to work. I broke one trying to fit one of mine in) there's really nothing. I still think they should have let Boom keep the license at least for one more 4 part series and to publish the last 4 part Muppet Show arc. And again, a couple Kermit bean bags wouldn't exactly kill you.
  18. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Thank you, that's exactly what I meant. When you say a film has a specific religion's theme that doesn't mean you're saying its partial to one religion. It's simply a religion taking pride in itself and noting where it can be found in popular culture. It's not attempting to exclude others.

    And it's also not to say Disney is a Christian company. There are many books, films and TV shows with religious or spiritual themes; it's good for drama and character development. That doesn't make every studio a religious studio. ;)
  19. BarbarianJ

    BarbarianJ Member

    It’s been a while I have posted anything in this forum. I love the Muppets but that doesn’t mean I feel compelled to talk about them every day as many of you seem to do ... :)
    It must be age.

    This topic is a good one, though, and I guess that Muppet Central is the best place on the world wide web to vent an opinion about something like this if you want to have hope of being listened to. Not just by your fellow fans, but also by the companies we talk about ...

    I read through a few of the reactions in this thread -I admit, not all- and I feel like a few things are being confused. Allow me to explain what I mean.

    I’m 37 years old ... a child of the seventies and eighties as many others here, I’m sure. If you were as lucky as me, your parents raised you in the proverbial “warm and loving nest” and you have fond memories of your childhood. That “warm nest feeling” has inevitably become associated with whatever I was busy with at the time. That explains to me why I remember the Muppets so fondly. It is not just about their comical genius, but the childhood memories and the nostalgia I have thinking back about them.

    But today I’m 37 years old and nothing like the child anymore that I used to be. Okay, almost nothing like that child anymore ... :) ... At any rate, what I’m trying to say is that I cannot hold Disney alone responsible for the way the Muppets “changed” for me. Part of that is just due to me ... I have grown up; I look at them completely different than when I was a kid. All too often, you’ll find that the new stuff will not bring you that “childish excitement” anymore. But is that abnormal? I don’t think so. I hope not, really.

    If I then consider things keeping the above in mind, I do think that Disney is still doing a great job. Put some 10-year olds before the telly and drop a Muppet DVD in the player and the only mayhem that will happen in the next two hours will happen on the screen. The kids will be just as enchanted as I was when I was ten watching the “Classic” Muppets.
    And yes, also the Muppets have been slightly adapted to appeal to the kids of today, but as an adult I’m still able to enjoy all of that new stuff too, without being offended in my childhood memories. The changes are subtle and I do notice them, but they are not so drastic that they cause a complete break with the past.
    Disney has managed to bridge the old and the new and that’s more of an accomplishment than many of us realise. Of course, I acknowledge Jim Henson as an exceptional creative genius, but the Muppets are still there today and we mostly have to thank the folks at Disney for that and none other.

    Except for that, I guess there is then also the debate about Disney having become a big commercial, emotionless giant as a company. This again should not be confused with all of the above when “evaluating” the Muppets in today’s world.
    Since I’m a European and Disney has organised itself into American and European divisions (which are managed very differently from each other), I’ll be the first to regret that Disney is no longer the cute, little family business that it used to be with the same message of funny entertainment to everybody. It’s a large company representing much dollars on an annual basis and a lot of people have interest that it’ll stay that way; big shots and little people alike. For the money, yes.
    And while you can find it utterly despicable that the little family business is now a huge multinational that seems to put the money first, you have to remember that this same company still made the decision to release the classic shows on DVD, even if that was financially a risky adventure since it was not really known if the “old stuff” would also appeal to the “new kids”. If, as a company, you produce products that nobody buys, you will not be able to continue producing them for very long.
    By the way, I guess that we’re still waiting for Season 4 on DVD because that adventure has been a bumpier financial ride than originally thought.
    So while I can get quite upset about how decisions about something like child entertainment have become void of emotion and are instead steered by business models, I do also somehow recognise the necessity of that, just to have Disney and the Muppets survive in today’s entertainment business world.

    So all things well considered I’m thankful that Disney is giving the Muppets a chance. And I hope that -financially- it can become a success for them without that they have to violate the “memory” I have of Jim Henson’s Muppets. It’s a precious balance and a difficult exercise and I hope they’ll do it well.
    At any rate, I’ll be watching, keen to see if they pull it off. Keen to see if the orginal creative genius of Jim Henson can still mean something for the new generations of kids as well. If it works, all the better. If Disney will make loads of money with it at the same time, good for them and for us, because that means it will last for a little while longer.

    What would be even more important is that a new generation of kids would be encouraged in their creativity and imagination. Because what our world maybe needs more than see the “old” Muppets rehashed is new imagination to be born. New creative ideas that start in a garage of a family home and can eventually bring undiluted fun and real values to kids.

    Fingers crossed.
  20. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Right and that's definitely not what I've been saying. Bananasketch explained it very well, to say a film has a specific religion's themes does not imply it's partial to that religion. There have always been literary or pop culture stories with religious themes, it's a good storytelling device with ideas of drama, morality and redemption. That doesn't mean it's attempting to exclude anyone. :)

    It's true that early Disney films were made in a very different world where inclusivness was not the norm. But we, the audience of today, are not from that world, we are from the modern world and we say a Disney film has Christian themes, that's all we are saying. We are not saying other religions are excluded.


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