Gay Muppets

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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64 Responses

  1. I’ve always believed that there is a certain % of gays and their supporters who believe that the quickest path to acceptance is to shove their lifestyle into as many people’s faces as possible until society basically taps out. I see no other explanation for efforts like this one.

    I know that sounds cynical but there is a time and a place for everything and this goes sound less like pushing acceptance and more like indoctrination.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I wonder, if all of the characters are straight, is that indoctrination?Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      How do you know the people advocating this are predominantly gay though? It seems like the people I know who are most gaga over gay rights are straights. I know plenty of gays who’d rather have all the legal protections and then get on with their life. About half the straights I know just seem excited that they weren’t born too late for this civil rights movement. Is that cynical? Admittedly, I am basing this on the sort of stuff people send me on Facebook and the conversations I have at the bar.Report

    • Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

      The fact that portrayals of our relationships in media are inevitably political statements designed to “shove our lifestyle down other’s throats,” while the exact same relationship with different genders is completely unobjectionable is what irks. Such a double standard makes one feel like a second-class citizen pretty quickly.Report

  2. If they had a straight wedding on the show – sure, I would call it that. But to my knowledge they haven’t done that since the 80s.Report

  3. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Should there be black Muppets?Report

    • I don’t believe that color diversity is a problem for the muppet community.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Aside from token one-off characters, I’m not sure there is a single African-American presence in the Muppet community. Of course there are plenty among the adults and the human kids, but that’s not the issue here.

        And would you be mollified by an orange or a purple Muppet? See yourself represented in them?

        (If people are wondering where I’m headed with this line of questioning, I should say clearly that it’s double-edged. On the one hand, there aren’t African-American Muppets. On the other, it’s not entirely clear that there need to be, because the racial diversity of Sesame Street is not seriously in question.)Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          How would an African-American Muppet be portrayed? Merely by making a brownish Muppet?Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          Is the diversity of sexuality in question, when it has a pig who wants to have sex with a frog?Report

        • Jason – I’m trying to figure out if you’re serius or not. When they have muppets that are blue, green, etc – would a brown puppet even register?

          Also, I have to say as a broader point that when I was growing up in the 80s we watched a LOT of Sesame Street (my mom thought it was going to make us all genuises). I remember it being very diverse with the humans they portrayed. Lots of kids and adults of color. Plus the music was super-funky and gave me a lifelong appreciation of 70s soul.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          For the record Jason I do believe that there actually are African-American Muppets. There aren’t among the obviously inhuman ones but the Muppet children; those designed to pretty much resemble kids (think Prairie Dawn) had a pretty much even distribution of colors between pink, brown, yellow and red.
          They generally weren’t named; almost none of the children Muppets really were; but they are present.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            Again, I’m not looking at color alone. If I were, it would be a very, very silly question.

            Race is a LOT more than color, much as we might wish things otherwise.Report

            • Avatar Sam M says:

              But doesn’t this get us in sticky territory? If certain speach patterns qualify as “black” or African-American, this opens up a dicey conversation about whether people who don’t share those speech patterns “qualify.” So suddenly, Ali G is more “black” than Clarence Thomas.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … just go read some Chomsky. Some linguistical patterns are used to verbally signify the user’s presence within a particular culture. Other people, from the same culture, attempt to “whitify” (aka homogenize to the dominant paradigm) themselves by using markers from a more general culture (Reporter’s standard Midwestern Accent, anyone?).

                And other people switch between dialects, or retain vestiges of one dialect while using another…

                But it’s certainly a valid point that on a children’s show, the idea of not showing kids speaking normally is kinda weird.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      NO! They should only portray green muppets!Report

  4. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    The PBS commie-Muppets are designed to make little democrats. It’s Sponge Bob Square Pants who represents the modern American male.Report

  5. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    You will ALL learn to love Sponge Bob! On so many occasions he has proven himself the MAN!Report

  6. Avatar Ryan B says:

    I think the overall reaction here is fairly strong support for one of the worries I expressed in the Star Trek post. A substantial portion of any pop culture audience will view almost any portrayal of same-sex love as some kind of anomaly, or as Mike says in the first comment “shov[ing] their lifestyle in people’s faces”. These are the same people who never, ever see straight relationships as shoving anything anywhere (ahem), even if they are otherwise completely unnecessary to the plot.

    In other words, no one here seems terribly upset that Grover has a girlfriend or that Miss Piggy’s sexuality is actually in everyone’s face in precisely the way we’re always told Teh Gayz are making everyone pay attention to theirs.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Still, to consciously include a gay couple is to intentionally challenge this very thing, so you can’t really escape this phenomenon either.Report

      • Avatar Ryan B says:

        Agreed. My thesis is still something like “it’s really hard to get this right”.

        Have you ever watched “Skins” (the British version)? It has one of the least artificial portrayals of a gay character I think I’ve ever seen. (Although it’s arguable the portrayal of every character on the show is so artificial that the gayness of one of them is relatively innocuous.)Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          “Have you ever watched “Skins” (the British version)? It has one of the least artificial portrayals of a gay character I think I’ve ever seen. ”

          I’d be interested to see that.

          I remember when Will & Grace was on, and the character that always got credit for being authentically gay from straight people I knew (Will’s friend, I think… I’ve only seen it a few times) was the one character on the entire show that was entirely unlike any gay person I had ever met, and was more like the way guys in my high school that were making fun of gay people acted.

          I’d like to see an authentic gay character a decade later, and from outside the US. I’m guessing we’ve come a long way.Report

    • Avatar Sam M says:

      I suspect it might make some people happy if the creators of the show were to simply declare that Miss Piggy has been a gay male character all along.

      Although I am not sure who the happy people would be.Report

  7. Avatar G.A. Jackson says:

    I can’t say who would be happy.

    But you WILL break Kermit’s heart, I am guessing! Drag Pig!Report