The provocation? A comment by a conservative media watcher, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, on the Fox Business Channel—accusing the new Muppets movie of being “liberal” since the bad guy in the film turns out to be an oil tycoon. It was just part of Fox Business host Eric Bolling going on about whether liberals, through the flick, are “trying to brainwash your kids against capitalism.”
In the press conference, Kermit responds to the charge by noting that in the movie, the Muppets are actually riding in a “gas guzzling Rolls Royce.”
Miss Piggy then goes one better, calling the accusation “almost as laughable as accusing Fox News as being, you know, news.”
Now even Bill O’Reilly has weighed in, telling the Muppets to “watch it.” I think he may have been joking. I think.
I wouldn’t make so much of this, were it not for the fact that this kind of thing happens all the time. I mean, it was just last year that Fox picked a fight with SpongeBob Squarepants—because SpongeBob dared to be accurate about global warming.
And liberals laughed, and snickered.
The entertainment industry, full of creative types, is naturally in the liberal camp. So political views that folks at Fox might consider offensive do indeed make their way into the industry’s products all the time. And conservatives know it.
But the places where conservatives tend to see entertainment industry liberalism run amok are often pretty stunning. And whenever the next blowup occurs, liberals have a good laugh about how weird conservatives are to attack kids shows and, you know, claim that Tinky-Winky is a gay icon. Don’t they see how ridiculous they’re being?
Well, maybe not.
A lot of humor, after all, turns on irony and tone–and thus in turn, one’s ability to perceive nuance and detect the real meaning behind ambiguous messages. And conservatives simply do these things differently than liberals.
In fact, left-right comedic differences have even been studied. When it came to Stephen Colbert, for instance, liberals thought he was playing a part in order to mock conservatives, whereas conservatives thought that deep down, he was actually one of them. No kidding. As the study found:
…conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism.
Both groups, it is worth noting, found Colbert equally funny—but for precisely the opposite reasons.
[Liberals’ interpretation of Colbert is right, of course. Which is yet another vindication of Colbert’s own observation that “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Which is funny—and also true.]
Conservatives do have their own humor, to be sure. At least according to Conservapedia's inventory of conservative jokes, they seem to find President Obama “bowing” to be very funny. And it also appears that they like to offensively mock Barney Frank.
In other words, much conservative humor seems to be about…liberals being wimpy, and not showing enough toughness and dominance. And it is not, I don’t think, very funny–although I will admit (per Conservapedia) that that picture of Michael Dukakis in a tank is actually amusing, or at least sad.
But when conservatives go up against the Muppets—well, it is total comedic slaughter. And perhaps there is a good reason why.
Here’s some advice to conservatives, then: Just give up on Hollywood, stop picking fights you're bound to lose, and be happy with having corporate America and the military in your camp. They’re not as funny or entertaining, maybe—but they’re a heck of a lot more powerful.