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What Happened To The Muppets And What Parents Can Do About It

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
November 5, 2015 12:00 pm

What Happened To The Muppets And What Parents Can Do About It

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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November 5, 2015 12:00 pm

This week, NC Family president John Rustin talks with Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council (PTC), about ABC’s new television show, The Muppets, and why the PTC is warning parents that this is not a show for children.


This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family and up from the studio here is John Rustin, Pres. North Carolina family policy Council doing this we profamily policy matters. It is our pleasure to have Tim winter with us on the program as president of the parents television Council, a nonpartisan media watchdog and education organization is with us today to talk about of all things. ABC's new TV show, the Muppets and while the parents television Council or PTC is warning parents. This is not a show for children will be talking with Tim about the program and particularly a new study of the Muppets with the parents television Council conducted Tim, it's great to have you back with us again on family policy matters. Oh good day to you and your listeners will often view. Well, it's always great to have you, Tim, and unfortunately it's often talking about unfortunate programming on our public airwaves and this seems to be an example of that one. Most of us think about Jim Henson's Muppets. We think back to the 80s and 90s about these cute fuzzy iconic and generally family-friendly characters that both kids and parents could enjoy together, but Tim ABC has brought the Muppets back to prime time television. And it's certainly not the same show that used to be.

How does the new Muppets compared to the Muppets.

We remember from years ago and why has the parents television Council been warning parents of this new version.

Well, I think you hit the nail on the head when use the word iconic in terms of this television show, the Muppets is truly the most iconic children's television show in history at certainly one of the most iconic shows for children for families*is hard to imagine a program more family-friendly in terms of its history than the Muppets. I mean it's you know I don't need to belabor it but think about a poster child for healthy family viewing. I can imagine a better picture than Muppets and sadly what that with the folks in Hollywood seem to have done is take this and shifted in an adult direction and even the show's producer is said that there rightfully or wrongfully. The Muppets became more of a kids product over the years and I'm thinking, rightfully or wrong is that there there there puppets about animals that are adorable and I would usually rightfully or wrongfully that this become a kids product and and what you said overtly, is that they want to take this Muppet show and push it in a direction they've never been before.

As I mentioned earlier, PTC has conducted a study of this new Muppets program. Tell us about the study and what it involved the other person talking Council's research department. We have trained analysts who watch and monitor what's on primetime broadcast television.

Notice that an increasing week concerning amount of where would consider age inappropriate content on the Muppets on the first four episodes of the show suite. We look to the first four in great detail and believe it or not. Almost every three minutes. There is adult themed content that is airing in the Muppets. This is a show that errors early in prime time. The reasonable parent would think her child and the reading of the show is TV PG which means parents. If this is appropriate for children to talk little bit about what you mean by adult content. What types of things we talking about here. Well were talking about sexual content, drug and alcohol use and abuse, sexual innuendo references sitting in a name and a bar with the characters getting drunk on alcohol, drug references and drug jokes is the type of thing that really I think runs afoul of of any honor and integrity towards a brand that was built on the back of children and their parents melodies, new characters, new Muppets that have come all and inserted into use this negative vibe, so to speak in the show or are these some of the more iconic Muppets that we would recognize from the days of old family if it's that the current excrement.

Miss Piggy and end of the characters that we have seen for decades. Miss Piggy and Kermit are against consistent lead actor and actress building a public being actors and actresses, but they're the main characters and yet they're the ones delivering most of the sexual content in the form set in the form of of their lines of forms of what they've spoken on the show. So when you have the most iconic famous characters delivering the lines. I mean, it really has a bigger impact like you said it could be somebody we don't know who they really are new, but the characters we know and love best in the other ones were delivering almost half of all the sexual content in the study was delivered by permit working now is it just the lines of the words that are spoken or is it actions and activities that are taken within these episodes that are so concerning all when use when you hear Miss Piggy talking about plastic surgery to her breasts and her rear end and then she her hand and give a little bit of a porch like what she's talking about Miss Piggy. Cosmetic surgery really is more than just the depictions of descriptions. It is also depictions but when you have alcohol use. When a submariner cocktail out every drinking beer and wine and cocktails in the getting inebriated. It more than just a passing reference.

You see it and it along seen them and it wasn't just a quick passing reference. It was several minutes of conversation and dialogue in the bar while they got further and further just know it has an impact on the viewer. As someone who has been involved in reviewing and exposing adult and content and inappropriate content. In a lot of broadcast television. How would you respond to a parent that says something like, oh, you're just being a prude.

This is, you know, maybe 20 or 30 years since the original Muppets has come out and you know it's a different society. Those types of things so it's okay. How would you respond to a parent like that." In your opinion, makes this particular program so concerning an end really so disturbing to see it go in this direction when you turn on television today. There is just a tsunami of graphic sex, violence, profanity, sexualization of women disrespect for authority and disrespect for the law on and twisted portrayals of of of human beings just across the board in almost every county turn to. There is no alternative today are there very few alternatives, and here you have a brand Muppets should be a safe alternative for families safe alternative for children. You could subtly take any character and turn it put into an adult situation adult could not not wink wink have a chuckle about something, the brand that children believe is for them in a tune in and they should be able to do so and that's what I guess has also so just so disappointed what is already an overwhelmingly toxic environment for entertainment. When you take a child's brand, something that should be safe and turn it into something that is not safe.

How much farther can we go I think it's really desperate. Well I think that's an important distinction to consider because we have seen shows like The Simpsons and the family guy cartoon type programs that are really intended to be adult themed just by virtue of it being a cartoon. Some parents could be confused about it and think that all this might be safer.

My child watch without really considering the content but I think this is a clear distinction in taking an iconic program that was known to be child friendly minutes turned around to be a crass and inappropriate display using those exact same characters and I think that is you said is is what makes this so disappointing.

We see this Tim more and more in television these days that oftentimes programs that purport to be family-friendly are really not bad. What do you believe that we continue to see such a disconnect between the cons of so-called family TV and family programming that Hollywood produces and the programs that most families want to watch which are wholesome. I have good moral messages and are safe for the entire family to sit down and watch together. Well, I'll do my best to answer based upon my experience living here and nine Hollywood working in the industry for most of my career. I don't think anybody here in town gets up in the morning thinking how can I possibly offend her children and families. What I do believe is that they are have a you that is just a dramatically different than them entire marketplace who is there to consume what they produce. You have folks who come here to Hollywood to make their living in an industry that you know it it's a lot of folks feel disenfranchised if they grow up in the Midwest and in error. You know in conservative traditional situation if they feel disenfranchised with that if they feel better angry about about that situation. Like so many of them come to Hollywood and try to then enter the industry and and create programming that that kind of allows them to express their unhappiness about about that situation and I don't know why, but that seems to be. I don't want the conspiracy, but it certainly seems to be consensus here in amongst the producers and studio ranks. They produce a program for their own peer groups, not for the masses but actually pay the bills.

No business 101 find your marketplace and and and make sure you're marketing to to those who can who can be your consumers and what I would seems to do is working to produce what we want and we don't care who it offends, and you have to pay me for it. Just it's kind of upside down business model whenever you have a very high quality high production value family-friendly program that that of the whole family can enjoy together.

It tends to be just off the charts successful in terms of financial resort family from the movies that really are family-friendly, tend to be the biggest blockbusters of the year and the same thing for TV shows. If it's really truly chemically but also good quality and that's what Hollywood seems not to understand. They think that that family-friendly to them equates to low production values in schlocky stuff and that's just unfortunate Tim. I'm sure that many of our listeners are probably somewhat shocked to hear what is happened with the reinstitution of the Muppets and are wondering what they can do, not only with this, but with other times where inappropriate content pops up on the TV while watching with their families. What are some things that parents can do to make sure that ABC and the producers of the Muppets hear their concerns about this program and other program similar to it. It's easy for most parents and grandparents to feel overwhelmed, unhappy, angry, upset and frustrated but also that their adjusters they can't fight City Hall as the old saying goes, but the reality is they can it by being quiet you're allowing this to continue. So we urge people to be vocal, join the parents to counsel is free. Parents and click and join for free and learning will lend your voice to ours. Make it a bigger grandmother chorus.

We make sure that parents are informed we also make sure that the advertisers who support the shows here from parents and say hey your underwriting with your advertising dollars are underwriting harmful material that children are consuming so if we speak out loudly to the advertisers. If we talk to the TV networks if we talk to Hollywood. If we talk to our elected officials in Congress, the FCC is supposed to be overseeing the public airwaves to make sure they're being used in the public interest. I don't know how how much of the stuff today is serving the public interest, but they have to hear from us are also don't act well I think that's a great encouragement to our listeners and I will just say there are not that many people who actually decide to get engaged and if the people who are listening to this program will take the time and become active on this issue and other issues. It can make it a tremendous difference and so everybody has to play their part.

If you see something on television, especially broadcast television or broadcast radio that you have concerns about that you believe is inappropriate, then take action into my want to give you an opportunity to repeat your website and to tell our listeners where they can go to express her concerns about this. How can they go and seek an opportunity to air their concerns through the parents television Council you can you can learn, you can become an activist. You can become an armed parent or grandparent. PA Re: NTS parents and if any of your listeners have ever seen a child makes when they saw the Muppets timer when I saw that Ms. Vicki and Kermit come on the child's face brightens up and and let's not let the Muppets become just another casualty of Hollywood's crass press together well and I do want to encourage our listeners to definitely speak up and visit the parents television Council website. It parents again. Parents and without him winter. Unfortunately, were out of Tom but I want to thank you so much for being with us on family policy matters and for your incredibly important work at the parents television Council. We really appreciate all that you do well, thank you so much and thank you for allowing us to 52.

Here listeners.

There family policy matters. Information and analysis, future of the North Carolina family policy Council join us weekly for discussion on policy issues affecting the family. If you have questions or comments, please contact 919-807-0800 or visit our website and see

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