After the overwhelming response to my post the other day regarding the website for the Muppet Movie that came out this fall, I knew I needed to do something, rather than just complain about it.  Let me say first off, if you’re thinking about seeing the movie and are hesitant because you’re a long time fan, don’t be.  I fell even more in love with the Muppets with this movie than I was before.  I would caution you, however, to steer clear of the website for the movie.  Here’s what I have to say to Disney:

Dear Disney,

I am a long-time fan, from going to see Beauty and the Beast with my mom and sister at our local drive in theater as a kid to rejoicing the return of classic animation with The Princess and the Frog, I have always been a fan.  Imagine the joy of a bookish little girl as she sees a bookish brunette become a princess by seeing something in the Beast that others had not.  It’s a powerful message.  And more recently, how many girls learned that hard work AND dreams are the key to happily ever after with Tiana in the Princess and the Frog?  The work that Disney does profoundly effects generation after generation of children.

I was intrigued when Disney took the reigns on the Muppets several years ago.  And I waited in anticipation for the newest Muppet Movie that came out this fall.  Unlike the Smurfs who were “updated” to near-unrecognizableness by CGI animation, the Muppets continued to be unabashedly themselves in the new movie.  I was proud and happy to see that the people participating in the big dance numbers were of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  The Muppets, with a frog, a dog, a bear, a pig, and a … whatever (Gonzo), have always symbolized to me (and many others) a true picture of diversity.  That no matter the differences displayed in a group, they can all be friends and treat each other with respect.

With all that said, I was extremely disappointed and saddened by several of the elements on the Muppet Movie website, particularly pertaining to Miss Piggy.  In one of the bonus video clips called “Drive Thru Piggy”, Miss Piggy makes self-hating, body shaming comments about herself before drastically changing her food order to something more “healthy” (though with the lack of protein and good fats in her meal, it really can’t be considered a healthy, balanced meal.  But I digress).  Then on Miss Piggy’s character page, if you click on Rizzo and the Rats (dressed as tourists, on the left hand side of the screen) and scene plays out where Miss Piggy again makes insecure comments about her appearance, followed by Rizzo making a very insulting comment about Miss Piggy’s size.

Regardless of whether or not Miss Piggy herself needs to lose weight (because, the reality is that she is a pig, and is portrayed as a rather slender figure despite her species), I think we can all agree that shame, bullying, and self-hating are not things we want to be teaching children.  If this had been Rizzo making a joke about Kermit being green, or Fozzie making comments comparing himself to a mentally hadicapped person, there would have been outrage… assuming that the content was approved in the first place.  Body size is a hot-button issue, especially where children are concerned.  And as a society, we have accepted that it’s ok to bully, shame, and spout hateful comments at people simply because they don’t conform to society’s ideal body size.  Is obesity a problem?  Maybe.  There are so many factors the influence why and how a person gains more weight than is culturally acceptable, that the only person who can say whether one’s obesity is a problem is that person and their doctor.  Perpetuating comments like Rizzo’s “joke” and Miss Piggy’s self-hating comments only furthers the idea that a stranger can make judgements about a person’s health and well-being without any information other than their perceived size.

The other part of this that stopped me in my tracks is that Miss Piggy has never been portrayed in this way.  She has always been shown as a confident, well dressed, and even sexy character.  She thumbs her nose at diet and weight loss… just google Miss Piggy Snacksercise and you’ll find several vintage videos of Miss Piggy advocating snacking, napping, and opening gifts as opposed to the aerobics that were popular at the time (early 80’s).  Part of Miss Piggy’s charm is her unwavering belief that she is absolutely gorgeous just as she is, and absolutely deserving of Kermit (and everyone else’s) adoration and respect.

So I’m asking for two things.  First, remove the content I’ve described above from the website for the Muppets.  And secondly, make it a point to actively respect ALL of the characters (and by extension all people) with respect, regardless of their size, shape, race, ability, sexual orientation, age, or personality.  Because we’re all different in one way or another.  And everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.

Sincerely,

Rene

plus sized sewing blogger and woman of size

If you’d like to get Disney’s attention, please contact them and let them know why you’d like this content taken down and destroyed.  You can reach Disney by submitting your comments on their website here (please put it in as a comment on their website rather than a question, as the question section seems to direct to a technical support team).  Or email James Pitero (james.pitero@disney.com), Co-President of Disney Interactive Media, who’s executive biography lists that he’s in charge of Disney’s web sites.   Or if you’d like to go old-school and write an actual letter, you can direct it to James Pitero, Co-President of Disney Interactive Media, 500 S Buena Vista St, Burbank, CA 91521.

*UPDATE* It appears that the email address I found for Mr. Pitero is incorrect.  Please send comments in through their website or the regular mail.  I’ll let you know if I find a correct email address.

Advertisements