The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Sam Eagle: The Original Neo-Con

January 22, 2010

If you’re asking me if I’m a little upset right now, you’d be right. The Economist has just reported what I’ve been saying for years. The Muppets have a secret conservative agenda.

“What?!” You must be exclaiming. “Miss Piggy is a Palin Predecessor?”

No. It’s not so simple. Jim Henson was no fool and I’m sure Kermit does not believe that Obama is a secret communist socialist muslim agent. Or at least I really hope so.

According to the article (which is chronicling a debate on the issue as a break from the never-ending nightmare of the healthcare “debate”):

… the Muppets are temperamentally conservative. While they value education, for example, their interest in the subject is implicitly linked to their desire for children to adopt the norms of bourgeois society, and thereby to take their place as productive citizens. Mr Henson wanted everyone to count by numbers, in the order in which those numbers traditionally appear. Although Muppets occasionally dabble in the arts, notably Rowlf at his piano, Mr Henson had little appreciation for free-form intellectual endeavour. Among his earliest Muppet sketches two curious characters appear. One, “the philosopher”, is described as scatter-brained and often quoting things inappropriately or inaccurately. Another, depicted variously as an octopus and a sea-monster, is described as big, happy, and “normal-thinking”.

But I think it goes far beyond this. Exhibit A: Sam Eagle.

Sam Eagle, the protector of “American” values, who hammers on and on and on about culture. Who uses the show to deliver address against “namby-pamby” liberals who want to put a halt to industry to protect endangered species… like American bald eagles.

Sure, Jim Henson may have supported liberally-oriented civil rights in public(remember Roosevelt Franklin?) He arguably introduced tv’s first gay (albeit closeted) couple. But let’s face it – Sam was the dark heart of the Muppet Show. The Col. Nathan R. Jessep (“protecting these walls”) so that the show may go on. The true side of felt-based American television entertainment.

And who else could we add to this list?

  • The Count – Clearly the man loved to count. I’m thinking capitalist.
  • Wayne and Wanda – Possibly secret Canadians, but were clearly in on Sam’s agenda.
  • Miss Piggy – I have always seen Miss Piggy as someone who would (hi-ya! *chop*) fight for women’s lib. But with her lust for the lime-light, willingness to trample over others for it and love of clothing and shoes, could we indeed have another Palin on our hands?

I leave it for blog readers to suggest their own candidates for a “vast rightwing sing-along variety hour conspiracy”.

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Stephanie Carvin is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Her research interests are in the area of international law, security, terrorism and technology. Currently, she is teaching in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, technology and warfare and foreign policy.

Stephanie holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and published her thesis as Prisoners of America’s Wars: From the Early Republic to Guantanamo (Columbia/Hurst, 2010). Her most recent book is Science, Law, Liberalism and the American Way of Warfare: The Quest for Humanity in Conflict” (Cambridge, 2015) co-authored with Michael J. Williams. In 2009 Carvin was a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University Law School and worked as a consultant to the US Department of Defense Law of War Working Group. From 2012-2015, she was an analyst with the Government of Canada focusing on national security issues.
Stacie Goddard