A 20th Anniversary “Muppet Christmas Carol” Drinking Game

Take a drink:

• Every time you see anthropomorphic food.

• Every time a bell or chime rings.

• Gonzo directly quotes Dickens.

• Rizzo asks Gonzo a question.

• Someone says “Merry Christmas” or “humbug.”

• Kermit’s mouth does that scrunched-up thing where it’s really obvious there’s a hand in his head.

• A Muppet runs frantically from one side of the screen to the other.

• Someone talks about being hungry.

• A genuinely scary ghost appears. (This definitely includes the creepy little-girl Ghost of Christmas Past, and might also include the ghosts of Christmas Present and Future.)

• A character suddenly reverses disposition for comic effect.

Finish your drink when:

• Scrooge’s fiancée Belle sings “When Love Is Gone” (for less drinking, watch the widescreen DVD or the BluRay, both of which cut this song).

• “God bless us, every one!”

Jay Gabler and discreetly unnamed collaborators

If Everyone Was as Honest as Bon Jovi

Because We Can—The Tour is the upcoming fifteenth concert tour by American rock band Bon Jovi. (Wikipedia)

Tom Cruise stars as an ex-cop with a stupid name in the plot-free blockbuster action spectacular Because I Can.

“Because I Can,” Chris Brown’s slow jam about S&M, featuring a guest verse by Rihanna.

“Telling the World About Your Performance Anxiety, Because I Can,” the new hit single by Taylor Swift

Because We Could, a memoir by a senior staffer in the George W. Bush administration

“Because I can:” text-message preface to a dickpic from Bill Clinton

Because You Can: A 50-Something Pop Icon’s Guide to Hot Sex with Barely Legal Men by Madonna

“asking people to bring me adderall, because i can” – alt lit tweet

Because I Can, a 20-hour documentary about the history of hubcaps in America, by Ken Burns

BECAUSE I CAN—inscription on Bob Dylan’s gravestone

Because We Can™: A line of $70 yoga shirts in the Whole Body section at Whole Foods

Star Wars Episode VII: Because We Can, a Disney movie featuring a climactic battle between Boba Fett and Miss Piggy

Jay Gabler and Katya Karaz

This Might Seem Unnecessary, BUT…Why the new Muppets film is NOT liberal propaganda

You may not know this, but that new Muppets movie is liberal brainwashing of children. No, the HIV-positive, starving or “Ralph Nader” muppet doesn’t appear in this film to turn your child pro-choice. Finding the bogeyman this time requires more of a leap.

Tex Richman (played by a devilish Chris Cooper)—yes, seriously—is the antagonist who wants to purchase the old studio Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang rehearsed at for years in L.A. to get at a ton of crude oil. Richman is a stodgy, emotionless (he can’t even do a maniacal laugh right), and ultimately evil-to-the-core bad guy you can love to hate.

The cable-news soothsayer behind this claim is Fox’s Follow the Money host Eric Bolling, who can be seen exasperatedly asking why liberals “hate” corporations. Another commentator asks why the bad guy couldn’t have been an Obama muppet and goes on a limb connecting everything from The Matrix to Cars 2 with Occupy Wall Street, rampant business taxes, and job loss.

I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but I’m not quite so certain The Muppets are playing politics here.

I’m not a good fiction writer (you can hear those two old codgers Statler and Waldorf yelling from the balcony, “You can say the same for your nonfiction” with a cymbal hit). But, I know the basics of storytelling. And in order to achieve a satisfying victory for the protagonist—and I’m talking basic, good v. evil stuff, not like As I Lay Dying—you need a working antagonist.

Your choice for a bad guy can be political (maybe we’ll make the bad guy an evil union boss instead of a conservative plumber from Ohio), but what matters is not the job, it’s the greed. It’s the corrupted soul. It’s the very thing children can always tell if you were to set up a jailhouse book-em style line up of good and bad characters: the bad guys just smell fishy.

A couple years ago, I re-watched Ghostbusters. What momentarily bugged me was that even though the two main characters (science nerds who can’t get funding from the Dean) are quintessential intellectual liberal heroes, their nemesis (not Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man, Gozer, or that green blob who keeps eating all the room service food) is actually a mere mortal: the jerk-off from the E.P.A. who wants to shut down the “containment” unit because it doesn’t meet environmental code.

Again, first time I saw this as a kid, it flashed by me. But now, as a knee-jerk protector of all things Progressive, I had a mini-heart-attack. Why did Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis choose an environmentalist? Don’t they see what they’re doing?! Indoctrinating a generation of kids to think ill of the government, environmental regulations, and liberals! AHHHHH!!! Now I’m really afraid!!

But then I caught my breath. It didn’t matter that this guy was an EPA dude. What mattered was that he was a royal jerk. He is a character foil to the laid-back coolness of Dr. Vinkman.

What we miss here is the deeper emotional currents in our stories that spread beyond partisan rubrics. Bolling and other complainers miss that The Muppets entire project uses metaphorical shells, out-front tropes that seem to encourage the audience not to dig too deeply into this stuff. (Did Bolling check out the scene where the Muppets travel by “map” across the Atlantic?)

Saying anything else—that this is liberal brainwashing—is playing politics with kids as the pawns. Look, I still am okay with the EPA even though I saw Ghostbusters as a kid, and I’m guessing 30 years from, some little twerp who just watched The Muppets will still be begging to drill for oil in ANWR. The only brain-washing I’m concerned with is coming from those real-life adult puppets on television.

Dunstan McGill

The Stars of “Avenue Q” Speak Out About “The Muppets”

Princeton: First of all, I want to say that I think it’s really unfair for people to criticize Disney for making the new Muppet a 30-year-old white guy. White guys are human—er, puppet—too, guys! If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you prick us, do we not leak stuffing?

Christmas Eve: Why you have to be so racist, Princeton?

Kate Monster: I don’t understand why people are having a problem with Miss Piggy being “sexualized” because of one quick sight gag involving her crotch and Jack Black’s face. Puppets are sexual! We have always been sexual, and Miss Piggy has been an icon for all of us. Princeton and I never could have had our extended full-penetration sex scene in front of audiences around the world if Miss Piggy hadn’t led the way with her unashamed horniness on national TV.

Rod: Well, I thought the film was just delightful—though I was disappointed that Kermit and the rest of the entertainment elite gave Sam Eagle such a small role. There was absolutely no play given to Sam’s insightful analysis of why the anti-growth policies of the Clinton and Obama Administrations led to the Muppets’ financial bottoming-out, and Sam’s been very candid in sharing his view that the character of “Tex Richman” was a gross caricature of the entrepreneurs who make this country great.

Nicky: But Rod, Sam Eagle also supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Rod: SO?! Nicky, why would that mean anything at all to me?! That has absolutely nothing to do with my life!

Brian: I was just really hoping they’d bring back Mark Hamill to be the celebrity host.

Trekkie Monster: Trekkie Monster not appreciate whitewashing of Rolf’s lucrative career in PORN! Why you think Rolf depicted living life of leisure? It because he a DOG who hung like a HORSE!

Lucy the Slut: Personally, I prefer a Muppet with a lot of energy, a sense of adventure, and a great big beak.

Gary Coleman: In a movie full of references to 80s pop culture icons, you know who they forgot to reference? That’s right, Gary Coleman! There wasn’t even one “whatchutalkinbout”!

Bad Idea Bear #1: Hey, you know what The Muppets really needs?

Bad Idea Bear #2: sequel!

Bad Idea Bears: YAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay Gabler