Muppets Take Baghdad
WASHINGTON (DPI) - The administration opened a campaign today to bypass
the usual press channels, which they claim are emphasizing only the bad
in Iraq, and have gone to less traditional outlets and using less
conventional methods to get its message out. One of the more innovative
methods is enlisting the help of the Muppets in a series of short films
to tell the story of rebuilding in Iraq.
The first 15-minute film made available to news outlets, titled The Muppets
Rebuild Iraq, features many of the Muppet characters that people have
come to identify with over the years. Hosted by ambiguously defined
partners Bert and Ernie, the show forgoes real footage of gritty
scenes in Baghdad for staged recreations featuring songs and
Muppet Babies to represent the citizens of the war-torn country.
But not everyone is amused by this tactic. Administration critics such as presidential hopeful Howard Dean contend that representing Iraq as "a giant Sesame Street" sanitizes
the real problems and will radically skew the publics' perception.
"Suicide bombings and attacks against our soldiers are represented by a trash can lid
blowing into the air and a slightly blackened Oscar the Grouch sticking
his head up and saying, 'Uh-Oh! A little anti-Democracy foreign
terrorist did a whoopsy daisy again!'" said Dean. "I think that understates things a
bit." Other detractors point to some of the songs, which they claim
further the agenda of the contractors, such as Halliburton and Bechtel -- particularly the "Haliburton is Our Friend" song, set to the tune of
"Rubber Duckie." A sample of the lyrics:
Halliburton, you know it's true
Reconstruction would fail without you,
Halliburton, America wants to thank you,
Yes, you! You, you, you, you!
Halliburton, joy of joys,
All your critics make stupid noise,
But Halliburton, we love the things you do,
Boop boop a doop!
For its part, the Bush administration has brushed aside the criticism. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who appears in the first film as Oscar the Grouch's
cousin, Rummy the Grouch, deflected questions about whether the Muppet method distorts the events on the ground. "If you're asking me if
giving the American People the truth in the form of their most beloved
characters without burdening them with violence gives them a
clearer picture of the rebuilding, I would have to say, yes, the
American people do love America and want these films to continue."
(Reported by Davejames and Marsha Clodfelter; Graphic by Kevin Wickart)