TV: Is Charmed Pushing a Conservative Agenda?

 

For all its feminist butt kicking, I have noticed a pattern as I’ve rewatched Charmed over the last few months: its seemingly conservative agenda.

Sure, there are monstrous demons from throughout the ages; single, sexy, confident females kicking ass and taking names (mostly braless, might I add?!); and an on-the-surface progressive feel to the show, but there might be more at work on Charmed.

Take, for example, in season two when Phoebe tries to help Eric and his father, who have transcribed the ancient Akashic records, and are threatened with brain death by the Collectors, who want the information stored in their minds. While Eric manages to escape the Collectors with the help of the Charmed ones, his father remains in a coma in hospital. When the sisters urge Eric to leave his father to save himself, he refuses, saying his dad is still alive. If we’ve learnt anything from Grey’s Anatomy and all the other doctor dramas, it’s that people rarely recover from brain injury and, in my opinion, the humane thing to do is turn off the life support system.

Also in season two, when Prue is cursed by a Darklighter for trying to save a Whitelighter-to-be (played by Amy Adams, if you’re interested in a bit of trivia), Leo says that suicide prevents someone earmarked to become a future Whitelighter from doing so. Kind of like suicide can prevent a person from going to heaven…?

On the topic of religion, in one episode (for the life of me I can’t recall which one, I just wrote down the quote. Don’t take my word on this, but I think it may have been “Apocalypse, Not”, in season two.) Leo mentions that good and evil have been embroiled in “6,000 years of conflict”. What else allegedly began 6,000 years ago? The creation of the world. A not-very-subtle nod to the creationism theory.

Perhaps there was an especially conservative writer or producer working on season two only, as all these examples stem from that season. A quick IMDb and Wikipedia search yielded not many results supporting this theory.

What are your thoughts on the conservative nature of the series?

Related: Making a Protest Statement… with Cleavage!

Image via CharmedWiki.

Movies: The Underlying Message in The Muppets Movie*.

 

Talk about a metatext!

It seems like every two minutes in The Muppets there was a thoroughly enjoyable self-aware reference and celebrity guest appearance. Gary presents Mary with some lacklustre flowers, which were squashed “probably from the dance number I was doing” in one of the opening scenes of the movie. When Mary laments in song Gary’s brother, Walter, joining them on an anniversary trip to Los Angeles, a gardener conveniently sprays water on the window she’s wistfully looking out of. When Statler and Waldorf introduce the “important plot point” involving oil tycoon Tex Richman drilling for oil under the old Muppet Theatre, Walter tries to get the Muppets back together to save it. When this fails to come to fruition midway through, Mary remarks, “This is going to be a really short movie.” And let’s not forget Camilla and the other chickens’ performance of “Forget You”. You can’t get much more meta than that!

As for the cameos, take Jack Black and his School of Rock cast mate Sarah Silverman, for example. Or Dave Grohl on drums for The Muppets cover band, the Moopets, and the later performance by The Muppets Barbershop Quartet of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Or Amy Adams as Mary, and her Sunshine Cleaning co-star Emily Blunt in her very Devil Wears Prada-role as Miss Piggy’s secretary. Even Blunt’s real life husband, John Kransinki, makes an appearance. Phew!

But, we’re reminded, celebrities are fair game because they are “not a people”. Makes a poignant comment on our celebrity-saturated society.

That’s the not the only point The Muppets makes. Richman is the personification of the 1% and, like the Moopets, is “a hard, cynical act for a hard, cynical world.”

The film also seeks to promote diversity and acceptance, I thought. Take, for example, the Ebony magazine cover that Kermit fronts, which is traditionally a magazine for African Americans, and how this might represent the Muppets as being beyond racial definition. I also got the feeling that Walter was marketed to be a differently-abled person, which would certainly explain Gary’s reluctance to let Walter go when he is accepted into the Muppet clan and his sheltered existence in Smalltown up til then.

On the first watching of the film, I noticed in particular that Kermit wont tell Miss Piggy he loves her, which is all she asks of him. It reminded me of the Blair and Chuck storyline in Gossip Girl from a few years ago: their back-and-forth love story that depends on Blair needing to hear those words and Chuck never being able to say them. On second watching, I confirmed that, in fact, Kermit never does say “I love you”.

The second time around was more enjoyable. While I originally got to see the film a month before it came out in Australia—and for free!—being in an audience of primarily under 10s wasn’t as good as being in an almost-empty theatre consisting only of Generation X’s who grew up with the Muppets. There was, however, a group of about six teenage fanboys sitting behind me. I was originally annoyed by their chatting in the first ten minutes of the film, but I actually laughed more at them than at the movie when they slid off their seats during the appearances of Neil Patrick Harris and Jim Parsons. But, after watching “Muppet or a Man”, can you really blame them?

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Images via YouTube, Cover Me Songs.