Ever taken a look behind the scenes of The Muppet Show at Jim Henson and his crew from around the time the show debuted?
Almost every one of them looked like they just left the Monterey Pop Festival moments before showing up for work. They not only looked the part, many of the sketches on The Muppet Show contained messages popular in the counterculture at the time.
For me, one of the most memorable pieces from the original Muppet Show, was their treatment of the Buffalo Springfield song, For What it’s Worth.
The redneck hunters roaming through the woods blasting everything that moves with their high-powered rifles, becomes a thinly veiled political statement. The song For What It’s Worth itself was commonly perceived as a protest song a few years after its debut in 1966.
One can’t help but see the underlying political message with a little historical context. The Muppet Show version of the song aired in late 1977, on episode 221 with special guest Bob Hope, just a few years after the US pulled out of Vietnam. Long-haired, anti-war hippies, not that there’s anything wrong with that, believed the US involvement in Vietnam was wrong, and the nation was acting much the way the rednecks shooting up the woods do in this Muppet piece.
The fact Bob Hope hosted the episode featuring For What It’s Worth is also interesting given Hope’s staunch support of the USO and military.
Thinking in terms of the US acting like crazed rednecks with guns, this fabulous Muppets bit is relevant to the beliefs of anti-war advocates even today.
So the next time a passing cloud of patchouli sets your sinuses ablaze and causes an explosion of violent sneezing, don’t curse the hippies who cast the cloud upon you, just remember it was hippies like Jim Henson, and the many others like him, who were responsible for bringing us the joy of knowing Kermit, Gonzo, the Swedish Chef, and the rest of the gang.