New Asian American Muppet urges CPAC president to demand refinancing of PBS

Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the Conservative Political Action Committee, drew criticism Asian Americans and others trans social media this week after he asked for “Sesame Street” to be unfunded to introduce its first Asian American Muppet.

Schlapp, a conservative lobbyist, tweeted a news story about the upcoming debut of a Korean American character, Ji-Young. The Muppet was praised for letting Asian American children see a character like themselves on screen, but Schlapp decried the hosting network, PBS, which receives both government and private sector funding.

“What race is Ernie’s Bert?” Schlapp tweeted Monday. “You’re crazy PBS and we should stop funding you.”

Schlapp doubled Thursday on “Fox and Friends First,” claiming that PBS and “Sesame Street” are “trying to bring a race in Ernie and Bert.”

“I grew up watching, and it was never about racing. It was about learning lessons and learning to read and learning tolerance, ”said Schlapp. “And they want to inject race.”

He also went on to pique the Muppets ’consideration of sex.

“And besides, this whole question of sex in everything, one of the Muppet characters had a son, and the son wanted to be a daughter, and they just wouldn’t stop with his push for an awakened policy,” Schlapp said.

The Muppets alluded to non-binary characters in the past, but it was unclear which episode Schlapp was referring to. In an episode of “Muppet Babies”, the popular Muppet Gonzo, known for a love of stunt, puts on a dress for Miss Piggy’s ball, making her debut as a Gonzo rella.

In an email to NBC News, Schlapp did not deviate from his position. He also shot at National Public Radio (NPR), a publicly funded nonprofit media outlet, accusing the organization, as well as PBS, of wanting to “be in arms in the socialist movement.”

“Sesame Street has to go back to the time when a show was dedicated to a letter in the alphabet, and not to the newest awakened fashion,” he wrote. “We all loved Bert and Ernie without the faintest idea of ​​the racial demographics they can. Represented. After all, Ernie is orange. The taxpayers deserve a big discount. If PBS and NPR want to be in arms in the socialist movement, they has to pay its own way. “

A spokesman for “Sesame Street” did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ernie with Ji-Young, the first Asian American Muppet, on “Sesame Street.”Noreen Nasir / AP

Ji-Young, an avid electric guitarist and skateboarder, will make his first appearance as part of a special titled “See Us Come Together” on Thanksgiving Day. Alan Muraoka, who poses as the owner of Hooper’s Store on the show, said that like many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, she will straddle two cultures.

“She’s a musician, she plays electric guitar, she’s a girl of the very modern American fabric,” he said. “She recognizes the culture through her relatives – her grandmother, through her mother – and through the food she eats and loves.”

The show will also delve into other real and yet difficult issues related to Ji-Young’s identity, including anti-Asian racism. During the special, another child tells her to “go home” in an off-screen incident. Friends and adults come together and help her understand that she is “exactly where she belongs,” according to a statement on the episode.

“The next generation of children needs to understand these problems because they are real problems and they are things I don’t see going away in the foreseeable future,” Muraoka said.

Schlapp’s comments came in the heels of criticism from Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who accused “Sesame Street” of spreading “government propaganda” this month after character Big Bird talked about vaccination against Covid-19.

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