Beaker Flips

A Muppet Christmas Debate: Did Beaker Flip the Bird?

Forget the great political debates raging these days. We’ve got a genuine Christmas mystery to solve and after more than a quarter century we’re still no closer to knowing the truth of it all.

In The Muppet Christmas Carol the vocabulary-challenged character of Beaker plays one of the English gentlemen who visit Scrooge early in the story to solicit from him a gift to charity. This is the scene where Scrooge famously asks Are there no poor houses? Scrooge, of course, dismisses them and on his way out the door Beaker appears to give Scrooge the bird. Watch:

For more than 25 years now a debate has remained online and unsettled over what’s happening here. Is it actually possible that a family movie like the Muppets could actually include a character flipping the bird?

If you read the comments on the above video on YouTube it is clear enough to some folks that Beaker is indeed communicating his feelings in, uh, sign language.

Others are not so sure. “Close examination of the video reveals that (a) Beaker uses his index finger (the second of his four fingers), and (b) the back of Beaker’s hand isn’t toward Scrooge. While the gesture is angry, it isn’t obscene.”

Said another defender: “It only looks that way. Beaker, like most cartoon characters even though he’s not technically a cartoon, only has four digits on each hand.” The inference there is that without a middle finger how can Beaker flip off anyone?

What do you think?

For my money, it’s true. Beaker is giving Scrooge the big “up yours” in this scene and I’m totally okay with it. Scrooge was one nasty man and his comments in this scene — and even in the book as Dickens wrote it — are offensive in the extreme. It’s a wonder, frankly, that the exchange didn’t end in violence. Beaker’s little finger flip seems too tame a response.

And for the record, The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of the very best adaptations of A Christmas Carol out there. And this is just one reason why.

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