5.9k Share this
A 1997 Disney movie about a basketball-playing dog has come under internet fire for a hidden gag that viewers are recognizing as Islamaphobic 25 years later.
The discovery dates back to 2017, according to Mel Magazine, when former college roommates Lee Metzger and Josh Cranmer decided to revisit the film, which spawned a franchise of four sequels and nine spinoffs.
Cranmer, now 29, and Metzger, now 31, said that they paused the original Air Bud as they often would when dissecting movies and noticing a newspaper clipping, out of a love for finding Easter eggs.
The newspaper clipping on the screen showed an obituary for the father of the movie’s main character, Josh Framm.
However, their jaws dropped when they saw the clipping in the film where there’s nothing in the rulebook that says a dog can’t play basketball.
The text in the clipping reads as follows at the eight-minute mark of the movie, with the offending text in bold:
NEW MEXICO — Another tragedy struck today, when test pilot Captain Andrew Framm crashed his experimental XW-NG jet. Captain Framm is best known for being the only man to break the sound barrier with a banana and a long sports sock. Framm was the youngest of eighteen in the now famous Flying Framm Family. His father, Luther Framm, was the daring pilot who during the Second World War flew in ham and bibles to Muslim prisoners in Berlin. Luther then went on to start the first ever daredevil acrobatic team with stunts like Propeller Walking, Ignite the Framm and Wing Squash.
The newspaper clipping on the screen showed an obituary for the father of the movie’s main character, Josh Framm includes the line that he ‘was the daring pilot who during the Second World War flew in ham and bibles to Muslim prisoners in Berlin’
The original Air Bud film spawned several sequels and spinoffs
While bringing Bibles to Muslims would be merely offensive, Pork is obviously forbidden by the religion. Cranmer and Metzger were stunned.
‘Air Bud is arguably one of the best basketball dog movies of all time, I loved it as a child,’ Metzger, 31, tells me. ‘I didn’t know what to expect, but I could hear it in Josh’s voice, as he started reading it aloud, his volume and tone escalated line-by-line, like he was uncovering a hidden message, going, ‘Banana and a long sports sock? Flew in ham and bibles to Muslim prisoners in Berlin? What!?’
‘It was Earth-shattering,’ Cranmer added. ‘It was the equivalent of finding an Easter egg in the Declaration of Independence, because to a lot of kids who grew up in the 1990s what is Air Bud if not their Declaration of Independence?’
The duo took a look around the world wide web to see if anyone had ever revealed this Easter egg before, but found nothing.
There’s a history of someone subversive moments, mainly sexual, in 1990s Disney fare that have made their way around the internet. However, this moment had apparently never previously been found.
Air Bud was one of Disney’s most successful franchises of the 1990s
A view of Disney+ in 2022 shows that the offensive moment is still in the movie to this date, despite Disney’s many edits of older material.
The prop master and set dresser on the film, Ric Walkington and Troy Hansen, said that these sorts of on-air clippings are usually handled by the writers.
However, co-writer Aaron Mendelsohn believes the prop department came up with the gag.
‘I vaguely remember being impressed that the prop department put together what, at quick glance, at least looked like a legitimate obituary to match the headline we wrote into the script, ‘Crash Claims Life of Test Pilot,’ said Mendelsohn.
‘I would imagine that since the director Charlie Martin Smith knew he was going to shoot a close-up of what Josh was looking at in the scene, he wanted to make sure the article appeared legit,’ he added. ‘I have no idea if it was the prop master or one of his crew members who actually wrote the obituary, thank God the camera didn’t pull in too close or hold the shot for too long.’
Neither Walkington nor Hansen can recall the gag, though Walkington remembers hating the photo in the fake obituary.
‘Now, thanks to internet and invasive technology,’ he’ll have to go back and ‘rewatch every film I ever did as a props guy and find what else ended up being seen when it probably shouldn’t have.’
The newspaper byline on the fake article is that of Raul Inglis, an actual person and assistant to the director on Air Bud.
‘Raul Inglis is a pretty well-known writer and director at this point,’ Hansen says of the Hollywood veteran with over 36 writing credits to his IMDb. ‘He may have written the article, but sometimes crew names will also be used for things like signs, name tags, paperwork, etc.’
‘Raul was Charlie’s assistant and a great guy, but whether he ‘wrote’ any of that or the art department credited him with it, I don’t know,’ Walkington adds.
Cranmer and Metzger have since used this moment of inspiration to start a podcast on the Air Bud series of films
Inglis, however, doesn’t remember it but admits it could be his work.
‘I might have written that. It is my sense of humor. But I can’t be sure. Having my name on it might be the giveaway,’ he said. ‘It’s funny that I have no clear recollection of it. The other prop newspaper stuff I know I wrote subversive things on it trying to see what I could get away with but this one…’
‘As I said, I can’t really say 100 percent that I wrote it. It might have been a group effort with the props department and/or some of my friends, or someone else wrote it and put my name on it as part of the joke,’ he added when questioned about the Islamophobic passage. ‘There was another writer I worked with during that time at the company that had a subversive sense of humor. It could have been him and that’s why I can’t remember writing it.
That said, Inglis does have an anti-imperialist defense of the joke.
‘However,’ he continues, ‘that joke about the ham and bibles would have been an ironic blast at how the Western powers think they always know what’s right for the rest of the world and are completely insensitive to other cultures.’
In a wild twist, the clipping actually shows up again in the 1998 sequel Air Bud: Golden Retriever at the 16-minute mark of the film.
Neither Disney nor producer Robert Vince responded to a request for comment.
Cranmer and Metzger have since used this moment of inspiration to start a podcast on the Air Bud series of films.
Source: Daily Mail