A 1997 Disney film about a dog playing basketball has come under fire online for a hidden gag that viewers recognize as Islamophobic 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 they interrupted the original Air Bud as they often would when dissecting movies and noticing a newspaper clipping, out of love for find Easter eggs.
The on-screen newspaper clipping showed an obituary for the film’s main character’s father, Josh Framm.
However, their jaws dropped when they saw the clipping in the movie where there’s nothing in the rulebook that says a dog can’t play basketball.
The text of the clipping reads as follows at the eighth minute of the film, 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 years in the now famous Flying Framm family. His father, Luther Framm, was the daring pilot who, during World War II, flew ham and Bibles from Muslim prisoners in Berlin.. Luther went on to create the first-ever stunt team of daredevils with stunts like Propeller Walking, Ignite the Framm, and Wing Squash.
The on-screen newspaper clipping showed an obituary for the father of the film’s main character, Josh Framm, including the phrase that he “was the daring pilot who, during World War II, stole ham and Bibles from Muslim prisoners of Berlin”.
The original Air Bud movie spawned several sequels and spinoffs
While bringing Bibles to Muslims would simply be offensive, pork is obviously forbidden by religion. Cranmer and Metzger were amazed.
“Air Bud is arguably one of the best basketball dog movies of all time, I loved it as a kid,” Metzger, 31, tells me. ‘I didn’t know what to expect, but I could hear it in Josh’s voice, as he started to read it aloud, his volume and pitch increased line by line, as if discovering a hidden message, saying: ‘Banana and a long sports sock? Stole ham and Bibles from Muslim prisoners in Berlin? What!?’
“It was heartbreaking,” Cranmer added. “It was the equivalent of finding an Easter egg in the Declaration of Independence, because for a lot of kids growing up in the 1990s, what was Air Bud but their Declaration of Independence? “
The duo looked around the World Wide Web to see if anyone had revealed this Easter egg before, but found nothing.
There’s a story of someone’s subversive moments, mostly sexual, in 1990s Disney fare that made their way onto the internet. However, this moment had apparently never been found before.
Air Bud was one of Disney’s most successful franchises of the 1990s
A view from Disney+ in 2022 shows that the offending moment is still in the film to this day, despite numerous edits Disney has made to older material.
The film’s props master and set designer Ric Walkington and Troy Hansen said these kinds of on-air clippings were usually handled by the screenwriters.
However, co-writer Aaron Mendelsohn believes the props department invented the gag.
“I vaguely remember being impressed that the props department put together what, on the face of it, at least looked like a legit obituary to match the title we wrote in the script, ‘Crash Claims Life of Test Pilot,” Mendelsohn said.
“I imagine that since director Charlie Martin Smith knew he was going to do a close-up of what Josh was looking at in the scene, he wanted to make sure the article looked legit,” he added. “I have no idea if it was the prop guy or one of his crew who wrote the obituary, thank goodness the camera didn’t get too close or hold the shooting too long.”
Neither Walkington nor Hansen remembers the gag, although Walkington remembers hating the photo in the fake obituary.
“Now, thanks to the internet and invasive technology,” he’ll have to go back and “review all the movies I did as a prop and find what ended up being seen when he wouldn’t have probably not due”.
The signature of the newspaper on the fake article is that of Raul Inglis, a real person and assistant to the director of Air Bud.
“Raul Inglis is a pretty well-known screenwriter and director at this point,” Hansen says of the Hollywood veteran with over 36 writing credits on his IMDb. “He may have written the article, but sometimes crew names will also be used for items such as signs, name tags, documents, etc.”
“Raul was Charlie’s assistant and a great guy, but if he ‘wrote’ all of this or if the art department gave him credit, I don’t know,” Walkington adds.
Cranmer and Metzger have since used this moment of inspiration to launch a podcast about the Air Bud film series.
Inglis, however, does not recall it but admits it could be his job.
“Maybe I wrote that. It’s my sense of humor. But I can’t be sure. Having my name on it might be the gift,” he said. “It’s funny that I have no clear memory of it. The other prop diary thing I know of, I wrote some subversive stuff on it trying to see what I could do, but this one…’
‘Like I said, I can’t really say 100% that I wrote it. It could 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 said. he added when asked about the Islamophobic move. “There was another writer I worked with during that time in the business who had a subversive sense of humor. It could have been him and that’s why I don’t remember writing him .
That said, Inglis has an anti-imperialist defense of the joke.
“However,” he continues, “that ham and bible joke would have been an ironic outburst of how Western powers think they always know what is good for the rest of the world and are completely insensitive to others. cultures.”
In a wild twist, the cut appears again in the 1998 sequel Air Bud: Golden Retriever at the film’s 16th minute.
Neither Disney nor producer Robert Vince responded to a request for comment.
Cranmer and Metzger have since used that moment of inspiration to launch a podcast about the Air Bud film series.