Controversies That Upset Us All Over Again In 2022

Over the past year, we've learned about controversies involving Muppets, Legos, action figures, Barbies, Happy Meal toys, and other things we loved from our childhood. Here are a few of the most memorable controversies we recently remembered.

Photo: Sesame Street / Sesame Workshop

  • The beloved character Mr. Snuffleupagus made his Sesame Street debut in 1971, but at first, only Big Bird could see him. That all changed in 1985 when the rest of the cast finally saw Snuffleupagus and realized Big Bird had been telling the truth about his "imaginary friend" the whole time.

    Showrunners made the decision after a series of child abuse cases made national headlines. The powers that be on Sesame Street wanted kids to know that adults would believe them when they told the truth.

    Read more controversies involving Muppets here.


    • Written by Patrick Thornton
  • Lego was criticized in late 2019 for a comic strip in its kids' magazine that showed a group of girls trying to get into a research lab. In the comic, the girls decide they can't sneak into the lab because they would "stick out like sore thumbs." Instead, they dress up as bakers.

    The comic was immediately criticized for its sexism. One woman on Twitter wrote, "Thanks for the clear sexism. Women in tech, women in STEM, and women in research already exist. We don’t have to make muffins anymore!"

    Read more Lego controversies that hit us like a ton of bricks here.


    • Written by Patrick Thornton
  • In 2010, McDonald's had to recall 12 million Shrek cups due to the manufacturer's use of cadmium in the paint. Cadmium is a metal that can leach into the skin and is considered toxic.

    McDonald's went so far as to offer $3 for every cup returned, which had sold for either $1.99 or $2.49. The recall was apparently one of several related to cadmium in children's toys and jewelry around that time.

    Read more controversies about fast-food kids' meals here.


    • Written by Patrick Thornton
  • Vince McMahon Suggested A WWE Storyline In Which He Impregnated His Own Daughter
    Photo: Airman 1st Class Nicholas Pilch / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 2018, former WWE writer Bruce Prichard went on the Opie Radio podcast to talk about one of the most disturbing potential storylines Vince McMahon, WWE's former CEO, came up with to try and promote the brand:

    It was during the time when [McMahon's daughter] Stephanie was pregnant and Vince was trying to figure out if he could work that into a storyline. [...] The funny thing is, we were all on the phone going over everything and it was classic Vince. "What if I was the father?" Then there’s nervous laughter because no one thinks he’s serious but then it became, "Well, what if?"

    Prichard ultimately vetoed the plot line. McMahon's son and WWE executive vice president Shane McMahon told the Opie Radio podcast that while he never heard about the idea, he was glad Prichard had vetoed it. He also admitted he wasn't surprised his father had suggested the idea: "Sick. Exhaust everybody. Sometimes he just does it for his own amusement."

    Read more Vince McMahon controversies here.


    • Written by TGWrites
  • Straddling the fine line between edgy humor and offending the masses is a difficult task, and if mishandled, it can lead to an angry public outcry. In 2018, Burger King found itself on the wrong end of public opinion after encouraging Russian women to become pregnant by football players competing in the World Cup.

    The cringe-worthy ad offered 3 million rubles (about $63,000) and a lifelong supply of Whoppers to anyone who secured genes that would help ensure the future of the Russian football team. The ad was posted on a Tuesday morning, only to be pulled later that evening after harsh public push-back.

    The company later issued a public apology:

    We are sorry about the clearly offensive promotion that the team in Russia launched online. As soon as it was brought to our attention, we had it removed. It certainly does not reflect our brand or our values, and we are taking steps to ensure this type of activity does not happen again.

    Read more Burger King controversies here.


    • Written by Sonja Ska
  • Writer/director James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic was a box-office smash hit, but not everyone enjoyed the historical romance. The family of First Officer William Murdoch, in particular, had a bone to pick with the way the film depicted their relative.

    In the movie, Murdoch accepts but ultimately returns a bribe to the villainous Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane) as the desperate passengers try to reach the lifeboats. In the rush that follows, Murdoch guns down third-class passenger Tommy Ryan as he tries to board a lifeboat, then, overcome with grief, takes his own life.

    The real William McMaster Murdoch was an experienced naval officer from Dalbeattie, Scotland. He oversaw the ship's evacuation on the starboard side and is credited with saving many lives. The exact manner of his demise is much harder to determine. While a few theories exist, the mystery is ultimately unsolved.

    Murdoch's nephew sought an apology from the studio and actually got one a year later, along with a check for £5,000 (about $8,300 at the time).

    Read more controversial changes to historic films here.


    • Written by M. Muir