You know those theories about The Smurfs being a metaphor for the perfect communist society? Papa Smurf is Karl Marx, Gargamel is the evil capitalist, Smurfette is the communal wife, and so on. Serious effort has been put into this idea, so if you're unfamiliar and are in a state of disbelief right now, you really should check it out. I believe this is the 'classic essay' on the subject, but there are lots of other places to read up about it and a mini-documentary as well.
Well, I have a pop culture conspiracy theory of my own, albeit on a much smaller scale and less elegantly worked out. The Muppets have an agenda of indoctrinating viewers with a message of rigid social conformity and repression of individual self-expression. Or at least that's the subtext one could infer with a considerably liberal interpretation of the 'Mahna Mahna' video. 'Mahna Mahna' has had a few different incarnations, although they're all pretty similar. Here we're going to look at the one I'm most familiar with: the 1976 version performed by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths.
There are no actual lyrics to this song; it's all nonsense syllables. But clearly the Snowths – the identical pink fuzzy alien things with soul-sucking mouths – know exactly how they want this song to go and Mahna Mahna, the wild looking guy, keeps deviating from the plan.
It starts with a simple call-and-response format: the Snowths sing catchy little melodies on 'do' and Mahna Mahna answers with a pitched grunt of 'mahna mahna.' Understandably, our soloist quickly gets bored and tries to branch out into some improvised scatting. Perhaps he wants to sing melismatic phrases rather than blunt riffs on his own name, or maybe he feels overshadowed by the Snowth twins and confined by the call-and-response. Whatever his motivation, such initiative and free thinking is met by only the coldest stare-downs and head wagging.
Appearing shameful and cowed, Mahna Mahna complies to return to the opening call-and-response chorus. Yet each time it concludes, he makes another stab at creative freedom from the imposed structure. He tries a few different tactics to make his bids successful: attempting to engage the Snowths, hiding behind them, turning his back on them, going to the very back of the stage. Nothing works, for the same steely look of sharp reproval ropes him back into the chorus. And each time the chorus is repeated, Mahna Mahna's iterations become a little more frayed and urgent. The push to conformity is driving him into a mad frenzy. With all other options exhausted, he runs straight out of the venue during the final chorus and literally phones in his final 'mahna mahna' before he presumably seeks freer musical pastures elsewhere.
This is one way to interpret the 'Mahna Mahna' song. Another is that instead of using a traditional verse in between the chorus, the writers decided to have a bit of fun with some mock improv to create a very clever non-verbal story-line that had everything and nothing to do with the song itself. Anything beyond this could be, probably, may be just mere coincidence.