Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Mass Delusion of The Muppets

I was watching the National Tree Lighting Ceremony on PBS, and First Lady Michelle Obama took to the stage to read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to a bunch of kids.  No sooner had she sat down and pulled up the book than who should pop up beside her but Kermit the Frog?

The wife of the President of the United States of America turned, greeted Kermit, and off they went reading the story together.  Because, you know, talking frogs make total sense.

Mrs. Obama does not know Kermit is a member of the Green Party.
And it struck me, its pretty awesome that we've all agreed that it doesn't matter where or when The Muppets show up, we're all going to act like that is not a sock puppet, we're going to always join in with the illusion Jim Henson and Co. cast with The Muppet Show 30-odd years ago, and we're going to insist on a reality where The Muppets are absolutely real.

Its like if I were presenting at a conference and looked over and Rowlf were on my panel, I'd know exactly how to deal with it.  Just say "oh, hi Rowlf!" like its no big deal, join in his banter, and then follow his cue if he bursts into song.

I know that's not how it works, but that's the illusion we've agreed makes complete sense to us all.  The Muppets can just show up, we're on a first name basis, and we're going to have a little conversation in front of all these people.

see, I would be prepared for this eventuality
Thanks to the arrival of the movie, which I highly recommend you see for some good cinema fun*, The Muppets have been popping up all over the place, from Ellen to Saturday Night Live.  And, of course, there's a difference in that actors and hosts can interact directly with The Muppets.  Its not like a cartoon or CGI bit that will be subbed in later.  There's a felt thing with eyes, hands and expressions that you can react to.  And I think that helps.

But I do think its pretty awesome, in general, that we're all in on this Muppets thing.

*and some GREAT commie propaganda!


Gerry said...

I wonder why that never happened with Madam. . .

Matt A. said...

I love me some muppets, and I'm really glad to see them make a come back, but I have really mixed feelings about them under the Disney umbrella without Jim, or even Brian, behind the wheel.

J.S. said...

Well, I should hope that we all treat the Muppets fairly. The kind of ugly prejudice that can result when anti-Muppitism takes root is a terrible thing to behold.

The League said...

Wow. Madam. That is a darn good question, actually...

While I think he did the best he could under the circumstances, Brian Henson's tenure as head of The Muppets seemed unfocused, and the movies just weren't very much fun after Muppet Christmas Carol.

If Disney's clout can get the current Muppet resurgence going, and they can treat them like a separate wing like Pixar or Marvel, I think it could be okay. But, of course, we'll have to see what happens here in round 2.

Simon MacDonald said...

The Muppets are great PERIOD end of story.

On a side note I wish more movies and TV shows would use puppets and real world stuff over just going to CGI all the time. I'm so sick of actors looking over the head of the CGI construct or the CGI explosion that is literally larger than life. It's always more impressive to me when they go with a smaller effect that is obviously real rather than a bunch of CGI fakery.