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May, 2005

Muppet Sadness

I just read this article about Disney and the Muppets. I'm hoping to convince my mom to write her feelings about it for me to post (although she doesn't know that until now). She's a huge Muppets fan and needless to say, so am I (I mean seriously, how could you not be)? Anyway, the article includes lots of scary things Disney is going to do to the Muppets (including ringtones and J Lo), but what upset me the most was that they had identified (that's right identified!) the five core equities of the Muppets. They are: humorous, heartwarming, puppet-inspired, topical and irreverent.

Ummm . . . I imagine Jim Henson is currently rolling in his grave. Kermit has been imprisoned by the awfulness that is Disney and no Miss Piggy karate chop can save them. I think a part of my childhood may have died when I read those "five core equities." Very sad.

Not all is lost, though, the article also reminds me about what made the Muppets so great. It was exactly because you could never label the five core components. It was about frogs dating pigs and weirdos dating chickens. The beauty of the show was in just how far-flung and unidentifiable most of the characters were. They were just Muppets. They taught us that labels don't matter and that everyone's different and they made us laugh the whole time. They were funny and smart and encouraged us to be the same.

I like to hope that no corporation could ruin those memories. My fingers are crossed.

UPDATE (5/10/05): My mother took the bait and wrote this response:

My congratulations to Caitlin Moran on "The Disney Muppets: why that just isn't funny". Her story really went a long way toward capturing the Muppet gestalt – the integration of body, soul, spirit, wit and wisdom which made the Muppets real and true on so many levels.

It therefore surprised me that she failed to pick up on the pivotal evidence of Disney's failure to understand the Muppets: the inclusion of "puppet-inspired" as one of the five core equities of the Muppets. Yes, the Muppets were humorous, heartwarming, topical and irreverent. But they were NOT puppet-inspired, they were Henson-inspired. I mean, DUH!!!!!! These may have been puppets in form, but they were fully human in spirit. That was Henson's, and in turn, the Muppets' genius.

I do not use the word genius lightly. When I was raising my children, Sesame Street and the Muppets made me laugh, drove away the boredom of typical children's entertainment and gave me hope that the children of the world would share the understanding that a pig and a frog could indeed find happiness as a couple. Sesame Street and the Muppets made me believe there was still goodness left in the world.

It may sound melodramatic, but the news that the Henson family had sold the rights to the Muppets to Disney saddened me more than word of Henson's death (which sent me into a tailspin for days.) The thought that Disney will undoubtedly bastardize this precious franchise still brings tears to my eyes. At least we had memories to share. Jim Henson left the world a great deal better for his having been here. I wish I could shake the feeling that that, too, will be lost.

- Barbara Rubin Brier

Thanks Mom. Didn't mean to upset you, but I thought you would have an interesting perspecitve.

Which you did.

May 10, 2005
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.