It’s not easy being … a Muppet.
That’s what Kermit said anyway.
I wouldn’t pretend to know myself. Because that’s just insulting to those who are green. Like I don’t want to be all, “Doesn’t it blow to be green? Man, I feel for the green ones. They’re so green and that probably sucks for them.”
Okay, obviously I didn’t get the deeper message. All I heard was wah-wah-wah-green. But even as a kid I knew that Kermit felt melancholy. And I got that he had humility. And it all seemed so really-really-real and not like the bullshit the other kiddie shows fed you.
Am I getting too heavy here? Sorry about that. I thought I’d break from writing on the absurd, fluff topics I normally select and instead write about something more serious, something more from the heart.
For my family’s Saturday Movie Night this weekend, we watched The Muppets.
As a kid I used to watch The Muppet Show. In syndication. Nightly. Right before reruns of Three’s Company. And I still sometimes watch it. I have the first three seasons on DVD.
Don’t laugh. Don’t patronize me. Don’t even go there. You think it was childish? You think it was cute? You have no idea. This wasn’t after-kindergarten Sesame Street — this was prime time. Its fresh musical numbers rivaled Saturday Night Live. But in the classic ’70s variety show format. I’m talking cutting-edge! And I haven’t even yet mentioned the crop of hot guest stars. Like Deborah Harry, Julie Andrews, Joan Baez, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Lou Rawls, Liberace, George Burns, Carol Burnett, Harry Belafonte, Steve Martin, Alice Cooper, Gilda Radner, Bob Hope. Exhale. To name a few.
Oh, and this freakshow right here whose chest hair gave me nightmares and probably slowed my rate of puberty by at least three years.
I actually thought Elton John was a Muppet. He looked like Dr. Teeth. That goes double for John Denver. I thought he was a Muppet too. These people never existed to me until their guest appearances on The Muppet Show. I figured the Muppets were the famous ones. These two goofballs just got the lucky break of appearing on their show.
For me back then it was all about Piggy. It was the late ’70s and Miss Piggy was the mascot for the Women’s Movement. Are you kidding me? She’d didn’t take crap from anyone, much less a hapless frog. The woman was a powerhouse. Albeit a sow. I had her picture on t-shirts and lunchboxes and stickers. I even had her lesser-known aerobics workout record. I recall on the album cover she had on a pair of the tiniest striped legwarmers I’ve ever seen to this day.
What I liked about the new and improved Muppet movie is that it springboards from a simple plot line. Yes, just back to basics for the ol’ Muppets. None of those ridiculous story bits. They didn’t go to Space. They didn’t Take Manhattan. They didn’t solve a Great Caper.
Okay, I’m not stupid. I was well aware that most of the movie was being purposely played right to my middle-aged, nostalgia-loving heart. The script practically hard-elbowed aside the young children watching to get at the Gen X parents in tow. I’m talking plenty of references to ’80s pop culture. New Coke and Tab, Dirty Dancing, Benson, Nirvana, the robot waiters of my 1981 Sears Wish Book wishes. Okay, it was borderline pandering.
But then when the Muppet gang gave a smashing rendition of their classic Rainbow Connection? The same song that my 1st grade music class performed in our cafetheaterasium? I forgave the pandering. My eyes were misty. Okay, misty is an understatement. I cried.
No, that’s the truth. I cried. I cried for 1979-Angie and I cried for 1979-Jim Henson.
I like to think Jim Henson might’ve been watching overhead somewhere. I think he would’ve been smiling. I think he would’ve rolled his eyes and then punched himself in the face at the sound of Kermit’s new voice. But I think he would’ve been smiling at the effort.
Am I crazy? Am I a Muppet? Maybe. If so, might this be me?
Here’s the Oscar-winning Best Original Song from The Muppets movie which begs the question.