Who are the Muppets?
My very first memory as a little kid is of me in my crib standing up and hearing the Muppet Show theme song playing on TV. I was bouncing up and down, dancing in my little yellow onesie. There was complete joy in my heart and I felt love. There was such bliss! It’s a moment that still delights me to this day. Many in my generation knew the Muppets well from watching their tv show and features. We saw Kermit’s challenges in wrangling all the personalities. We heard Fozzie’s bad jokes. We experience Piggy’s diva persona. There are all sorts of aspects that make up the Muppets. But how can we sum them up so we can discover the secret to their magic?
Well, to try and identify who the Muppets are we need to ask several questions. Are they simply funny, crazy and full a mayhem? Do the Muppets just express joy for the sake of joy? Where does their joy come from? Do they just have heart? What function do they serve? What do they teach us about ourselves? Why are they so captivating? Why do we seem to know who they are to the extent that we are collectively disappointed when they are not that?
These are the key questions we need to ask before we can express the Muppets with authenticity. Disney and creative people before them have struggled to capture the essence of what makes the Muppets, well, Muppety. What is missing is the “spirit” of the Muppets. In my opinion, the best way to approach this dilemma is the define the Muppets mythically. Does this mean we use a postmodern approach and mash up the Muppets with Elves, Orcs, Dwarves and Fairies? No. To think mythically means to identify the universal archetypal function of something and apply it to the human race.
While we know the Muppets to be zany and fun and crazy, we need to look deep into the heart of how the Muppets inspired us. What was in their beginning foundation that make us in the audience connect on such a deep level? When the Muppets were putting on a show they faced all sorts of challenges. And in the end of their escapades we saw how they were interconnected in their love for each other. Kermit found his confidence. Fozzie felt appreciated. Piggy learned to support her Kermie. As a whole their love is deep and they help people release in the hearts their purpose and destiny.
Ultimately, the Muppets are the best representation in popular culture of the ideal family who are unique and diverse but unified for one purpose: to support the underdog Kermit to help make real people’s dreams come true.
We find this in the song The Rainbow Connection, which is a mystical lyric that captures the hearts of all men. It contains a mystery.
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we’ve been told
And some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Some day we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me
In this opening Kermit paints the picture of that a rainbow isn’t a mere illusion. He speaks of something deep in all our hearts. I believe he speaks of our destiny and the pursuit of our dreams. He also expresses our potential opportunity to realize our life’s quest. And in doing so our joy is released when we get to realize we have permission to pursue our dreams and that we all can keep on dancing, singing and believing. We get to tell our own story and we can make it happen. This is the core foundation of what makes the Muppets so profound for us.
Let’s face it, America today is full of anger, rage and hopelessness. There are almost 95 million people who have left the workforce because of the terrible economy. This is where the audience exists, a place of ruin and despair. What can we do to help them? I believe the Muppets are the culture’s answer.
The Muppets give me hope. The Muppets show me how to have fun and inspire me to dream again. I want to bring back their sense of wonder and magic. How about you?
My next post I will explore the audience in more depth. Stand tuned and thanks for reading!
PS. For more thoughts on thinking mythically, check out this link:
Originally published at www.loversdreamersandme.com.