It’s been a year now since news of the Schism was made public. At the risk of confusing my musical references, it seems like thirty.
I didn’t want to let the occasion pass without comment, but I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about it.
I’m still angry, sad, and frustrated about what happened. But I’m less upset than I was a year ago, or ten months ago, or even six months ago. I know this to be true because I was looking back at some of the awful things that were said about Steve a year ago and felt more upset and angry than I have in some time. And I really didn’t want to go back and relive those awful things and provoke that anger anew. I don’t think that that level of fury is healthy or productive anymore.
I look back on what I’ve done this past year, in regards to the Schism and this blog, and for the most part I’m proud of it, but I do have some regrets:
- I’ve said it before, but I regret not being more sensitive when initially reacting to the release of Matt’s first Kermit video. When I first heard that Matt was going to be performing Kermit, I knew that Kermit would be in good, talented, conscientious hands, so I regarded that as “one less thing to worry about.” I fell into the trap of thinking that Kermit had been recast before, which had turned out fine, so it probably would again. I was also working under the assumption that Matt had had more time to prepare for his first Kermit performance than Steve had had in 1990, although without knowing when Matt was asked (told?) to play Kermit, I have no evidence that this was actually true. In short, I had unreasonable expectations for Matt, and when they weren’t met, I panicked and lashed out sarcastically in his general direction in a way that he didn’t deserve and that I regretted almost immediately, and have done so ever since.
- Remember the words that Steve wrote to me on August 3, 2017, which was literally the greatest day of my entire life? I will remember them forever, and possibly have them engraved upon my tombstone. Nevertheless, I feel as though I’ve fallen short of what he asked me to do: “I hope you and the others here who have realized that this is about Kermit and the whole gang can help me explain that bigger issue to those fans and executives, alike, who have not yet had their epiphany.” I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of that. I think at times I’ve made things too much about Steve and not enough about the larger issues. There are two reasons for this:
- I think that Steve is probably better at explaining the larger issues than I am, so I more often took the easier path of trying to defend him and his position in the hopes that people would start listening to him again.
- The Muppets matter to me, and I agree with Steve that it is very important to defend their integrity. But at the end of the day, the Muppets are characters and Steve is a human being, and ultimately, human beings are more important than puppets, even the Muppets. Because Steve is a human being I care about very much, it was very hard for me to get past the wrongs that were done to him, to let them pass without comment to focus on the bigger issues.
- Inspired by something Steve said in another blog post, I wrote a piece using an extended metaphor about how the Muppet characters are to the performers what children are to their parents. In that post, I came up with what I believed to be a hypothetical scenario in which children were taken from their parents by the authorities without justification. It was one of the best pieces I’ve ever written, and I don’t regret the writing of it, but now the thought of it makes me cringe in horror because the government is currently doing that exact thing to children of immigrants and refugees at the border. I am disturbed by my unwitting prescience, and the current terrifying reality in which we find ourselves has given me a new perspective on what’s important to talk about and what’s not.
If I possess any scrap of wisdom whatsoever, I should learn from my past mistakes and use the lessons to guide my future actions. So as I think of how to move forward with this blog, the question becomes “what comes next?”
I think it is important to keep speaking truth to power, to march against the mighty and the strong, so I don’t intend to stop calling out Disney on their hypocrisy and “unacceptable business conduct.” However, it’s possible that I should try to be more judicious in picking my battles.
In the past few months, it’s done my heart good to see video of Steve making convention appearances, smiling and laughing and having fun while surrounded by caring and supportive people. That’s been my wish for him almost since the beginning of this unfortunate business, as I expressed in a comment on one of his blog posts. I don’t want to do anything to impede or endanger that, and it seems to me that continuing to dredge up the past, to dwell upon old insults and injuries, may potentially do more harm than good.
Furthermore, it seems to me that if Steve moves on from all this and I don’t, that makes me a teensy bit pathetic, so I figure that I should probably take my cues from him. With that said, however, one of the ways that I work through my feelings is by writing about them, and I still have a lot of feelings about all this that need to be worked through. If/when I write about them, however, I will attempt to do so with an eye toward working through them and moving on, rather than trying to defend Steve in a way that may not be either needed or wanted.