I have some more thoughts that I edited out of my post from yesterday on the grounds that it was still supposed to be a post for Matt’s birthday, and I felt some of what I wanted to say wasn’t necessarily very sensitive. Maybe it would have been okay, but I wanted to err on the side of caution.
Matt Vogel: Gnarly to the Max
Happy birthday to Matt Vogel! Yes, I know that his birthday is actually tomorrow. Today I want to celebrate him and some of his Muppet troupe characters, and tomorrow I want to say something in regard to his work on Sesame Street.
When people talk about Matt Vogel, they usually talk about all the characters that were originated by other people that he has nobly endeavored to keep alive. That’s all well and good, but today I’d prefer to concentrate primarily on his original characters (with one exception, but I’ll explain when I get to it).
Karaoke with Kermit
This is a contest to benefit the WE Schools charity, which is a worthy cause. Apparently, Disney is not going to see a cent of the money, so I can support this and spread the word with a clear conscience. However, I have mixed feelings about the prize and the promotions.
Doubting the existence of the Great Bell
“WHAT?!? The cave is…is empty! There is no bell! It’s all a lie!”
–Gobo Fraggle, who apparently never thought to look up to see if there was a clapper in the ceiling of the bell-shaped cavern.
In starting a Muppet blog, my goal was to try to strike a balance between the serious and the silly, as the Muppets have always done so effectively. While I’m still proud of the content I have created, I do feel that perhaps I’ve been less than successful in that regard.
I hoped that Christmas would be a time that I could lean more toward the lighthearted side of the spectrum, back off a bit from the Schism, and temporarily beat my sword back into a ploughshare.
(Although you don’t want to try plowing this time of year; at least in this hemisphere, the ground is frozen.)
Throughout this month, I’ve been watching Muppet Christmas productions in preparation for an article series that I see now that I’m not going to have time to do properly until next year. However, instead of being a temporary respite from the Schism, they reminded me of it all the more, especially the productions made subsequent to 1990.
Phantom of the Opera: Everything’s better with Muppets
“Faust, a five-act grand opera, is by Charles Gounod with a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. It is loosely based on Faust, Part I, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe’s lesser-known follow-up, 2 Faust 2 Furious, focused on a man who made a deal with the diesel.”
–Erik Forrest Jackson, pushing all my geeky English-major buttons in an explanatory footnote of Muppets Meet the Classics: The Phantom of the Opera
When I opened the book and saw that the epigraph was a quote from a renowned French philosopher and a line from an old infomercial, I knew I was going to like this book.
When I started laughing hysterically at the table of contents, I knew I was going to love this book.
When I finished reading it, I wanted to go back and read the original novel again to compare the two; the mark of a good book is that it makes you want to read more.
“Which one of you is the real Kermit?”
Answer: Neither of them. It’s a trick question.
So…this last Monday that just happened, there was a Pentatonix Christmas special on TV, and the report was that Kermit was going to make an appearance. I debated with myself about whether or not to watch it, and ultimately I compromised with myself that I would watch it, but only with the sound down and the captions on. And I hoped that Kermit would appear early on, because watching a musical program with the sound down didn’t really appeal to me.
An Open Letter to Matt Vogel
You don’t know me, but if you read Steve Whitmire’s blog at all, I often comment over there.
First of all, I wanted to wish you a happy birthday. When it was Steve’s birthday recently, I wished him a happy birthday on his blog, and I sent good wishes into the ether for Jim Henson, and even though you’re not part of their “birthday club,” I didn’t want you to feel left out. I hope you have a very happy and special day.
Secondly, I wanted to apologize to you; as I’m sure you understand, this whole situation with Disney letting Steve go from the Muppets is very upsetting to me. I’ve never been very good at pigeonholing my emotions, and writing (whether it be on a blog or elsewhere) is often the “safe” medium into which I channel my negative thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, there are times when I’ve been lashing out at Disney and you’ve sort of gotten caught in the crossfire, as it were. If I seem angry, I want you to know that I never meant to take it out on you.
(And if you spend any time on my blog, you’ll notice that I often express myself through song lyrics or paraphrases thereof.)
Severing the rainbow connection
Well…Disney finally released the Muppet Thought of the Week video with Vogel!Kermit. You can watch it here:
Oops! Sorry, wrong video! This is the one:
But seriously, I think Matt is great…as Uncle Deadly. His Kermit, though…sheesh.
Okay, that sounds harsh. I’m sorry. I usually don’t go for the joke at the potential expense of other people’s feelings like that. I’m just feeling bitter and, well, it was right there.
But I certainly mean no disrespect toward Matt. He’s not the one I have a problem with…
…(but part of me is hoping that he’s purposely trying to be terrible as Kermit so that Disney will bring Steve back. I’m not proud of myself for hoping that, but there it is.)
I said at the beginning that if Disney insisted on this course of action and refused to be dissuaded, Matt was an excellent candidate to play Kermit because of his talent and his ethos.
But having actually heard Matt do it…I’m sure it’s NOT something that he’s doing on purpose, but Matt’s Kermit sounds too much like Constantine.
HOW CAN I TRUST A KERMIT THAT SOUNDS LIKE CONSTANTINE?!?!?!?!?
If I may paraphrase my thesis statement from my review of the first episode of the muppets. (2015), this video made me want to cry…and NOT in a good way.
And I reiterate again, this is nothing against Matt. But just as a Doozer can’t become a Fraggle, Matt cannot become Steve. It’s not a bad thing, and it’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the immutable laws of nature; they’re there for a reason. And I have my doubts as to whether a Constantine can become a Kermit…but, in fairness, I suppose it is a little soon to judge.
I remember when Muppet Christmas Carol was about to come out back in 1992. I was talking to my eldest brother about it, and he said that he couldn’t bear to watch it because, regardless of how close the voice was, he would just know that it wasn’t Jim Henson performing Kermit. And I don’t think that that was supposed to be a slight against, or a criticism of, Steve in any way (I’m not entirely sure that my brother knew specifically that it would be Steve performing him–I certainly didn’t); I just think that the wound was still too fresh.
At the time, I rather thought that my brother was cutting off his nose to spite his face in regards to the Muppets. Just because Kermit was different doesn’t mean he would be bad, and my brother might have been missing out on something great.
But now…I kind of get where my brother was coming from. I don’t know–I sincerely don’t know–if I’ll ever be able to bring myself to watch new Muppet stuff ever again. And I reiterate, yet again, that it is nothing in the world against Matt; if it be so that he is not purposely trying to be bad, I am sure he will get better over time, just as Steve did. But it’s something that he should never have been asked to do in the first place–certainly not under these circumstances.
At the risk of sounding like Sarah in Labyrinth, it’s just not fair. It’s not fair to Steve, to Matt, to Jim, to Kermit, the other Muppet performers, or to us fans. The whole thing is just so contrived, so corporate…so artificial, so unnecessary…so WRONG!!!
I’m sick of trying to be diplomatic about this; this whole thing is WRONG! It is WRONG to casually and cavalierly sever Kermit’s connection to Jim like this. It is WRONG to rip Kermit’s soul away from him!
I’d like to believe that the ideal spirit of Kermit exists somewhere on the platonic plane, so that he will continue to live no matter who’s performing him…but I’m not sure I believe that anymore. If this had been a necessary course of action, and if Steve had been allowed input into the decision, then maybe the spirit of Kermit could continue to flow on through Matt (or whomever Steve had chosen) and into the puppet. But maybe the circumstances have to be exactly right; maybe it can’t happen when the decision is made arbitrarily under false pretenses.
I don’t know. All I know is that today has been an awful day. And I feel so bad.
Neither Constantine nor Matt Vogel can give me what I want: I want Steve back as Kermit. Only Disney can give me what I want, but I don’t believe their promises are any more sincere than Constantine’s are.