Sometimes I see photos that people have posted on Twitter, and they’ll remind me of a Muppet song, so I make a joke about it. It’s happened three times now, which I think qualifies as a running gag, so I’d like to share my immense cleverness with you nice folks over here:
I watched this video originally when it first came out in 2012. At that time, I hadn’t seen any Fraggle Rock, except for that one episode that I happened to catch at a friend’s house approximately 25 years prior, and I wasn’t a particular fan of Ben Folds Five either. So when I read on the Muppet fan sites that the Fraggles and Ben Folds Five had made a music video, I was initially underwhelmed: “Oh, two entities with which I am vaguely familiar sang a song together. Neat.”
Then I watched the video and it completely blew me away. I wasn’t expecting to be so affected by it. Whether it was the music or the Fraggles or the combination of the two that touched my heart, I still don’t know.
In 2013, The Muppet Mindset had a feature called “The Great Muppet Survey” wherein they asked readers to respond to a bunch of Muppet-related questions and then published the results periodically. Five years ago today, they published my responses (this was back when I was spelling “Arlene” with an “i”).
What with all the recent changes in the Muppet world, I thought it would be interesting to go back and see if and how my responses have changed after 5 years. And if it’s not interesting, too bad, because I’m going to do it anyway. 😉
For reference, here are my original responses from five years ago. I’m going to summarize my answers from 2013 here, and then I’m going to give my 2018 answers.
“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”
To the Parkland students, and all March for Our Lives participants:
The courage, fortitude, and perseverance you have shown in the face of overwhelming adversity is both inspiring and humbling. I graduated from high school in 1999, weeks after the Columbine shooting, and if my generation had done what you are doing now, maybe there wouldn’t have been a need for you to step up and speak out. I can’t go back and change what is past, but I stand in solidarity with you now.
Jim Henson has always been a hero of mine, and you are now doing what he aspired to do, and ultimately succeeding in doing: making a difference and bettering the world. Jim Henson believed in the power of children; he created Fraggle Rock in 1983 with the express purpose of bringing peace to the world.
I know that you’re experiencing a lot of pushback, and I’m sure you understand that that only shows that you’re having an impact. If the NRA weren’t scared of you, they wouldn’t waste their time or money trying to discredit you.
Nevertheless, all that negativity can be tough to bear. I know that you’re not lacking in strength, resilience, and determination, but I also know that you–that we–have a long, hard fight yet to be contested. I’ve often found that music–particularly Muppet music–has the power to comfort and inspire, so I’ve curated a list of what I consider to be the best and most uplifting songs from Henson-related productions. When the world seems dark and hopeless, I hope that they will bring a little light into your hearts.
In my opinion, this beautiful song from Mokey is one of Fraggle Rock‘s most underrated.
This song is from the episode “The Preachification of Convincing John,” which I always think is something of a misnomer. I mean, obviously Convincing John is in it, and he does preachify (or whatever the verb form would be), but it’s really a story about Mokey, and Convincing John is pretty incidental it.
What follows is an open letter to Steve Whitmire:
Although I am a child of the ’80s, Fraggle Rock was, regrettably, not a significant part of my childhood. I saw bits and pieces of it back in the day, but I never got to watch the series in its entirety until 2013–although I’ve been trying to make up for lost time ever since. In a way, though, I think I’m kind of lucky because I think that maybe I get more out of watching Fraggle Rock as an adult, bringing my education and life experience to it, than I would have as a kid–a relatively blank slate.
Be that as it may, I identify strongly with Mokey. Her abstract, fanciful, introspective approach to life, and her idealistic worldview, remind me a lot of myself. In particular, however, I relate to Mokey in this episode of Fraggle Rock, in which she attempts to discern her vocation. I’ve been trying to discern mine for 37 years, and I still haven’t quite figured it out.