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.
A few weeks ago I got a Google alert on a brief interview that Steve Whitmire gave to a local news station in Knoxville, TN regarding the Fanboy Expo that was going on there. I hoped that would not be all that we heard out of Knoxville and happily, it is not.
This morning, YouTube helpfully and accurately suggested that I might like this 25-minute Q&A that Steve gave at the Fanboy Expo. This panel was recorded and posted by Joseph Scarbrough, a name I recognize from the Muppet Pundit forum, even though I don’t think I ever interacted with him there, but a big “thank you” to him on the off-chance that he’s reading this.
This panel is a little different than some of the other panels we’ve seen. It’s shorter by approximately 20 minutes, and instead of the moderator sitting up front with Steve and asking him questions that we’ve already heard a gazillion times, he stood in the audience and helped with their questions. The whole thing pretty much consists of audience questions, so in that sense, it’s a true Q&A
I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some happy right about now, so here is my tragically belated and unreasonably long continuation of my review of Muppet Babies 2018.
(Part One of my review can be found here.)
Initially I was only going to watch and review the first episode of Muppet Babies because it was available for free on Amazon and YouTube. Then I saw that episode 5 was going to feature characters of Steve’s, including Rizzo, and I was very curious to see how they would handle them, so I purchased and watched that one too. Here I’ll be reviewing all four of the stories that I saw over the course of the two episodes.
As I mentioned previously, I still have feelings I need to work through in regard to the Schism, starting with how I first found out about it. It was through this disturbing introductory bit on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
It wasn’t just that the bit was tacky and unfunny; it was that they didn’t provide any explanation afterward. I sat through the entire subsequent monologue on the edge of my seat, screaming at the TV, “What’s going on with Steve Whitmire and Kermit?!? You can’t just turn my world 90 degrees on its axis without further comment or followup!”
This is what the Fourth of July looked like before the Schism:
This is what the Fourth of July looks like after the Schism:
- The Fourth of July was much more fun before Steve’s unwarranted dismissal. Now it’s apparently just tears and kazoo anthems against a plain background (not that I have anything against plain blue backgrounds 😉 ).
- That said, however, I do enjoy Walter’s kazoo harmonies.
- Daaaaaaaamn, Steve as Beaker totally killed the piccolo part on “Stars and Stripes Forever!”
- On a related note, I never thought I would say this, but I MISS RIZZO!
- Sam the Eagle clearly stopped plucking his eyebrow(s) sometime between 2009 and 2015.
- It’s really difficult to take pride in a country where kids are put in cages by pumpkin-headed demagogues, which is an incongruous thing to post on a Muppet blog, but it’s something that unfortunately has to be iterated and reiterated until our lawmakers get the point.
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.
The original Muppet Babies series was not part of my childhood because it was on a channel that we didn’t get at my house. However, as a teenager I had a steady babysitting job and I watched Muppet Babies with those kids a lot, so I’m passingly familiar with it. And yet, that was twenty-some years ago, so it’s no longer in the forefront of my consciousness.
All of which is just to say that, as I review the new Muppet Babies series (or, at least, the two episodes of it that I’ve seen), I won’t be making comparisons with the original series because the original series is largely lost to me in the mists of memory.
On April 7, 1989, I suffered an abraded cornea.
(“Abraded” is a fancy medical term for “scratched” that I didn’t learn until much later.)
I was 8 years old and in second grade. It was a Friday, and unusually windy even by South Dakota standards. The wind was out of the east and blowing so hard that it was almost horizontal. After school, I had to walk directly into the wind to get to my carpool that would take me to my weekly Girl Scout meeting, and the wind blew some dirt or debris of some kind into my left eye.
All my life, people had told me not to rub my eyes, but no one had ever tried to explain why. And I didn’t know any other way to dislodge foreign objects from my eye, so I just kept rubbing it, and it just kept hurting, and so on in a vicious cycle.
So on the off-chance that there are any little kids reading this, let me pause for this public service announcement: Don’t rub your eyes, kids, because you could accidentally scratch your eyeball, and that really, really hurts.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where do you stand? How do you measure up?
“This may be one of the most saccharine Henson specials ever. The bunnies are all extremely cutesy, the forest impossibly idyllic, and everything’s very happy, cheerful and colorful.“
–TV Tropes on The Tale of the Bunny Picnic
Granted, it’s not exactly Watership Down either, but when I watched it for the first time recently, I couldn’t even finish it in one sitting because I was so upset by it.
Sure, the bunnies are cute and the colors are bright and the music is peppy, but much like Fraggle Rock, there are some serious themes hidden underneath the candy-colored exterior. Our Hero, Bean Bunny, is constantly bullied by his big brother, Lugsy, and the dog is blatantly and brazenly abused by the farmer. Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Henson brings you the charming story of adorable animals being tormented and mistreated…enjoy!
But eventually I went back and finished it, because I knew the payoff had to be worth it…and it was.
Today I ran across this video of a fan-made simulacrum of Kermit (not to be confused with Simula-Kerm) singing “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar. I hesitated to post it, even–especially–on Easter Sunday, because I felt that doing so bordered on blasphemy. I may be a heretic, but I am not a blasphemer; a subtle distinction, but one that’s extremely important to me.
But there was one particular line in the song that struck me as poignant as it relates to the Schism:
“Show me there’s a reason for you wanting me to die.
You’re far too keen on ‘where’ and ‘how’…not so hot on ‘why.'”
It’s been approximately a year and a half, Disney. Still waiting for you to show us the reason.
Dear Dave, Matt, David, Bill, Eric, and Peter:
Recently I used a quotation from Alexander Hamilton to illustrate my thoughts about Disney’s decision to cut ties with Steve Whitmire (which I refer to as the “Schism,” because I am fancy). The quotation that I used is from a revolutionary pamphlet that Hamilton wrote as a teenager with the somewhat clunky title, A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress:
“In a civil society” Hamilton wrote, “it is the duty of each particular branch to promote not only the good of the whole community, but the good of every other particular branch. If one part endeavors to violate the rights of another, the rest ought to assist in preventing the injury. When they do not but remain neutral, they are deficient in their duty, and may be regarded, in some measure, as accomplices.”
I wanted to let you know that that sentiment was not directed at you in any way. It was directed squarely at the Muppet fans who remain complacent. I want you to know that I don’t consider you to be accomplices in the Schism, nor do I consider you to have been deficient in your duty. I understand and appreciate the difficulty, complexity, and potential volatility of your situation.
If I have been instrumental in confirming or adding one friend to his country, I shall not regret the time I have devoted to that laudable purpose.
–Passage from Alexander Hamilton’s “The Farmer Refuted,” slightly reworked to fit the current context.
Sometimes when I post something that I think is going to be controversial, my conflict aversion kicks in and I actively avoid looking to see if it has garnered any response.
Therefore, even though it happened in October 2017, I just found out today that, even if I haven’t succeeded in changing any hearts or minds through this blog or my related efforts, I did manage to gain a concession from one of Steve’s most vocal critics on the Tough Pigs forum (I ordinarily wouldn’t like to use the forum’s name in an instance like this, but since I’m linking to it anyway, it seems a bit silly to be coy about it).
It may have been a small victory, but I nevertheless feel that it is significant. It’s extremely gratifying to know that (a) all those years studying rhetoric–not to mention the student loans–have not been a complete waste and (b) my words have made a difference, no matter how small.
I believe in all of you. Let’s go out there and keep making a difference.