Mature Muppets

It’s not like I was a huge fan of The Muppet Show or anything, but I’d watch it from time to time.  It was a corny, vaudeville-type variety show that had decent music and good guest stars who were willing to interact with puppets, and so long as you didn’t have to endure too much of Gonzo or the Swedish Chef it was perfectly good entertainment.

Now the Muppets apparently will be returning to network TV, in a show that will will have the mock-documentary format popularized in The Office and what is being described as a “more adult” approach to the characters.  Among other things, the new show apparently will get into the Muppets’ “personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires.”

Ugh.  Put aside the undisputed fact that the mockumentary format has been done to death.  Do we really have to get into mature themes with characters that have always been comic relief?  I’m all for puppets, claymation, and stop-motion characters in movies, but don’t ask me to believe that they are struggling with real-world problems.  I don’t want to know the sordid back story of the two insult-hurling old cranks in the balcony, or why Fozzie Bear wears a Yogi Bear hat and doesn’t recognize that he is offensively unfunny.  I can’t bear the thought of a sincere, romantic scene between Kermit and Miss Piggy, either.

Many great TV shows were ruined when they ran out of ideas and decided that the only plot device left was for a lead male and female characters to fall in love, get married, and have a kid.  The Muppets would be better advised to stick to the kid stuff.

 

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The Ponytail Puller

Politicians are a weird and often unfathomable breed.  The weirdness isn’t just limited to American politicians, either.  Take John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Key is under fire because he repeatedly tugged on the ponytail of a waitress at a cafe he frequents in Auckland — even after she told Key’s security people, and later Key himself, that she didn’t like it.  When she finally went public with Key’s conduct, and he started to be criticized for it, he apologized, said his ponytail pulls were meant to be “light-hearted” and not intended to make the waitress uncomfortable, explained that the cafe was a place where had a “warm and friendly” relationship with the staff that involved “fun and games” and “practical jokes,” and gave the waitress two bottles of wine.

Anybody who’s ever been bullied recognizes this scenario.  The bully invades your personal space and does something physical that they think is funny, their sycophants dutifully laugh at the antics of their leader, and the bully keeps rubbing your head or punching your arm every time they see you even though you ask them to stop.  If they get caught in the act by a teacher, they insist it’s all simply joking between friends — one of whom just happens to be bigger and more powerful than the other, who always seems to be the butt of the “jokes.”

Key’s conduct doesn’t just reflect a bullying attitude, though — it also reveals the power relationships to which politicians the world over become accustomed.  Most of us would never dream of physically touching a waiter or waitress, much less doing something as painful, intrusive, and asinine as pulling a ponytail and continuing to do so even after being asked to quit it.  Key did it because, surrounded by security people and wearing the mantle of national leadership, he could.  It’s the same attitude of power and entitlement that makes American politicians unconcerned by the fact that their motorcades and security cordons inconvenience normal folks and makes them mad when an average person has the temerity to question what they’re doing, their motives, or where they are getting campaign contributions from.

In Key’s case the hair-yanking probably gave him a little thrill and direct sense of power, besides.  Anyone care to guess how many of the “practical jokes” at the cafe were pulled by Key on the unfortunate members of the staff and how many were directed at him?