International fans of the Muppet World, it is I – The British Correspondent – with a further article from the underground society of artists (U.S.A.) in another quasi-deep study of the Muppets as art. Some may say that I am reading too much into it all (some may say I am not reading enough into it, but they are Gurus and also think that we are all brains in a petri-dish living in a virtual world). Those of us living in the U.S.A. (Not THE USA, perish the thought, Brits Unite!!!) pledge to the belief that unintentional art and readings of said art are as valid as intentional statements, based on the assumption that those creating the art are regurgitating the sum of everything they have seen, heard and understood throughout their lives consciously or unconsciously into their work projects (stop me now before a talk more about regurgitation…), therefore a sttudy of seemingly nonsence lyrics could be a viable stepping block towards future world peace (???).
The Tattoo of a Witty Frog
For those interested in viewing the Muppets as art and as a continuous art project that further develops with ever new content, projecting back across previous releases and forward towards the future of the Muppets, the latest addition to this fabric of Muppart is The Pig with the Froggy Tattoo.
As much as the previously released trailers may be of equal artistic merit and are certainly not exempt from the study of Muppart, this article focuses on TPWTFT because this piece particularly labels itself as worthy of deeper examination by presenting itself as connected to (with) the artistic statements of the Muppets previously released OK Go Muppet Theme Tune music video feat. The Muppets. The link implied through this cross-marketing and the display of the Green Album image in the new trailer is an interesting one considering that while new noteworthy content from OGMTTMV feat. TM was primarily visual, for TPWTFT the focus appears to be on the audible content (With OK Go, there were new visuals to a new-old song, whereas with this trailer there is new audio to a new-old visuals [It’s another trailer with quick flash images of the Muppets. We get it.]) In this way and more directly through pointing out the parody lyric changes and the writer, the trailer seems to state: The Background Noise is Important. Take Note.
We did take notes.
Our notes, and the notes of Muppet fans whose finely tuned ears and minds worked on interpreting the song into workable lyrics, suggest that the lines appear to be: Whoa, whoa/So many fixes/So many ills/I see you vanishing/Over the hills/Followed by a cast iron/Comedy of skills/I saw a froggy tattoo that just broke Miss Piggy’s will.
This trailer dropped closer to the movie than previous trailers and its timing cannot be a coincidence.
The previous trailers blew fans away with the unexpected appearance of old favourites, bright colours and obviously high production values. But having had time to digest these amazing visual treats, fans were beginning to question whether the return of The Muppets would re-establish DEPTH as well as COLOUR. The movie was not intended to be shown in 3D, but fans need to know that it will contain three-dimensional characters, rather than cardboard cut-out stereotypes.
To fans who may have been disillusioned by semi-recent Muppet projects and appearances in which such pigeon-holing of the Muppets as one-note characters appeared to be happening the lyrics state: “Whoa there. Stop. Take a breath. Now listen…”
So many fixes. So many ills.
Since Jim Henson’s death, the Muppets have appeared to struggle to fit a particular demographic, sometimes striking too adult, sometimes striking too childish, sometimes not striking at all, and often attempts to ‘fix’ previous movies lack of something (heart, humour, intellect) led to the next movies overcompensating (see KSY to VMC or MWOO to LTS).
I see you vanishing, over the hills.
It would be hard to deny that the Muppets have spent a long time in hibernation (which is only useful to Fozzie as he can borrow his Uncle’s car during this time). In many ways they literally vanished, reappearing for occasional talk-show interviews regarding re-releases, on the arm of Lady Gaga as an accessory or on Christmas Albums, but never rebuilding their very public, very influential, very accessible establishment as a part of the entertainment community.
Followed by a cast iron comedy of skills.
A comedy of skills is a translation of the Italian phrase commedia dell’arte, a particular style of performance art, Italian masked theatre in which actors played characters as a direct stereotype, represented by a mask. The handsome soldier. The milliner. The damsel in distress. The fool. The wise but easy influenced king. Could there be a better description of the way that the Muppets have been played in recent years than as a commedia dell’arte?
Certainly, there have been moments of depth, but on the whole we are shown the Angry Diva, the Witty
Frog, the Insecure Bear and the Tortured Artist Weirdo Whatever. (Strangely during this time, added depth has been built into minor characters such as Beaker [Internet Star!] and Animal [Bunny? Mama!?] while the main cast have been slotted into demographics.)
Now, while it’s true that Jim Henson’s original pitch-reel suggested that the Muppet troupe had a ‘type’ for every ‘type’ (bearded hipsters for the bearded hipster audience) we know from watching The Muppet Show and the movies that these characters became so much more than their character-bios in the Muppet Bible.
I saw a froggy tattoo that just broke Miss Piggy’s will.
Tattoos are always less than the image on which they are based. A tattoo of a pet, a name or a snake slithering over a bare shoulder does not have the original value of the pet, the name or the drawing of the snake upon which the tattoo image is based. Certainly the tattoo has a similitude of the original, but is not the real thing.
In the same way, The Muppets perceived without their depth are seen by many as a similitude of their real selves without being themselves. Witty Frog has been critiqued by fans as not being Kermit** (best not to stretch this discussion to include alternate-Kermit from America’s Got Talent).
Despite differing fan opinions on the validity of recent Muppet products, it is clear that this tattoo of a Kermit was enough to lyrically break Miss Piggy’s will.
Knowing Miss Piggy, when her will is broken, she reacts in a way that brings about results, be it leaping from the rafters and making a luau of Doc Hopper’s villainous henchmen, smashing through a latticed window on a bike or skating across rivers, rocks and trees to assail herself upon a handbag robber, Miss Piggy ultimately takes action when her cast iron will is broken.
Such, we hope, will be the action of the new movie, shattering previous reflections of the Muppets and rediscovering a team of entertainers that do not depend on being a commedia dell’arte, fixes or ills, but on a reality that continues to establish itself brightly, wildly and DEEPLY in the centre of the Entertainment world.
**This article does not necessarily represent the views of its author, who is a huge fan of Post Jim Productions and considers Kermit to be Kermit regardless and everyday grows more excited about the possibilities of this movie!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org