Marni Hill – Although I’ve only been what can be considered a ‘die-hard ‘Muppet fan since 2012, it amazes me to think just how much my fellow fans and I have been through in recent times. Happily, most of the Muppet projects in recent months have arguably been a success, not only among enthusiasts, but also among the average non-Muppet plagued population of the world. Whether it’s chatting with kids in the positively adorable Muppet Moments or going remarkably viral with news of the new TV show, I think we can all agree that the Muppets are still steadily rising in prominence and fame.
You would think that all of this excitement would have us all dancing in the aisles of our fandom. However, from what I have observed in the past few months, there seems to be an elephant in the room which is quickly shoved to the side if it is so much but mentioned. I can’t speak with confidence about all areas of the online Muppet fan community, but in my own little corner, I’m finding things to be a little touch-and-go. There are times when I simply lose my enthusiasm for contributing because the tension has simply become too ridiculous.
I first joined the Muppet Central forum in early April 2013 under the username of ‘JimAndFrank’. From there I went on to discover ToughPigs.com, where I continue to be a teeny tiny bit of a stalker, keeping up yet never posting, and of course I quickly became an avid reader of the Muppet Mindset. I stumbled upon the fandom not unlike falling through a trap door and boy was it exciting! People just like me who I could talk to about my passion anytime I wanted, for as long as I wanted! Brilliant! With a honeymoon type haze surrounding me, the past two years have been a blast as Muppets Most Wanted fed my insatiable need for something zany and irreverent. But of course, even the brightest skies can have a few black clouds in them.
The mind of a Muppet Fan is a very complex place. We want nothing more for the Muppets to be anything but fantastic and top of their game, which is a perfectly reasonable wish to have. Problem is, nobody seems to be able to decide what makes any given Muppet project perfect. This tends to leave a few of us feeling dissatisfied and annoyed. If I remember correctly, it was MuppetCast host Steve Swanson who remarked on how Muppet fans tend to be more critical compared to other fandoms due to the immense history and continuity of characters that other fandoms simply don’t have.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for your favourite characters, and certainly nothing wrong with having your own opinion on what makes a high quality product. However, it’s the latter which has a nasty habit of causing arguments that could easily be avoided if certain people could learn how to listen and consider the ideas of others. In recent months, the new Muppet show seems to have the potential to turn a thread in any given forum into a battlefield. Muppet Central members will know exactly what I’m referring to and I’m certain other Muppet related forums have had their own share of tiffs. There is an uncertainty in the air sparked by the failure of Muppets Tonight and perhaps the Jim Henson Hour as well.
What really are the chances of this new show making it past its first season? Could it become equally as great as The Muppet Show or will it be a chaotic mess? Will its more ‘adult’ approach allow the characters to be true to themselves, or will they crumble and weakly mould themselves into what they have to be in order to survive on television? The answers to these questions are what fans are struggling to find patience for, causing anguish and unjustified tension between all of us as a community.
I guess if there’s anything I’d like readers to take away from this article, it’s this; relax and enjoy the ride. Americans have until September 22nd to finally see the premiere; Canada will get to view it around the same time and only Henson knows when the rest of us will get a chance. What’s the point in getting flustered about it when you still have over three months to wait? Chill, lay back and put on your favourite Muppet tunes. If you’re on your selected forum and someone decides to have a different opinion to you, just let it go because in the long run, their views are not going to drastically change your perspective of the Muppets. Only you have the power to do so anyway. Just show your respect for their ideas and in return, they will do the same for you. Conflict avoided.
The Muppet fandom has always had the potential to do amazing things because we have amazing people among us. Of course, nothings perfect and we will occasionally have problems that can’t be avoided. So let’s do the right things to help prevent the ones that can. We’ll be a stronger fandom for it and that in itself is worth achieving!