Today’s Testimonial is written by one of our newest contributors, Marni Hill. Marni is all aboard the ‘Bring the Muppets to Australia’ train, so I’ll do all I can to support that!
Marni Hill – It’s early December, 2012. You’re at your local DVD rental store on a Friday night attempting to find the perfect mind-numbing movie to forget the hassles of that week. You’ve seen nearly every movie the store has to offer, so you decide to search the ‘new release’ section. At first nothing catches your interest until suddenly, a particularly colourful DVD snatches your attention, so you pick it up to take a closer look. The Muppets, huh?Well, you’ve never really been into that kind of thing, but it has to be better than the B-movies surrounding it. Without much thought, you pay for it and take it home, expecting to be at least vaguely amused for an hour and a half.
What you didn’t expect was for your life to be blown completely apart and your belief system to suddenly fail because it just discovered something incredible.
I know that sounds way over the top for simply viewing a movie for the first time. However, choosing to watch ‘The Muppets’ had to be one of the best decisions I could have made while half-asleep. By the end of the film, I couldn’t help but feel like I had stumbled on something special, something I had desperately needed for a long time and simply hadn’t realised it. To this day I couldn’t tell you exactly what drew me in, yet I knew I needed more of it. Much, much more.
Of course, I had been a Sesame Street fan from the day I was born. I still have fond memories of Ernie pulling Bert’s nose off (classic comedy) and a Big Bird plush hiding where it can’t be thrown away by parents who can’t understand my emotional attachment towards it. However, this was my first real taste of the Muppets. I vaguely remember my grandmother having a bootlegged copy of Muppets from Space and as you imagine, it didn’t exactly pull me in with enthusiasm. The 2011 Muppet movie was perfect for introducing me to the characters. I suppose Jason Segel can consider his mission officially accomplished.
Kermit was the first character to grab onto my heartstrings and to this day he has refused to let go. There is not a bone, muscle, or tissue particle in my body that has an issue with this. Honestly, the moment where Kermit is standing with the unearthly light behind him was almost a moment of spiritual awakening! Between that irresistibly honest and calming voice, amazing personality and a tolerance level I could only dream of, Kermit is everything I want to be. I could write a novel worth of praise for Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire, but to sum it up, I am endlessly grateful for their ability to bring this little green frog full of love and talent to life.
I’ve always found it difficult to decipher who my favourite Muppets are. When you have such a different variety of crazy weirdoes to choose from, it’s not easy. I prefer to say that I love them all equally for whom they are. I love Fozzie for his jokes just as much as Gonzo for his appreciation for the crazy and different. I love Rowlf for his piano playing and Miss Piggy for her determination to be fabulous. I love Lew Zealand for his boomerang fish and Animal for being……well……Animal.
Eventually, I caught up with The Muppet Show, the original film triology, the post-Jim era and everything in between. I enjoyed everything I discovered and thanks to Muppet Wiki and countless other sources, I was soon ready to call myself a true Muppet fan…..well, a rookie Muppet fan anyway. I honestly thought I had caught up with everything there was to being a fan. But of course the more you know, the less you know.
In April 2013, I stumbled upon a rather unexpected facet of Muppetdom: the Muppet fan community. Joining Muppet Central was like inviting myself into a secret group where I knew I was going to fit in just fine. And for someone who has a really difficult time connecting to people in everyday life that was a blessing. It was through my fellow members that I finally started to pay attention to other Muppet performers. By this time, Steve Whitmire was already my favourite due to relating to his Muppets the quickest, but now I could start to appreciate Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz and many others. It definitely helped to have so many different perspectives coming from so many people at once. I could take the opinions of others and meld them in with my own to come to a clear understanding about why the Muppet performers are so amazing and talented.
If there’s anything I’ve come to learn over the past few years, it’s this: the Muppets are a clear symbol of family. On so many different levels, they are family. Not only have they bought themselves together, but they have drawn almost three generations of fans and puppeteers alike together to form an international community. We all are bound together by mutual respect, love for the characters, and admiration for the people behind them. Yet most of us will never get the chance to meet face to face. There is something bittersweet and beautiful about all this. If I had the cash and time to do so, I would be flying to America in a flash, getting in touch with all my fellow fans just so I could shake their hand and say hello. I don’t know what the future could bring. Maybe one day I can. And if it happens, it will be wonderful.
I wish that I had a lot more to say, but my journey with the Muppets has really just begun. I’m ecstatic for the upcoming TV series and can’t wait to share many, many more amazing moments with my fellow fans. Here’s to another 60 years of zaniness and may we all be around to enjoy it!