Nov 11, 2011

The Muppets On Being Misunderstood


So the new muppet movie is coming out. I have mixed emotions about it. It's not like I think The Muppet Movie (you know the old one) is the best movie in the world or anything, but it's still a lot to live up to when you love Jim Henson so hard. I'm actually guest blogging here about that "crazy one" today on the Jennifer James blog devoted to Generation X. Because Henson, like Steve Jobs – he did change us.

I know saying you love Jim Henson is like saying you love Dr. Seuss or you love Shel Silverstein, I mean, duh. Who doesn't? (Though I do remember my best friend's mom not letting her read The Giving Tree because it had a misogynistic message or something like that.) But when it comes to The Muppet Movie of my youth, the message I always felt was that being something special... also meant being misunderstood.

Um, especially if no one can understand a word you are saying.

I actually feel like my compulsive need to be completely and thoroughly understood in my communication with other people comes from one very specific scene in The Muppet Movie that almost ruins the entire thing for me.

It's where Kermit and Fozzie pull up in that "movin'-right-along, bada-dum, bada-dum," old Studebaker to this used car lot where this mammoth sized brown shaggy monster with the huge orange nose (you know the one) is like the used car dealers slave, practically. And after he is done slaving away, like physically picking up cars and stuff like that, Kermit asked if he wants to go to Hollywood with them. And he gets even bigger-eyed (if that's possible for a muppet) and runs off. And Kermit and the bear are like, "oh well" guess he didn't want to come along. And they drive off.

Uh. Kermit. Dude! He was getting his suitcase! He ran off because he was so excited and speechless (plus he can't talk) that you were about to release him from a life of back-breaking servitude!

This monster then heartbreakingly follows the trail of the "starring" muppets through the rest of the movie, just barely missing every adventure. But it's supposed to be just this humorous sidenote. To six-year-old me, it nearly ruined the whole movie. Like it made me so upset I could barely take it. I wanted to scream at the screen "it was just a misunderstanding!"


But when it comes to being misunderstood for who you actually are... no one does it like Gonzo. Nobody knows what he is, and neither does he. And there is something so bittersweet and beautiful about his campfire song near the end of the movie after he's joined the gang of similar misfits. I mean, they're furry googley-eyed puppets for crying out loud!

And you guys know I am a crybaby. So of course Gonzo's raspy-crackly-voiced I'm Going To Go Back There Someday always gets me (I think I've caught my own crazy misfit brother sniffling at this one, too).

This looks familiar, vaguely familiar.
Almost unreal yet, it's too soon to feel yet.
I've never been there, but I know the way.
I'm going to go back there someday...

Part heaven, part space,
or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay.
I'm going to go back there someday.

Song (as most muppet ones are) by Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams.

This song might be a little obscure for you, it is during kind of a slow part of the movie. But surely you remember the image of Gonzo floating away with that bunch of balloons? Classic.

So now there is all this renewed muppet hoopla. In fact, I just discovered there is a whole blog for "muppet fans who grew up" with a countdown clock for the new movie (granted I think it's been around for ten years... the blog... not the countdown clock). But I've sort of kept my blinders on. I don't want to be disappointed. I think those songs, from Rainbow Connection to It's Not Easy Being Green and those characters have just become so part of my own misunderstood (or at least misunderstanding-phobic) soul...

that I just don't know if I can go back there someday.

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