I am so pleased to have this guest post from my friend Holly. She and I agree on a lot of things, not the least of which being that we think much of so-called "Family" or "Children's" television nowadays is obnoxious and promotes hyperactivity, superficial thinking and rude behavior. Are we teaching our children to be creative - their own master storytellers - or to be partially-functioning slaves of technology adrift in a world of pointless noise?
Well, I never thought I’d turn into my grandparents quite so soon; longing for the “good old days”. I can’t be alone. I can’t be the only one wishing that the world that I’m raising my children in had a lot less angry birds, high school corpses in stage make-up and stripper heels, or Bratz dolls (the name says it all)…. and a lot more felt. That wonderful rainbow-technic kind of felt that comprises the Muppets. I’m honestly not an advocate of entertaining children through a screen in general, but I do live in the real world and I appreciate quality entertainment for children. This leads me back to my point. The death of Jim Henson left a gaping hole in that realm.
I fondly remember gathering with my family on those Muppet show nights, we all were huddled together around our vintage eighties console television anticipating that familiar theme song: “It’s time to play the music; it’s time to light the lights…” All of us ready for some good old fashioned laughs that everyone in the family could enjoy on some level. There is just something magical about the Muppets. Jim Henson’s brilliance was unparalleled; he just made the world a little brighter. People of all ages, from all walks of life would have trouble not cracking a smile when they witness Fozzie bear attempting some really bad jokes, following them up with his signature “Waka Waka”.
I’m not sure when “family” entertainment moved into its current tone of fast paced, in your face obnoxiousness, but I know none of it holds a candle to Henson and his fellow puppeteers’ work. Where else can my kids learn such lessons as: A weirdo can be king of his own domain, sophisticated and even fawned over by a flock of ladies, literally…hens, all it takes is confidence. Who better to teach my daughters about feminism than a karate chopping pig who owns her curves and is always rescuing her man (or frog)? In what other place can such hilarity ensue from a crazy chef uttering an unintelligible language?
Sesame Street just
isn’t the same as it used to be. I used to love when the characters would
interact with children and just let the preciousness, beauty and hilarity of
childhood stand for itself. We as children could learn simple lessons from Bert
and Ernie. Bert is clean and Ernie is messy, how can they “work it out”? Now
Bert and Ernie are hardly on the show anymore. The show is not without merit
compared to most of the drivel out there but there is just a sweetness that
seems to be gone.
I guess I’m dreaming to hope that someday a wonderful frog and his band of misfit buddies will take over the airwaves again. Until then I’ll show my girls reruns and hope that they keep coming out with new Muppet movies. The 2011 movie was a whole lot of fun and watching it was like pouring lemon juice into my wound of Muppet withdrawal. I am glad they were introduced to a new generation. I issue a call out to all you children who were influenced by Henson: keep the flame alive, show your kids (and remind yourselves) what quality family entertainment is all about and maybe one day, if we are lucky, maybe one of our own children will aspire to follow in his footsteps.