It's Not Easy Being Mean
British Correspondent - From wicked witches to bitter bankers (try saying that three times fast) the Muppet Villians have always held a strong position within the world in which the Muppets live...Wait? Did I say have always held a strong position? I meant have been held IN a strong prison. The interesting thing about them all, however, is that they are just so very interesting!
In the 1980s, it was a simpler time. Back then, artists were known for their artistry and the illustrious designer Lady Holiday was renowned for her amazing style and flawless presentation. Gaining such a celebrity status in the 80s surely meant you had talent and panache (and perhaps just a hint of décolletage). Having grown up in a rich, upper-class family and under the constantly growing shadow of his sister, it’s little wonder that Nicky Holiday squandered the family inheritance, but unlike today when such behaviour would have gained him an instant cult following and a reality TV programme (*cough* Kim Kardashian *cough*), Nicky probably remained relatively unknown. In fact, his own sister dismisses him as mere "plot exposition." Poor child.
His attention seeking and a need to be noticed are evident from the first mention of Nicky Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper as a box of flowered-socks are delivered. Seeking to be noticed, even if just for his family to start criticising his choice of socks, seems to be a motivating factor for Nicky, and it seems to be this motivation that leads him to become a jewel thief. Stealing from his sister would certainly accomplish many of his apparent needs: Attention seeking, a need to bring his sister down, a feeling of taking back control, perhaps a desire to take-away the fame and things that he feels he deserves after his sister has grown up the "good" and "successful" one of the family.
Thus, Nicky Holiday put into action a plan to steal his sister’s crowning jewel: the Baseball Diamond. This diamond, which is shaped much like a baseball (go figure) is not given a history in the movie, but presumably originated in America since almost no one in England plays baseball, suggesting that it was something Lady Holiday purchased rather than a family heirloom. However, in putting together a plan to take the diamond... Nicky Holiday never counted on one particular glittering gem that was about to fall into his path: namely, Miss Piggy.
Now, he may not have had fame, but Nicky Holiday certainly had enough money to attract plenty of women (you know the type, those tall thin creatures with the long legs, the aquiline noses, the teeth like pearls, soft skin...yeah, makes you sick to your stomach, don’t it?). Following along the diagnosis that he’s seeking to be accepted on a personal level, it’s likely that Nicky Holiday’s relationships were short-lived and unfulfilling. Then one night, out dancing at a club, he met someone who was so unlike any other woman he’d ever known. This woman was, of course, Miss Piggy. Not only was she spell-binding in a non-vapid fashion, she could also type and take short-hand and had been hired as his sister’s receptionist – note once again the need for Nicky to take that which belongs to his sister.
The Nicky Holiday/Miss Piggy chemistry is electric. Even Kermit noticed the way that she was dancing with him, and though Piggy suggested that was just “Silliness” it was clear from the start there was something between them.
The meeting between Miss Piggy and Nicky Holiday backstage at the fashion show is one of the darkest Muppet moments on film. Here, Nicky’s intensity and desire became so strong that even the usually unflappable Miss Piggy appears scared and venerable before him. To see her change from someone so in charge, to someone who feels trapped and in a situation out of her control is frightening to see, and I think this was quite a defining moment in Miss Piggy’s character development. This is also the moment in which Nicky Holiday moves from charming jewel thief to scoundrel and villain.
Nicky makes a perfect nemesis for Miss Piggy because he shares so many of the same insecurities, desires and character traits seen in the pig. He is attention seeking, with an obvious love of jewellery and money and he latches onto Miss Piggy in much the same way that Piggy latched onto Kermit in The Muppet Show. But unlike Miss Piggy, he lacks the balance of love and heart that make her work as a wonderfully rounded character. (Plus, he can’t even sing--his voice was dubbed!)
From this moment on, Nicky’s downfall is imminent as he betrays Miss Piggy, framing her for the jewel theft and making himself an instant target for the team of Muppets determined to prove Piggy’s innocence and to catch him red-handed. A lot of running, diving, and baseball catching later and Nicky Holiday is finally defeated by a pig on a hog, smashing dramatically through the windows of the Mallory Gallery and knocking Nicky to the ground.
But it is Miss Piggy’s parting words that really defeated Nicky Holiday. “That silver’s turned to iron bars, Nicky.” She proved herself strong enough to resist him and to choose the life that she wanted to lead with her frog at her side instead of being forced into his world. “Somehow, along the road I found out the difference between wrong and right... Your wrong.” She turns to Kermit. “He’s right.”
Nicky once said, “I'm a villain, it's plain and simple.” I only hope that he came to realise he wasn’t plain and simple, but rather a complicated guy with complex issues. Maybe he’ll even get a chance to redeem himself one day – maybe working as a security guard at Disney World?
As for this article, I have just one question that still remains regarding Nicky Holiday and his band of modelesque jewel thieves... “What colour are their hands now?”
Ruthlessness: 8 (He was prepared to betray the potential love of his life, but it pained him to do so. I was going to give him a six, but he got two extra points for almost reducing Miss Piggy to tears. Bad man! Bad!)
Sidekick: 8 (Marla, Carla and Darla are delicious to watch together on screen, with their evil plans and the chemistry between them and Nicky is palpable. It’s also possible that they go beyond being sidekicks, however, since it was they who forced Nicky into going ahead with the plan and not visa versa. They got an extra point for the hint of décolletage.)
Evil appearance: 5 (The flowered-socks were a trademark, but hardly frightening.)
Talking the talk: 6 (Defining yourself as a plain and simple villain, an interesting evil monologue does not make. Imagine if James Bond villains did that... James would never have had a chance to get away!)
Likability: 7 (He was incredibly likeable, until he turned against Miss Piggy. Still, his demeanour and wannabe swarveness give him a high likability factor.)
Returnability: 3 (I wouldn’t want him to return, as his story-arc is really over. He set out to prove himself, and... maybe, just maybe, he proved himself wrong.)
Likelihood to date your sister and never call her back: 10 (Yeah, you won’t be hearing from him, sorry Sis.)
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier