1 The Muppet Mindset: May 2011

May 31, 2011

"Being Elmo" is Coming to YOU!

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, as we've reported numerous times, is a critically-acclaimed, audience-adored documentary about Kevin Clash, the man behind/beneath Elmo. As the winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, this documentary is obviously extremely loved and popular. Since it was first released for viewing at film festivals, Muppet fans everywhere have been clamoring for a wide-release of the film. Well, our clamors have been answered! Submarine Entertainment has picked up the film for release in theaters all over the country in hopes to have it considered for the 2012 Academy Award nomination. Alongside that, Being Elmo has also been sold to New Video for DVD and digital distributions. ITVS and Independent Lens have distribution rights to the film for the first TV window, in which PBS already has rights to air the documentary. (via deadline.com)

So, whatever your feelings on the little red guy, this is incredibly exciting news for Being Elmo and everyone involved in the film, including our friends Kevin Clash, Connie Marks, and Corinne LaPook. Congratulations to the entire Being Elmo team and we absolutely can't wait to (finally) see the documentary!

But... until then, please enjoy The Muppet Mindset's interview with the awesome Kevin Clash and his pal Elmo:









The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

May 30, 2011

The Muppets T-Shirt Challenge

Threadless.com, known for their fun and funny t-shirt designs submitted by people like you and me (well... not me, I'm not artistically inclined) which get voted on by people online, has teamed up with Disney and The Muppets to bring us The Muppets T-shirt Design Challenge. The project is simple: design a t-shirt with the Muppets on it, celebrating the theme of friendship. Every design will be voted on, and the winning t-shirt will actually be made and sold online. Do you need it to be more awesome? Okay, fine... the winning designer of the t-shirt will also win $2,500 cash, a $250 Threadless gift card, the winning shirt signed by the Muppets and framed alongside a picture of the Muppets, a set of Jim Shore's Muppet Statues valued at $250, and, finally, a signed copy of the (apparently) upcoming album MUPPETS: The Green Album.

You can find all the details and more (including some pretty awesome Muppet pictures) on the main website for the Challenge.

There is so much to be excited about because of this contest... first off, Disney is very obviously directly including Muppet fans in its promotion for the upcoming movie, which is absolutely fantastic. Second, MUPPETS: The Green Album? What the what? We haven't heard anything about this... unless, of course, they just renamed the Muppets: Revisited CD idea they've been throwing around since the first D23 Expo. Either way... very exciting and I would do just about anything for a signed copy of it! And, to cap it all, we finally get to see the awesome group shot of the Muppets in all its glory!

The prizes are massive, the exposure is huge, and for any talented artist who wants to show of his or her take on the Muppets on a t-shirt, Threadless.com's Muppets T-shirt Design Challenge is absolutely something that you should submit a design to! (I'm looking at you, Dave Hulteen, Stuart Reeves, and all you other super talented fan artists!) Start submitting today! We want to see a Mindset reader/contributor take the big prize!







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

May 29, 2011

The British Correspondent is Closer Than You Think

Every once in awhile, I get an email from The British Correspondent. Usually, I just filter it into my Junk Mail folder (there's only so many times that you can watch a YouTube video of a well-intentioned chap in a bowler sipping tea and pondering whether or not he should eat a crumpet after reading his copy of Paddington Bear), but this email was a bit more interesting... in that it was foolish, and foolish is as foolish does... so here we is, and here we does.


To: Ryan Dosier
Re: Closer Than You Think

Dear Ryan,
I have stopped off at a place that I would call an Internet Café (which you American chaps would probably refer to as an "internet cafe") in order to bring to your attention something that I believe will be of great interest to you. For quite some time now I have suspected something to be a fundamental truth of our great nations (mine, and yours as given birth to by mine) and it is which is this: The Muppets are closer than you think.

I do not know if you are a fan of Dr. Who, but in recent episodes it was revealed that a race of aliens known only as the Silent(s) had infiltrated our world many, many years ago but that, once seen, they were immediately forgotten and so they had lived among us without our having any knowledge of them for all that time. Hence bumps in the night or creaking doors with no logical explanation.

Well, I certainly do not believe in all that Who nonsense (aside from it being one of the greatest British constitutions of television of all time and therefore one of the greatest television programmes in the world ever!) but I do believe that, much as those Silents, our culture has been mysteriously influenced at many times and in various ways. From the growing sense of unity between cultures, to the "green" (being green?) movement; from knowledge of the Alphabet to cookies being a sometimes food; from the puns of the world’s great comedians to the occasional pie in the face. So many aspects of the world in which we live have come to reflect the world of the Muppets, and now, I (and only I) have discovered why this is. It just came to me the other day when I was walking through a cinema investigating popcorn flavours.

They are closer than we think.

Our world IS their world and their world IS our world.

Now I realise that this is a HUGE revelation, and I am certain that it will rock the world of Muppet fans and I am just so grateful to have been the first one enlightened to this fact that surely no one else has ever realised.

Oh, and I also heard there’s a new Muppet poster too. I wonder what tagline they will be using...because I certainly have not seen it and it did not form the foundation of this email.

Yours ever closer than you think (quite possibly right behind you),
The British C.

P.S. Below is not the international version of the new Muppets poster.




(Please accept this copy of the email with our sincere apologies.)



The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

May 28, 2011

The Muppets Survival in Show Business

-The Muppets Survival in Show Business-

Justin Piatt - People in show business have always struggled. Not financially necessarily, but artistically. This is because it is the only art form that is described as a business. It takes millions of dollars to make a movie, put on a play, or run a successful television series. Because of this, there are dozens if not hundreds of people offering their opinions and putting their hands into what should be a very personal process. Is it really the way to go? After all, would we ask that a board of directors question Rembrandt’s every stroke in the creation of his Self Portrait?

I’d like to offer a few examples that illustrate why the system used to make movies and shows generally fails, which will take us to the point of the article: why the Muppets have survived.

First, we’ll start in the 1920s when Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy became a comedy team unmatched in the world of film. When the pair first started out, they worked at Hal Roach Studios, also known as the Lot of Fun. Stan Laurel was given a great deal of control over the movies he and Mr. Hardy made, acting as a writer and directing the directors in charge of his movies. However, as Laurel and Hardy got bigger and bigger, their movies got longer and longer. Thus, their movies got more expensive. Hal Roach felt that, since he was spending so much money, he had to have more control over his movies. This did not sit well with Stan, who was the creative force behind Laurel and Hardy. Eventually, this pushed Stan and Ollie away from Hal Roach Studios in pursuit of more creative control.

What they found instead was a world of businessmen interested in nothing more than the almighty dollar. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s involvement in their films was limited to acting, and for the most part, they were not even allowed to ad lib in their films. Their films suffered, and it quickly brought an end to their career as a team in Hollywood.

Now we’ll move forward to the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. A new comedy team billed as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were entering the spotlight, and widely considered the greatest comedy team of their time. It amazes me the similarities between Martin and Lewis and Laurel and Hardy. And yet, right from the start of their career in Hollywood, they were given virtually no control over their films. It’s painfully obvious how this hurt them comedically and personally. The wonderful thing about Dean and Jerry was the way they played off each other, made obvious by their frequent appearances on the Colgate Comedy Hour. Of course, this didn’t matter to Producer Hal Wallis, who turned Dean Martin into nothing more than a singing straight man in their movies, and turned Jerry Lewis into an annoying monkey-boy. The frustration caused by making sub-par movies, made only because they sold tickets, was a contributing factor in the team’s eventual split.

What does any have to do with the Muppets? Everything. We see that creative people, when allowed to be creative, can do great things. But when they are restricted and oppressed by studios interested only in money, the art of film and television is destroyed. Jim Henson and Frank Oz, perhaps the greatest comedy team since Laurel and Hardy or Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, were blessed with creative control over many of their projects. It’s true that they were somewhat restricted by being on Sesame Street in that their humor had to be appropriate to the audience and educational, but within those confines Jim Henson and the Muppets created magic, Ernie and Bert being perhaps the prime example of the creative and comedic genius behind the Muppets.

Fast forward to the days of The Muppet Show: Lord Lew Grade gave Jim Henson absolute control over what he did. He had trust in Jim, knowing that he would give him a quality product if left to his own devices. Had Jim sold his series to one of the US networks, it may be a safe bet that The Muppet Show would have never achieved the kind of worldwide success that it did, and would have probably failed very quickly.

Unfortunately, the Muppets also illustrate what can happen with studio or executive interference. For more details, see the article The Best of the Muppets at their Worst covering Muppets From Space. In brief, Jerry Juhl’s original story was destroyed when the material was handed over to a hack director.

In recent years, it seems the Muppets have been allowed to control their own productions again. The videos on YouTube have proved that truly creative people being allowed to do what they do best works. The Muppets have survived for fifty-six years because they are the best in entertainment with the best people behind them, and here's hoping this fall's The Muppets will continue that trend.








The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

May 26, 2011

"The Fuzzy Pack" Teaser Trailer

They're back, baby. The Fuzzy Pack is back on the prowl and ready for action. Check out this teaser trailer below for The Fuzzy Pack. (And if you don't know what it's really a teaser trailer for by now, you might be on the wrong website.)



Muppets in jail?! Wanda Sykes?! Danny Trejo?! Decrepit Muppet Theater?! MORE PLEASE!!!







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

"The Muppets" Movie Merchandise Sneak Peek

Muppet fans are awesome, you know that? Even before we saw the first trailer for The Muppets online, one Muppet fan, Julian Kleibeler, was scouring the innards (gross) of Amazon.com searching for upcoming merchandise that will be tied-in with the release of the film this fall. And boy, did he strike gold! Thanks to Julian, we now have detailed release information for not one, not two, not even four--but seven books being released this coming September and October all about the Muppets (as opposed to only The Muppets) (I don't get it either).


Anyway... check out the seven books below! You're welcome to follow the links and pre-order them if you'd like. Most of them are on sale on Amazon currently. Unfortunately, no pictures of the books have been released yet... so I hope you like walls of text!

The Muppets: Reader 1 [paperback, 32 pages]
Price: $3.99   EUR 2,99
Publisher: LB Kids
ISBN: 978-0316182973
Release date: October 11, 2011
Description: Read all about Kermit the Frog and his zany friends in this illustrated early reader. © Disney
Author: Ray Santos is the author of numerous licensed children books including Power Rangers, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, Super Hero Squad and Transformers. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.


The Muppets: Reader 2 [paperback, 32 pages]
Price: $3.99   EUR 2,99
Publisher: LB Kids
ISBN: 978-0316182980
Release date: October 11, 2011
Description: Meet all of the Muppet characters in this illustrated early reader. © Disney
Author: Ray Santos is the author of numerous licensed children books including Power Rangers, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, Super Hero Squad and Transformers. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.


The Muppets: The Muppet-tacular Ultimate Sticker Book (The Muppets Movie Tie-In) [paperback, 96 pages]
Price: $12.99    EUR 9,99
Publisher: LB Kids
ISBN: 978-0316182997
Release date: October 11, 2011
Description: This giant sticker book includes tons of fun stickers to use as you help the Muppets put on a show. Use the section of reusable stickers with The Muppets: The Muppet Show Stage Set: A Punch Out-and-Play Model Book for even more fun! © Disney
Author: Alexis has written over 30 books for children. She lives in Brooklyn Heights with her husband and little fluffy dog named Ernie.

The Muppets: The Muppet Show Stage Set: A Punch Out-and-Play Model Book (The Muppets Movie Tie-In) [paperback, 12 pages]
Price: $8.99   EUR 6,99 
Publisher: LB Kids
ISBN: 978-0316183000
Release date: October 11, 2011
Description: Punch out all the pieces and put together your own Muppet Theater stage set, complete with curtain and backdrop! Includes Muppet standees so you can put on your own show! No other materials are required for assembly. Works with the The Muppets: The Muppet-tacular Ultimate Sticker Book for even more fun! © Disney

Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet [hardcover, 240 pages]
Price: $12.99   EUR 9,99 (currently about $ 14.05)
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-0316183024
Release date: September 5, 2011
Description: On a scale of one to ten, sixth-grader Danvers Blickensderfer's life is a solid minus two. But he really hits rock bottom when he auditions for the local talent show: his death-defying hula-hooping-ninja tribute to Gonzo the Great is beat out by the world's most obnoxious middle school boy band, Emo Shun. With his daredevil dreams dashed, Danvers goes to bed... and wakes up feeling a little fuzzy-literally! He's turned into a Muppet! Fortunately, there's an internship open at the Muppet Theater and Danvers has a chance to meet his long-nosed, stunt-lovin' hero! All aboard The Electric Mayhem bus as this misfit makes good and joins the zaniest crew ever: The Muppets! © Disney
Author: Kirk Scroggs is one quarter Muppet by birth. As a child, he used his Pigs in Space lunch box for so long, his mom finally declared it a rusty, toxic health hazard and gave it to his little brother. Originally from Austin, Texas, Kirk now lives in Los Angeles where he enjoys doodling, spray tans, and writing important literature like Wiley and Grampa's Creature Features: Hair Ball From Outer Space.


The Muppets: The Movie Junior Novel (The Muppets Movie Tie-In) [paperback, 144 pages]
Price: $5.99   EUR 4,99 
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-0316183031
Release date: October 11, 2011
Description: Based on the new movie, this junior novelization features an 8-page insert of movie photos! © Disney
Author: Katharine Turner lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Frogs Are Funny: The Most Sensational, Inspirational, Celebrational, Muppetational Muppets Joke Book EVER! [hardcover, 208 pages]
Price: $14.99   EUR 10,99 (currently about $ 15.46)
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-0316183116
Release date: October 11, 2011
Description: A bright and fun collection of some of the best jokes, one-liners, and comedy bits ever spouted by your favorite Muppet characters, illustrated with full color photos of the Muppets. A must-have for Muppets fans of all ages!


So... exciting, right? I'm pretty excited about the joke book, the stage display, and the sticker book. On the other hand, I'm beyond confused by the sixth-grader Muppet book... but hey, whatever works, right? Gotta have something for the kids!


Speaking of having things for niche markets... there is one other piece of merchandise we know of currently: Muppet-themed nail polish. The nail polish is being released by OPI (which is apparently a nail polish company). No price point is set as of yet, but they did release the names of all the various colors, so... here's that:
  • Animal-istic
  • Meep-Meep-Meep 
  • Wocka Wocka! 
  • Pepe’s Purple Paassion 
  • Designer…de Better! 
  • Warm & Fozzie 
  • Rainbow Connection 
  • Excuse Moi! 
  • Gone Gonzo! 
  • Fresh Frog of Bel Air 
  • Divine Swine
  • Gettin’ Miss Piggy With It!
Well, this piece of merchandise definitely isn't my scene. But, there are a few notable things about this release. For one, there's a color for Pepe. A lot of fans have been worried about his involvement in the film, so this might be a good sign that he is in the movie in some capacity. Granted, a nail polish color in a random merchandise release does not guarantee anything at all... but it might? Also... how awesome is that image of all the Muppets just hanging out? Floyd strumming his guitar, Scooter and Fozzie, Zoot and Janice talking, Statler and Waldorf, Kermit and Piggy, Gonzo and Camilla... LOVE IT!

And that's all we have so far. I'm keeping my eyes open for more Muppet stuff popping up online to tie-in with the movie. If you find anything, Muppet fans, let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or by emailing Ryan Dosier at ryguy102390@gmail.com.







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

May 25, 2011

Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays: Karen Prell

 Today's Weekly Muppeteer Wednesday is written by Tom Stroud.

KAREN PRELL

Born...
7/31

Notable Muppet Characters...
Red Fraggle, Yolanda the Rat, Deena (Sesame Street) The Ghost of Christmas Past (Puppeteer), The Junk Lady (Puppeteer), The Worm (Puppeteer)

WHO IS KAREN PRELL?

Karen Prell was born on July 31st in Florida. She moved around quite a bit, and ended up spending most of her childhood in Seattle. In high school, she became interested in both animation and puppetry, both of which influenced her future careers. She began to make her own puppets, and put on puppet shows for her neighbors. She made a connection with someone working with the Muppets, and sent a tape of her and her puppets to Henson, who hired her for Sesame Street. She first worked on Sesame Street in 1979, beginning with small roles. Her most known Sesame Street character is Deena, a pink monster who appeared with her caretaker Pearl in season 12. She later flew to England, and worked on the final season of The Muppet Show, playing minor parts, including the Robin in "Rockin’ Robin."

Her most known character is Red Fraggle on Fraggle Rock. Jim Henson had just begun planning for Fraggle Rock soon after The Muppet Show ended, and called several puppeteers, including Karen, to audition, to see what they could bring to the show. Although she originally wanted to be Mokey, whom she believed matched her personality better, she ended up getting the role of Red. Although she was worried about preforming Red, she ended up loving the character, and the craziness it brought out in her. Red Fraggle and Fraggle Rock are the things that Karen Prell is best known for.

After the end of Fraggle Rock, she worked on Labyrinth, as the principal puppeteer of The Junk Lady and The Worm. Labyrinth is also where she met her future husband, fellow puppeteer Mike Quinn. She also worked on The Muppets Take Manhattan where she played Yolanda Rat, The Muppet Christmas Carol, where she puppeteered The Ghost of Christmas Past, and Muppet Treasure Island, her last major Henson production.

In 1997, she started working with Pixar, following her other high school interest, animation. She first worked on the short film, Geri’s Game, and later worked on A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2.  She also did animation for Frank Oz’s The Stepford Wives and the Disney film, Enchanted. She has not forgotten her puppeteering roots though, according to her website, Karen performed various background characters for The Muppets, which, as we all now, premieres this November. Karen has made a few recent appearances as Red Fraggle at the Manhattan debut of Fraggle Rock merchandise as well as appearances as ComicCon and Free Comic Book Day give aways.









The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

May 24, 2011

Breaking Down the "Green With Envy" Trailer

Greetings, Muppet fans! Are you still riding the high from yesterday when we finally got to see the trailer for Green With Envy, this fall's sure-to-be blockbuster hit? (Let me know when you get tired of this schtick.) But seriously... if you haven't seen this video, you have absolutely no excuse not to watch it right now...



Okay, so you've seen it, and you now realize that this is indeed the very first teaser trailer for The Muppets, in theaters November 23rd. And this trailer may only be about 90 seconds long, but so much happens in these 90 seconds that we just had to stop and break it all down. I paused every shot of this looking out for Easter Eggs hidden in the backgrounds... and I think I found everything. But if I missed something, holler! (Unless you're Joe Hennes, then just sit quietly and don't rub it in.) Our friends over at ToughPigs have their own dissection of the trailer as well... so if you put our two articles together you'll surely get somethings special (or convoluted). Anyway, here's a nearly second-by-second break down of what to look for in the trailer!


0:09 - There is a car in Amy Adams' classroom... coincidence, or blatant reference to the car that Kermit, Fozzie, and the gang purchase from Milton Berle in The Muppet Movie?


0:14 - Behind Jason and Amy you can see the letter "T" from the classic logo for The Muppet Show.


0:40 - Jason Segel is very obviously standing in a doorway Backstage at The Muppet Theater. The famous green and tan woodwork is there in the background and so are the iconic columns. The architecture is undeniably the famous Backstage set.


0:43 - To the right of Segel's head are two magazine covers with Kermit on them. Based on a later shot (around 0:48) I think the read one is People. I can't tell what the white one is... but my guess is that it says Cosmopolitan.


0:44 - Behind Amy Adams' head is an enlarged, framed magazine with Kermit on the cover. It appears to be a copy of GQ (Gentleman's Quarterly). Could Segel and Adams be sitting in Kermit's house in some of these scenes?


0:57-1:04 - Let's play spot the Muppets! There's Janice, Rowlf, Scooter, Animal, Floyd, Thog, Lew Zealand, Dr. Teeth, Gonzo, Swedish Chef, Beaker, Dr. Honeydew, Sweetums, Sam Eagle, Fozzie, Walter, Zoot, two generic rats, and a random pig with a curly brown wig.


1:06 - Gonzo is wearing a suit and tie--but not a chili-peppered suit and tie. His outfit, before he rips it open, is very uncharacteristic. Could this be Gonzo's return to insanity after helming a major plumbing company? Also... note Camilla's shirt. Who knew they made chicken clothes!


1:07 - In the top left corner you can clearly see the Hollywood Walk of Fame anniversary banner with a picture of none other than Jim Henson.


1:08 - Despite her radical outfit and short-cut hairdo, Miss Piggy is still wearing her famous ring on her left hand. Also, check behind Piggy's shoulder... that's a picture of her on her dresser thing. Plus... don't those donuts look good?


1:09 - Jason Segel and Walter are obviously in the middle of a musical number with members of their hometown, Smalltown, U.S.A. I would assume this is the song that carries them to the Greyhound bus that will take them to Hollywood.


1:09 - It's time for another round of spot the Muppets! From left to right... Droop (?!?), Marvin Suggs (?!?), Lew Zealand, Bobby Benson (?!?), Beaker, Dr. Honeydew, Scooter, Swedish Chef, Fozzie, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Sam Eagle, Beauregard, Link Hogthrob, Beautiful Day Monster (?!?), Dr. Julius Strangepork, plus Janice, Animal, Dr. Teeth, Zoot and, Floyd in the background. Some of these characters haven't been seen since The Muppet Show... some not in over 20 years. Also, note the classic Electric Mayhem stage set up with the Dr. Teeth logo and the stage pulled directly from The Muppet Show.


1:10 - Amy Adams is obviously performing on the famous Muppet Theater stage... which looks to have been rebuilt with amazing attention to detail, including the design on the walls that can barely be seen.


1:11 - Walter is wearing a Kermit t-shirt... and has an awesome expression.


1:12 - The gang is running from a building, that much is clear, but if you look closely you'll see that the name on the building, in giant letters, is "Gonzo's Royal Fl." We have to assume the rest says, "Gonzo's Royal Flush" which is... well, fantastic.


1:15 - Crazy Harry? Wearing a hard hat? The Work Safety people must have gotten to him too!


1:17-1:23 - Note that this is the same gang seen running from Gonzo's plumbing facility... My guess is that Gonzo blew it up for some reason (Who needs a reason? It's Gonzo!) and this is the aftermath. Which means... that Fozzie's budget comment, if in the final film, is complete fourth wall breakage--Muppet comedy gold!
    For these images and more, be sure to check out Muppet Wiki's "Muppet Movie News" page. It's awesome. If you spot something in the trailer that we didn't, let us know by leaving a comment on this article or by telling us on Facebook or Twitter!

    Now, if you'll excuse me... I want to watch the trailer again, jump up and down some more, and prepare for Muppet Domination. (I wonder if that's anything like the Rapture... well, for us it probably will be.)







    The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

      May 23, 2011

      "Green With Envy" Official Trailer

      Finally... the movie we've been waiting for. The first official trailer for the new romantic comedy starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams, Green With Envy is finally online! Check it out below and see what all the fuss is about!



      Needless to say... I know what I'll be doing come November 23rd.







      The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

      Carl the Big Mean (Ethical?) Egoist

      Note from Ryan: In our effort to let Muppet fans express themselves here on The Muppet Mindset, we welcome our good friend Beauregard and this, the strangest article we've ever had. It's unbelievably confusing, that cannot be denied, but it is also unbelievably intriguing. So... enjoy it and be confused by it.

      Some of you will know me as Matt B. Regard or, simply, Beauregard, the anonymous Muppet fan who has had an admittedly large presence in the community for many years. Although, honestly, I’ve been very lax in terms of my involvement within the Muppet fandom community lately; I decided to return with some lessons that I have learned from the over-analysis of Lady Gaga’s art by the wonderfully talents and amazingly intellectual art people over at http://gagajournal.blogspot.com/. One of them stated: "There is no such thing as over-thinking when it comes to Gaga's art" and in my head I removed the word "Gaga" in that sentence and replaced it with "Muppets"/"Jim Henson’s"...and I had the flash of inspiration to write what is (on the surface) a parody piece about over-thinking art but which ultimately reminded me that the Muppets are often a blank canvas upon which the viewer can paint their ideas of the world around them through interpretation... which is (one of the reasons) why they became and remain so internationally and eternally successful. My love for the Muppets and all of you continues forever also. -- Beauregard

      In the style of articles from Gaga Stigmata. (Over analyzing art produces art).


      Carl the Big Mean (Ethical?) Egoist

      Matt B. Regard - The Muppets’ message of freedom has always been ahead of its time. Before there was Lady Gaga with "Born This Way" there was Kermit with "It’s Not That Easy Being Green."

      Continuing to break boundaries in their approach to the issues that surround those watching them from the outside, the Muppets’ Big Mean Carl and his odd performance of "Stand By Me" addresses self, body image, and ultimately the all-consuming (both figurative and literal) consequences of becoming an (ethical?) egoist and one with oneself (that which is not becoming that which is--in turn defeating the original "is/not").

      Big Mean Carl (or Carl the Big Mean Whatever) has always appeared to struggle with identity. His very name comes into question as his identifier is often adjusted according to the circumstances which surround him. This approach to his own self is illustrated in the circular mitosis through which he appears to process within the internet phenomenon that was his performance of "Stand By Me." Understanding Carl (as he will be referred to within this article to avoid confusion) as both performer and performance is one of the ever present constants of the Muppet metaverse in which they are actors acting as actors within movies about movies. Here, Carl is both Carl (the Performer) and Carl "the Bunny" (and possibly Carl as "a Bunny," depending how many layers you/{interpreter of the art} are prepared to pull back [not forgetting the modern understanding of the word ‘Bunny’ {Carl the ‘Bunny’} with its Playboy connotations which would, again, change the dynamic and mature of the video to a layer even deeper...explored further later on]).

      Our focus within this interpretation of the music video cannot focus upon Carl ‘the Bunny’ without first admitting the existence of Carl ‘the Performer’, his choreographer, costume designer and the director of the video. It is these producers, performers and artists (as well as the audience who injects and infers that which is implied and applied within the video) who allow this video to become a statement. Without the existence of performer within performance the video would instead be potentially viewed simply as obscene and we (rather than admirers) would become voyeurs of inner turmoil, violence and (admitting the existence of Carl as ‘a Bunny’) even cannibalism of one’s own kind [and allowing Carl as a ‘Bunny’, then the sating of lust and longing]. That stated [and sated]; allow exploration to begin.

      Carl ‘the Bunny’ is not a bunny. He is a monster. He is a contradiction. His statement at the start of this video "Hi, I’m a bunny!" is either the intentional lie of a bunny hunting monster or the true lie of a monster believing himself to be a rabbit (or the actual truth if literally interpreted [or a description; seeing Carl as a Playboyesque ‘Bunny’ {and don’t get me started on the Pepe-ism of Carl as a ‘bunny hunter’ in relation to the bunny hunt cited by Pepe on The Bonnie Hunt Show a few years ago}]). Carl ‘the Bunny’ of this video is not in fact a bunny and his claim to be one illustrates the awareness of Carl’s true lack of identity. He either believes himself to be the thing he claims to have become (becoming becomes being) or is baiting bunnies. Or (as can be seen through art and choreography) he is both. Hunter and hunted (bunny-hunter and bunny). The pursuit of food/bunny/tail (bunny tail) leads to his becoming that upon which he focuses/fears/hunts the most. (for reference, see Job 3:25 "That which I most feared has come upon me," or any business magazine that warns of becoming the boss you once hated, or see a food hater that eats abnormally large portions, also we all turn into our parents and that tells you something). The video and its individual contents show Carl ‘the Bunny’ become the thing he hates/hunts.

      One clear signal from which this message of the video can be extrapolated is the use of an ‘identifier’ which clues us in to the story being told. Artists have often used items such as their fashion wardrobe, their props or their lyrics to draw the viewer to conclusions they may not have otherwise perceived. In this case, a carrot. Certainly Carl ‘the Performer’ would be aware of the historical use of carrots within artwork and the inclusion of the carrot here (oversized, like a giant arrow pointing to Carl ‘the Bunny’ and his war waged on self) can be connected intrinsically to carrots in past artworks.

      Carrots have been used in art for decades and one such reference is the use of a carrot in the art mural of the Last Supper in which the root vegetable is strategically placed upon the table to point to he that dips into the bowl with Jesus (Judas) (see right). This connection draws obvious parallels between deception (the hunter)/betrayal (of self and of others) and Carl ‘the Bunny’ of ‘Stand By Me’. Another reference using carrots in art is an oil painting by Peter Aertsen from 1559 of Christ and the Adulteress about to be stoned (the hunted) [the ‘Bunny’?]. Both these concepts are combined within the equally famous and lasting sculpture of a bunny produced from the core of a carrot. This final illustration truly mirrors the story of hunter becoming the hunted as it shows the eaten (carrot) becoming (becomes being) the eater (bunny).
        
      Furthermore, Carl ‘the Bunny’’s use of the carrot as a weapon illustrates an attitude held by many towards food, that food is a weapon that fights against the wished for Western identity of thinness/super-model looks [looks of the ‘Bunny’s]. However, this video twists that thought backwards upon itself as the specific food/weapon is a carrot/vegetable, which theoretically should be the savior of the identify (through healthy eating) and thus illustrates the dark lightness that whilst unhealthy food (or food itself) may be seen as a weapon, dieting and changing oneself to match society through carrot eating is also seen as weaponry thinking. (It also links back to the myth that British soldiers leaked a story that they had become able to see in the dark due to eating copious amounts of carrots when in fact they had discovered radar. Good over evil with the use of the carrot {and lies}). [Not to mention, bunny...carrot. Make the connections that I refuse to make here on the family friendly site].Throughout the video, link becomes link becomes link (becomes Link? becomes swill?) Carrot becoming weapon; hunter becoming hunted; that which he wishes to ‘stand by him’ becomes stood IN him and singing the chorus.

      The expression ‘you are what you eat’ can be applied in spades here as Carl ‘the Bunny’ uses the food traditionally associated with rabbits (a carrot) in order to defeat and eat them only to become that which he eats (the bunnies/a bunny) and thus he becomes defeated by the food traditionally associated with Carls (bunnies) and becomes (he claims) a bunny himself...raising the question, will he now hunt/defeat/eat himself (either literally or spiritually)? Watching the video once then beginning it from the start completes the circle of the video as his claim at the beginning of "Hi, I’m a bunny" is strengthened by watching his actions throughout as becoming becomes being.

      Carl ‘the Bunny’  becomes the ultimate self-destroying ethical egoist (one who does only what is in their best interest to the point that in time it becomes the thing which is not in their best interest). By definition, an ethical(?) egoist may do only that which is best for them (such as drilling for oil or using non-green gasoline for their Hummers) but the self-destroying ethical egoist follows this belief so strongly that it becomes their own end (as natural resources are used up and the ozone layer is peeled away). Illustrating his self-destroying ethical egoistical ways, Carl ‘the Bunny’ hunts bunnies and in doing so becomes one with the bunnies which he hunts (/hates?/[loves?]/loves to eat?) until ultimately he could never continue this circle of destruction without hunting/hating/eating himself.

      Thus Carl ‘the Bunny’ becomes an enigma; an idea too big to exist... or an artistic expression left open for the interpretation of those whose over analysis causes art to become Art.

      NOTE FROM RYAN: I think I blacked out there for a minute... What the heck just happened?






      The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier