Today's article comes from a brand new Muppet blog The Muppet List, run by our friend Clare MacRory. Go visit The Muppet List for even more Muppety fun! Thanks to Clare for letting us host her article here.
WHY IS KERMIT THE FROG A FROG?
Clare MacRory - “Does that really matter, Clare?” you say. “Well yes, it does” I say, and the answer to your question actually begins with another question. What are The Muppets? They’re a group of furry little freaks. Squishy little weirdos. If The Muppets lived in our every day lives, they would be the strange man on the bus muttering into his reflection. They all come complete with neuroses and behaviour that the passer-by might look twice at. They’re life’s little odd-balls. While they all have this strangeness in common, the manifestations of them are wildly different depending on the character. In coming together as a group of friends, The Muppets whole-heartedly embrace each other’s peculiarities. There is no fear of what is different. They see the positive in people and recognise that if you want the good parts in people, taking the little crappy bits in people’s personalities is a price worth paying.
In doing so, The Muppets tell us about the importance of tolerance, and how a little understanding might bring you gems you didn’t know were there for the having. If you’re willing to listen to Fozzie’s annoying jokes, you’ll make a friend who would do anything to help you out when you’re in a bind. Maybe the man talking to his reflection isn’t doing so because he’s unstable and dangerous, perhaps he just has a wildly creative mind that you couldn’t hope to understand. The Muppets want you to be tolerant because it will make you happy.
But what does all of this have to do with Kermit being a frog? We’ve all heard (or spoken) the phrase “I’ve kissed a few frogs in my time”/”You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince”/”other stupid cliches.” In Kermit’s being a frog and involving him in a love-story narrative, I think that what is being pointed at is that just because you think someone is a frog, you can bet your bottom dollar he’s someone else’s prince. We don’t get to decide that some one is a freak, we don’t have that power. We have the power to perceive that someone is a freak--but we cannot make it the truth purely because we believe it. Kermit is a frog to all of us, but to Miss Piggy, Kermit is a whole lot more than a frog. If we use a frog as the standard for labeling someone as an undesirable love (or mating) interest, then in being a frog, Kermit should surely be single. If that’s the standard, Kermit shouldn’t be capable of driving a woman mad with desire, yet Miss Piggy can barely contain her emotions around him.
Your frog is some one else’s prince, and your prince is some one else’s frog. The Muppets are reminding us to treat people how we would like others to treat the princes in our lives. Even the froggy people. We all have people who think we’re frogs and people who think we’re princes, so really we’re all the very same, so let’s get along. It ties in with the previous paragraph, seeing the positive and embracing the associated negative in order to allow that positive into your life. If you don’t judge Kermie for being a frog, you might fall in love with what you find.
Kermit’s being a frog serves another purpose too. Kermit’s a frog who comes from a smelly swamp, but he’s a whole lot of other things too. Being a slimy swamp-dweller doesn’t mean you can’t be an all-singing, all-dancing super friend. What The Muppets are doing here, I think, is trying to teach children (and mean adults) about the importance of tolerance and keeping an open mind. Yes, that kid in class says weird stuff and smells a bit like a cupboard, but there’s probably a lot more to him and if you get to know him a bit maybe the weirdness won’t matter because he’s actually totally sound. Maybe what’s being suggested has to do with the psychology of prejudice. From the (limited) study I have done in psychology, I know that when an individual holds prejudice against people belonging to a particular group, they become almost exclusively sensitive to traits and qualities in that person that reinforce the stereotype. The mind somehow blinkers itself to information that would weaken the prejudice.
If someone asked you if you’d like to hug a frog, you’d probably recoil in horror, but if some one asked you if you’d like to cuddle Kermit, you’d probably hop at the chance. If yucky frogs are actually pretty cool, then maybe something else you think is gross is actually kinda lovely too. Extend the idea to bigger social issues and maybe the world would be a little happier.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org