It’s not easy being green!

There are so many red/green jokes I could make here but I am going to leave the comedy to the bears!

While I am a moderate and I try to avoid discussing politics online I feel I must stand up for my long-time role models The Muppets, in light of them being labeled as communists this week by Fox News. Click here for an article and video clip passed on to me by a friend to find out exactly what was said.
The thing that is bothering me the most is that the folks at Fox either A. Didn’t see the movie or B. Missed its message entirely. Here’s my take on the message of “The Muppets” and why the film has the characters and plot it does.

SPOILER ALERT

Tex Richman is not a villain because he is rich or because he got rich by working in the oil industry. He is not a villain because he wants to tear down Muppet Studios and drill for oil there. He is a villain because he LIED! Tex Richman lies to Statler and Waldorf when touring the studio. He tells them he is turning it into a Muppet museum and even goes so far as to say how he was going to keep Kermit’s office for people to see. This movie is meant to be something children can watch, understand, and enjoy. Children know lying is bad. Richman lies early on in the film. Therefore, children know early on that he is a bad guy. It has nothing to do with his name or the work he does.

Fox news seemed to be under the impression that Kermit and the gang think wealth is a bad thing but when the film catches up with Kermit he is living in a Hollywood mansion that, while not MTV Cribs worthy, certainly wasn’t the swamp he was living in at the start of “The Muppet Movie.” The film also finds Miss Piggy living in Paris as a fashion editor and living exactly the way you would expect Miss Piggy to live. Clearly, the Muppets aren’t against being rich. I doubt Miss Piggy ever was.

Tex Richman is NOT the real antagonist of “The Muppets.” He’s supposed to be over the top and a little unbelievable…almost a stereotype…because Richman’s attempt to buy the studio is only a  reason to set Kermit, Walter, etc…on the quest to put The Muppets back together. The REAL antagonist of the film is that the Muppets stopped believing in themselves and their dreams. It’s really all about their struggle to believe in themselves and know they are still loved. In the end the movie boils down to that same Muppet message we’ve heard a million times that “If just once person believes in you, deep enough and strong enough” then more people will believe in you and “maybe even you can believe in you” (I kept waiting to hear this song in “The Muppets” since so many people associate it with the Muppets but later found out it was originally from “Snoopy: The Musical” and not an original Muppet song.) In the end the whole issue with Richman getting the studio (yes, technically the Muppets lose the studio) is nearly swept aside as Kermit tells the gang it doesn’t matter because they have found each other and their dream again and they can start at the bottom and work their way up again because they are THE MUPPETS!

I don’t know why the makers of “The Muppets” named the character Tex Richman and why he was in oil but I have some theories. I don’t think they sat down and said “Hey! Let’s teach kids that oil is bad!” I think they needed a resonable explanation for someone to want to buy and tear down Muppet Studios. The Muppets have used the “tear down Muppet Theater” routine before. Scooter’s rich uncle, J.P Grosse (pronounced Gross), owned the theater and threatened to close it in original episodes and turn it into more profitable ventures and in “It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas” the Muppets have hit hard times financially and owe money to banker/real estate agent Rachel Bitterman and they need to pay her by the deadline or lose the theater, just like “The Muppets.” Bitterman even tried to trick the Muppets by changing the deadline (and kids know tricking people is bad, therefore she’s a bad character.) I think the movie makers needed to come up with a new character to try and shut down the Muppets. Just like Grosse and Bitterman the character needed a funny name, a reason to want the property, and no morals. Digging for oil, selling the land, or turning it into something more profitable are all good reasons to want the land Muppet studio/theater is on. That gives the characters motive but it’s their lying, cheating, tricking, etc…that make them bad.

If you watch enough Muppets, you see an interesting pattern. The Muppets live the American dream. Kermit starts in the swamp, Miss Piggy works at a fair, Sweetums fixes cars, Fozzie, Rowlf, Gonzo, and The Electric Mayhem are all working small-time on their art. They all have dreams and they all band together to make their dreams come true. Sometimes things get rough and sometimes they break up but they keep working, believing, and do what they set out to do…together again!

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