The Muppets are having a time – just when we need them most

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Since 1984, Elmo, the lovable, occasionally dazzling Muppets and a “Sesame Street” fan, spent most of Gillespie’s childhood watching TV in the ward. He would watch the same tapes — usually “Best of Elmo” compilations — so often that his nurses chose their own favorite parts.

“It’s amazing to me that these things are getting so much attention…to see a new generation grow up with it,” he said.

Puppets have been in our lives for over 50 years, and they’re still finding new ways to entertain us, even if it’s accidental (the Elmo v. Rocco feud has been going on for years on “Sesame Street,” but Twitter TikTok rediscovered it earlier this month). “Fraggle Rock,” which premiered this month, is also seeing a revival, and Kermit, Fozzie, and the gang have been capitalizing on the nostalgia wave for the Oscars — Fans are campaigning It’s hard for them. (New episodes of “Sesame Street” are currently airing on HBO Max, which, like CNN, is part of WarnerMedia.)
Gillespie suspects that the recent resurgence of Muppet has been driven by our need for comfort and a lot of positivity. When adults need their favorite frog, pig, or monster the most, they’ll find their way back to the Muppets. Our precious childhoods are preserved in internet amber, and they are often cuter, wittier, or wilder than we remember. Their philosophy – that the show must go on even if the set collapses and chicken feathers fly – is especially poignant in a few years, when we feel like we’re forever jumping in our own ring of fire while a flock of chickens sing “William Tell Overture.”
For the Muppets, things often go south. But they still, always manage to make some persistent, silly and subtle moves. They teach us our ABCs about love and the power of well-timed flying fish. They’re still teaching us how to get through tough times and emerge stronger — and more fun.

Puppets aren’t just for kids

Part of the reason it’s so easy to go back to the Muppets oeuvre is that it’s still there—and often, it evolves with the audience. The characters appear to be witty, often tell jokes, and dance over the heads of younger audiences, like Gonzo’s beloved chicken Camilla, who can be spotted on repeated viewings.

Joe Hennes, co-leader of the popular Muppet fancier publication ToughPigs, has devoted much of his life to harnessing the joy that Muppets provoke. His lifelong love of Jim Henson’s creations helped him find a group of like-minded fans and even landed him a few years at Sesame Workshop, where he watched – and sometimes contributed to the creation of his favorite childhood series contribute.

He told CNN: “There’s definitely something comforting about all these different franchises that we’ve loved in our lives, so going back to them we can rediscover that love and it’s a beauty things.” “You can rediscover it at different stages of your life and find new joy in it.”

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy at the 2012 Academy Awards.

Take Hennessy – as a child, he fell in love with the mischievous Ernie and the naive Big Bird. But as he got older, he came to appreciate the grumpiness of the Muppets world more, like Ernie’s stubborn foil Burt, the no-nonsense eagle Sam and the perpetually grumbling Oscar. As he grows up with the Muppets, he discovers new wrinkles in their lore to explore on ToughPigs — and new characters to identify with.

That’s part of the reason for Kermit, Miss Piggy and others, say academics Jennifer Garlen and Anissa Graham, who have edited and written collections of papers analyzing various Muppet projects. What’s so fascinating is their ability to speak to audiences young and old and influence them in different ways.
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“Jim Henson has always focused on narratives that he can talk to people of all ages, not just children, and he never saw puppets as entertainment for children,” Gallen said in an email to CNN. “These stories have layers of social commentary, comedy, metaphysics, drama and psychology that make them accessible to a very wide audience; if you relive them over the years, you’ll see something different too.”

Graham, a senior lecturer in English at the University of North Alabama, said that as a child, she found the Muppets talking to children and their parents and believed the style bridged the divide.

“That means somewhere along the line, the two parts can connect,” she told CNN in an email.

That’s why it’s easy to fall back in love with the Muppets after a period of separation: Graham says Henson’s work “reminds adult audiences that the value of play and nonsense is not a byproduct of nostalgia, but a part of their everyday life.” We might do better if we ourselves could accept the Muppets’ hilarious, whimsical streak.

Nostalgia brings us back

If a Muppets moment has been all the rage on your Twitter timeline over the past few years, there’s a good chance it’s reemerging because of Gillespie.he runs Muppet History, an account that shares rare Muppet footage on social media platforms – Kermit’s reference Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” Performance anyone? – and a behind-the-scenes look at his favorite felt performers and their human creators. He collects moments with ToughPigs, Muppet Wiki collaborators, and friends who got lucky on eBay and found reels with old Muppet clips.
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“I just think the Muppets are something timeless,” Gillespie said. “And I don’t think they ever tried a timely cause. They were always a little disrespectful.”

puppets may not be most timely Comedians, but they always have something to say. The critically acclaimed “Fraggle Rock” revival, which debuted on Apple TV+ this month, has an environmentalist bent. A typical 6-year-old bird is vaccinated when a child his age is eligible. Last year, “Sesame Street” launched “ABC of Racial Literacy,” in which two black muppets discuss race and inclusion with Elmo (which is in keeping with the origins of “Sesame Street,” a show for young black audiences Created).
The puppets’ progressiveism may offend occasional viewers, but it’s also part of their staying power. While some clips haven’t aged well (a few episodes of “The Muppet Show” on Disney+ have content warnings), characters rarely shy away from stories about death, racism, health, homelessness and other things kids want to know but don’t Difficult conversations on topics you know always have something to say.

As vivid as puppets, they are also mirrors through which viewers can better understand themselves. Frankie Cordero, the puppeteer who played Rudy on “Sesame Street” and the Purple Panda on the PBS series “Donkey Hat,” says he has something to do with Gonzo, Gonzo The origin of the fun fact is explored in the movie “The Muppets”. Mixed Puerto Rican, Mexican and Spanish, he often felt ostracized by his younger peers, like Gonzo (though Muppet found a family with Kermit and the gang).

“It’s an incredibly diverse team that will come together as a team to overcome huge obstacles in their world,” says Cordero. The jokes caught his attention as a child, but it’s this personality that makes He became a fan — and helped him identify a career he wanted to pursue in puppetry.

Hansen’s characters are good at evolving to stay relevant, but they’re still themselves, always the age they were when they debuted. Cookie Monster will always crave his favorite dessert, just as the Count is always obsessed with numbers, and Kermit will always wave his lanky green arms when excited, angry or overwhelmed.

“A puppet is always a puppet,” Hennessy said. “They always have the opportunity to surprise us with something new or bring back that happy feeling.”

Puppets teach us how to keep going

There’s an apt metaphor for the devastation and chaos of the past two years in the finale of “The Muppet Movie.” The last few minutes see Kermit and his newfound weirdo family finally make the movie of their dreams. The cast re-enacts “Rainbow Connection,” and just when things look settling, the set crumbles if it gets a little stale. Things explode, Gonzo hangs on a balloon to survive, and then, just when everything seems lost, a real rainbow finds its way through a large hole in the studio roof. The Muppets are bathed in its light, while clips of their films are scattered around them.

“Life is like a movie — write your own ending,” Kermit sings. “Keep believing, keep pretending, we’ve done what we set out to do.”

Elmo is always 3, but he evolves with the audience.

The puppets cobble together a movie from scraps and chaos — and it’s fair to say they thrive on chaos (that’s the whole MO of animals), or at least find a way to fix it. Revisiting their funniest mistakes or most moving pieces of music through older, grim eyes gives us “a little hope,” says Gillespie.

Elmo was Gillespie’s faithful companion as he recovered from heart surgery. Now, Elmo is once again a hero among Gillespie’s peers as he stands up against the pet rock who took the last oatmeal raisin cookie. and the cycle continues.

“Now we need that reassurance … it’s going to be okay because, well, Kermit the Frog said it’s going to be okay, and I think it’s going to be okay,” he said. “I think everything will be fine.”

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