Hi there, Muppet fans.  If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you have high blood pressure.  But I also bet you’ve noticed that over 4 years after Matt Vogel debuted as Kermit the Frog, people are still commenting relentlessly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and probably Myspace too, about ‘Kermit’s new voice’.  And, again, if you’re like me, you’re pretty sick to death of it.

Recently a few of us over on Twitter had a bit of an outburst about the consistent whining coming up in comment sections, oftentimes on videos or posts without Kermit even in them.  My point essentially boiled down to ‘Matt doesn’t sound like Steve, but Steve didn’t sound like Jim, ’ and ‘Matt’s Kermit feels like Kermit, just like Steve’s Kermit felt like Kermit’.  I want it known before I go on that I adored Steve’s Kermit.  But you’re kidding yourself if you thought it sounded like Jim.

That’s neither here nor there though, because this article isn’t for you.  This article is for you to send your friend who isn’t over it yet and keeps commenting on it.  I’m going to do my best to take their opinions into account, but try to get them to see the light and maybe move on.  Yes – I’m going to try to change the internet’s mind.  Oof, wish me luck!

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Hello!  My name is Jarrod Fairclough, and I’m one of the heads here at ToughPigs.com!  Some people might call themselves a ‘Muppet fanatic’ or a ‘Muppet stan’ but that’s not me – I’m what I like to call a ‘Muppet academic’.  Sure, it’s super pretentious, but who’s going to stop me?  The mafia?  Not likely!

I’ve been sent here today by someone you know to chat to you about your feelings on Matt Vogel’s Kermit the Frog.  I understand you’ve got an issue with it, and you feel like commenting on Facebook every day about it.  And that’s totally fine!  It’s a free world after all, except for whatever Mark Zuckerberg is cooking up probably.  But I want to talk to you about the whole situation, and why it might be time to put the comments to rest.

Firstly, let’s chat about ‘Kermit’s new voice’ and how it doesn’t sound right.  You’re right, Kermit has a new voice (well, if you consider over 4 years old new).  This is the voice of Matt Vogel, who is a long time Muppet performer, and also the man currently behind/under Floyd and Uncle Deadly, as well as Big Bird and The Count over on Sesame Street.  Matt is an extremely talented Muppet performer, and he auditioned for the role when Kermit’s previous performer, Steve Whitmire, was let go from the company for alleged ‘inappropriate business conduct’, a claim he understandably refutes, but isn’t necessarily relevant to our conversation.  Muppet style puppetry is an incredibly intricate skill, something that only a handful of people in this world have, so when a main character can no longer be performed by their original puppeteer, it falls to their teammates to fill that void and do their best to keep that character alive.

What I mean is that many people like to complain that ‘My uncle does a better Kermit, they should hire him!’ and other comments like that.  And you know what?  Maybe your uncle DOES do a great Kermit impression!  Maybe it sounds EXACTLY like Jim Henson’s Kermit the Frog!  And that’s very cool.  But you know what your uncle likely doesn’t do like Jim Henson? Puppeteer.  And because The Muppets aren’t in the business of having one person do the voice and another do the puppetry, that means that your uncle isn’t getting the job, no matter how much your family thinks he should get it.

Matt went through the auditions with the folks at The Muppets Studio, and they even had the Henson family involved too!  And out of those who auditioned, it was deemed that Matt was the guy for the role, and I for one am willing to trust the people who know more than I do about that decision.  Because there’s one thing that Matt has done which I for one find much more important than the voice, and that’s bring Kermit to life.  The same as Steve Whitmire did.  The same that Jim Henson did.  Steve’s Kermit felt like Kermit.  Matt’s Kermit feels like Kermit.  As far as I’m concerned the voice is secondary.

I’d also like to point out that Matt Vogel is a person!  Yes!  I know!  He isn’t just an arm and a mouth, he’s a full grown man with a wife and kids and feelings and everything. He also has a very active social presence, and he’s also fully aware of your distaste.  He and I even briefly discussed it once in an interview late last year.  Some people have (strangely) gone so far as to tag Matt in their negative comments – can you imagine that?  Imagine you started a new job, and a bunch of people, every time you did it, commented that you weren’t good at your job?  It takes a strong person to ignore those comments, and I applaud Matt for it.

Look, I’m well aware that I’m not going to change everyone’s mind.  But if there’s one thing I hope you take away from this letter it’s that negative comments and consistent complaining is against what The Muppets are about.  The Muppets are about holding each other up throughout everything, whether that be trying stand up comedy and failing or balancing on a tightrope while holding up a piano.  Not everything is going to be up to your personal standards, and that’s completely fine.  It might take a little more getting used to, and that’s fine too.  But what I hope we can all focus on instead of the different sounding Kermit is the fine work that Matt and his pals are doing.  Between the live shows a couple of years back, Muppets Haunted Mansion last month, and assumedly some more stuff coming up, The Muppets are in a really good place for the first time in a little while.  And I for one am excited to see what Kermit gets to do, even if he doesn’t sound exactly like he used to.

(My thanks to Meagan, Becca, Joe and Ryan for their input)

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