A couple months back, I posted an article here called “Stop Being Wrong,” in which I complained loudly and geekily about the things people get wrong when they talk about the Muppets. That article seemed to strike a chord with several loyal Tough Pigs readers, folks who no doubt spend hours every day correcting their friends, loved ones, co-workers and dermatologists in the noble pursuit of making the world safe for Fozzie Bear.
A number of people e-mailed me or posted on the Tough Pigs forum to suggest other things that people get wrong. Some of these were things I had considered for inclusion on the list, but I was focusing on a certain type of misconception — that which a person might harbor without any idea why or where it came from. As opposed to rumors, which are untruths that are spread from one person to another like pink eye, often with an introductory “Did you know…?” (Nobody’s ever going to say “Did you know the bear from the Muppets is named Fonzy?” but they might say “Did you know Cookie Monster only eats spinach now?”)
But there are a lot of inaccurate rumors about the Muppets out there too, and they’re just as frustrating. The one most frequently cited by readers was, of course, that whole “Cookie Monster is the Veggie Monster now” thing. Sesame Street‘s marketing department had good intentions when they mentioned the “Cookie Is a Sometimes Food” song in the season 36 press release, but the stupid media took that mention, twisted it all out of shape, and then started yelling about it. And of course, people love complaining about how everything is worse than it used to be, so the story sold like hotcakes (Are hotcakes a sometimes food?).
But I think this rumor has faded somewhat. Cookie Monster has made appearances on several TV shows in the years since the rumor started, so viewers can see that his name is still Cookie Monster… and of course, hosts always ask him about it, and he assures them that he still loves cookies. Also, his official Facebook page currently has 1,015,050 fans, who all have easy access to the original videos Cookie has posted there, many of which involve the consumption of cookies. So I’m optimistic that someday this misconception will be history, much like a plate of macaroons two minutes after you put them in front of Cookie himself.
But if you ever need to convince someone that the rumors are false and ridiculous, just direct them to this excellent page on Muppet Wiki, which contains everything they’ll need to know. If they question the accuracy of a wiki article, just say, “They cited their sources, sucka!”
Other Things People Get Wrong About Muppets:
Big Bird is not a girl. (Suggested by Jake F)
I can recall a few of my fellow preschoolers getting this one wrong. I guess I can see where it comes from: He has a high voice, and the name “Big Bird” doesn’t tell you anything about his gender, only that he’s big. And a bird, I suppose. He’s usually nude, so one can’t infer anything from his clothing choices (Perhaps it would be easier if he wore a tuxedo all the time, or a Sesame Street men’s lacrosse team jersey). And he’s too young to grow a beard. But anyone who watches Sesame Street on anything resembling a regular basis will hear other characters referring to him as a “he,” so there should really be no confusion. In other words, everyone should watch more Sesame Street.
Fraggles are not tiny. (Suggested by Grant H)
Fraggles are cave-dwelling critters. Sometimes they venture out of their cave into the surface world, where they encounter other life forms who are so much bigger than the Fraggles that the Fraggles can fit in the palms of their hands. But wait! That’s only on the Gorg side. When the Fraggles take the alternate exit they end up in our world, where they’re just about waist-high to us Silly Creatures.
Although there aren’t a lot of instances of Doc, the most prominent human on the show, sharing the screen with Fraggles, most episodes include an Uncle Traveling Matt bit set here in Outer Space, where it’s plain to see that a Fraggle would never fit in Paris Hilton’s purse.
Paris Hilton jokes are still funny, right?
Brian Henson did not take over the role of Kermit. (Suggested by Rob)
Here’s another rumor that has its own wiki page: Click here to check it out. It’s also another misconception that people find very difficult to let go of when you try to convince them it’s not true. It just sounds like such a great story — Jim Henson dies, his son inherits his most famous creation — that it’s hard for folks to accept that it’s never been true, even when the truth involves Steve Whitmire, a talented puppeteer who worked directly with Jim for years. As far as I know, the only character originated by Jim that Brian has ever played was the Newsman, although I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong. I mean, I know he’s never played Lothar…
Some people just can’t tell the difference between Muppets. They see a kid with a Zoe doll, and they immediately ask, “Who do ya got there — Elmo?” You would think they’d notice that orange and red are different colors, but they can’t be bothered to pay attention. I think there might be an age gap on this one too, as some people who are too old to have grown up with Sesame Street just haven’t developed the part of their brain that tells them which Muppet is which. On the other hand, we young whippersnappers probably couldn’t tell the difference between Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, or whatever those old people watched when they were kids.
The Muppets were not owned by Disney when everyone thought they were owned by Disney but now they are even though lots of people don’t realize they are. (Suggested by Justin P)
Here’s an example of the runaway mine train that can be Muppet fandom. After the original Henson-Disney deal fell through following Jim’s passing, we Muppet fans spent years gently (or obnoxiously) correcting people under the impression that Disney owned Kermit and the gang. “Actually,” we’d say, “Disney does not own the Muppets. The Muppets are not owned by Disney. Disney is not the owner of the Muppets. Owned Muppets not are by Disney the.”
And then, suddenly, in 2004, the Muppets were owned by Disney. But the fun hasn’t ended, because now we get to spend our days correcting people who think the Muppets are still owned by the Jim Henson Company. And around and around and around we go.
Click here to sow truth all over the world on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com