Friday, January 8, 2010

Why the Muppets Outlived the Avocado

What makes some things classics and other things obsolete?  I don't know anyone who wants a burnt orange couch or avocado green refrigerator anymore, do you?  So why are some things "retro" and other things just plain nasty?

In case you were wondering, I do have too much time on my hands...

No really, I started thinking about this when I saw an article about the Muppets on the news today.  They have been hanging around since the 1970's, just like burnt orange and avocado appliances.  The Muppets are a cool icon of childhood gone by while shag carpet and velour couches are just bad jokes.

How do these things happen?  Who decides what will stand the test of time and what will not? Why did the Muppets make the cut?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a HUGE Muppet fan.  My dad did an amazing Swedish Chef imitation and I bonded with Beaker from the beginning.  One of my earliest childhood memories is laying on the floor with my dad watching the Muppets on our small remote-less TV set.  My dad would laugh at the two men in the balcony and we would all chuckle at Piggy's attempts to capture Kermit.  We sang along to the John Denver Christmas special and cherished the other stars who appeared alongside our favorite puppets.  It was a magical experience for me as a child.

Maybe that is the answer.  I don't have warm and fuzzy memories of shag carpet, velour couches or burnt orange appliances.  They were fashion pieces which left us with no more than a mental shudder.  The Muppets were "real." They had lives, struggles, personalities, ambitions and faults.  They were all of us, and still are.

Lately the Muppets have made a splash on YouTube and have appeared in other media outlets.  A new generation is excited by them all over again.  I hope my kids find Fozzy the Bear as lovable as I do and Animal as entertaining. I hope they get to laugh at "Pigs in Space" or enjoy the piano playing Rolf the Dog.

What I want most for my kids is the wonderful family memories of watching a fun program while spending time with the ones we love.  My dad may never throw fish or go nuts on a drum set, but he will always be my favorite Muppet.

I for one am really glad the Muppets outlived the avocado.

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