Kermit Culture

Critical Perspectives on Jim Henson’s Muppets

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About the Book

By the end of its five-year run on television, The Muppet Show had transformed its motley cast from fistfuls of felt to multi-media celebrities. Sophisticated and highly individuated, each of the Muppets embodied a conventional character type from classic television comedy. Kermit functioned as straight man to the majority of the show’s jokes. Miss Piggy, the resident diva, evolved from first season chorus girl to full-fledged megastar. A Costello to Kermit’s Abbot, Fozzie peddled his vaudevillian shtick to a tough audience, but his genuine sweetness made him lovable even when his jokes were lame.
These essays represent the work and ideas of a global community of scholars and Muppet enthusiasts, providing a unique perspective on just how Kermit and the rest of the frogs, dogs, bears, and chickens became cultural icons with influences reaching far beyond the world of 1970s television comedy.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer C. Garlen is an independent scholar and writer in Huntsville, Alabama.
Anissa M. Graham is an instructor in the English Department at University of North Alabama.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Jennifer C. Garlen and Anissa M. Graham
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4259-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5375-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Part One : Audience Participation

How to Become a Muppet; or, The Great Muppet Paper

BEN UNDERWOOD      9

The Muppets as a Metaphor for the Self

GIDEON HABERKORN      25

Stuffed Suits and Hog-Wild Desire

LYNNE D. SCHNEIDER      40

The Muppet Show Re-Forms the Fringe

ANISSA M. GRAHAM      54

Part Two : Adaptation and Performance

From Muppetry to Puppetry

JENNIFER STOESSNER      71

The Muppets and Shakespeare

HUGH H. DAVIS      81

“Starring Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit”: Muppets as Actors

GINGER STELLE      92

A Rainbow for the 21st Century: The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz and the Reimagination of the American Myth

ALISSA BURGER      103

Gonzo, (the Great) Cultural Critic

JENNIFER C. GARLEN      116

Part Three : Theories and Strategies

The American Journey Narrative in the Muppets Movies

TARA K. PARMITER      129

It’s Time to Get Together for Some Sex and Violence on The Muppet Show?

KATHLEEN E. KENNEDY      142

“British to a Fang, British to a Whisker”: Reconsidering The Muppet Show’s National Identity

RAYNA DENISON      154

The Muppet Show as Educational Critique

JULIE G. MAUDLIN      170

The Uniquely Strong but Feminine Miss Piggy

MARYANNE FISHER and ANTHONY COX      181

Muppets and Money

ANDREW LEAL      202

Appendix: The Muppet Show      217

About the Contributors      223

Index      227

Book Reviews & Awards

“an exciting new anthology of academic essays…a unique collection…a diverse range of topics”—www.muppetnewsflash.com; “a must-read”—ToughPigs.com.