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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Hero: Kermit the Frog

The third in my week of TV heroes are my all-time favorites, The Muppets and their beautiful, green front man, Kermit the Frog.

Jim Henson was an extraordinary talent who created a wonderful catalog of educational and family-friendly programs, from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show to movies and TV specials. His tragic and early death in 1990 was a huge loss for all Muppets fans; the real loss is what we have missed out on since he has been gone.

In researching this blog post, I have found The Jim Henson Legacy! which was established in 1993 to preserve and continue Jim Henson's work in puppetry. Among other events, the organization has sponsored Jim Henson's Fantastic World, a Smithsonian traveling exhibit that offers a peek into Jim Henson's creative process. I so hope this exhibit comes to Los Angeles soon as I would love to go!

What makes the Muppets heroes in my eyes? I think that it can be all summed up in Kermit's theme song, It's Not Easy Being Green. The Muppets, like us, want to be special, to stand out, to be noticed. Kermit's theme song details what our two-fold challenge in this regard is: 1) to find those things that make us special, that make us who we are, and 2) to appreciate ourselves regardless if other people think we are special or not.

It's not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold...
or something much more colorful like that.

It's not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ord'nary things.
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
or stars in the sky.

But green's the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain,
or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be.


I love that Muppets come in both sexes and all shapes, sizes and colors, just like people come in male, female and all sorts of heights, weights and races. The way the Muppets interact with each other
sets a great example for preschoolers and parents alike. Sure, they sometimes fight and hurt each others feelings, but they always manage to figure out how to say they are sorry and keep their relationships intact---even Oscar the Grouch! Heck, is it just me or were Bert and Ernie the first gay puppet couple? And what about Kermit and Miss Piggy; are they the first inter-species married puppet couple (or not)?

I recently saw an Independent Lens program on my local PBS station KCET titled The World According to Sesame Street. I was fascinated by the process that their team goes through to make the show culturally appropriate and relevant in each new country that joins the international Sesame Street family. It details how they create new characters and revise the classic American program with local songs and lessons tailored to the kids living in each country, like South Africa, Kosovo and Bangladesh. PBS often shows program repeats and I would highly recommend catch
ing this episode when it re-airs.

All I know is that Sesame Street helped to teach me to read when I was a little girl and I have very fond memories of watching The Muppet Show with my Grandma Devine and her commenting,"Why does Miss Piggy have such a big nose? She would be more attractive with a smaller nose." Yes, Grandma, she probably would.


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