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Flanderized Muppets?

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Duke Remington, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    Out of curiosity, are there Muppet characters out there that you think have fallen victim to "Flanderization" over the years?

    Here's a few examples:

    I know that some sites, including ToughPigs and TVTropes.org, feel that Sam Eagle has been affected by Flanderization. As TVTropes points out, "On The Muppet Show, he started out as a general, pro-American detractor of the show's non-cultural content and a Stop Having Fun Guy with strong, exaggeratedly right-wing strawman views on various issues. In recent media, such as the Muppet Viral Videos, he's been depicted as generally obsessed with Americana itself and not much else. (For instance, he starts singing American Woman" by The Guess Who just because it has "American" in the title, something that the old Sam would never do.)

    Of course, there's also the stuff about how Kermit has gotten too soft/too nice/too passive since Jim's death.

    As for instances that I do agree with, I gotta say that I strongly feel Miss Piggy's character has been Flanderized more often than not in recent years, as I've expressed on other threads.

    Piggy was always a force of nature, of course, but her personality had multiple layers and complexities to it. We actually knew that a lot of her negative feelings stemmed from insecurities (we all know she had a pretty lousy childhood) and she displayed a broad emotional range, as well as a greater amount of subtleties.

    If you watch a lot of her earlier appearances, while she does get angry and violent constantly, she displayed her softer sides too, which Eric Jacobson's Piggy almost never displays today. For instance: she asked "Are the octopuses alright?" in the James Coburn episode of The Muppet Show, she helped Beauregard expose the rats in the Joan Baez episode, etc.--all signs that she did care about her friends, even though her tolerance of them was low. The pig even had a sense of humor, which was showcased especially in Vet's Hospital and At the Dance.

    When she did karate chops, she usually did it for a valid reason (like to beat up villains or even to punish another character when they deserved it, like she did to Kermit in the Lena Horne episode or to Fozzie in the Candice Bergen episode, for instance). And much of her karate-chops usually had slow build-ups to them (such as in the Leo Sayer, John Denver, Lena Horne and Florence Henderson episodes, for instance).

    Today's Piggy, by comparison, comes off as rather one-dimensional. For example, today's Piggy is almost always angry. She hardly ever displays a sense of humor and she almost never expresses any care or concern for her friends anymore. And karate-chops are almost always the answer to EVERYTHING to her now, even if it's for a very stupid or petty reason (ie: "WHAT DID YOU SAY? HII-YAH!", "THERE'S OTHER WOMEN STANDING NEXT TO KERMIT AND I DON'T KNOW OR UNDERSTAND WHY! HII-YAH!", etc.), unlike in the old days.

    And she seems to have lost her old subtleties as well.
    Bridget and ElizaSchuyler like this.
  2. Hubert

    Hubert Well-Known Member

    I do definitely agree that Sam has been flanderized over time, as evidenced by your example(s) above.

    Another character that I think has fallen victim to this would be Rizzo. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Rizzo was a pretty full, fun, likable character who was a bit cranky, but still overall a fun character. But it seems that more recently, in things like Letters to Santa, for example, all he does the whole time is sit there and watch what's going on, and then give cranky commentary about it.
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Some of it may have to do with some inside info I received regarding Rizzo, but I'm sworn to secrecy, so I'll never tell.
  4. Muppetboy09

    Muppetboy09 Well-Known Member

    :skeptical: Hmm.....now I am dying to know! :D
  5. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I hate when the Kermit/Piggy relationship is Flanderized.

    Every lousy TV interview they have to do that lame fat joke/HiYah thing that stopped halfway through The Muppet Show. And yet, in every movie (except MFS, KSY-cuz she wasn't in it, and MWO), their relationship is loving, tender and even complex.

    Why can't we see more of THAT Kermit and Piggy and less of the "caustic relationship with all the complexity removed" Kermit and Piggy?
    Duke Remington likes this.
  6. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Sam kinda started out as obsessed with America (like those Meeting Films: "The land of Lincoln! The land of Jefferson!"). After season 1, he started to click, not only trying to bring more culture to the show, but being completely unfamiliar with the material he's presenting ("For Beethoven I'll stay! He's my favorite play-write" or "Mr. Shakespeare, did you I saw The Sound of Music at least a dozen times?") It seems like the America-stuff came back around Muppet*Vision and, the writers not knowing what to do with him, made him that personality instead.

    The "American Woman" is a blending of the two, where he's trying to push for better entertainment material, but has no clue what the song is about, who wrote it, where the band came from or even mistaking karaoke for an American pastime, which is exactly down the line of what he would've done on TMS.
  7. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    I agree. The Flanderized version of the frog and pig's relationship makes it come across as an abusive one as well.

    It's also just as disgraceful that the Flanderized version of that relationship gets displayed in written interviews and press releases (such as this one: http://www.disneymovierewards.go.com/articles/askkermit?cmp=dmov_dmr_fbk_articl_kermitqa and this one: http://www.stitchkingdom.com/disney-miss-piggy-muppets-interview-17703/).
    CensoredAlso likes this.
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I don't think any of these "Flanderization" aspects apply to the recent movie. While he doesn't have a big part I don't think Sam did anything related to America (maybe the news show he did... But even then, on the scroll-bar, two things that stink include "the french" and "the non-french", and Americans can be considered non-french), and it's hard to determine whether him participating in a barbershop quartet rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit is out of character (I'm sure he would be in a barbershop quartet, but I'm sure he'd disaprove of the song). And Miss Piggy seemed to care about the others a bit, since she came to save the show for them (not Kermit, but also not for herself), and she does take action to get the show going (though that could be selfish... she said she didn't travel to NOT be on television).
    Duke Remington likes this.
  9. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    I watched LTS last night and Rizzo really wasn't needed in the main group. He and Pepe served the same purpose basically; you could've given half of Rizzo's lines to Pepe and nothing would've changed. I woulddn't call that "Fladerization", just not knowing what to do with him.
    Duke Remington likes this.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    That's the relationship people think they want, but in truth, it's just an annoying one note gag that lost it's charm very early on. Slight, often hypocritical jealousy with guest stars was fun... but fat joke/hiyah... that was only sort of funny in the beginning. Glad that the new movie added depth back into there. As I'd expect from someone who wrote brilliant romantic comedies, like Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

    It seems that with MFS, they were starting to make Rizzo and Pepe friends, basically giving each other someone to talk to.

    But totally... Rizzo really didn't do much but appear in LTS. And, while it is indeed possible for 2 characters of the same performer to exist in a single scene, you always notice one is favored more than the other. And I really think it really cut into Kermit's screen time when they got to the North Pole. But then again, I kinda blame that on the fact that the special was a little rushed.
    Duke Remington likes this.
  11. Hubert

    Hubert Well-Known Member

    I understand that he wasn't really needed, but what I'm saying is instead of just giving cranky commentary, they could at least have Rizzo say something more like him...if that's the case, then Sam's must not be flanderization, because they don't know what to do with him, so they just make him a super extreme America fan.
  12. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    Too true.

    Regarding the hypocritical part, I think that that aspect of it all has become more and more mean-spirited and doesn't seem as funny anymore, contributing further to the Flanderization of Kermit & Piggy's relationship as well as to the Flanderization of Piggy's personality.

    Oh, and in addition to what I said in my previous posts, another thing that was good about her character and made her seem more human in the old days was the fact that often times, some sort of negative karma or well-deserved punishment would befall her when she did something incredibly wrong and needed to be taught a lesson (such as Kermit discovering that she paid off the audience in the Dom DeLuise episode, planting the gossip item about her and Kermit being secretly married in the Loretta Swit episode, locking Lynn Redgrave in her dressing room, etc.). Today, the pig hardly ever gets punished for doing bad things and seems to get away with murder too much--especially since today's Piggy is usually over-the-top mean and violent and enjoys going around hitting people without thinking, making her come off as a jerk-*** and REALLY well-deserving of punishment or negative karma.

    I still think Eric Jacobson and Jim Lewis really should seek out serious coachings from Frank Oz on how to better approach her character and save her from her Flanderization and restore the more well-balanced personality that she had in the past.
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Throughout Letters to Santa both Pepe and Rizzo speak out agaisnt believing in Santa Claus, and at the end it turns out Pepe is one of the three who wrote Santa a letter, showing that he believed in Santa all along... But we don't really get anything about of Rizzo not believing in Santa.
  14. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    New examples of Flanderized Muppets posted on TVTropes.org:

    Mahna Mahna:
    While many of his early appearances were in performances of the song, many of his early appearances also had him doing other things. In a sketch on The Ed Sullivan Show, he played the drums and provided wisecracks (and spoke coherent English) in the "String Quartet" sketch. In the "Sax and Violence" number he played the triangle bell and stole the show. But in recent years, his appearances are almost always performances or parodies of "Mahna Mahna". Even his Sesame Street counterpart, Bip Bipadotta, shouted "Mahna Mahna!" when he made a cameo in a 2009 episode.

    Statler & Waldorf:
    This has happened to several characters from The Muppet Show when they made the transition to the movies, but perhaps none as much as Statler and Waldorf. In the original show they were audience members who constantly complained about the show. They show up in various roles later, where they complain about everything and seem to have never had a positive experience in their lives.
    • A lot of people still love them because of this.
    • Statler and Waldorf get another case, because while they complained a lot during the show, they didn't complain about everything. Indeed, when it came to classic vaudeville numbers, they were positively enthusiastic and would even sing along, and rarely had anything negative to say about the guest stars. Fast forward a bit...
  15. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    They also couldn't find anything bad about their trip to Disney World, either.
    Duke Remington likes this.
  16. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Mahna Mahna? How do you Flanderize a character that has no character?
  17. StevieOpossum

    StevieOpossum Active Member

    Mahna Mahna did things in his early appearances like play instruments and actually speak coherently, but now all he does is sing "Mahna Mahna" or a variation of it.
  18. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    I would hardly call that Flanderization.
  19. StevieOpossum

    StevieOpossum Active Member

    I actually don't really consider that flanderization, I think he's been utilized to just sing "Mahna Mahna" nowadays and not play instruments like he used to.
  20. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    You mean in all of two sketches?

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