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What legally and technically defines a "Muppet"?

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by beaker, Feb 21, 2004.

  1. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    First off, I am still wondering why there is no general Muppet discussion section...not general off topic or classic Muppets, but a section devoted to current or not current Muppet related discussions?

    This question has always been at the center of everything, now more than ever.

    What defines a Muppet?

    For years I was so used to seeing fine print under video tapes and books that said "featuring Jim Henson's Sesame Street Muppets" or "featuring Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock Muppets".

    But ever since EMTV sold off Sesame, and now that the four major franchises are all split up, I guess it is now only in our hearts what defines it all.

    Muppet Show universe(thats what I consider everything thats not creature shop, fraggle, sesame, or bear...) and Bear in the Big Blue House are now Disney...Sesame Street is now Sesame Workshop, and all JHC has left is Fraggle Rock(as well as assorted odds and ends)

    To me tho and most fans, these four franchises will forever be Jim Henson's Muppets...no matter what canon or company they belong to.

    Heck, the Sesame gang who was on Dr Phil yesterday were referred to as Muppets...everyone in the world will always refer to Sesame and Fraggle as Muppets(so nyahhh to you Disney lawyers)

    Disney: You may have bought the "Muppet" trademark and brand, but you didnt buy the sole exlcusive meaning.

    What do you guys think?

    I would hope, that in 2005...ALL Muppet species would be able to come together for one big celebration. If Disney truly does care and respect JH' legacy, they will KEEP his signature, and acklowlege and celebrate *ALL* Muppets.
  2. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    I would say any of the Bulgy Eyed Foam creatures created by Jim Henson on any show, but that's just me...
  3. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    I think there is a distinction here. There seems to be two different "Muppets" - the technical term in puppetry and the term as it relates to various brands. I've always thought of any puppet Henson makes outside of the Creature Shop stuff as a "Muppet", (so Rygel isn't, Moppatop is) but now Disney owns the brand name obviously Henson can't really refer to something done for a non-Disney project as a "Muppet", but they will continue to make the Disney owned Muppet puppets of course.
  4. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    well to us and the rest of the world, everyone from Grover to Boober to Tutter to Kermit will always and forever be Muppets. JHC's selling out can never change this fact, only in a 'legal' means.
  5. CarburetorJane

    CarburetorJane Well-Known Member

    I can't remember where, but Jim said that a muppet was something cute and fuzzy, or something like that, so Creature shop projects wouldn't count. It hitnk it was in one of the interveiws, and this is strictly from memory... :o
  6. McFraggle

    McFraggle Well-Known Member

    I think originally like others have said it would be the non-Creature Shop characters that were created by the Jim Henson Company. While characters that are marionette / hand puppet combos are called Muppets, I think only the Henson puppets would be really defined as Muppets. However, now with the Disney acquisition it is only the Disney-owned Muppet properties. Oh well. :)
  7. homerthegreat

    homerthegreat Well-Known Member

    On the back of the card that comes with any figure says this:

    Muppets tm \'mu-pets\ 1 : a trademark of The Jim Henson Company for a fanciful troupe of famous puppet characters created and preformed exclusively by, and/or for goods and services from, the characters at The Jim Henson Company [var - Muppet; The Muppets]; 2: none

    I guess this wasn't really any help...so in my time of need I turn to the Simpsons.

    Lisa: Dad, what's a Muppet?

    Homer: Well, it's not quite a mop, and it's not quite a puppet, but man (slapping leg) hehehe...so to answer your question: I don't know.

  8. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Oh, yes, I love that quote!
  9. nemalki

    nemalki Member

    For starters, I'm not an expert on such things, so what I may say may not mean a whole hill of beans around these parts.

    A "Muppet" is a combination of traits that originally made up marionettes and puppets. Muppets have features prominent in both of those storytelling devices. The term was created by Jim Henson to describe his particular creations. They weren't exactly marionettes and they weren't exactly puppets in the traditional sense, so Mr. Henson created the term "muppet" to describe his creations.

    The legality of the term "muppet" is kind of strange, especially since Muppets have been used to describe any creation from Jim Henson Productions. Every performance made by the Henson troupe of "muppeteers" from Ed Sullivan to Sesame Street to Saturday Night Live had the name Jim Henson's Muppets attached to them. However, with The Muppet Show, the term "Muppet" became prominent with the particular circle of characters, even though JHP continued performing characters on Sesame Street. It's just around this time that the term "Muppets" became universally accepted for every production made by the Henson troupe of performers.

    Various films and productions proceeded to connect the worlds created by JHP. Characters introduced on shows like Fraggle Rock, and Bear in the Big Blue House, Mother Goose Stories, Animal Show, Animal Jam, and The Storyteller as well as specials like Emmitt Otter's Jug Band and Dog City were "muppets" in the technical sense but not "Muppets" in the marketable brandwise sense.

    While the franchises of the original Jim Henson Productions was divided (all the Sesame Street [and I think Big Bag] characters are owned by Sesame Workshop, the Bear in the Big Blue House franchise and the core Muppetverse characters are owned by Disney, while Farscape, Fraggle Rock, and the remaining franchises are owned by JHP), the term "Muppet" could be universally used for those characters. I haven't looked at Sesame Street since they turned half of it into *blech* Elmo's World, so could anybody clue me in as to whether they still refer to the Sesame Street Muppet characters as Sesame Street Muppets? I believe Disney bought the term "Muppet" when they bought the Muppetverse characters, but under certain circumstances, they'll allow JHP and SW to continue using the term to refer to those characters since they're so synonymous with the Jim Henson name and Sesame Streeet brand.

    If Disney won't, then they're a strange bunch of gits, aren't they?

    Don't know if this answered the question, but it's my four half-cents on the topic.
  10. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    Lisa: Dad, what's a Muppet?

    Homer: Well, it's not quite a mop, and it's not quite a puppet, but man (slapping leg) hehehe...so to answer your question: I don't know

    well the legal eagles out there dont realy know either,

    it is hard to pin down, because within the world of the muppest thee are so many differnet looking creatures, the traditinaol muppet eyed ones, the cutsey realistic eyed ones,

    they have been trying to nail down specifice trates that makea muppet but it is hard to do, since there is no one right way to build a muppet,

    basiclly it itis any puppet created under the brand name muppet.

    , lets face it, puppets done in this style will always look like muppets , but unless the are done under the brand muppet , they wont be muppets, lol(god how many times can i use the word muppet)

    even so there have been succeful lawsuits filed by the henson company , most notably wimsys play house, but at the same time threr are hundreds of other people out there doing the same form of puppet that havnet been sued .

    so basiclly if you want to avoid a lawsuit over a puppet you built try to avoid making it look like a actual muppet character, (kind of hard to do considering the variety of styles that have made up the look of the muppets over the years, after all there are only so many crayons in the box, )

    its all very confusing, lol :confused:
  11. gelphling

    gelphling New Member

    I think all these definitions are missing one key aspect: Yoda! Let's not forget he's a muppet too (or at least was until Episode 2, but that's another story...)!

  12. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    yoda is not not now nor has he ever been a muppet,

    he was built by STEWART FREEBORNE, not the JIM HENSON COMPANY,

    just because Frank puppeteered and did a voice does not a muppet make.
  13. WOCKA2416

    WOCKA2416 Well-Known Member

    Actually, Jim later said that the word "Muppet" has nothing to do with marionettes because they don't rellay do that kind of puppetry. He said he just liked the name!

    Also, I know on TimePiece that the credits say "Muppets, Inc." in it. But we know Disney doesn't own that property. So I think Muppets are just the original Muppet Show characters and all other characters that were spawned from the movies and Muppets Tonight. I believe that the JHC will just edit out any appearances of Kermit in any of the specials that they still own, but that he mkes an appearance in.
  14. DanDanStrawberry

    DanDanStrawberry Well-Known Member

    Frank Oz puppeteerd it? Well, in that case, I'd say that he was a muppet, but sort of obscure! Well MONSTROUSLY obscure! But I guess that's just me!!
  15. McFraggle

    McFraggle Well-Known Member

    He's muppet-like, but he's not technically a Muppet.
  16. GelflingWaldo

    GelflingWaldo Well-Known Member

    What about Dr. Bunson :confused: He dosen't have eyes.

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