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Will Muppet Fandom Continue To Be Underground?

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by beaker, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    For almost 60 years Jim Hensons vision and message of laughter, celebration, kindness, sillyness, friendship, etc.has bounced around the globe via muppets, sesame, fraggle, bear, etc...but...

    As much as it's been surreal to see the new film not only get marketed beyond belief and the INSANE critical and audience response...with the Muppet film on the verge of becoming a true cultural phenomenon and viral breakthrough success...

    A part of me has the feeling that for the most part Muppet fandom will continue to be more or less under the radar and underground, much like Star Wars fandom was in the early to mid 1990's before the rereleases and prequels. Actually way more underground than that...more like Firefly and even Brian Henson's Farscape has a bigger online following, as does Buffy. As does everything...Dr Who, Torchwood, Sonic the hedgehog, you name it. All of these have an immensely bigger fanbase. Ive rarely met(other than Muppetfest 2001) too many avowed big time Muppet fans. Met a lot of people who have a fondness for the Muppets, who have a favorite Muppet...and go beyond the average "oh yeah I remember Fonzie, Ralph and those two old guys" memory.

    But Muppet merchandise collectors, trivia buffs, and people who know of the Muppets BEYOND mere TMS nostalgia...those that know the Muppeteer names other than JH and Oz. Those that know about the lesser known characters, have been following the Muppet online videos for the last few years, or have seen the post JHC specials. Those that do Muppet inspired art or writing. It just feels like us, the "Muppet geeks" are still and may always be the world and internet's most under the radar fandom. And maybe that's a good thing? Kind of like the secret tavern or clubhouse/treehouse only a select few find. The amazing thing is that the Muppets or Henson's vision be it Muppets, Fraggle, Sesame, Bear, Creature shop finds a way into people's hearts and imagination.

    Sure, who cares if someone is a hardcore fan...seeing the audience reactions on and offline who've seen the movie is simply amazing.

    Now and then I'll meet someone whilst wearing one of my Muppet shirts, that is a big fan. It's rare. Usually it happens in a bit city like San Francisco. I have a feeling the majority of Muppet fans are NOT online, or at least arent on here or TP. Im hoping Disney finally does a Muppet fan weekend celebration to bring out all the closested Muppet nerds:) Still, would be cool to see more Muppet geeks out there at conventions that I go to or out and about...tho in a way, its kind of nice to have it more underground and have it still be kind of a cool secret you kind of have to discover. The fun of finding a real muppet fan is quit ecool
  2. Puckrox

    Puckrox Well-Known Member

    Since you and I, Cory, have been having this conversation for a while now via the facebookz, I figured I'd just paste on here what I said to you (with a few adjustments):

    I'm really glad that people are back in love with Muppets, and I do think we may see a bit of an influx of people joining up with Muppet Central, but I'm not expecting too many people. I do think Muppets will always be an underground fandom, but y'know something? Part of me doesn't mind this. I think if all my friends were on the same level as me, I wouldn't be quite as enthusiastic as I am. Everyone can appreciate the Muppets, but to be a real hardcore Muppet fan? I think only a certain branch of people are able to do it; only a certain type of person can put the amount of time/love/devotion we, and everyone on the MC Forums, does. Some people watch the movies and see puppets that are funny, but we don't see that. We see Muppets. We see magic, and gentility, comedy, emotion, nostalgia, insanity, and just a world where anything is possible. We see so much more. Some people see a pig and a frog having a serious conversation up on screen, and they just can't take it seriously. But we can. We are able to suspend our disbelief because we see these characters for who they are. And more than that, we see passed the characters and are able to appreciate the Muppeteers the way a tween would see whatever is currently popular. I know for me that Muppets make me feel invincible, like I can go out and achieve anything, and they make me feel emotions I haven't felt in ages. It's really a shame more people don't love them as much as the hardcore fans. The world might be a better place if they did.
  3. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Ha, yeah it was our chat that made me want to write this thread. Its a theme Ive mentioned on here for years...I think part of it is we secretly want to keep it relatively unknown while at the same time wanting to see our beloved foamy furry pals become a mass marketed mainstream brand again.

    I think there are those that get it, and then those who maybe wear an Animal shirt because it's sold as some trendy shirt at the mall and they may wear a Muppet shirt for kitchy nostalgic reasons.

    But even if people can't put a finger on it or articulate what it is, deep down I think a lot of people feel that magic and sense of wonder with the Muppets. I have never seen another kids/family franchise that comes close to that. I mean, hats off to Disney, but I cant exactly relate or feel a connection to Dumbo or Mickey or even be able to meet them.

    These are some of the images I would see at stores or places as a child, that would send me into orbit with delight and glee:




  4. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I tend to think everyone in the last generation through the up and coming one has actually seen them, but it seems they don't glom onto it in the way a true fan base works. Sometimes it feels that a lot of them don't even realize they like them until they see them again. And then again, there's a difference between liking something and being a fan.

    I see references to Muppet all the time on television... SNL sketched where the cast dress like them, Family Guy references... I saw Doozers on an episode of Chowder. Muppets do get to get a positive reaction from people, they'll buy the occasional T-Shirt or DVD... but they wouldn't go as nuts as we did over the action figures or any weird completest collectibles. And then the whole Muppets=Sesame Street bit where everyone confuses the two together... Somehow I think more people are fans of Sesame Street characters than Muppet Show ones.

    The new movie proved that the more casual fans were sleeping or just gave up until it came out. Considering some of the recent projects, I can't blame them. I think the positive response and commercial success of the film will bring it back for a while... I hope we get more projects out of this too to keep it going. But all it takes is one bad film (one with universal unappeal) to lose all that again. I swear MOz killed Disney's interest in the franchise after they bought it... but it was a pretty terrible project to present to everyone after their buyout... even though it wasn't done under their wing. But then again, I remember the positive response from people who didn't care about them for years after VMX.
  5. robodog

    robodog Well-Known Member

    The movie may well win a few new hardcore fans, but I don't think the Muppets will ever have a fandom on the level of something like Star Wars. Part of me would like to see The Muppets and other Henson works reach that level. I honestly think it deserves it. But part of me thinks it may be best that it stays an underground sort of fandom. I've seen what goes on in some of the more popular fandoms. The nitpicking, the complaining, the flame wars, it's enough to make you want to bang your head against the wall. Muppet Fandom seems a lot more laid back than most of the bigger fandoms and I like it that way.
  6. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Call me crazy for asking, but what makes everyone think Muppet fandom is so under ground? And what exactly would have to change to make it otherwise (if it even is in the first place)?
  7. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Disney can put forth an effort, the movie was a nice start. Whatever anyone can say about the movie, that's all that counts. I mean, look at Looney Tunes Back in Action.. quality or not, it's the lack of support the movie got that caused that franchise to tailspin with garbage like Loonatics. But it's up to the audience to become fans or just to say, "I like them" and then not really do all that much with it. A steady stream of projects is what we need... so far, I think the film awakened a sleeping giant. I'm seeing positive buzz all over the internet, calling for more movies and a new TV series. This was the shot in the arm the franchise needed... now all the older movies and DVD's are being scooped up. But Disney shouldn't rest just yet. There needs to be more small things leading up to the DVD's release... viral videos, small amounts of merchandise.

    Even then, let's face it... Star Wars and Star Trek are huge. Regardless of the debates on the new projects of both, these are fanbases that cannot be touched and transcend generations the way that the Muppets should, but can't quite. On the other hand, look at the response Labyrinth had got recently. The younger gernaration stumbled upon it... they love the manga for some reason, I'm sure Archaia's comic adaption will do wonders. It became a massive cult hit. Jim would've been very happy about that, especially the lukewarm reception it got at first. Same deal with Dark Crystal.
  8. Scooterforever

    Scooterforever Well-Known Member

    I agree with this. And no offense Beaker, but I think your definition of a "true" Muppet fan is wholly incorrect. For one, some Muppet fans, such as myself, cannot afford to buy every bit of Muppet merchandise, especially considering how expensive it can be. The Palisades toys have shot up in price on sites such as eBay, and as much as I'd love to get the Palisades Scooter bust, I'm currently unemployed and don't have the cash. Also, I have not seen every post JH Muppet special/show/video, as I feel many of them are far inferior to the original stuff. For example, I thought the Muppets Christmas specials "Letters to Santa" and "It's a Very Merry Muppet's Christmas Movie" pale in comparison to "A Muppet Family Christmas." Never-the-less, I've been a Muppets fan since I was a toddler and have fond memories of the original shows and specials from my childhood. I must have seen "The Muppets at Disney World" a dozen times as a kid (that is, the tv movie, although I have seen the Muppets 3D at MGM Disney twice). I think Jason Segal's "The Muppets" does a much better job of taking the Muppets back to their roots than any of the post-JH specials or movies. I mean no disrespect, Beaker, but I think you're making the Muppets sound too exclusive. I mean, I still consider myself a Star Wars fan even though I hated all the prequels, and I still consider myself a Star Trek fan even though I don't care for DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise, and I certainly consider myself a life long Muppets fan even though I haven't seen every post-JH thing.
  9. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Plus I don't want to support Chinese slave labor any more than necessary. ;)

    I was thinking the same thing actually about those two fandoms. There's a great deal of disagreement among fans, lol. Definitely don't like the prequels. And I loved all the Star Trek franchises except Enterprise, lol.
  10. Scooterforever

    Scooterforever Well-Known Member

    Yeah, Enterprise seems to be almost universally hated except for a small group of Trekkies, and I think that's partly why they're afraid to do a new Trek show. And it seems like there's no end to how badly Lucas can ruin the ST franchise. Apparently they're bringing Darth Maul back in the Clone Wars show despite how inconceivable it is that he survived after Phantom Menace.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think he would agree to you on the buying every single piece of merchandise, as would I... I didn't even get the whole series of regular run figures. I'm missing Marvin Suggs. There's no call for that unappreciated and obscure a character to be worth that much. Even though I wanted the Rowlf and Backstage it was hard to find to being with and even if I had the expenses for it, I don't know what I'd do with it. It's HUGE! I didn't see the point in another Swedish Chef repaint. And I can only assume Uncle Deadly's price has jumped up over the moon since the movie. I don't even have most of the Fraggle Rock series on DVD... Heck, I just got that first season and that was just last year! Money is a horrible thing not to have when you're a fan of something. Especially if you have extremely diverse tastes (but thank Frog I was able to get all the Fisher Price Mr. Men show figures... I waited 20 something YEARS for Mr. Men merchandise). I kinda like everything and wish to collect everything. I don't even have the money to focus on one thing. Maybe comics, but that's it.

    I'll take all the inexplicable Darth Maul possible. The problem I have with Star Wars 1 is that he was the BEST THING about the movie and only in it for like 10 minutes. Really... George should have cut the racing crap in half and focused more on who Darth Maul was and what his over all role in the movie was. Honestly, I'm one of the few people who liked what they saw of the Clone Wars episodes. They aren't great by any means, but they work MUCH better than the movies do. Acting and directing's better at least. Still, I prefer the Genndy Tartikofsky 2-D series better... GT has always been one of my favorite cartoonists, and he brings a broad amazing style wherever he goes.
  12. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I saw them for awhile, they actually were pretty good at times.
  13. Puckrox

    Puckrox Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty much in the same boat. The idea of buying the Palisades toys and all the plushies and replicas and every shirt I can find would be amazing; however, college has left me broke with barely enough money each month to buy groceries. Maybe someday I can afford all the Muppet merchandise I want... but yeah, I don't think you have to frequently spend money in order to be called a true fan. I think it's the amount of love you have for the characters, the amount of respect you have for the Muppeteers, the amount of knowledge you are willing to take in, and just that feeling where you need to watch everything Jim Henson/the Muppets have ever touched. That's been the case for me, at least.

    And there's so many other ways to prove that you are a true Muppet fanatic! Writing fanfiction, long/deep discussions about the character, overall excitement whenever they're brought up in passing conversations, thinking about them constantly, still getting that warm-fuzzy feeling while watching a Muppet movie even though you've already seen it a gazillion times, and so on. I went and wrote up a six minute slam poem about Muppets, and I think that was a great way to display that I'm a true Muppet fan. So, yes, I don't think money has to necessarily factor into the equation.
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Yeah... if it weren't for my lack of money, I'd ransack the Disney Store for everything they have a couple times over. Thing is, I want to see LOTS and lots of merchandise, but I know I'll only be able to get like a tenth of it. It's not so much what you can buy or own, so much as the willingness to want most of it I think he's getting at. Plus, I'd LOVE to have the discipline to be a superfan of just one thing, but there's so much I like and so much I want to collect. Any given shelf I have has Muppets, Ninja Turtles, Kinnikuman, Dragon Ball, one of many Disney Ducks, Nightmare before Christmas, and/or some weird obscure thing only I would know or care about on it. And that's the stuff that has merchandise I was and am able to get. If only there was a Jay Sherman action figure.

    Fandoms are funny. Look at Nightmare Before Christmas. That film didn't do super duper great when it first came out... it had great praise but not too big of an audience. Disney treated it like a red headed step child... but through the magic of home video it found a grand scale audience. And even though it was partially because of emo goths, the film came back with a huge cult following, and Disney embraced Jack and Oogie Boogie as part of their overall main characters. NBC stuff pops up in Disney Stores around Halloween annually. And if it wasn't for that big kick in the pants of home viewings, this would be a forgotten underground film.
  15. Puckrox

    Puckrox Well-Known Member

    I agree with this whole heartedly. As long as you've at least got that want for the objects, than you're definitely a fan. And, I mean, I know a lot of people who are fans of things who just don't buy merchandise because they're not materialistic people, so even not wanting, y'know, everything you see also doesn't disqualify you from being a true fan.

    Yes, yes, yes! While Muppet merchandise is something I long to have, there's still so much Doctor Who, Disney, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Lost, etc. merchandise I want as well. I end up being torn so many times whenever I do have a bit of money to spend on myself, because there's just too many things to get!

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