Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Muppet Babies Are Coming Back and That's... Nice

After some rumblings late last week, it was officially announced that a new Muppet Babies series is coming to Disney Junior in 2018.

Don't get me wrong, Muppet Babies was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid, and it still amuses me when I watch one on YouTube. It was a damn good show. But I see people on other websites getting excited about the triumphant return of a childhood favorite and I start to feel like this is going to be like nearly every other Muppet project of the last 20+ years: I can already feel the whine pieces described as criticism of entitled Muppet fans.

Let's be realistic: this show is on Disney Junior, and the target audience is 4-7 year-olds. Not 40 year-olds. I'm relatively sure this isn't going to be a reboot in the style of the earlier show, but something more in the vein of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, where the characters talk to the audience and make little kids feel like they're participating in adventures just for them. I mean, maybe it'll be more like Sofia the First, where it's a straight adventure cartoon but clearly meant for little children. I'm sure it will be a quality product, but I really expect it's going to be made for children.

This is the problem with being a Muppet fan in the 21st century--every announcement of a new project brings me joy (there are still Muppet things being made!) but brings with it the anticipation of yet another outpouring of pointless internet rage. And the rage this time will be because it's a Muppet show aimed at kids and not at people my age who weirdly think they own the Muppets.

It's hard to be optimistic about new versions of old things at my age, not because they aren't made for me anymore, but because of the people my age and a bit older who wallow in their confused disappointment, with a lack of perspective and an unwillingness to comprehend that maybe kids today deserve their own Star Wars. Maybe you're supposed to have outgrown your perceived ownership of something.

So, honestly, I think a Muppet Babies aimed at young children is a fantastic idea; I don't care if it's made for me, because I like the idea that a generation of young children might get introduced to the Muppets at a young age and discover what's so great about them. If the recent TV series and movies are any indication, teenagers don't really relate to the Muppets anymore and my generation is incredibly resistant to any changes in tone, so why not just go for kids who don't have a preconceived idea of the characters?

I don't know, I'm rambling because I'm just anticipating have to read all of that nonsense about who "owns" what pop culture whatever. I fetishize my childhood enjoyments as much as any other Gen-Xer, but it's just so damn exhausting watching my aging generation write about how their identities are under attack.


Roger Owen Green said...

Slightly off topic, but I sort of like Sofia the First. Not as cringeworthy as most of the cartoons the Daughter used to watch.

Autumn said...

It always bothers me when people get so angry over a Jim Henson remake because he was such a person who wanted to bring happiness to others. And all of these remakes have been done by people who really care about what they are doing! Even if it isn't to someone's taste I don't want to hear about how they feel something was stolen from them or that someone is ruining something they care about.

Personally I'm looking forward to having something muppety to share with my own kids, my daughter will be at an age to start enjoying this when it airs and that's something to look forward to watching with her.

SamuraiFrog said...

Roger: I like it, too. I catch it every once in a while and think it's nice.

Autumn: That's nice to hear! I hope you have fun watching it together!

Jim Henson didn't want to do the same thing forever and ever; that's why he ended The Muppet Show when he did, even though it was still very, very popular. He wanted to go on and make other movies and projects. But people only wanted Muppets. Even making The Jim Henson Hour--which featured The Storyteller, one of favorite Henson things ever--was a compromise, because the networks only wanted it if it had Muppets on it. And the Muppet stuff he put on it, which was cutting edge and tech-forward, like all his projects, was pretty widely not liked.

I saw it with Force Awakens and I saw it with Ghostbusters and with Star Trek and I'm just sick of this attitude that someone taking a property you like and making something that's not for you is an act of aggression.

Jason said...

Geez, I hope I'm not the Gen Xer you have in mind.

SamuraiFrog said...

I'm being general, but it's an overall feeling I get from a lot of movie websites, in particular io9. And Reddit. Jesus, Reddit.