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|Written by||Jennifer Garlen and Anissa M. Graham, eds|
|Published||May 21, 2009|
Kermit Culture, subtitled Critical Perspectives on Jim Henson's Muppets, is a 224-page academic anthology examining Jim Henson's Muppets, and primarily The Muppet Show family of characters, from different perspectives and critical approaches. The book follows various other anthologies focusing on pop culture, such as Reading the Rabbit and multiple Buffy texts. However, Kermit Culture marks the first sizable representation of "Muppet Studies" outside of fandom.
The individual essays, contributed by more than a dozen different authors, are grouped into three larger sections. "Audience Participation" contains essays which look at the role of the audience (and critics such as Statler and Waldorf) within the Muppet world, as well as how audiences react to or are reflected in the puppet characters. "Adaptation and Performance" looks at aspects of puppetry, the Muppets as actors (particularly in The Muppet Christmas Carol and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz), William Shakespeare, and Gonzo as performance artiste. The final section, "Theories and Strategies," focuses on ways of interpreting and critiquing the Muppets, venturing into such realms as gender studies (via Miss Piggy), national identity (and in particular the British influence and financial backing), and economics, to name a few.
"By the end of its five-year run on television, The Muppet Show had transformed its motley cast of characters from mere fistfuls of felt to true multi-media celebrities. Sophisticated and highly individuated, each of the Muppets nonetheless embodied a conventional character type from classic television comedy. Kermit, the manager of the show, functioned as straight man to the majority of the show’s jokes. Miss Piggy, the resident diva, evolved from first season chorus girl to full-fledged megastar. The Costello to Kermit’s Abbott, Fozzie peddled his vaudevillian shtick to a tough audience, but his genuine sweetness made him lovable even when his jokes were terrible. Intended for both scholarly and general audiences, these essays represent the work and ideas of a global community of scholars and Muppet enthusiasts, providing a unique perspective on just how Kermit and the rest of the frogs, dogs, bears, and chickens became cultural icons with influences reaching far beyond the world of 1970s television comedy."
Table of Contents
- One: Audience Participation
- “How to Become a Muppet; or, The Great Muppet Paper” - Ben Underwood
- “The Muppets as Metaphor for the Self” - Gideon Haberkorn
- “Stuffed Suits and Hog-Wild Desire” - Lynne Schneider
- “The Muppet Show Re-Forms the Fringe” - Anissa M. Graham
- Two: Adaptation and Performance
- “From Muppetry to Puppetry” - Jennifer Stoessner
- “The Muppets and Shakespeare” - Hugh Davis
- “'Starring Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit:' Muppets as Actors” - Ginger Stelle
- “A Rainbow for the 21st Century: The Muppet Wizard of Oz and the Reimagination of the American Myth” - Alissa Burger
- “Gonzo, (the Great) Cultural Critic” - Jennifer C. Garlen
- Three: Theories and Strategies
- "The American Journey Narrative in The Muppet Movies” - Tara K. Parmiter
- “It's Time to Get Together for Some Sex and Violence on The Muppet Show?” - Kathleen Kennedy
- “‘British to a Fang, British to a Whisker’: Reconsidering The Muppet Show’s National Identity” - Rayna Denison
- "The Muppet Show as Educational Critique” - Julie G. Maudlin
- “The Uniquely Strong but Feminine Miss Piggy” - Maryanne Fisher and Anthony Cox
- “Muppets and Money” - Andrew Leal