How the Muppets Created Generation X

Are you a part of the MTV generation? It could be argued that your worldview was shaped more by the Muppets than music videos. After all, Generation X learned so much from Sesame Street and laughed so much at The Muppet Show that they consider Jim Henson and Frank Oz to be members of the family.

From the ’60s on, Jim Henson’s work would reach nearly every child, whether it was “The Muppet Show,” “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas,” “Fraggle Rock,” “The Storyteller,” the Muppet movies, “John Denver and the Muppets,” “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal,” “The Jim Henson Hour,” or “Muppet Babies.” Unlike Sesame Street, Henson’s later work did not have a “curriculum” created by Harvard psychologists at the Children’s Television Workshop. All the same, each show and movie had purpose.

Henson told his staff that with “Fraggle Rock,” he wanted to make a show that would help “stop war in the world” by teaching conflict resolution. “Muppet Babies” was made to encourage imagination. According to the show’s head writer, “[Henson] wanted children to believe anything is possible. That’s the only thing that’s going to save this planet — the power of imagination.” Though “The Muppet Show” did not have any overt “teaching objectives,” it had the implicit message that all kinds of weirdos and goofballs can work together in peace, give or take a few explosions. Underneath the screwball humor, “The Muppet Show” had a message of brotherhood.

The article goes on to list the values that these shows imparted to children growing up, and the many people who acknowledge the influence the Muppets had on their lives. Read about how Henson’s vision is still evident in his audience, even in middle age, at Salon. -via Metafilter


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