Monday, July 23, 2012

Dead Puppets Society

  When did the puppeteers give up?  Does anyone remember the '80s when puppets were in just about everything from The Muppets to Child's Play and everything in between?  I think somehow along the way we lost that magic.  On every TV screen in the late '70s to '80s, puppets were everywhere.

 We had Alf and Madame on freakin' prime time TV, and we only had 3 channels back-then (well, a few more if you can remember UHF channels and the mind-evolving albeit alienating PBS).  Puppets had invaded every aspect of our lives, from Cabbage Patch dolls by Coleco (didn't save them from the video-game crash of 1983, caused by Atari suing Odyssey2 for KC Muchkin seeming too much like [and better than] Pac Man).  Everywhere, our beloved puppets.  In movies, we had Yoda from Empire Strikes Back and it was plausible and accepted by the entire world.

  Indeed, there was a huge amount of puppets in our lives.  I even myself embraced the concept with a few rather furry sock-puppets with googley eyes that got me through a few school presentation assignments! 

  Where are they now?  What shows have puppets?  Last show I can remember is Farscape that featured any sort of puppeteering.  Comedy has a few losers in the realm of vulgarity, to include Crank Yankers (now canceled), extreme-racist Jeff Dunham, and vulgarmaster Otto and George.  There's only a few of those evil puppets now, playing satire on race and on our own minds from our past.  It's sad, really. 

  Instead, we have (still) variations on Reality TV, so much in-fact there's an actual channel on it called TruTV on DirecTV now.  Kids, it's all scripted.  Even the talent-shows are scripted.  Everything on TV is freakin' scripted, kids!  Even sports to some degree, if enough money is involved, and there usually is.  You think MMA is all impromptu, not to take the fall at time X for big bucks?  I don't take MMA seriously in the same way I don't take WWE seriously because there are no blocks.  Martial Arts is 99% blocks.  Judo is all blocks.  A true Judo Grand Master would almost never be touched.  Ninjitsu is all-about evading combat altogether.   Most of all sports is pretty fake, depending on where the money sits, especially NFL and NBA.  Still, I guess it's entertaining for some who like to pretend.  I do.  I watch sci-fi, and I miss puppets!  E.T. anyone?

  So somewhere along the line, we gave 'em up, those puppets.  Why?  I don't know.  Ratings didn't line-up?  Alf was doing pretty well for several years.  1990 killed it all off.  There was a strong need for change, and the family shows were eliminated for something new, something un-fresh and rancid.  Gone were the shows like Punky Brewster and Happy Days for Ally McBeal and JAG.  Serious court-based shows.  No more kiddin' around now.  ER and Chicago Hope were (nearly) entirely devoid of puppets.  It's as if puppets weren't allowed to exist after 1990 except for a few horror-puppet sequels to collect the dough such as Seed of Chucky or Puppet Master 3.  All went digital after that.  Even George Lucas who loved Jim Henson's and Frank Oz's masterworks turned his back on it for some reason.

  Recently a Muppets movie by Brian Henson (Jim's son) came out that did remarkably well at 4x it's budget in takes, and a Fraggle Rock movie is in the works for next year.  Maybe there's hope, but I'm sad for the last 20 years, the Y Generation, and the current Generation Z which is almost completely soul-less, completely connected and yet so disconnected with themselves, with no style (except their iPhone and earbuds), no good music (Gen Z is trying at least, Gen Y has nothing but a little neo-punk), and both, sadly, have no Saturday Morning cartoons and .. no puppets.  I mean, has there been any good music in the last 20 years?  Earth shattering since 1993?  A few mild hits at-best.  Nothing memorable except older bands from the '70s and '80s continuing-on.  A few pop one-hit wonders.  I blame the lack of puppets!

  In the '80s, if you didn't know something, you'd go to sleep that night with a sense of wonder, not knowing, until you went to a physical library and looked it up, or asked a wise sage like Doc Brown (great Scott!).  Now, you click a button and get your answer and go back to chewing your cud.  You don't need to go on a quest and ask a puppet anything.  Lazy and empty.

  Maybe we can take XNA (Xeno Nucleic Acid) and create a race of puppets, who play sports that aren't faked.  BRING BACK THE PUPPETS, AMERICA!

No comments:

Post a Comment