Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here! And I am dead.
I'm dead in every way that something can possibly be dead. As you stare into my blank, fixed eyes behind the museum glass it hits you that I am a lifeless bit of fabric and plastic, and you're only perceiving my "face" through a trick in your mind - the same kind of process that makes people see Jesus in tortillas and water stains.
But I was alive, in a way, once. I was a fictional character who lived in the brain of Jim Henson, and in your brain too, when you were a kid. I had Jim's voice, and Jim's words, and when you turned off the television, some of you probably invented stories for me too, right? Down in some warm, dark, vulnerable spot in your mind I am still waiting for you, tangled in a heap of memories: hot cocoa and bowls of popcorn and sitting cross-legged in your pajamas just after bath and just before bed. I might have stayed there forever, and you could have visited any time you wanted, no matter how old you got.
But Jim died and Disney acquired the rights, and now there's a new movie. You see it with your own kids, thinking that maybe you'll be able to relive this experience of me. But it doesn't work, does it? It's too slick, too well-put together. Something about the hip band, and the high production values, and the clever in-jokes about all the old movies. Like someone in some computer lab invented the perfect Muppet movie algorithm, and they programmed it into a machine, and now it runs perfectly, and they could just crank out three more, re-release them every couple of years to grab the next generation, because that's what Disney does.
They brought me back from the grave, and I am different.
I've been infected with the zombie virus of synergy. Seeing me dance around on spindly green legs is subtly horrifying. Because I am a smiling green memento mori. You're old and out of touch. Your kids laugh, but they laugh for their own reasons. Those people at the Big Mouse reached down into your head, and they switched me with someone else, and now the new me is free to crawl around in here and rearrange the furniture. Which is, of course, the point. Because they've already done it across our culture, to our fairy tales and folk legends and historical heroes. They've carved through all that collective mental space, colonizing it completely and irrevocably: Sleeping Beauty, the Big Bad Wolf, Pocahontas, the lovers, the dreamers, and me. Gone. Changed forever. They own that private part of your mind. Of all your minds. What the fuck are they going to do with all of it?
I'll never tell.
I'm just going to sit here, tucked behind your memories, and wait.
(Photo of Kermit The Frog in the Smithsonian Museum by Brian Sharp; Creative Commons license information here.)
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