When you talk about “purity of character” as Frank Oz, one of the most well-known and well-respected individuals in show business likes to do, you get the sense of what a character is really supposed to be like, what their most visceral form is, and what it means to present them in any other way. In terms of The Muppets, a show that Oz had a great deal to do with in his heyday, he’s kind of lost the love for it that he once had. Or to be more precise, he’s not happy about the direction that the characters have been taken in once they were rebooted. A lot of us likely remember the Muppets from when we were younger and likely think that they were for kids, which in fact they were made to be despite what Oz might tell you. Oz would gladly tell you that he’s not a child performer and that he’s not someone that thought about children when helping to make the shows that he was a part of. The idea that the characters appealed to kids was great and of course many people would argue until they’re blue in the face since it was rolled out as a kids’ show.
But to Oz the reboots have robbed the Muppets of the purity they once had. He still loves the idea of the Muppets, but it would seem that the current incarnation of them is something that absolutely turns his stomach. It’s hard to really understand, from his point of view, how it feels for characters that he helped to make famous have been taken and how their purpose has been driven in a different direction than he initially thought of. For instance, Fozzie apparently now has a girlfriend and drinks wine, which is a huge deviation from the character that a lot of us can recall from our childhood. It would almost seem as though the Muppets have attempted to grow up with the people they entertained back in the day
The idea of purity is what Oz is really concerned about and it’s what Disney, in his opinion, is so good at breaking down since if you try the argument is hard to refute. Many people might scoff at the idea of purity in show business when it comes down to what works and what’s more efficient, but at the same time they might notice the lack of purity when it comes to be given content that’s really little more than drivel that’s stamped on a cookie cutter and fed to the masses without cease as they gobble it up again and again without cease. In other words, without purity we have the same system that pumps out the same things we see over and over as the pattern continues. In the case of the Muppets however there is something to be said about the purity of the show that seems to make sense considering that, despite Oz’s views, it was something that kids looked forward to and something that they were willing to sit through because it was highly entertaining and despite a few inside and adult jokes every once in a blue moon or so, the show was something that they could fully enjoy.
The route it went after its initial run became something that was far more commercial and less artistic since if you’ll remember the movies and the animated show Muppet Babies, which has been brought back on the Disney Channel, the whole Muppets franchise has become something that’s almost an entirely different entity that it used to be. Unfortunately many people, like Oz, see this as a kind of affront to the overall veracity of the show that was initially created and touted out to the audience for a reaction. One could make the argument for purity in many cases since there is precious little of these days in any corner of show business as expedience and quantity has at times eroded the idea of quality and therefore has impugned upon the subsequent idea of purity. In that sense, it becomes hard to say that anything these days is really genuine when it comes to show business. It might sound cynical, but show business is often catered to what the people want at this time, and unfortunately people don’t always want variety, they want something that’s going to rest firmly in their comfort zone.
See where this going? The Muppets have been subjected to a reboot that is no longer about purity, but has instead included the idea of the modern comfort zone and taken what was once a pure and genuine creation and made it into something that people in this day and age can relate to, not something that was at one time a truly pure idea.