It's been pretty well documented that I am obsessed with the Muppets and Jim Henson in general. It's not just because he created some of the most beloved creations on the planet, but he seemed like someone who sincerely cared about his audience. And I don't mean that in the sense that he cared if they liked his products, I mean he seemed like he absolutely wanted to make sure they were all happy and would do anything to make sure that they STAYED happy.
Muppets will always be a HUGE effect on my childhood. Disney will never really have that title. While I've seen almost every Disney Cartoon none of them were "life changing". I love A Goofy Movie and Emperor's New Groove. I used to watch Oliver & Company and Fox & the Hound constantly as a kid; Shit when I was a child I loved The Jungle Book so much I called my dad Papa Bear. But Disney never invoked an emotional reaction from me, at least not during my childhood. My point is this... Jim Henson didn't either. *GASP*
The films of Jim Henson didn't touch me until I was much older. I think this says a lot about the writing style of those movies. The Muppet Movie and Muppets Takes Manhattan mean more to me at 25 than they did at 6 or 7. As a struggling filmmaker in his mid-20s I can relate to Kermit's struggles in those films. Juggling friendship and following your dreams. There's a moment in the Muppet Movie that is in my opinion one of the greatest and most inspirational moments in cinema. At this point in the film it's looking like our heroes will NEVER make it to Hollywood and follow their dreams. Gonzo sings the song "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" (an extremely underrated song from the world of cinema containing one of the most truthful lyrics ever ("There's Not a Word Yet/For Old Friends who've just Met" if you've never experienced meeting someone for the first time and feeling like you've known them your entire life than this lyric means NOTHING to you)). Kermit walks off to be with himself for a minute. It's symbolically shown as Kermit having a conversation with himself (aka a second Kermit Puppet). I wasn't able to find a video clip on youtube so I'll just post a dialogue.
Kermit: I didn't promise anybody anything. What do I know about Hollywood, anyway? Just a dream I got from sitting through too many double features.
Kermit's Conscience: So why did you leave the swamp in the first place?
Kermit: 'Cause some agent fella said I had talent. He probably says that to everybody.
Kermit's Conscience: On the other hand, if you hadn't left the swamp, you'd be feeling pretty miserable anyhow.
Kermit: Yeah. But then it would just be me feeling miserable. Now I got a lady pig, and a bear and a chicken, a dog, a thing, whatever Gonzo is. He's a little like a turkey.
Kermit's Conscience: Mmm - Yeah. A little like a turkey, but not much.
Kermit: No I guess not. Anyhow, I brought them all out here to the middle of nowhere, and it's all my fault.
Kermit's Conscience: Still, whether you promised them something or not, you gotta remember - they wanted to come.
Kermit: But... that's because they believed in me.
Kermit's Conscience: No, they believed in the dream.
Kermit: Well, so do I but...
Kermit's Conscience: You do?
Kermit: Yeah! Of course I do.
Kermit's Conscience: Well then?
Kermit: Well then... I guess I was wrong when I said I never promised anyone. I promised me.
Now all this Henson Love aside, who was the artist that struck my emotional chord as a child? Former Disney Animator Don Bluth. Today I found myself listening to the song Dreams to Dreams from An American Tail: Fivel Goes West and remembering how much Don Bluth depressed me, in the best possible ways. The first movie I ever saw in theaters was All Dogs Go to Heaven, as a child I watched Rock-A-Doodle on a mostly daily basis, and the first two American Tail films are heart-wretching. I knew this even as a child. Bluth was much like Henson, he NEVER spoke down to his audience. The only difference is that Henson was writing stories that would go over the young audience members heads. We watched and we learned our lessons about believing in ourselves and loving our friends and everyone around us, but most of us didn't see the BIGGER PICTURE until we were older. Don Bluth however presented us dangers and fears that we deal with at extremely young ages. Death, Never Seeing Our Family Again, Never Seeing our Friends Again. Those thing scared me just as much at 5 as it does now. That being said, Jim Henson and Don Bluth's movies also provided better soundtracks. Muppets Take Manhattan provided us with "Saying Goodbye" one of the most depressing songs ever written, only made sadder when sung by a bunch of Muppets.
When I think of Jim Henson, Don Bluth and (even though he's not my all time favorite) Walt Disney, i feel like the following quote from The Muppet Movie sums all three up quite well.
Kermit: I've got a dream too. But it's about singing and dancing and making people happy. That's the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And, well, I've found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And, well, it kind of makes us like a family.
If you have a dream and you're reading this; you should apply this philosophy into your day to day life. The best dreams are the one's that get better when you share them with more people. I'm a writer for the website Geekscape, it's also the site that hosts my podcasts. While I'm a writer, I'd never call it a job, because I consider everyone there a close enough friend that they're practically family. We all have different dreams and goals... but we share those dreams with each other and try to achieve them. It makes everything better, even a failure doesn't feel so bad when you're surrounded by friends. So somewhere out there, over the rainbow connection you'll find an old friend you just met and maybe, just maybe it'll completely change your life.