File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 361

Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 01:42:11 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry

It would seem to me that none of these works so far mentioned, including Ask
Blackie, Avenue Q and Apollo's Pad derivetheir appeal from utilizing puppets
per se, but because they reference and pervert memories of the Jim Henson
shows, which
most North Americans of this generations (20s to 30s) grew up with. The
quality of the puppeteering matters not so much, then,
as the sight of creatures from childhood memory acting in grotesquely adult
This, by the way, was done earliest and quite effectively by Peter Jackson
in his greatest film, MEET THE FEEBLES. Everything since is dribble.
It helps me then to think of these skits as not so much sincere attempts at
puppetry or the realisation of character through puppetry (the characters in
Apollo's Pad never even look at each other correctly, for Christ's sake) but
as just a few more pieces of post modern fluff.
It is ironic and unfortunate that Henson, who took great pains to promote
the many masters and obscure arts of puppetry in his lifetime, could not
quite prevent his posthumous fame and influence from obscuring the mass
public's perception of all other forms of puppetry other than his own. See
also how the fame of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS has dominated fantasy since
its publication. Pre-Tolkien fantasy was remarkably rich and varied (see A
NIGHT LAND, THE WORM OUROBOROS etc.); since Tolkien its all, with exceptions
(ie. the works of John Crowley) dwarves and elves.
But I digress.

To end this on a pleasant note, here is an excellent group I met called Les
Sages Fous:


On Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 12:44 PM, <> wrote:

> I think you need to  take a deep breath, have a walk outside to clear your
> mind, then retackle  your good/bad criteria. Why condemn the drivel of ASK
> BLACKIE yet champion  the amateurish barking of LITTLE CREATURES? Turn down
> the sound; it (mostly) all  looks the same. Turn up the sound and they
> (mostly)sound the same.  The  material may be different, but the voices are
> obviously derivative nth  generation Sesame Street.  It appears to me that
> 99% of
> what you champion  seems to fit into the "WHO CAN LOOK AND SOUND THE MOST
> LIKE EACH OTHER"  category. Voices? Amateur Night. Craftsmanship? If inbred
> Muppets is the goal,  Mission Accomplished. Acting and writing? Come on. If
> you were to rub  the sleep from your eyes, could you in the clear light of
> morning compare  ANY of that work to the professional level of the true
> masters
> like  Henson/Sahlin? Or Baird? Or Obratzof? Or even latter day originals
> like Mystery Science Theatre or the Shining Time Station puppets? A deeper
> inquest into the genesis and expansion of puppetry is needed (Otto Kunze or
> Dick  Meyers anyone?)  A scholar like John Bell understands  this.
> I think the puppet  emperors aren't wearing any clothes.  If the word
> "great" can bandied  about without a caveat for a high-school level
> copy-cat
> goblin sculpture, then  what noun is left to describe the truly great?
> I love puppets and  puppetry, but, sadly, they mostly disappoint.  When a
> Broadway show can  hold auditions for Avenue Q and state in bold black and
> white that puppetry  experience is NOT required, then what does that say
> about
> the perception of  skill required for a craft to be called an art?
> ____________________________________
>  From:
> Reply-to:
> To:
> Sent: 4/24/2009 3:51:52 A.M. Eastern Daylight  Time
> Subj: [Puptcrit] The Case Against Bad Puppetry
> I get a lot of submissions for my PuppetVision Blog and  see a lot of what
> I've dubbed "YouTube puppet video cliches", shows or  videos that rely on
> shock value; puppets having sex, swearing and  drinking/doing drugs. I'm
> hardly a prude, but my frustration at seeing  this has built over time and
> ended up coming out in post I've dubbed "The  Case Against Bad Puppetry"  -
> I'd  be curious to hear other people's thoughts on  this.
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