File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 418

Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 16:16:01 EDT
Subject: [Puptcrit] Fwd:  Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry

Not necessarily, B. Shur,
If the lowest is accepted as good, then the bar is lowered to accept that  
standard as being good. In the 70's no self-respecting animator could  
believe the pile of dung being produced by FILMATION Studios (the Archies.) But  
as soon as that level became "OK" the quality deteriorated even further.  
And animation suffered for years to come (until Ren & Stimpy redefined the  
As far as New Media goes, George Lucas single handedly invented the  term. 
He RAISED the bar with Star Wars. Then all the Battlestar Galacticas  
(original series) et al that followed in his wake had access to the same tools,  
but not his imagination.
Go back further. 
Can you believe that the Bullwinkle Show debuted opposite the Wonderful  
World Of Disney? Jay Ward knew he couldn't compete with Disney's budget, so he 
 created his own style of storytelling and - - this is important for all 
the  Muppet-clones ad nauseam out there to understand -- and you KNOW who you 
are! -  - he devised his own set of characters that LOOKED and SOUNDED like 
none before  him. Imagination and wit prevailed, not fiddling about in 
mastabatory exercises  that exorcise your childhood memories all the while 
waiting for the medium to  mature. Make it mature! 
This dedication to originality: creative characters of quality  
craftsmanship, compelling narratives with "classy" voices married  with skilled acting 
- - is absent from 99% of the YouTube Puppet  Output.  
As far as getting paid being the defining factor for  professionalism, 
would that make Vincent Van Gogh  just a  dedicated amateur?
Sent: 4/26/2009 3:21:35 P.M. Eastern Daylight  Time
Subj: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry

Here's the TL;DR version,
New media never  produce genius work right off, and you very rarely see 
great, polished,  professional work until there is at least the possibility of 
the artist  making a living creating it. That's what the word professional 
means. Watch  the dedicated amateurs in a new medium, and the best of them 
will become the  professionals as the medium matures.

B. Shur

>  From:
> To:
> Date:  Sun, 26 Apr 2009 14:59:01 -0400
> Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The  Case Against Bad Puppetry
> I'm not sure if "Bad  puppetry" is the phrase you're looking for here.
> I feel really the  same way about most of this Muppets behaving badly 
stuff, but, especially  for work on the web I think what you're talking about 
isn't as much quality  as promise, or at least interesting intent.
> I've watched  "Ask Blackie" and there's really nowhere for it to go, it's 
doing a bad job  at what it's trying to be, but even if the execution were 
perfect I don't  feel it would add much to the world.
> For other stuff, like  Jigsaw or Little's creatures, the execution is 
rough in ways, but the intent  is there. If they continue to polish their work, 
it could become interesting  to watch (even if still very muppets 
> I've been  very involved in webcomics for a while now, and there's a 
similar dynamic.  The absolute best comics online are still not as good as the 
best print  material out there. There is no equivalent of Maus, or The Maxx. 
Both  web-based puppetry, and web based comics are comparatively new media, 
and  before work reaches the levels of the best of old media, people need 
time to  explore. They also need a revenue model that works. I can't think of 
much  that is truly great in puppetry or comics that was produced without at 
least  a way to pay for production costs. Online comics are really just 
getting to  the point where a couple dozen people are making a living, and the 
quality  is improving immensely. Online puppetry still doesn't have a strong 
business  model. There were a couple comedy media sites, like Superdeluxe, 
and  MyDamnchannel that tried to create a market for short format web video, 
but  they've collapsed with the economy.
> So in my mind, it would  be wonderful if there was online puppetry that 
was a brilliant as Henson, or  Obratsov or Blair Thomas. But realistically, 
that's not going to happen for  a while. Not until there's money in it, in my 
>  Again, looking at webcomics, here's the technically ugly work of a 
dedicated  amatuer. 
> Here's what they developed into after more than a decade of  work
>  The story repeats itself again and again in online comics. Artists with  
weaker technical skills, but positive ambition create work worth looking at 
 after a few years working in the medium, and as importantly, when  
opportunities for the work to become profitable open up. The same thing can  be 
said of blogs, even though it's more similar to print formats than online  
puppetry or comics are to their predecessors. The earliest blogs were not  
impressive compared to newspaper or magazine writing.
>  There's no reason to dismiss a sub-medium in it's infancy just because 
it  hasn't reached the heights of it's predecessor. If it follows similar 
media  at all, the stuff to watch is the stuff with room to grow, the stuff 
with  promise. Give it a few years and a little money and that's where it gets  
really interesting.
> B. Shur
> > Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 10:52:03 -0400
> >  To:
> > From:
>  > Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry
> >  
> > I have to agree with you about Meet the Feebles; Peter Jackson  did do 
> > it first and best. Another project that I like is Fur  TV, an MTV 
> > project which is probably not to everyone's taste,  but is performed 
> > by some of the better TV puppeteers in the  UK.
> > 
> > I also have to agree that many (most) of  these shows do derive their 
> > appeal from basically being  "Muppets behaving badly". I'm trying to 
> > think of an online  puppet show that does derive it's appeal from 
> > being  puppetry...I think the Rag Show - 
> >  <> - is somewhat  
> > unique in that it wouldn't quite work if you did it any other  medium.
> > 
> > Some of these shows also benefit from  their premise being amusing, 
> > rather than the quality of the  puppetry. "Duffy and the Crab" is a 
> > new show on YouTube about  a giant crab that lives with actor Patrick 
> > Duffy (of Dallas  fame) - 
> >  
>  > 
> > I also enjoy seeing shows that are perhaps not terribly  polished on a 
> > technical level, but have creators that are  creative and 
> > experimenting with new things. Jigsaw - 
>  > <> - is  one 
> > of those. I also like a lot of the things that Brian Hogg  - 
> > <> -  is trying to do 
> > in the puppet podcasting space.
> >  
> > - Andrew
> > 
> > 
> > On Sat, Apr  25, 2009 at 12:00 PM, 
> >  <<>>  
> > wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > Date: Sat, 25  Apr 2009 01:42:11 -0400
> > From: Alexander Winfield  
>  > Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Fwd: The Case Against Bad Puppetry
> >  To: <>
> >  Message-ID:
> >  
> >   
>  > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> > 
> >  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 
> > per se, but because they reference and  pervert memories of the Jim 
> > shows, which
> >  most North Americans of this generations (20s to 30s) grew up with.  
> > quality of the puppeteering matters not so much,  then,
> > as the sight of creatures from childhood memory acting in  grotesquely 
> > fashions.
> > This, by the way, was  done earliest and quite effectively by Peter 
> > 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 
> > the many masters and obscure  arts of puppetry in his lifetime, could 
> > quite prevent his  posthumous fame and influence from obscuring the mass
> > public's  perception of all other forms of puppetry other than his own. 
>  > also how the fame of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS has dominated fantasy 
> > its publication. Pre-Tolkien fantasy was remarkably rich  and varied 
(see A
> > NIGHT LAND, THE WORM OUROBOROS  etc.); since Tolkien its all, with 
> > (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:
> > 
> >  
>  > 
> > -Alexander
> > 
> >  _______________________________________________
> > List address:
> > Admin interface:
> > Archives:
>  _________________________________________________________________
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