File spoon-archives/puptcrit.archive/puptcrit_2003/puptcrit.0302, message 111


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 09:05:55 -0500
Subject: Re: PUPT: Mister Rogers



- "Sure his crude puppetry didn't influence me or anyone else perhaps."

- "Crude: not refined; lacking grace, taste, tact, or polish; 
rude."  Merriam Webster Dictionary

One the one hand, I think "crude" might not be the most apt adjective to 
describe Fred Rogers' puppet work.  As Mary Robinette points out, Rogers' 
straightforward puppetry is entirely within the mainstream traditions of 
handpuppet theater throughout the world.  Specifically, this work does not 
rely on moving mouths, and does not go after intricate, "realistic" 
gestures.  To say this is "crude" tends to disparage that tradition.  Is 
the better alternative articulated mouths, brighter colors, rod-operated 
arms, flashy graphics, jaunty music, and hip irony, i.e., mainstream 
American television puppetry?  Can we consider the possibility that "crude" 
puppet theater might achieve some effects that flashy puppetry can't?

On the other hand, hurrah for "crude" puppetry!  Sometimes (now, perhaps?) 
it's necessary to speak right out, and tell the truth about the 
world.  Hurrah! for crude puppetry's directness, bluntness, its unabashed 
articulation of sentiment and story.  Hurrah! for the "crude" puppetry of 
Bernice Silver, Karagoz, Wayang Kulit, Punch, Kasperl, French Guignol, 
Petruschka, Tolu Bommalatta, Sicilian puppet theater, Mexican handpuppet 
theater, Vietnamese water puppets, Bamana rod puppets, Mamulengo, Dada 
puppet theater, and hurrah for every single crude puppet around the world 
now currently trying to stop the insanity of war so artfully sold to us on 
television!  "Crude" puppets can talk about the truth, can make fun of 
governments, can communicate complicated ideas and reach us directly, 
immediately!  Thank god for this, and thanks to Fred Rogers.



john bell

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