Kurt Edward Larson just published his first book, Finding the Super-Hero Within, which details his journey from a one-time womanizing geek-cliche trying to be an actor into meeting the love of his life and coincidentally realizing his love of writing. At one point in the book, Kurt mentions a stifling irritation involving The Muppets and Disney. He elaborates here, and would like to point out how much he relishes talking in the third person.You can also buy Kurt's Book by CLICKING HERE.
The Muppets are about to hit the big screen this Thanksgiving, and I for one, am excited. Not only are they getting the major motion picture release they deserve, but a heavy advertisement campaign to boot. For once, their cinematic mastery isn't being relegated to C-list status. They're being treated like the innovative characters they are, and Judd Apatow posse member Jason Segel deserves much of the credit, for it was his pitch that got Disney studios onboard.
I like Segel, though to be fair I like all of the Apatow crew. He seems to genuinely love the Muppets, which hopefully only endears even more hardcore and casual fans alike to flock to the movie. Because to me, there is no question The Muppets have been systematically abused and treated like throw aways for far too long, an unfortunate side effect between the tenuous relationship between Disney and Jim Henson Studios.
For me, there is no greater example of the absolute abomination of the disrespect The Muppets are shown than at California Adventure Park in Disneyland. It's pathetically atrocious. For those unaware, allow me to explain...
I love Disneyland. I got engaged there. I don't see it as the Corporate Fake Fantasy that some cynical poseurs often claim it is. I have always felt that anyone that doesn't like Disneyland simply doesn't have a soul. I think it's amazing, even when the beauty of it comes from pranks played on it by geniuses like Banksy. Disneyland is just that good.
So for me to attack Disney takes a lot. But there has been a travesty of injustice taking place over there ever since they opened The Muppets 3D ride several years ago.
For those that haven't been, Disneyland has a Muppets Theater which shows an old-school and slightly humorous Muppets 3D movie all day long as one of their attractions. There are some actual animatronics too, like The Swedish Chef. All in all, it's a very fun way to spend 15 minutes, especially in the pre-show lounge. But upon exiting the ride, you're simply dumped back into the monotonous marketing machine of Disney, with little to no Muppet presence.
To be clear, do you know how when you exit a major ride at any other theme park, you're usually hit with a wave of merchandise featuring characters from said ride? For example, departing Buzz Lightyear's AstoBlasters finds you neck-deep in Toy Story merchandise of all manner. You can even buy a replica of the laser gun you just utilized in battle against Emperor Zurg (I did).
Whoever came up with this concept years ago was brilliant, because you're way more likely to buy worthless crap after having had the time of your life than you would around the aisles of Target, where more practical items exist, such as that relaxation waterfall coffee table thing you just have to have.
But what do you get when you exit The Muppet ride?
A fucking kiosk.
Are you kidding me? No store. No big bonanza of Muppet merchandise. Just a kiosk.
Worse, half of it doesn't even have Muppet-related products! Listen Disney, I don't want a Lilo & Stitch pencil sharpener, I want a full size Sam Eagle! You're sitting on a goldmine and letting it wither away. It makes no sense whatsoever!?
My only logical conclusion, despite whatever legalities exist, is that Disney is scared to death of the Muppets. And quite frankly, they should be. Again, I love Disney, but their stable of characters vs The Muppets? It's not even close.
It's a god damn blood bath. Filled with Mickey Mouse felt remnants.
The Muppets are cute AND witty, something Disney characters lack (I'm not including Pixar characters).
In my opinion, matching up The Muppets one on one in some tournament to the death would leave Disney would little to no chance in getting to the second round. Hell, Disney's best character, Donald Duck, is often relegated behind other characters that can't even touch him. Seriously, I've been to Dinseyland over 50 times. I've seen characters on the street that include Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Cruelle Deville (what's up with that?), Captain Hook, and so many others. Do you know how many times I've seen Donald? ONCE. Are you kidding me?
It's like Disney takes their coolest characters and hides them, for fear everyone will realize that Mickey isn't such a bad ass.
The Muppets would take any other fraternity or stable of characters and crush the, Hanna-Barbera? Please, did you see Yogi Bear in theaters? Looney Tunes? Christ, Six Flags doesn't even feature them, instead opting for a creepy old man that wears a bow tie and dances like teenager? SIDENOTE: That's a column for another day.
Point is, The Muppets reign supreme. They represent the child in all of us, whether you're a nice guy like Kermit or a party animal like, well, Animal.
The Muppets are criminally underutilized by Disney, and it generally pisses me off.
Kermit. Piggy. Animal. Gonzo. Fozzy. Beaker. Rolph the Dawg. Swedish Chef. Sam Eagle. Lew Zealand. And Pepe the Prawn.
A fucking kiosk.
Here's hoping Segel and the movie do well. Maybe then I can have more than three lame t-shirt designs to choose from.
SAM EAGLE FOR LIFE BITCHES.