Guys, Relax, Denise The Pig Is Not A Homewrecker, She’s A Puppet And Not Everything Is A Feminist Issue
Yesterday, People released an exclusive about Kermit the Frog’s new girlfriend. Kermit the Frog is a puppet, a Muppet to be more specific. His new girlfriend is also a puppet. Her name is Denise. She is a stuffed pig wearing a shiny auburn wig and a frozen come-hither expression. That is her only look, because she is a puppet. She works in marketing, and she has swooped in to fill the pig-shaped void in Kermit the Frog’s life. She is nothing more than a very clever marketing ploy designed to drum up attention around the new Muppets television show, coming to ABC later this fall.
Many media outlets, including this one, reported on this exclusive about Kermit’s sidepiece turned main course with the breathless attention devoted to real-life celebrity gossip, gossip that is about real human beings and not beloved childhood institutions that are really just lifeless felt bodies controlled by the hands of literal puppeteers wearing black, crouching under a table.
Twitter reacted to this news with varying degrees of seriousness:
kermit’s new girlfriend is basically miss piggy after a trip to DR for surgery pic.twitter.com/P2MCgzb1BN
— Desus Nice (@desusnice) September 1, 2015
This is fun. This is fine! This is the appropriate reaction to what is at first blush, a joke, and at second, a marketing ploy designed to get you to pay attention to a new TV show. This is precisely how the executives wanted this to go. Picture them sitting behind their desks, chomping on cigars, pouring scotch into heavy tumblers, slapping each other heartily on the back. “We’ve done it this time, Kev,” says the one with the mustache, as they head off to the country club for some tennis.
We’re all in on the joke, here. We all know these are puppets. Denise the Pig is a puppet. Kermit the Frog is a puppet. Miss Piggy is a puppet. They’re made of felt, they’re not alive. They don’t have feelings. They are characters created by a man named Jim Henson. If you’re reading this and nodding your head, then you understand. This is all in jest. But, because we live in a culture where sensitivities run high and hot and fast, there was going to be at least one person who took their investment in this story too far.
Consider the Guardian, taking on the implications of Kermit’s “choice” to upgrade to a new, shinier model:
It’s now clear that he was also always colluding with the producers and directors to make sure that Miss Piggy looked like a violent, egotistical harridan and he was seen as the sensitive, Rainbow-Connection-bleating ex-hippie who gracefully put up with both her personality and living in her shadow.
Really? It’s a fucking puppet. What else you got?
Well, apparently Kermit can’t get enough of women like his ex – as long as they’re younger and thinner than her and less successful than him (but still work at ABC, so he can rub her in Miss Piggy’s face).
Guys. It’s a puppet. Yes, the narrative of Miss Piggy and Kermit’s love affair always painted Piggy as thirsty without a modicum of chill. Yes, Kermit reaped some of the glory while Piggy was clearly the talent. That’s lam, but it’s a narrative that’s as old as the hills, and since the Muppets were conceived in a time and age that was very, very different than how we live now, it makes sense. But conflating Kermit’s fictional relationship with a couple of fabric snouts with Ben Affleck “trading up” to date the Nanny is taking what started off as a joke — a joke! a marketing strategy! — too far for my taste.
Miss Piggy is definitely a “feminist icon,” but really, she’s also a felt puppet run by a man with a hand up her ass in order to control the very snout that spews such feminist ideals. Icons come in every shape, size and color, but taking this cleverly executed marketing ploy to the next step and making it about feminism feels unnecessarily ridiculous.
Everyone, please relax. The Muppets are fake. They are puppets. Denise is a dangling carrot to get you to pay attention to network television. She is not a homewrecker; there is no home to wreck. There are lots and lots of other things that are actual feminist issues — who Kermit the Frog is “dating” isn’t one of them.