“My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.”
This post was originally titled “Christmas Nostalgia”, but then I realized that the subject matter I was addressing could not be that narrow. I could not specifically stay on the subject of Christmas or the holidays, not with this.
The quote in this first line is from one of the heroes Brad and I both share, Jim Henson. As much as I’d hate to think that people have never heard of Jim Henson (I cannot refer to him by just one name, he’s too epic), I’m sure in this day and age . . . there are those who probably haven’t. Jim Henson was the master mind and creator behind the Muppets, his company worked on many projects including Star Wars and Alien. He was the driving force behind The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and the many muppet movies that came out. He voiced that lovable green frog, Kermit.
Recently, his company released a youtube video that quickly went viral, The Muppets “Bohemian Rhapsody”
I chose that quote because I know it’s one of Brad’s favorites and it’s certainly one of mine. It’s something that we both hope to accomplish before we have to leave this world.
If anyone wants to get an idea of how Brad is inspired, this is the place to look.
In case anyone is curious, this was the article that I was having so much trouble writing because I do get emotional about this subject.
Jim Henson passed away in 1990 at the age of 53. I was five, Brad was four, we were exposed to Jim Henson’s magic mostly through our parents. My parents were big Jim Henson fans and loved his movies, my mom to this day says her favorite version of “A Christmas Carol” is the one that was released by the Jim Henson company. This movie was released prior to Jim Henson’s passing, and Brad calls it Brian Henson’s (Jim Henson’s son) ultimate love letter to his father. It was a massive part of my childhood, Brad’s too. That was why this was to fall under Christmas Nostalgia, but there is just too much to tell.
“A Muppet’s Family Christmas” is one of Brad’s favorite Christmas shows. It features all of Jim Henson’s main muppets and numerous Christmas songs, it is truly a family classic. Brad knows that when he puts this movie one that he’s going to have to put out tissues, at the very end there is a surprise appearance by Jim Henson, I always start crying when he appears on screen. I’m actually crying now just thinking about it . . .
Jim Henson was well known for his passion and his gentle soul. It comes through in so many of his recorded appearances, and his genius comes through completely in his work. Jim Henson is probably the closest thing I can think of to what Brad and I want to be to the world. He was no imitator, and he worked hard to create his own foundation. Even if you can’t understand his work you can truly appreciate it.
If you want a background look into how Brad’s mind works, go back and watch some of the muppet show segments on youtube. Those are the things that inspire him. It was people like Jim Henson who broke the mold when they came into this world. They knew what they wanted and they strived for it.
Jim Henson managed to open up worlds to all kinds of people, he appealed to many different ages, and many different cultures.
While I cannot speak for the way Brad feels about anything Jim Henson, I know we are on similar planes when it comes to this so I think it’s okay to speak freely from the heart.
Many people have tried to accomplish what Jim Henson has, many have failed because they miss what was underneath it all. Jim Henson was not trying to gain fame, he was a puppeteer with a vision that managed to expand further then he could dream. Brian Henson said one of his father’s favorite things was to see an idea of his go through a process and come through the other end as something completely different. He wasn’t so obsessed with his vision that he prevented it from being bettered, Jim Henson never had an agenda, his work didn’t reflect him as much as his reflect his soul. When I see pictures of kermit being puppeted by Jim Henson, I do not see Kermit as something being puppeted, I saw him as an extension of Jim Henson. Jim Henson was less of a person to me and more of a figure. I have seen people burst into tears at meeting Miley Cyrus or Brad Pitt. I can imagine seeing someone who is famous and being surprised because they always look different in person then they do on screen, but I could never imagine bursting into tears.
I was thinking about this tonight, because apparently this is something that I think about, but I realized that if I ever met any of Jim Henson’s children or his ex-wife, I would cry. I would cry because it would be the only way to express just how much Jim Henson touched me. Despite the way the industry is now, I can still look back on those muppets and remember that Jim Henson broke through with an idea so completely random and unexpected, and made some of the most beloved creatures of all time. He was an absolute genius. He exposed people and hollywood to something I’m sure they never thought they’d encounter. He was a pioneer.
Jim Henson is a person that gives me hope. His work was so magnificent that it has managed to go on past him. There are people that fell so in love with him and his work that they insist that it continue. How rare is it that you see someone’s child so willing to take on their parents’ work? The man who took on Kermit after Jim’s passing, Steve Whitmire, said that when he was given Kermit to work with he ended up putting the puppet’s box in his closet and just not looking at it. I encourage anyone to look up the Henson puppeteers on youtube talking about Jim Henson. No one can say it better then them.
There is a Jim Henson exhibition that goes around the United States, it’s three and a half hours away from our home but Brad and I are determined to make the trip. I know I’ll cry, it’s inevitable, I miss Jim Henson.
I don’t believe that Jim Henson is on the same level as John Lennon or Michael Jackson, I become insulted when it’s even suggested. Jim Henson was someone who simply wanted to tell a story, not necessarily his story, but a story. He wanted to touch lives, he wanted to inspire children. Nowadays it seems like everyone just wants to make a quick buck without thinking of how this could potentially be hurting younger generations. I mean, come on, I would much rather be the next Jim Henson then the next Hannah Montana . . . ugh.
What’s possibly even more upsetting is that Jim Henson didn’t have to die so young. He died of something that was, at least from what I know, completely survivable. I’m not sure why the greats always have to die so young. I can only hope that somehow those that loved Jim Henson and his work can help it to live on so Brad and I have something to show our children. We find ourselves scrambling to get copies of all of our childhood videos because we see so much of what helped form us just falling apart.
While this breaks my heart, I hold out hope that someone else will break through this era of CGI and half-hearted animation to give this world something. To give the younger generation besides the Jonas Brothers and CGI Winnie the Pooh (yuck).
So many thanks go to Jim Henson and his partners, they have helped to give Brad and me vision. To know that striving for something that seems unconventional is not a waste of time.
I can safely say that if Jim Henson had never lived, Brad and I would not be who we are and would not be where we are.
So thank you, Jim Henson, you left us too soon, but you made our world more then a bit better.
‘When we laughed’ – Dave Goelz and Gonzo