Politicians Leave Puppets Aloneby Tyler Woods on Oct. 23, 2012, under Life
I am unsure about you, but I so dislike election time. Our streets are littered with signs, our phones are ringing off the hook with annoying unsolicited phone calls, and TV is nothing but a bunch of bashing. I listen to lot of Pandora and internet radio when it is election time and try to avoid the negative lifestyle elections try to promote. Politicians, leave puppets alone! I have to draw the line when they bring in Big Bird and it got me thinking…
Though Big Bird is a good example of American politics as puppets are objects manipulated by someone, there is a real history behind puppets. I have read that puppetry had its birthplace in India, and thousands of years ago probably even BC. Some will argue and say it all started in China. Perhaps it started in both places and we were just not aware of it. I really do not care to be stuck in the semantics of where it all began, what we know is it began and from that, a new form of entertainment began.
Puppets have been used for many reasons. They could act out parts that humans might not have ever acted out back in “the day”. Others say puppets were created to act out an extension of one’s self. What we do know is that puppets have been used by storytellers to help tell a story. They have been used to communicate sacred text and they certainly have been used to express oneself. What we also know is these “objects” can come to life with the help of a human and make it big in entertainment.
Many things come to my mind when I think of puppets. Yes of course Sesame Street and Jim Henson of course, and Punch & Judy who were rather sexist puppets as scenes were performed by a puppeteer on a portable stage and Punch, who dressed in jester’s clothing, would berate Judy beat her over the head with a stick. Imagine people liking this, but they did, in fact, people sucked up the puppet show.
Before television, Charlie McCarthy was the best-known person on radio who used a puppet which we call a wooden dummy and did Ventriloquism, which was when a person could “throw” their voice and send it to the “dummy”. I remember as a kid my sister got a Ventriloquist doll and I was so afraid of it because I swore its eyes followed me everywhere. I have to admit, I did not like it, and I don’t think she did either because it ended up at the top of her closet.
In 1947, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie was a children’s show that first hit the airwaves. Puppets now were TV stars as this show became a hit with her clever cast of characters. The Howdy Doody Show, hosted by “Buffalo Bob” another children’s hit show that aired from 1947 through 1960. Puppets were taking over the airwaves and soon Danny O’Day puppets appeared on TV doing TV commercials like Nestle’s Quik.
Many of us remember Lamb Chop who was a sock puppet sheep. This little sock was the master mind of comedian and ventriloquist Shari Lewis in 1957. During the 1960s, Lamb Chop appeared on Lewis’s musical-comedy television show. In 1992, Lewis created Lamb Chop’s Play-Along, a children’s show for PBS that won five Emmy Awards.
Of course, nothing changed puppets like Jim Henson and his Muppets. It began in 1963, Jim moved to New York City, where he formed Muppets, Inc. The rest is history, well if you don’t know the history, his first big break was in 1966, when he started working on Sesame Street for PBS and in 1974 he quit the show to work on the Muppet show. After he left that show, in 1989 Henson created yet another show called The Jim Henson Hour.
So to the politicians out there let’s leave the puppets alone . Let Big Bird entertain without your input or rules. Allow fun children’s entertainment to be unscathed by politics. Let this innocent form of entertainment alone. Let us celebrate a form of entertainment that has been with us for thousands and thousands of years.