Monday, December 19, 2011

Embracing the Inner Animal

Our family went to see the new Muppet movie recently. As a child I was a serious Muppet fan. Since I still haven’t decided whether I wish to grow up or not, it is safe to assume I am still very much a Muppet fan. I loved the movie. It tickled me with its music, humour, nostalgia and great wit.

One of my favourite characters is Animal. A friend of mine put together a video at our wedding without our knowledge where he went around asking the guests which Muppet they felt Rob or I was most like. Rob got Fozzy Bear and Kermit. Half the folks suggested I was closest to Miss Piggy. The other half thought more the groovy hippy chick in the band. I noted it depended whether the people met me in my early years or later in life. Early years got Miss Piggy.
Later years got hippie chick.

There was only one person who said I was closest to Animal. This person knows me best, I figure. I think it was my brother – or maybe my husband-to-be.

If you don’t know who Animal is he is the crazed monster-like creature who speaks in short syllables with a gutteral voice. His puppet usually has his mouth wide open, his neon hair is standing straight up in the air and his head is throwing itself about uncontrollably. He is a drummer.

In the latest Muppet movie he is trying to be a more controlled individual and has given up drumming altogether. He doesn’t seem too thrilled with being a reserved character but gets support by his meditation sponsor played by Jack Black. Watching him continually repeat his mantra ‘In Controoooollllllll’ had me regularly in tears of laughter.

Have you heard the Muppet version of Wild Thing? It includes a nice little acoustic version of Kermit singing quietly with his ukulele. Then along comes Animal and adds drums to the whole thing much to Kermit’s surprise, making the song rock out. I still listen to this song frequently. It is hilarious. A great kids song. Do go and find it and have a listen.
I won’t spoil the movie for you in case you plan to see it. But suffice to say Animal is not a fellow who would easily be contained. This puppet has passion and he is particularly expressive about his feelings and urges. He is not subtle. He oozes emotions and physical energy. And to date, aside from the time the others got upset that he ate his drum set, the folks around him seem to have accepted him the way he is.

If that person at my wedding is right, I gather that I’m not very good at bottling things up. Although I do my best to hide anything that might make the scene around me uncomfortable, I seem to manage to fail almost 100% of the time. This is true for ups or downs.

Though I don’t think anyone would take well to being asked to control their expressive side (especially with handcuffs), I expect there are many circumstances where toning it down is appreciated. But as far as women go, at least the ones that I’ve gotten to know, I see a greater need to express more often, than a need to see more containment. It seems at birth we are given a long list of rules of what makes a ‘lady’ and we are asked repeatedly to abide by the rules (sometimes indirectly and often explicitly).

A woman must be poised and in control. She must be polite and at the ready to serve if needed. As the decades went by, she had to be more and more capable of running a household both financially and otherwise. A woman should never cry in the workplace (or in public for that matter) as it is unprofessional and deems her a weakling. Should she get angry to the point of shouting, she is a crazy person. If she laughs too loudly, she is disruptive. Should she speak her opinions too strongly she is a tyrant or a bitch. If she reveals a soft side or vulnerability, she is not fit to play with the big boys.

Over time, slowly but surely, the world has learned that rules are handy things to have but sometimes, and sometimes often, those rules are made to be broken. No person, man, woman or child, should ever be made to feel that the full expression of herself is a fault. Why it became important to tame a wild woman into a lady, I will never understand. Now I am not suggesting destructive wildness. Not even that it is necessary to be offensive or gregarious in ones wildness. Just to honour that un-stifled version once in a while. Let her out for a romp.

What I hope to see more of in the future are women who are unfettered by chains that were made so that others could have a more convenient time of things. I wouldn’t suggest a full-on Animal imitation every moment of every day. But somewhere inside of you I’m guessing there is a little bit of Animal hoping to get out. I don’t point this out to encourage you to return to an emotionally immature three year old who can’t control their outbursts. I hope to appeal to the part of you that you have gently kept at bay because you worried what others would think. I want to remind you that there may be a dormant part of you waiting for a chance to see light. And that the world is good and ready to meet her!

May she find her way to the surface as this new year of great promise approaches. May she be everything you hoped. May she not eat her drum kit.

Now which Muppet are you?


  1. I loved the Muppets too, but Fraggle Rock was my favourite. I think my inner-muppet is situation well as wine-consumption-dependent!

  2. oh geez, that's a really hard question to answer. I would have to think about this one, and go see the movie!! :)


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