In this several part series, we are going to take a closer look and discuss the in-depth meaning of the downloadable document on Muppet Performer Steve Whitmire’s blog called “Components of The Muppets”.
You can find Steve’s blog here
“Each and every Muppet character consists of at least two differentiated and equal
components: a puppet, and a performer.”
Now this should be almost self explanatory, but this most basic of ideas on who, and what the Muppets are is of the up-most importance!
The general public did not know who Steve Whitmire was until the news of his firing from the Muppets broke last month. They also did not know that he had been Kermit The Frog’s performer for over 27 years. So when this news broke, it would be understandable for people to have the mindset of, “Oh well, he is just a voice actor, and anyone can do a good Kermit voice.”
Sadly, this mindset is not true at all because as any puppeteer at any level can tell you the voice is just a small part of what brings these characters to life. The character’s personality, their thoughts, movements and everything else comes from their performer. Each character has a little bit of their performer inside of them. They are almost one and the same; without one you don’t have the other, and vice-versa.
The simple thought that anyone can do a good Kermit voice may be true, but what about who Kermit The Frog really is? Now in a perfect world, Kermit’s original performer, and creator would still be bringing the world’s most famous frog to life. However, in 1990, Jim Henson suddenly passed away, but did select Steve Whitmire to take over performing responsibilities for Kermit. Steve has been preforming Kermit ever since, and slowly through time parts of Steve’s personality have become part of Kermit’s, but yet still staying true to Jim had created.
Why should this matter to fans of the Muppets?
The reason that fans of the Muppets should be aware of the reasoning of Steve’s dismissal is not because of Steve. It is about Kermit and all of the other characters he has ether created or inherited. Because in each one of these characters is a little bit of Steve, and that can not be easily replaced. A lot of the reasons we love Kermit is due to something Steve, or Jim have done with him to make him real. That is what separates The Muppets from cartoons, and other fictional characters. They are real, and not just because you can see or touch them, but because of what each individual performer puts into that character.
My hope for these posts is that it will shed some light on what Steve has been fighting for, and ultimately cost him his job. Because as Muppet fans this is something that we should all be concerned with.