Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog - felt beings controlled by literal corporate and human puppet masters - have broken up.
Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog - felt beings controlled by literal corporate and human puppet masters - have broken up.

Fictional felt beings Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy have broken up

Gossip pages, tabloids and entertainment websites lit up yesterday upon the news that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy have broken up. Not that their characters will break up as a plot point on their new TV show "The Muppets"; no, it was reported like real life news that Kermit and Miss Piggy – fictional beings made of felt – were no longer together. 

The news was broken via Facebook through joint statements written by Kermit and Miss Piggy – and most certainly not by somebody working in the Disney/ABC marketing department. 

Listen, I love the Muppets. I wasn't born during their true heyday, but I still grew up holding "A Muppets Christmas Carol" as my favorite version of the famous Dickens tale and humming "Shiver My Timbers" from "Muppet Treasure Island" (because, come on, how could you not?). I enjoyed last year's "Muppets Most Wanted," and I even teared up a bit during their big screen return in 2011's "The Muppets." I am not decrying anyone for loving the Muppets. They are great.

Less great: otherwise rational grown-up adults reporting on the relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy – once again, fictional creations created out of felt and owned by the Walt Disney Corporation – as though it's a real thing happening between two real beings. There are the aforementioned Facebook posts and interviews – not about the characters but actually WITH the characters – all behaving like these are actual beings and emotions at play, not simply marketing at work. That their break-up is one to put next to Will and Jada Pinkett Smith or Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner – real people facing a very real emotional crises – in a summer of break-ups. That one of the other Muppet characters must have broken them up.

OK, that last one is written tongue-and-cheek, but most of the coverage is weirdly devoid of any such self-awareness that they are interviewing – one last time – fictional felt beings controlled by a person probably hiding under a table or chair with his hand up a felt frog's butt doing a bit of viral marketing for ABC's upcoming show.

I get it; it's the Muppets, who've always had a cozy meta relationship with reality, but it still plays like when a sports team tries to give its mascot a backstory or when a new sports uniform comes with all sorts of meaningful explanation for every new stripe and detail or when a brand tries to bond with me on Twitter about "Mondays, amirite?" It's false #branding. What's weird in this case is that everybody's acting like it isn't. Was it this way when Sasha Baron Cohen dressed up as Borat or The Dictator and got all awkward at award shows and interviews? Didn't we address it as the goofy, promotional act it was?

Plus, if we are behaving like this is a real thing, why are we reporting this like it's a big surprise? It's not like the tandem of Kermit and Miss Piggy was exactly the steadiest of vessels. I'm no scholar on the issue, but it sure felt like their relationship already had more splits than a Jean-Claude Van Damme highlight reel. 

Anyways, now you know that Kermit and Miss Piggy are broken up, that "The Muppets" premieres on ABC on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. and that if you need me, I'll on my rocking chair talking about Herbert Hoover and yelling at whippersnappers to get off my lawn. 

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