Influences: Jim Henson

I just got back from finally seeing The Muppets.  All in all, I’m very pleased with the movie, and I’m really excited about the prospect of the show coming back full force.

Despite having been born in 1990, only a little over a month before Jim Henson died, he and his work have been a humongous influence on me.  I was exposed to The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock through reruns, and even before that, I had a healthy serving of some of the Henson fantasy movies (Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal).  And of course, who can forget Sesame Street, arguably the most popular children’s show of all time?

The more and more I look back on my childhood influences, the more obvious my academic pursuits become to me.  In recent years, I’ve done a lot more “research” on Jim Henson, the man.  I become so thrilled when I discover that someone whose work speaks so strongly to me turns out to have been an amazing person.  I have a great deal of respect for Jim Henson, and in so many ways, I feel as though I know him through his work.  And that is the kind of creator I strive to be all the time – someone friendly and relateable, someone whose being is in tune with the message they are sending out, someone genuine.

Image taken from Muppet Wiki

As I try to figure out the kind of work I want to do, I look at the incredible work of the Jim Henson company.  I want to be able to create work that touches people, that makes people think, and that is honest.

Even in terms of aesthetic, the company has influenced me greatly.  I love that their productions, while often ambitious, never take themselves too seriously.  Corny jokes and flashy costumes are the norm, and it’s absolutely wonderful.  I don’t know how they do it, but I wouldn’t mind learning how to do the work and have the fun.  I’m sure it has something to do with having people who think along the same lines.

Anyway, I don’t feel as though I can talk more about Jim Henson and his company without just repeating how incredible I think the whole of it is.  I opted out of posting a video this time because everyone knows The Muppet Show opening, and I wouldn’t be able to pick just one or two really influential scenes from any of the movies or shows.  Perhaps I’ll post Henson-related videos one-by-one in the future, as I come upon them and decide that they are relevant to something specific.

For now, just know that I’ve been seriously weighing the possibility of sending in an application for employment to the Jim Henson Company for quite a while.  The downside would be having to move, so it might have to wait for a while.  But what I wouldn’t give to be a part of something so incredible.


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