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Cinco DeNio

Musical Mondays Week 82 (Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas)

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5 hours ago, Cam Bert said:

I will jump on the bandwagon and say this movie charmed and delighted me. Otters are some of the cutest animals and their muppet equivalents are equally cute as well. I liked the song and I do like how it uses the Gift of the Magi but does a good twist on it. Also that him and his mom are stronger together is a good message on top of the other messages as well.

Here is my one nitpick though. As much as I liked The Riverbottom Nightmare Band they just seem a bit out of place for me. Emmett and his town seem old fashion and as a result a bit timeless, and then Swampy Black Sabbath comes in and is very modern and of their time. Their song as well is a bit more of the moment. For whatever reason this just sort of bothered me a bit. I can't explain why. Look I get the argument that that's what they're suppose to be. They're chaos in this quaint little town and the fact they are so polar to everybody and everything sells that fact. I get that and understand that but don't like it. It also bothers me that these clearly semi-professional or professional musicians enter a talent contest for amateurs and win. Well, duh. If they had lost to that the "Barbecue" guy I think it would have been more tragic.

I think I do agree with your nitpick. They seem like a band that would be more suited to battle the Electric Mayhem as an antagonist. So, if I were to make an Origin Back Story for the first Muppet Movie, maybe the Mayhem were recently decimated by the Nightmare Band in a Battle of the Bands and were so eager for a change of pace, they joined up with Kermit.

ANYWAY, I think the river community around Emmet and his mom is so wholesome and supporting, to get an antagonist with any sort of intimidation factor, the story needed an outsider of some sort. And since this is a Christmas special kids would be watching, you didn't want anything too nefarious or threatening (like an evil developer or someone looking to skin an otter for its fur the way a psycho was looking to eat Kermit's legs in the Muppet Movie). So the solution was a semi-menacing (but still very catchy!) rock band. You know they're villains because they wear sunglasses indoors! Quality growls though🤘

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I coincidentally watched this movie this evening.

This movie has a BIG nostalgic effect for me. It reminds me so much of childhood that I feel like I can almost smell it.

Re the out-of-place Nightmare band: I actually enjoy the band being of a more modern time than the rest of the setting. I guess it's hard to put my finger on, but Waterville is like an Appalachian town that could have existed in 1977. In many ways more rural parts of the country hadn't modernized much by the late '70s and this old world and new world coexisted fairly accurately. The town had some modern aspects to it. Electricity. Cars. Snowmobiles. I assume this contrast was kind of part of the point.  One of the things I love about it though is how their version of modern and edgy is now over 40 years old and for me it has crossed over into quaint and classic. 

It's like when the Darlings come into Mayberry? (That's a reference the kids are down with, right?)

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18 minutes ago, PollyDarton said:

It's like when the Darlings come into Mayberry? (That's a reference the kids are down with, right?)

Yeah. The Darlings are the Otters. Mayberry is Waterville. That episode where James Best is a rockabilly star is The Nightmare Band. 

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What I find a bit confusing is the panel of judges at the talent show are all older. The old guard if you will. The audience is a bit younger. They hear this "new" kind of music and go crazy for it. It makes me think back to when rock and roll was introduced and embraced by the youth but rejected by the old guard. This led me to believe the judges would reject the crazy 70s sound of the Soggy Bottom Boys but they voted for them. Were they responding to the crowd? Did they feel intimated by them? Or, maybe, they just know music?

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7 hours ago, Cam Bert said:

What I find a bit confusing is the panel of judges at the talent show are all older. The old guard if you will. The audience is a bit younger. They hear this "new" kind of music and go crazy for it. It makes me think back to when rock and roll was introduced and embraced by the youth but rejected by the old guard. This led me to believe the judges would reject the crazy 70s sound of the Soggy Bottom Boys but they voted for them. Were they responding to the crowd? Did they feel intimated by them? Or, maybe, they just know music?

This is the exact same argument the High Strung judges had on if dance should evolve. A vote for the jug band is a vote stodgy old tradition. The vote was symbolic for change and embracing the uncertain future instead dying, clinging to the old ways that kept the citizens of Waterville poor.

In this essay, I will explain why Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas is a prescient, scathing metaphor for our current political climate...

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14 hours ago, PollyDarton said:

(That's a reference the kids are down with, right?)

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I just read the interview and have to post the last section.

Quote

AVC: There are so many things that differentiate it from other Christmas specials, too: It’s free of consumerism, it’s savvy about class structure—it has a lot of human insight for a story about animals.

PW: It is, and the other thing is it’s really a tip of the hat to childlike storytelling. I think that they have since removed the strings of the marionettes, but when it was first shown on HBO, the marionettes are very awkwardly walking along on the ice, and you could see the strings and all. I think it added an element of pure Americana craft to the experience. Some of that simple artistry, simple craft, and trusting the audience’s imagination enough to let them see the strings.

Jim could’ve gone in and shot a “cowboy” where it was from the waist up of the characters, moving along very smoothly on the ice. But he didn’t. He trusted his audience to have enough forgiving, active imaginations to see it for what it was and invest in it. Much of the magic that is in Emmet Otter is delivered by the audience watching it. And I think he had the good sense to understand that, and it almost goes back to that kid with a paper hat and the picket fence sword. If you can commit to that, then you’re a part of the company—you’re a Muppet, too. I think I’ve got it in my DNA.

Incidentally, that’s not something I’ve ever said before or even thought about before, but it occurred to me in this conversation: The magic of Emmet Otter is we are given the opportunity to be a part of the energy that allows the magic to be seen and experienced.

 

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On 12/17/2019 at 3:17 AM, Cinco DeNio said:

Third at least.  Phantom of the Paradise and The Muppet Movie were the others I can remember.

Forth! I just remembered after reading that interview you posted that he also did the songs and singing for Bugsy Malone. 

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21 minutes ago, Cam Bert said:

Forth! I just remembered after reading that interview you posted that he also did the songs and singing for Bugsy Malone. 

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I finally watched it and enjoyed it. It’s weird that I have no memory of it because I loved the Muppets as a kid but my first concrete memory (of the muppets) is The Muppet movie. I guess this one just passed me by—or was over my head at the time. 

Speaking of Muppets and Christmas, I wonder if the Muppet Christmas Carol is on Disney+. I don’t have it but my brother’s family does. Might be fun.

Happy holidays everybody’

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21 minutes ago, GrahamS. said:

Speaking of Muppets and Christmas, I wonder if the Muppet Christmas Carol is on Disney+. I don’t have it but my brother’s family does. Might be fun.

It is!

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