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Monday, October 22, 2018

Art vs Business : Not All Artists Are Created Equal

Art vs Business : Not All Artists Are Created Equal

( Image from : The Erica Crooks Show 2017 Season : Happy Mascot Man sketch )

Even before I became the anti-capitalist libertarian socialist Anarchist I am today , just the idea of selling off art like a Pimp does with a prostitute is something that always made me cringe to the soul . 
The reason I didn’t think money was the root of all evil is probably because of just living in a society where there are in fact good people who happen to make a living doing what they love doing probably because it was the work they admired , not the money.
Jim Henson is a great example of that. He was an artist first and foremost , and really the only reason why he had a company in the first place was so he could earn and raise enough money to do the art he always dreamed of.
There’s even a book about that “ Make Money , Make Art .” 
Sure Jim was able to enjoy luxuries but here’s the thing , he treated his employees like friends because THEY WERE HIS FRIENDS ! That was his second family. Jim Henson and The Muppet Group were a team. Just because Jim was the boss , didn’t mean he was like a boss.
I strongly recommend the Brian Jay Jones book “ Jim Henson : The Biography “ which my opinion is still strong as it was when the book came out , the #1 Jim Henson documentary EVER !

But there’s a big difference between The Muppets of the 1970s vs The Muppets of the 1980s . In fact , LOTS OF MAJOR DIFFERENCES . But business can totally be an indicator.
In the 1970s , The Muppets had their worldwide success staring on Sesame Street as most already know even 50 years later. And of course Jim’s dream Muppet Project which was a HUGE STRUGGLE to get perhaps THE FIRST ADULT PUPPET SHOW ON MAINSTREAM TELEVISION “ The Muppet Show “ .
The 1980s was different because The Muppet Show ended , Sesame Street was still running. Jim created Fraggle Rock , he was doing his dream film projects The Dark Crystal , Labyrinth , The Storyteller but they weren't successes like The Muppets. Muppets Take Manhattan didn’t do so well at the box office. So the company was starting to sell out with Muppet Babies , Jim Henson’s Play a Long Video , Little Muppet Monsters , Elmo was slowly becoming a major character ( but more so in the 1990s aka Tickle Me Elmo etc ) . The Jim Henson Hour wasn't a success . 
Jim was going to sell to Disney. DO YOU SEE THE PATTERN ? DO YOU SEE THE STRUGGLE ?
And also remember when I just said that The Muppet Show was for ADULTS ! The Muppets have always been for the most part for everyone , but most importantly reaching to the inner child aspect of adults. The saddest thing about the 1980s I think was just like what was happening with Looney Tunes , The Flintstones , the early attempts of non-human fictional art for adults were started to be marketing towards CHILDREN ! As this Kids thing. There was even this Traffic Safety thing with The Muppet Show Muppets. 
There’s a big difference between The Walt Disney Company putting The Muppets on Disney Jr ( not the revival of Muppet Babies which was sort of recent , but the actual Muppets )
and what was happening at Jim Henson Productions during Jim Henson’s final years living on Earth. Jim was struggling , Disney doesn't care. Speaking of Looney Tunes , did you know that Chuck Jones thought Space Jam was a stupid idea ? He was going to direct the next Looney Tunes movie I think. Frank Oz was going to direct the next Muppet movie which could have been the lost script written by Jim Henson , Jerry Juhl and Frank Oz “ The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever . “ And it was something which was going back to the original 1970s Muppet Magic. Gonzo directs a movie and messes it all up. lol :P Hilarious. But guess what we got instead , Muppets Most Wanted ! And you want to know why Muppets From Space was only 50% good ? Jerry Juhl’s script was butchered because there was all these addictional Hollywood Gimics through out from Alien Gonzos , Sam the Eagle dancing with girls on the beach , to cheap Toilet and Karate chop to the balls gags. It’s like Star Wars fans doing fan edits , someone could do a fan edit of Muppets From Space taking all that garbage out , and Muppets From Space would have been seen more so as Jerry Juhl’s last work.

Ok so my work has cheap low brow humor too. But as I stated previously regarding The Happytime Murders , when it isn’t creative enough , it’s crap. So in a way Muppets From Space’s cheap gags are slightly funny but DOES IT REALLY WORK WITH THESE CHARACTERS ? Ok , Animal and the toilet scene sort of. But DOES IT WORK WITH THE STORY ? NO !

Anyway back to Jim Henson and The Disney Deal.

The books “ Jim Henson : The Biography " and “ Street Gang " and even “ Make Money , Make Art “ showed that Jim Henson was struggling with Disney during the end of his life. They Disney people were heartless and this was the sort of thing Jim Henson did not take likely.

By the way , for those who don't already know this , Jim Henson’s MBTI personality type is INFP . It’s right there in the Brian Jay Jones book . Jim Henson DID take the Myers Briggs Personality Type and it said he was “ The Idealist “ ( aka INFP ) .

As an INFP myself , I can definitely relate to all that. 

And that’s the thing about capitalism , it’s not only deadly and toxic to everyone , it is especially to artists.

But unfortunately there’s artists out there who only do it for the money. It makes you question about John Kricfalusi , George Lucas and Matt Groening ( separated from birth ? lol  I couldn't resist . ) now a days. 

In Henson’s Place ( 1986 ) when mentioning the short lived Muppet Store ( which I wish existed in the 1990s outside Walt Disney World which was the last existing one in my childhood years ) , Jim Henson mentioned that on one hand it was serving the needs of the audience if someone wanted a Fozzie Bear or Wembley Fraggle in their home or on their clothes , then there’s the other side where it helps bring money back into projects. “ Puppeteers need to be well paid and our projects are very expensive , but we are living in the real world here. It would be nice if that weren't the case however. “

Frank Oz finished Muppet Vision 3D for Jim Henson after his passing and he didn't want Disney to pay him which is understandable . Jim passed away and Frank wanted to finish this film for Jim. Frank Oz mentioned this story at the Star Wars Weekend at Walt Disney World a few years back. Eisner and Katzenberg didn’t understand. So Frank Oz said just to get these guys off his back “ Fine , you want to pay me , how about some new socks. “ So they gave him a huge back of Mickey Mouse socks. Sure this may seem funny , innocent , and silly but again read the books , Eisner and Katzenberg WERE FUCKING PRICKS ! Pardon my language but I strongly feel it was needed. If you read the books , especially the Brian Jay Jones “ Jim Henson : The Biography “ book , just look at how pissed off they made Jim Henson. 
It would be controversial of me to come up with a conspiracy theory but if you read the books and come to the realization that perhaps all of this stressed out Jim Henson inwardly so much , that he passed away on the week he was going to sign everything off to Disney , it makes you think. Most Muppet Fans I think don’t even talk about this. 

And if there’s something I hope people realize is that sometimes you got to separate the artists from the business a little bit. Not every cartoonist ended up like John Kricfalusi.

Seriously , read Joe Murray’s ( Rocko’s Modern Life ) Creating Animated Cartoons with Character . Also Joe is an environmentalist ! 

All of this reminds me of that guy I was on the phone with looking for a college internship at some sort of film production studio since that’s what my father forced me to go because he didn’t like the idea of me going to some Fine Arts college. This jerk on the phone said to me “ Listen Kid , It’s not about art , it’s all about making money ! “ 
And if you heard that repeated a lot on The Erica Crooks Show since 2008 , know you know.

Even in college I was very rebellious about art and business . In filmmaking class I must have kept pissing my teacher off with my satirical short films like “ Today’s Hollywood “ and “ Everybody Hates You ( a parody of the 1980s song Everybody Wants You ) “ and all were ANTI-CAPITALIST and a big satirical middle finger at the mainstream Hollywood entertainment industry , but with puppets. lol My father was pissed off afraid that I was going to get thrown out of college for my shenanigans . Whatever that bully is out of my life ! 

But like I was mentioning , not all artists are equal. There could be puppeteers to have claimed to work with Jim Henson but as a background puppeteer. If fans don’t know who they are , maybe there’s a reason. There’s one which was a guest at my Muppet Show fan panel at a local Comic Con that I did who was trying to take the spotlight for himself. I told him that the reason why he was there in the first place was the people at that comic con said he wanted to join in. And I said ok to it because he claimed to work for Jim Henson himself . Which was great because that is who the panel WAS FOR ! The panel was NOT FOR ME , The panel was NOT FOR HIM , it was for Jim Henson and the original Muppet Team as well as a spit at Disney for barely doing anything for The Muppet Show’s 40th Anniversary other then the Dr Teeth and The Electric Mayhem Concert . WHERE’S SEASONS 4 AND 5 ON DVD AND ITUNES ? I’ve BEEN WAITING 10 YEARS DAMN IT ! ( again pardon the language ) .

This guy had something at his comic con table which perhaps DID NOT BELONG TO HIM.
I let a very good puppeteer friend of mine know. And perhaps I shouldn’t say anything further. But we both agreed , this guy was SCUM !

In my lifetime , I have came across people who may have had the artistic skills and talent but there was something they cared about more than the creative freedom of artistic expression . MONEY !

And of course , I’m not going to bitch and nag at every artist earning things. Hell , when I had my film screenings in 2015 and 2017 , I actually wanted the film screenings to be for free.
When I had an artist table at RI Comic Con in 2015 , I was willing to give autographed drawings for free. But no one showed up. It’s a good thing I had a looping 6 hour video of my videos on one small HD TV with a broken stand on one side and a small flat screen computer monitor with web comics in an automatic slideshow sort of thing on the other. Sure I paid the extra hundred and so for the electricity , but IT’S A REALLY COOL IDEA if you think about it. Plus a free VIP pass if you do panels ( or the table but the panels don’t cost anything but anything can change. )  . Unfortunately as I stated in a previous post about an idea for a NEW COMIC CON , it just relates to everything I’m saying. Capitalist kills art.

And again , I’m not going to bitch and nag at anyone who’s trying to earn a living with what they do. But what I’m trying to say is this. You can tell if someone is passionate about their work vs just doing it for money !

If we were all living in a libertarian socialist Anarchist society / 5D Earth , then it’s going to be just like the curtain being pulled revealing THE WIZARD OF OZ for who is really and truly is ! 

The true artists will stand out , and those wannabes and hasbeens who don’t care as much as the fans do will step aside.

I wonder which side Steve Whitmire is on ? That’s still a mystery and another thing I don’t think Muppet fans will talk about. And perhaps I already said something about that in my “ Transgender Artists “ video blog when I found out that Steve Whitmire was making a cheap Transgender joke with a random stuffed frog saying he wasn’t Kermit. It’s 2018 PEOPLE , NOT the 1970s when people didn’t have the internet and were aware about stuff like they are now thanks to the internet ! SAVE THE INTERNET / NET NEUTRALITY / IMPEACH THE REPUBLICANS ! 

Anyway I hope people can see a little bit regarding artists.
Perhaps this in the art / entertainment world separates the Workers from the Capitalists !

_ Erica

For more hilarious puppet and cartoon animation parodies , Dark Comedy humor , satires and funny stupid videos for adults
( and other cool stuff )
visit The Official Erica Crooks Websites :

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