No sooner did the hosting slot for the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony become unexpectedly empty, after the exodus of producer Brett Ratner and chosen host Eddie Murphy, then suggestions from all over the internet came pouring in. From John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, to Neil Patrick Harris, to Tina Fey, names were flying through the air like Waldo.
And speaking of Waldo C. Graphic, one of the most popular suggestions, so far as we can tell, is the Muppets. This makes sense, on a number of levels. The Muppets just delivered a spot-on ad campaign that’s put the characters pretty much everywhere you wouldn’t expect them, from WWE matches to surprisingly serious Canadian talk show interviews.
The Muppets themselves haven’t been so firmly in the public eye in more than a decade. At the same time, the Muppets’ primary purpose, as a… group? genre? work? is to comment on popular culture by pretending that these fictional characters are real live participants in it. The Muppet Show is a wonderful series of parodies, covers, and famous stars subverting their own popular images. The Muppet films run the gamut from riding-the-line-between-parody-of-and-tribute-to-classical-lit to loving pastiches of classic film genres like the Heist, the Road Trip, and Putting on a Show, and they all break the fourth wall to remind us that the movie’s characters are being “played” by the Muppets, who are “actors.” So to see the Muppets hobnob with actual stars isn’t just totally within the realms of possibility, it’s 100% what the Muppets are, and have always been, about.
But putting on an Oscars telecast? It might be more difficult than it appears.