Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ocean Breeze Soap

Lest anyone fall into the trap of thinking that I'm some sort of highbrow intellectualist, drawing inspiration and encouragement only from haute-couture prize-winning literature and independent international films -- let me confess my fondness for the Muppets.

From early childhood, the Muppets have been a formative voice in my perception of the world, my sense of humor, and my understanding what makes people tick. This morning, I watched a bit of "The Muppets Take Manhattan" with my children and was again reminded of the brilliance and poignancy of the Muppets. Around the half-way point of the film, I caught myself reveling in what may be one of my all-time favorite scenes.

Kermit the Frog has just emerged from the hospital, following treatment for a tragic accident that left him with amnesia -- causing him to forget his friends, his dreams, and his hopes for the successful debut of a new Broadway musical -- when he comes upon a group of fellow amphibians in an office building... [certainly, this is the stuff of classical film, is it not?]... In this chance encounter, the three frogs from the marketing firm -- Gill, Bill, and Jill -- ask Kermit (who, not able to recall his true identity, spontaneously elects to go by the name of "Phil") for the opinion of the "average frog on the street" regarding an advertising slogan that they've been working on for Ocean Breeze Soap:

"Ocean Breeze Soap: For people who don't want to stink."

When Kermit/Phil responds with disapproval, they try a secondary proposal:

"Ocean Breeze Soap is just like going on an ocean cruise, except there's no boat and you don't actually go anywhere."

Again, Kermit/Phil suggests that the proposed slogan is less than ideal. But he counters with a question; "Have you thought of something simple, like..."

"Ocean Breeze Soap will get you clean."

Of course, the other three frogs love it, and they end up offering him a job with their marketing firm, and sales of Ocean Breeze Soap go through the roof, and Kermit/Phil once again finds a group of friends and a sense of purpose [again, with classical scripting like this, I don't know how "The Muppets Take Manhattan" was overlooked in the nominations for the Academy Awards that year]... It's a funny scene, and it propels the plot of the movie (while Miss Piggy and Fozzy and the gang build to the climax of their own story, searching madly for Kermit as their Broadway show is about to take the stage). But in all honesty -- as I've so often discovered -- there is seriously something to be learned from the Muppets.

How often do I respond to the questions my children are asking with complex (or oversimplified) explanations -- when all I need to do is directly answer their questions ("you need to wash your hands after you use the toilet because it will get you clean")? How often do I try to paint a colorful picture of why it's such a glamorous adventure to follow Jesus -- when all I need to do is directly answer the questions that seekers seek ("you need Jesus because your life is a mess, and he will get you clean")? How often do I trouble myself with precisely how to express a thought to my wife, or to my co-workers, or to the people who read my blog -- when all I need to do is directly share my heart ("I need to tell you how I'm feeling, so we can get ourselves clean")? It's an interesting dynamic to consider...


At 6:09 PM, Blogger Bret said...

that is a very cool post

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Marco said...

Dude, I love those kind of parables!

Jesus used a lot of agriculture when he explained God's Kingdom, mainly because people were very familiar with farming. This means they had the potential to understand it (that a lot of 'm didn't understand is another story of course)

But in this age we are very familiar with popular culture, so parables based on popular culture give us a lot of opportunity to understand God's Kingdom.

That's awesome!

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Matt said...

Eric funny that you would bring up the muppets. Louise just got us the first season the muppets on DVD. I have very much enjoyed sharing the muppets with them, especially since I get to see it in a new way... Through their eyes.


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