For some reason my wife does not care for the Muppets.
I don't quite understand why. Her standards are: the television show was tolerable; the movies creeped her out, because Muppets were not meant to walk around and play banjos. (In her words, "Muppets spend their lives getting fisted by humans. That makes them whores.") Yet for some reason everyone on Sesame Street is fine. ("Sesame Street is OK because they stay in their own little world. They're not going out ruining classics like A Christmas Carol or Treasure Island.")
Now, I, personally, can't see the difference between Bid Bird chicken-scratching his big orange feet to Gordon's apartment for celery and PB and Miss Piggy stomping her way around a sound stage. Then again, I am not a true Muppetarian.
Not that I don't like them, of course. Even if you don't care for their brand of humor, I still think people can easily identify with the wide range of personalities that Jim Henson carefully crafted. Even if you don't latch on to Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, or Fozzie Bear, you can find common cause with Statler and Waldolf or even Gonzo the Great or Sam the Eagle.
Of course, part of it might be because a majority of children grow up watching at least some Sesame Street, where Muppets reside and get occasional visits from Kermit himself. (I have one particularly pervasive memory of Disco Frog. Which, if anything, is creepier than Kermit riding a bike down the street in Manhattan.) With such an early intervention, it's no wonder the Muppets continue to be popular.
The new movie released this Thanksgiving is, by all accounts, a pretty good movie, appealing to young and old alike. I haven't seen it, although I probably eventually will, and about the only lamentable thing is that Frank Oz passed on the project. Considering he was one of the main puppeteers (and voices) for a lot of the Muppets in their history.
I didn't get to watch the TV show much as a kid--they just weren't shown on the stations we got--and so my exposure to them was somewhat limited. Still, I think the Muppets are a perfectly acceptable Anglo-American institution that should be treated with respect. Alas, my wife ("Muppet movies are like porn--I know they exist, I just don't want any in my house") disagrees.