While browsing Twitter the other day to numb my existential dread, I came upon a series of tweets that simply broke my heart. Another celebrity was on the cancellation guillotine. No, it wasn’t Ellen or a Paul brother. It wasn’t even Mark Wahlberg, because apparently God hates justice. No, the newest person being torn apart by the internet is none other than Miss Piggy, the Muppet. I’ve seen the videos, I know what is being held against her, but unlike most people, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Miss Piggy for who she really is under all the glamour: a down to Earth and intelligent hog.
I first met Miss Piggy in a small café in Sorrento while attending a psychology conference in the area. I knew it was rude to bother actors in their public life, but I had to thank her for all the childhood happiness she gave me. She was very calm and gracious when I thanked her, completely unlike her loud and vain public image. When she asked me to sit and join her, I couldn’t refuse. She surprised me by asking about my life, where I’m from, where I went to college and what my thoughts were on regional economic integration in Central America, and the whole time she was completely attentive to my answers. I finally got to ask her a few personal questions. I learned her father died when she was quite young — bacon, I believe — and her mother was far from a loving parent. Piggy entered beauty pageants from a very young age to earn her mother’s praise, a path which eventually led her into show business. She finished her coffee and told me she had to go catch her train. We exchanged farewells, and she was gone.
When I returned home, I paid more attention to her appearances in television and tabloids. The obnoxious and impulsive star was not at all the sweet swine I met in Italy. As I watched “Miss Piggy Attacks Reporter in Jealous Rage” on YouTube, all I could picture was the neglected young piglet trying to win her mother’s affection. There was pain behind those dark blue eyes.
I was fortunate enough to run into Miss Piggy again while visiting Sedona, Arizona. She had a winter home there with Kermit for a few years. I didn’t think she’d remember, but sure enough she greeted me like an old friend. We chatted as we walked through town and were interrupted by a few young fans. Miss Piggy immediately put on her diva persona to entertain the children as she took selfies with them. After the kids left, I asked how she felt about her public perception. She kind of chuckled and said it was part of the job. She never really stopped working; she always had to be Miss Piggy wherever she went. I asked if it was exhausting. She said it was fine and tried to smile, but her eyes revealed her sorrow.
She invited me to dinner at her house the next day, and once again I couldn’t refuse the offer. I was greeted at the door by a cashmere-wearing Kermit. “Can I take your coat?” the frog croaked. We had a wonderful minestrone soup that Kermit cooked himself, paired with some Chianti. The conversation was lively, full of fun anecdotes of their years on the show. At some point, a mild dispute broke out between the couple. They tried to play it off, but they couldn’t deceive me and my years of experience as a couple’s therapist. Piggy excused herself, and Kermit offered to show me his Jackson Pollock collection. After following him into the basement, he turned to me in a hushed whisper. “Sorry about dinner,” he said. “Piggy and I have been having issues.”
He proceeded to explain the stress that fame had put on their relationship. Producers were constantly telling them to exaggerate their personalities, and no one got more pressure than Piggy. After making a name for herself in the ‘70s with her feisty performance, producers made sure that she kept up the act for decades, on and off-screen. Their relationship was literally owned by Jim Henson Studios, which had the power to marry them or break them up depending on what they thought would be most exciting. Piggy was constantly insulted by the media, stalked by the paparazzi and even verbally abused by a certain Swedish cast member who I won’t name. I left my conversation with Kermit understanding Miss Piggy much better.
I reached out to Piggy shortly after hearing that she and Kermit had split in 2015. She met me at a TGI Friday’s in Toledo. I used my skills as a licensed therapist to the best of my ability to comfort her and help her reach mental clarity. As I consoled this sobbing pig, I didn’t see the glamorous movie star. I didn’t see the blonde sex symbol. I didn’t see the crazy celebrity that attacked Melissa DiMarco. I saw a victim of the Hollywood process.
People can go online and say that they know Miss Piggy, that they know she is a bad boar, that she doesn’t deserve to be loved ever again, but none of these people really know Miss Piggy. Not a single other Muppet has come out and shared any negative experiences with her. Before you try to disgrace someone’s name, ask yourself if you are authorized to issue damnatio memoriae. Ask yourself if it’s possible that there’s another side to the story, because I can say firsthand that this is someone who deserves more love, not hate. The internet is too eager to dispense hatred, as if it is a sport to ruin lives. We can never truly know what is going on in other people’s lives, and we should stop pretending like we do. We should instead focus on more productive objectives, like ending the career of that pervert Pepe Le Pew.
Categories: Opinions & Editorials