Popular Muppet Miss Piggy grabbed headlines last week when she was honored with an award from the prestigious Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The obstreperous prima donna was given the gong for her apparent “contributions to society” during the evening ceremony at the Brooklyn, N.Y. venue.
During the event Miss Piggy, wearing an emerald evening gown and ivory gloves, spoke with veteran feminist activist Gloria Steinem, and was celebrated by Elizabeth Sackler herself who told the foam-faced sow that she won the award for, among other things, her “spirit, determination, grit, and humor.”
An elated and emotional Piggy told attendees during her acceptance speech of her struggles to “break down gender barriers” and that she often had to “resort to karate to break them down.” Piggy, now fired up and yelling at attendees, shrieked “tough times demand tough women, am I right, AM I RIGHT?”
Kermit the Frog was in attendance at the milk and cookies event and sat smiling while Piggy basked in the adulation of her feminist peers. But while Kermit’s appearance appeared to be of his own volition one has to wonder, given the often abusive nature of his relationship with Piggy, whether he was in fact coerced.
Since 1979, the unfortunate frog has been the recipient of merciless beatings at Piggy’s sadistic trotters. He has been the repeated victim of both mental and physical abuse ranging in severity from petty insults to vicious karate chops.
In all likelihood, Kermit’s participation was a sham, his happy and supportive visage little more than a mask to hide the truth: Kermit was a frog frozen in place by fear. When asked by Steinem if he too was a feminist he enthusiastically assented, while hinting at the patterns of violence to which he has become a prisoner. “Yes. No one has broken through more glass ceilings than Miss Piggy, and no one has swept up more broken glass than me.” Was Kermit’s reference to broken glass a coded message? Was this a call for help?
Miss Piggy was introduced to the popular The Muppet Show in 1976, originally written as a bit part player as part of chorus. It didn’t take long, however, before the show’s producers upgraded her to a more prominent role and little wonder that they did; Piggy was a porcine possessed, driven by a relentless lust for power and stardom. She achieved success by applying her trademark one-two of feminine wiles with a remorseless penchant for violence. With this chilling strategy, Piggy eventually secured top billing alongside Kermit whom she first met while filming The Muppet Movie in 1979.
Poor Kermit didn’t know what hit him.
Following the success of The Muppet Movie TV viewers tuned in each week to watch Piggy routinely and sadistically torture Kermit. Piggy vacillated wildly between smothering Kermit in affection, and literally smothering him. She beat him with her trotters, struck him with objects and on several occasions hurled the fragile amphibian clean across the set. It’s hard to gauge the severity of the psychological toll endured by Kermit but there is evidence that he possess coping skills far above what is considered normal. His steadfast refusal to marry Piggy in the face of coercion, deception, and, of course, physical and psychological terrorism suggests that there remains within Kermit some semblance of hope—some connection to a reality where daily beatings and humiliation aren’t the norm.
Ultimately though, it’s incredibly difficult to understand what was going through the minds of the brain trust at the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art, when they chose to celebrate such an abusive pig. According to Elizabeth Sackler, Piggy took home the W because “She has inspired children to be who you are and this squares very directly with feminism.”
Tell that to Kermit, a frog whose existence has become little more than a living nightmare.