I know, I know, I know! Puppets and the world are from two completely different news spectrums. One story is about the beloved Muppet and Sesame Street character that is Kermit The Frog. And the second item is about a group of girl scientists originally from Afghanistan coming to the U.S. but were refused entry.
But the connection between the two is about how the story started out as something simple, and then it got bizarre as it unfolded.
“It’s not easy being green,” is Kermit’s favorite catch phrase. It also became the puppeteer of Kermit as well, as he was fired and replaced because of “unacceptable business conduct” in the workplace. The puppeteer of Kermit, Steve Whitmire was the voice and the man behind the ever loving green frog. Whitmire took over after Jim Henson’s passing in 1990, so Whitmire has been the big green frog for 27 years. But as of October 2016 Whitmire was fired by Disney. Disney owns the rights and copyright of Kermit, The Muppets, and its characters.
They are however two differing points of view on the firing of Whitmire. For Whitmire, he stated that he was fired for being outspoken on changes in regards to the Kermit character. He attributes this to two main reasons for his firing: firstly, Whitmire received “unwanted notes” on the “Muppets” TV show that aired on ABC, which was quickly canceled. Secondly, Whitmire further says there was a “union disagreement.”
The other point of view about the change of Whitmire comes from Henson’s family and Disney. Brian Henson, the son of the late Jim Henson creator and chairman of the Jim Henson Company, tells a different tale about Whitmire and his overall behavior. Brian, and his mother Jane, picked Whitmire to take over as Kermit.
“Nobody worked harder than me making sure Kermit survived my father’s death and retained his cathartic personality and presence,” Henson said. But Henson also adds that Whitmire and his overall behavior with the cast of actors, performers, and fellow puppeteers worsened. Henson calls him unprofessional, and that it had reached the point that Whitmire behaved “appallingly” with his colleagues. Henson says it started since the mid 1990s.
But Henson is quick to point out that Whitmire is a “fantastic technical puppeteer.” Disney and The Muppets Studio agree with Henson about Whitmire but only in the pejorative. They say that Whitmire was overly hostile, unproductive, that his negotiating style delayed production…etc. It sounds like a laundry list of complaints over the years.
I guess your wondering who will take over for Kermit now? Disney and The Muppets Studio announced that Matt Vogel, a fellow Muppet performer, will be Kermit. Incidentally, Vogel voiced the evil criminal mastermind Constantine, a Kermit doppelganger in the Muppet movie “Muppets Most Wanted” back in 2014. Vogel has also voiced characters on “Sesame Street.”
From fun and games that soon worsened, to girl scientists – originally from Afghanistan – that were denied entry into the U.S., under President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban against Muslim based countries. Team Afghanistan, a group of six girls, seemed to be indiscriminately targeted and prevented from entering via Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not on the list of countries that fell within the framework of the travel ban; these countries are: Iran, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The girl scientists were at first very disappointed about not coming to the U.S. to show their talents. But in a twist of fate President Trump reportedly intervened and allowed Team Afghanistan into the U.S. to show their robot and its talents.
“We are so happy from the support of the Americans and Mr. Trump, and we thank them for providing us visas to allow us travel and attend the competitions,” 14-year-old Fatemah Qaderyan said, one of the teammates from Team Afghanistan.
There was no clear reasoning as to why these girls were specifically denied entry, but U.S. Embassy officials have trepidation in allowing Afghans into the U.S. because they usually do not like to return back to their country.
The girls came to play with their robot. The team of six, in the U.S. capital, competed among more than 150 people in the “First Global Challenge”: A robotics competition designed to encourage youths to pursue careers in Mathematics and Science. Perhaps the steps to exposing young minds to STEM: Science, Technology, Maths, and Engineering. Team Afghanistan’s robot could pick up and distinguish between blue and orange balls.