Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Peoples is Peoples Speech (The Muppets Take Manhattan, 1984)

"Hey. I tell you what is. Big city, hmm? Live. Work, huh? But. Is not city open. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?" - Pete (Louis Zorich), a Manhattan restaurateur, to Kermit the Frog, offering perhaps the best statement of life wisdom depicted in cinema, in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984).

In the film, a misfit band of Muppets descend upon Manhattan seeking fame and fortune on Broadway. They do not find instant success, and their dreams of stardom give way to the reality of daily living in a major metropolitan center. Kermit eventually finds himself working in a local diner run by Pete and his daughter, Jenny (Juliana Donald). Kermit inevitably turns to Pete and Jenny, denizens of the big city, for advice on his newfound life dilemma in New York City.

As a culture, we learn so very much about ourselves and our everyday actions from the movies. We order our first drink at a bar in the fashion we have seen in a film. We learn appropriate (and inappropriate) dating behavior from the movies. And yes, we acquire bits of life wisdom from the medium, including the "Peoples is Peoples" speech delivered by Pete the restaurateur. Can there be any more wise monologue in the history of cinema? (This is not the first blog to extol the speech's virtues, either, as you can see here and here and here).

Kermit's reply: "Yeah. Thanks. That helped a lot." Indeed.

Zorich, the actor who portrayed Pete, will turn 84 this coming February. He went on to play the father of Paul Reiser's character in his 1990s sitcom, "Mad about You" and has been married to the actress Olympia Dukakis since 1962. Donald has mostly appeared in cameos on television programs in the last two and a half decades, including the various Star Trek series.


Steven said...

It's worth noting that your commentary on literature and the arts informing our standards of behavior is most explicitly defined in the œuvre of Schopenhauer.

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