I cannot recall when or where I first saw this holiday special. I know it was not when it originally aired. We did not get cable for sometime and we rarely ever had HBO. Still, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas feels as if it has always been a part of my seasonal video smorgasbord.
With its folksy Muppets, visible strings and all, the work surely shows its age. Yet, its Gift of the Magi derived sentiment still sounds like a breath of fresh air, if not an idealistic (or idiotic) promotion for the simple joys of life. The message makes little sense in these increasingly materialistic times. It’s as quaint and old fashioned as the puppets that deliver the notion that all we need is each other.
My wife wondered if the Otter’s were black. While there is certainly a strong sense of class structure at play in Frogtown Hollow, with the Foxes and the Bullfrog at the top and the Otters and Possums down below, the question of race amongst animals is perhaps a bit silly. They are certainly backwoods, perhaps Southern, though one could guess the Otter’s are an amalgamtion of a few different ethnic and regional traits. The whole notion of race is something for a Ph.D. dissertation. You might think I’m joking. But, just the other day, I heard about some professor questioning whether or not two characters in Reservoir Dogs were homosexual lovers. That has little to do with Emmet Otter other than prove that guess the ethnicity of Muppets is not that far-fetched of an idea for a some scholar’s next work. Of course thinking like this wholly misses the point. The message of Emmet Otter doesn’t change even if you opinion on his ethnicity does. As with so much of our problems in America we mistake rich and poor for black and white.