Kermit the frog, an original muppet by Jim Henson, is a much loved character known for his hosting of The Muppet Show, appearances on Sesame Street and his many big screen endeavors. The kid friendly frog is also enjoyed by adults, and online he features in many gifs, both those true to his character and completely repurposed.
Human viewers see the felt amphibian and relate to his stress from managing his variety show, exasperation with colleagues and friends, and generally emotive character. As recognizable as Miss Piggy’s ‘HIIYYAAAA’ karate chop, Kermit’s wildly excited exclamation of ‘YAAAY’ accompanied by over the top flailing has been used for gif material across the internet.
In this mute format, makers and users of this gif are able to apply it to a variety of instances, and it is often appropriated to be representative of madcap panic on an endless loop. This gif usage, a wordless addition or punchline, adds another layer of meaning to be interpreted by the viewer or reader with Kermit acting in place of the speaker’s nonverbal gestural or emotional cues. According to Social Presence Theory, more presence in an interaction will achieve more intimacy, so by including a reaction gif in mediated conversation, the content of the message can be made more affective.
In addition to his presence in reaction gifs, since early 2014 Kermit has taken on his own meme, where he is shown sipping tea or milk and making cutting observations before the statement, and subsequent hashtag, “But that’s none of my business.” This meme started circulating as image macro’s on Instagram before spreading to Twitter and tumblr. As with the shift from excitement to panic with the arm-flailing gif, here the lovable frog is pulled from a tea commercial to passive aggressively judge someone or something. Used as a ‘sarcastic post-script to an insult or disrespectful remark’, the macro and gif have been remixed and responded to, so that Kermit can be a sign of the joke even without the hashtag or his beverage.
For my contribution to Kermit’s gif culture, I combined elements of these two popular gifs by focusing on his relatable emotive body language and finding a clip which, out of its original context, would be relevant to the judgmental persona of his meme. It depicts Kermit looking over his shoulder as he grimaces and shudders at what might be off screen. I chose this moment to emphasize because of its many applications, and for the same reason I excluded adding text.
Baym, Nancy K. “Communication in Digital Spaces.” Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. N. pag. Print.
“But That’s None of My Business.” Know Your Meme News. Cheezburger Network, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2015.
Shifman, Limor. “When Memes Go Digital.” Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge: MIT, 1974. N. pag. Print.