Throwback Thursday: The Muppet Personality Theory

Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street are making headlines again this week. Not bad for almost fifty-year-old beings made from felt. Of course, the reason they are in the news is a bit weird. Some people have their knickers all in a twist because they have decided that Bert and Ernie are gay. Let me break this to those people gently: Bert and Ernie are muppets. They are made of felt. They do not have a sex life! 

Anyway, in looking at the traffic on my blog the last few days, I noticed that several people had accessed a post that I wrote back in June of 2012 called "The Muppet Personality Theory." So, thank you, Bert and Ernie!

My post had been in response to a piece that I read in Slate. Dahlia Lithwick, in case you don't know, is a talented journalist who covers the Supreme Court for Slate and also frequently appears on various television and radio news shows to share her expertise. She's the main reason why I still include Slate in my daily roundup of news feeds. And here is that post that I wrote in response to her long-ago article.


Friday, June 8, 2012

The Muppet Personality Theory

The wonderful Dahlia Lithwick of the online magazine Slate has a very perceptive and funny piece in the magazine today called "Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types." It's worth your time to go and read the whole article but here's the capsule version.

Lithwick maintains that human beings can be categorized as either one of two kinds of Muppets: Chaos Muppets or Order Muppets. As one who grew up with my children as they watched Sesame Street and learned their ABCs, colors, numbers, shapes, and much else from the Muppets, I have to say that her theory makes a whole lot of sense to me.
Chaos Muppets are out-of-control, emotional, volatile. They tend toward the blue and fuzzy. They make their way through life in a swirling maelstrom of food crumbs, small flaming objects, and the letter C. Cookie Monster, Ernie, Grover, Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and—paradigmatically—Animal, are all Chaos Muppets. Zelda Fitzgerald was a Chaos Muppet. So, I must tell you, is Justice Stephen Breyer.
Order Muppets—and I’m thinking about Bert, Scooter, Sam the Eagle, Kermit the Frog, and the blue guy who is perennially harassed by Grover at restaurants (the Order Muppet Everyman)—tend to be neurotic, highly regimented, averse to surprises and may sport monstrously large eyebrows. They sometimes resent the responsibility of the world weighing on their felt shoulders, but they secretly revel in the knowledge that they keep the show running. Your first grade teacher was probably an Order Muppet. So is Chief Justice John Roberts. 
See? Doesn't that make it all perfectly clear? It's the most transparent and understandable theory of personality types that I have ever read! I speak as one who struggled through many college psychology and sociology classes and scratched my head over Freud and Jung and Adler.

Lithwick goes on to say that opposite Muppet types do attract (Think Bert and Ernie.) and that they often wind up married to each other. That's not necessarily a bad thing because the two personality types tend to balance each other and make a unified whole. Just think what a disaster a marriage between two Chaos Muppets might be like! The only thing worse might be a marriage between two Order Muppets.  (Come to think of it, that may go a long way towards explaining the divorce rate.)

So, what kind of Muppet are you? I think I probably fall more in the Chaos category. One look at the closets in my house would convince you of that. But in my professional life, I had to masquerade as an Order Muppet. Maybe that's why I was often miserable there. I sat at my desk crunching numbers and dreamed of skipping down the street hand-in-hand with Big Bird and Cookie Monster, leaving a trail of yellow feathers, cookie crumbs, and happy smiles in our wake.


  1. Thoughtful, hilarious and just what I needed this morning!

    1. The theory actually explains quite a lot, don't you think?

  2. I agree with Judy that it is a funny theory. Perhaps your traffic is trying to tell you something. :-)


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