Monday, September 26, 2011

The Captain is a Chauvinistic Pig!

In the English language, there exists no person, animal, or object than cannot be improved when followed by the words "in space."  So, in an attempt to capitalize on the popular space operas of the '60s and '70s, The Muppet Show produced its own recurring sci-fi drama starring the most appropriate species on Earth:

PIGS!  IN!  SPACE!


A crew of interstellar porkers would wallow in the furthest reaches of the galaxy, encountering strange new creatures, unfamiliar worlds, and futuristic devices that change the very fabric of the universe as we know it.  It would take a brave man to lead the inhabitants on the Swinetrek through this perilous journey unscathed.  Unfortunately, a brave man was unavailable and they settled for the next best thing.

"I WANT MY MOMMY!"

Yes, Captain Link Hogthrob was placed in charge of the vessel, much to the chagrin of his First Mate Piggy.  He would boldly square off against extraterrestrial monsters (as long as they weren't snakes), he would strategically formulate plans to escape danger (after someone told him exactly what to do), and he would ethically treat all of his crew members with the utmost respect (as long as they were male).

It must be his devilishly handsome good looks that got him where he is today.

According to Jim Henson's son Brian, Henson created this pompous dim-witted voice and would adopt it whenever doing stereotypical fatherly chores around the house, like carving the Thanksgiving turkey.  The ultra-manly character seemed a perfect fit for Link, who seemed to suffer from the same negative qualities whether he was in the sketch or not.  In some ways, he evolved to be a caricature of Captain Kirk and William Shatner at the same time.  When he was not piloting the ship, he could be found showing off his talent for crooning.

Above: The cutest moment ever

If this character seems very familiar, it is probably because you watch Futurama.  Zapp Brannigan is clearly cut from the same mold.  He is dim-witted, highly sexist, and arrogant to the point of endangerment for all those who encounter him.  So, while Brannigan is a great character, Hogthrob was doing the same schtick 25 years earlier.

Switched at birth?

Like a giant manchild, Hogthrob had his heart in the right place most of the time, but lacked the abilities to process information intelligently.  He started off as a much smarter character, but as time passed, he got dumber and dumber, which allowed for many great situations.  For a sense of our leader in action, here are a few of the best "Pigs in Space" sketches:


Whenever people ask me who my favorite Muppet is, I always answer "Link Hogthrob" with no hesitation.  Stupid characters in of themselves are not funny.  If someone is stupid and innocent, I feel mean for laughing at their antics.  But if they are stupid AND cocky, everything is fair game.  There are many moments when Hogthrob does something infantile and sweet (I love his doodle in the third sketch!), but he comes right around and mocks First Mate Piggy for being a woman, assigning her tasks such as laundry and ironing in situations where the crew's lives are in peril.  He's a character that I can laugh at without shame.

Captain Link Hogthrob and his fearless team.  Off on another pointless adventure.

Tune in tomorrow for another exciting profile about PIGS!  IN!  SPAAAAACE!!!

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