February 12, 2009

The Diva Load

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , — Joe Hennes @ 4:16 pm


Back in November, Hyperion Publishing released Pepe the King Prawn’s first book, It’s Hard Out Here For a Shrimp. As you may or may not remember, I gave the book a not-so-pleasant review. Oh, why mince words? I thought the book stunk. Literally. It actually smelled like Pepe.

Pepe’s book was only the second Muppet book of a series (preceded by Kermit’s Before You Leap, published by Meredith Books) that will someday fill a bookshelf of book spines that will be looked at, but rarely removed. The latest in the series is Miss Piggy’s The Diva Code: Miss Piggy on Life, Love, and the 10,000 Idiotic Things Men Frogs Do. To be honest, it was difficult to read this book with the prior knowledge of what came before, but if anyone knows how to bounce back from failure, it’s the Muppets.

The first thing I did when I received the book is flip through and look for pictures. The image on the cover is pretty, and thankfully not recycled from another production (as far as I know). However, the images inside the book are black-and-white reproductions of old poser photos. And not even the good kind of old (read: frizzy-haired Piggy, giant hat Piggy, etc.), but recent pictures that hold exactly zero nostalgic feelings. At least the Pepe book had some new cartoony illustrations. But I digress, this is a book containing words, and nowhere does it advertise that there will be photos at all. Let’s see how the wordy part measures up.

Miss Piggy provides her own introduction (for who else would be able to give her a proper fanfare?), followed by “A Note About the Typeface”. These are the only portions of the book written in conversational paragraphs, which makes them the most enjoyable parts of the book. Especially the typeface portion, because let’s face it, nobody cares about typeface, especially a Diva.

The next section delivers on Miss Piggy’s list of 10,000 Idiotic Things Men Frogs Do. Aside from the overuse of striking through the word Men, this part was actually, dare I say, funny. It’s not hilarious, but I admit, I squeaked out a titter or two. Naturally, Piggy only makes it through 42 of her promise of 10,000 tips, which elicits a complaint from Kermit the Frog (who has apparently been transcribing this whole time), at which point the Frog quits and leaves Piggy to her own machinations. Unfortunately, when Kermit leaves, so does the quality.

The remainder of the book reads just like Pepe’s. Every page has between one and four one-liner jokes (leaving a lot of white space), and though some are clever, few of them are funny. The main difference between the two books is that Pepe’s book is all about how men can be deceiving, manipulative, and selfish in a relationship, while Piggy’s book is all about how women can be deceiving, manipulative, and selfish. The content gives me little faith that anyone, myself included, has any idea how to coexist with the opposite sex (whatever the species).

The most unfortunate part is that there is a perfectly good book “written” by Miss Piggy, all about life, love, celebrity, and dealing with your frog. The book is called Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, written by National Lampoon founder Henry Beard. Guide to Life takes advantage of the brilliant mind of Beard, the inspiration of Frank Oz, and the amazing photography of John E. Barrett to create a genuinely funny, yet practical book that captures Piggy’s voice as well as your full attention. As much as it pains me to even hint at not supporting new Muppet merchandise, I suggest you search online for a used copy of Guide to Life and purchase it in lieu of The Diva Code. Sorry, Jim. Sorry, Mom.

But don’t take LeVar Burton’s word for it; here’s ToughPigs’ own Brad with some thoughts of his own: The Diva Code should have just been called “101 Miss Piggy Jokes” (and, aside from a 3rd grader, who sits down to read a joke book?)… I feel the writing is perfectly in-character and that Pepe and Piggy?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s voices are spot-on, but I see these books and ask ?¢‚Ǩ?ìwhat?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s the point??¢‚Ǩ¬ù and ?¢‚Ǩ?ìwho?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s the audience??¢‚Ǩ¬ù. Maybe you can get more enjoyment out of the content of these books if you tear out each page, fold them up, and bake them into Chinese cookies; or take the various one-liners and Photoshop yourself some creative Muppet posters or T-shirts around the funny slogans. I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t expect to see anyone sitting down with a nice glass of wine to read through the pages of The Diva Code and there?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s never going to be a book club (or even a book report) that covers It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Hard Out Here For A Shrimp. They just aren?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t that kind of book. It’s a shame.

Well said, Brad. And that begs the question: Who is the audience for these books? Joke book enthusiasts? Desperate self-help seekers? Or are we, the die-hard Muppet fans, this book’s core audience, and I just told you not to bother buying it? Sorry Hyperion, but you’ve got to do better than this.
Click here to discuss the 10,000 Idiotic Things Men Frogs Do on the ToughPigs forum!

joe.toughpigs@gmail.com



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