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Puppets in Politics

Though thought of today primarily as entertainment for children, puppetry has a long history of espousing political agendas. One of the earliest and most famous puppets is Punch and Judy originating from the commedia dell’arte in Britain in the 17th century. According to an article appearing in the Detroit-based Fifth Estate paper, Spring 2000, by Kerry Mogg,

”This hunchback, with his large, hooked nose and insanely boorish manners, was a hero of the lower-classes. Punch broke the most sacrosanct laws imaginable in a time when conformity was imposed in every sphere of life…. He mocked the law, God’s and king’s …. As George Speight tells us in Punch and Judy: a History, Punch was a subversive jester, “the simpleton who could answer back to Bishop and King, the fool with the license to poke fun at anyone.”

In this vein, at the Fremont Solstice parade Brian Kooser, Nick DeMarco, and Josh Okrent of the Monkeywrench Puppet Lab developed the float “Fountain of Youth” featuring giant babies each with their own agenda.

 

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Holly Chernobyl, 26 Mexican baby
I’m gonna get chased by the border patrol babies and I’m probably gonna say a lot of things in Spanish. Viva la revolucion! I’m a little nervous (about being chased by the border patrol) but I think that they’ll be gentle.”

 

Brian Kooser, 43 rich white baby
We are an organization of puppeteers that try to bring a different vision of puppetry out into the world. Puppetry has a tendency to be something that is left for kids and that’s never been the case in the past. It’s a recent development with television and that sort of thing.

We wanted to make it timely to whatever was going on at the time…So we’ll have our little terrorist baby, and we’ll have the national guard baby, and we’ll touch on a few other touchy subjects and hopefully offend as many people as possible.

I’m the fattest so I’m the rich, white baby. I felt that I’d be the best representative of the American culture so I got the silver spoon and the un-deformed, perfect cherubic face.”

 

Mathyas Elliott, 17 one of the National Guard babies
I wanted to be with the National Guard because you get to chase the Mexican. I think it will be fun. I have an actual role and that’s the kind of thing that I’m into.”

 

Nick DeMarco, 19 handy capable baby
He’s got an infected eye and he’s a little handicapped but he’s going to make it. He’s going to do his best… I just wanted to make a gross baby. Its a lot of fun. Its just a bunch of dudes running around in diapers.”

 

Rachel Sprague, 23 military baby
I’m chasing her, the Mexican. I’m looking forward to getting to use my water pistol and waddling around as fast as I can. This is awesome.”

 

Diedre Muns, 40 the only female baby
I’ve got a nice little blond tuft on the top. … maybe they’ll pick on me, maybe they’ll take care of me. Who knows. It depends on what kind of older brothers they are. I’m one of the least statement because I’m a little tired of politics and I just wanted to be a baby. I always wanted to go back into the womb, drink some milk, just relax.”

 

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