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Kermit the Frog's TED talk proves TED talks can ruin everything

Phil Edwards is a senior producer for the Vox video team.

Kermit the Frog gave a TEDx talk in Jackson, Mississippi, in November 2014, and the video was recently released. (Kermit is from a Mississippi swamp.) The topic: creativity.

Yes, the frog gave a TED talk.

Depending on how you feel about TED talks, this is either an inspiring look at creativity or a depressing example of Kermit the Frog being co-opted by corporate pseudo-intellectual banality that leaves you imagining him staying at Courtyard Marriotts on a corporate expense account, "networking" a little too eagerly and calling himself a "connectivity guru with an interest in B2L (business to lily pad)."

Despite the hippie sensibility we associate with Henson and Co., as recalled in Brian Jay Jones's biography of Jim Henson, the Muppets have a history of taking corporate gigs. One of Henson's first paid gigs was making ads for Wilkins coffee.

Kermit didn't display much of the showmanship or humility he's shown in other performances. Except for a vaudevillian slurp of iced tea in the middle, Kermit stayed focused on how creativity can make businesses shine:

  • Kermit says creativity is a "conspiracy of craziness."
  • Kermit eagerly quotes that "creativity is the engine of our economy." Sometimes, that can require "ridiculous optimism."
  • Kermit quotes Charles Baudelaire: "Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will."
  • Kermit also believes that Zen Buddhism also can help us understand creativity, because "in the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind, there are few."

For all of us who wish Kermit were less about the humor, emotion, and chaos of The Muppet Show and more about paging through quote books bought at airports, this TED talk is a relief.

Now go create (some synergies)!

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