Note: I am not a doctor, so do not take any of my coming ramblings as medical advice.
Jarrod Fairclough – Recently I got sent a pretty funny gif of Muppets fainting, and I was surprised to see just how often it happened. So I went on Muppet Wiki for a full list, intending on making a fun little article on the punchline a sketch, where I noticed that two characters seemed to be fainting more often than the others – Bert and Mr Johnson. And this got me thinking; Could these two have a shared medical issue causing them to collapse as often as they do? So I’ve gone on the world’s most accurate medical website – WebMD – in order to check out why these two faint so much.
The first condition listed that causes fainting is heart problems, such as irregular heartbeats, seizures, low blood sugar, and blood pressure. The latter issues can sometimes be dealt with via diet, which leads to me the eating habits of these two. Firstly, there’s Bert, who is famous for his love of oatmeal. According to a forum on MyNetDiary, eating oatmeal a few times a week is fine, however it needs to be a part of a balanced diet, and does not contain all the necessary nutrients that the body needs. So it’s entirely possible that Bert is eating too much of his favorite food, and should perhaps take a leaf out of Veggie Monster’s book.
Then there’s Mr Johnson, who is well known for eating out and being waited on by Grover. Muppet Wiki has some extensive lists of their sketches together, and by my count over 35 different dishes are ordered, none of which are very healthy. There are multiple cheeseburgers and hamburgers, all with fries. Ice cream. Pie. Hotogs. Pizza. Even a jelly donut. And look, I’m not here to body shame Mr Johnson, but his short squat physique gives me the impression that he isn’t ordering many salads. All of this food could be playing havoc with his heart, which means he is moreso prone to fainting.
Another cause of fainting is quick movement, which doesn’t allow the blood enough time to move to the brain – sometimes we can feel this as a light headed sensation when we stand too quickly. And in watching sketches starring these two over the years, they’re both very fast movers, especially when angry. Bert has been known to flail around the place when shouting at Ernie, and Mr Johnson’s movements can be very jerky when he’s talking with Grover. It’s also a small possibility that they have sustained head injuries from their earlier faints, which could make them susceptible to further incidents.
Lastly, another cause for both men’s habit of fainting seems to be stress related. Stress and anger are closely tied together, and god knows Bert and Mr Johnson have been dealing with some stressful situations for years. In fact, in looking through Muppet Wiki, it seems almost every faint is due to anger. When we’re angry and stressed, it causes us to change our breathing patterns, becoming faster and faster. This change in breathing can cause hyperventilation, which is when we take in too much oxygen and get rid of too much carbon dioxide quickly. Bert is often angry and stressed at Ernie, whether he’s annoying Bert while he sleeps or continuously interrupting his peaceful afternoon of book reading. Being so quick to anger means that Bert can go from relaxed to furious in seconds, which will of course affect how he breathes. It’s the same with Mr Johnson – his anger issues shown through 50 years of Sesame Street proves that hyperventilation is a real issue in his life.
Personally, I believe Mr Johnson suffers from all four problems, which causes his habitual fainting. Mr Johnson doesn’t eat well, he moves extremely quickly, he could have head injuries, and he has a horribly quick temper. All of these combined is not the embodiment of a healthy lifestyle. As for Bert, he seems to eat better than his Fat Blue friend, though the other three issues are definitely at play here.
So, what could Bert and Mr Johnson do about this? How could they keep themselves from having these problems as they try to live their lives? Obviously the first one is anger management. Perhaps they could seek counseling, and get to the root of their short tempers. Bert has stayed best friends with Ernie for over 50 years now, he obviously loves his friend, so removing himself from that situation isn’t an attractive option. Likewise, Mr Johnson is doomed to continue to run in to Grover at every shop and restaurant he visits, so he’ll need to find some way to live alongside the fuzzy and blue monster. Mr Johnson could also afford to eat a little healthier. Perhaps you don’t need that morning coffee, Fat Blue? Instead of a Cherry Pie next time you’re at Charlie’s, how about Paleo Strawberry Crumble? Finally, these men need to slow it down, which would come from a few sessions with a therapist. Rather than snapping at a small issue, causing stress on your heart and body, take a deep breath and count to three. Your brain will thank you when the near-permanent concussions disappear.