This article was written by guest contributor Michael Engel. Thanks, Michael!
The holiday season is upon us, and thus it is time to start thinking about what kind of New Year’s resolutions we’d like to make. As Muppet fans, we’re clearly already pretty cool, but even we can benefit from a bit of reflection. What steps can we take to become a better person?
Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (who would have made a very good Muppet Show guest star, but he missed it by about 2000 years) thought that we can look at “the virtuous person” as an example. The virtuous person is someone with naturally good character traits who also puts them into practice on a regular basis.
Most people might assume that Muppet fans would look to Kermit as a virtuous person, but he most decidedly has feet of clay. Well, flippers of clay. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kermit. His faults are part of why we can all relate to him! Unlikely as it may seem, to find a Muppet with an abundance of virtues to be emulated, one who can be a road map to self-improvement, we need look no further than Janice.
How on Earth did I come to this ridiculous-sounding conclusion, you might be asking yourself? After all, Janice is commonly seen as ditzy, spacey, out of touch with reality, maybe even a little bit, well… not-so-smart. But these are only shallow, surface-level impressions. Please allow me to highlight some of Janice’s many notable and exemplary
In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit asks the band if they live at the Happiness Hotel. Floyd responds in the affirmative, but adds that it’s only between gigs. He then cynically quips they’ve been there this time for five years. He and all the rest of the band seemed resigned to their fate of being failed musicians.
All except Janice, of course. She states that “things are really going to break when we get our new glossies!” While the other band members are pessimistic about their future, and in fact appear to have given up hope, Janice has a positive
attitude. She has faith in her abilities, faith in her friends, and faith in photography, and she will continue fighting for her dreams. Be like Janice.
Later in The Great Muppet Caper, the Muppet gang are all loudly arguing about how to foil Nicky’s devious plans. Kermit yells for quiet and everyone shuts up, except for Janice, who is in the middle of saying, “Look, mother, it’s my life, OK? So if I want to live on the beach and walk around naked…”
Most people, including Janice’s mom, apparently, live their lives to one degree or another worried about what others think of them. They want to blend in with the crowd. They crave the approval of their peers. They fear non-conformity and being thought of as too different or unusual. But not Janice! No one is going to impose their small-minded social
norms, traditions, and prejudices on her. She will live her life exactly as she pleases. Be like Janice.
In The Muppets Take Manhattan, once again the whole gang is talking and once again they all get quiet at the same time. We hear Janice say “I’m not going to take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is artistic…” In this case, she is relating an anecdote where someone was attempting to coerce Janice into doing something that she was not comfortable with, or that she did not think was appropriate.
The way she phrases it makes it clear that she is a strong person that is not easily intimidated. Janice has well defined principles and boundaries, and she is self-confident enough to resist any unwanted outside pressure. Be like Janice.
In The Muppets Mayhem, the band decides to throw a pool party. To the rest of the gang, it’s just an excuse to have fun and cut loose. To Janice, however, it’s an opportunity to highlight her commitment to diversity and multiculturalism. She explains, “We’re throwing an all-inclusive, Icelandic, Oceanic, Pan-Atlantic, coconut bra, Malibu beach party!
Respectfully representing every continental and coral archipelago in the world!”
Janice truly cares about other people’s cultures and other people’s feelings, and takes them seriously even with something as simple as a pool party. Be like Janice.
In that very same episode, it is revealed that Janice is allergic to lies and dishonesty. As Floyd explains, “Janice is highly allergic to all forms of fraudulent falsities and general malarkey.” Nora’s collection of lies becomes so extensive that it puts poor Janice into a coma. She quickly recovers when Nora comes clean, and Janice says she feels amazing.
There can only be harmony within her group when everyone is honest and open with each other. Janice is always
true to herself, and expects the same from those around her. Be like Janice.
Janice is always concerned with the well being of others, and does whatever she can to alleviate their suffering. When Nora is stressed out, Janice gives her “your basic sage-smudging chakra alignment augmented with amethyst cleansing aromatherapy.” She explains, “I saw a purple anger tornado emanating from Nora and I was like, I must heal you!”
When Nora and Hannah are not speaking to each other, Janice does everything she can to help them reconcile. And it’s not just people that Janice cares about… she is a vegan! Janice refuses to support the cruel animal agriculture industry because she does not want to cause harm to any thinking, feeling creature. Janice knows that we are all responsible for the consequences of our actions, including the seemingly mundane ones like what we choose to put on our plates.
Janice’s compassion for others knows no bounds. Be like Janice.
A Role Model for All Ages
I have three young children, and they are Muppet fans like their father (#raisethemright). Yesterday my eight year old Willow wanted to know what I was writing, and I told her I was writing an article about how Janice is a terrific person and a good role model. She quickly agreed, and I asked her why she thought that. Without any hesitation she said that Janice is a good friend because she won’t let Nora give up. Out of the mouths of babes.
So, go find someone you love and tell them how much you care. When the new year rolls around, remember to be hopeful about the future and pursue your dreams. Be yourself, be honest, and be kind to other people and to animals. Be a good friend. And watch more Muppets.
Click here to live on a beach and walk around naked on the Tough Pigs Discord!
by Michael Engel