The end is coming too late to do me any good.
According to wackadoodles on the Internet, the world will cease this Dec. 21 in fulfillment of a Mayan prophecy older than Calgon’s ancient Chinese secret for white shirts. These fun-loving folks believe — or pretend to believe — that the rogue Planet X (or Nibiru or Eris) is waiting for this date to gobsmack our own planet, ending life as we know it — and beating that other impending doomsday scenario, the Fiscal Cliff, by a good two weeks.
When I hear references to Planet X, I can’t help but think of the scene in “Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century,” where Porky, the “eager young space cadet,” shows Daffy Duck that finding the mysterious Planet X is as easy as following planets A, B, C, etc. (all helpfully marked with gigantic white letters visible from space) to their inevitable conclusion.
The inevitable conclusion for any thinking person is that, if a real-life Planet X existed, astronomers surely would have spotted it decades ago, unless it’s playing hide-and-go-seek behind the moon (I hate when it does that), holding off until the winter solstice to jump out and smash into us.
Intentionally malicious planets, like crazy ex’s, are really hard to predict, after all.
Anyway, the end of the world on Dec. 21 is too late for me because, by then, my personal world already will have been disrupted by Planet Xmas. In case the world doesn’t stop spinning, all my gifts will be purchased (and in case it does, I will have purchased them all on credit); the tree will be trimmed; and my wife’s 1,327 gingerbread decorations will be lugged from the attic by her carthorse husband and installed in locations strategically selected to cause toe-stubbing and one-legged hopping and cursing in the dark.
I’ve already promised some of my classes that if the world ends, I will bring them doughnuts the next day; and if it doesn’t, they owe me some sweets on Dec. 22. Some have reminded me that we aren’t in school Dec. 22, anyway, which is another reason why I hope next apocalypse comes earlier in the year. Preferably a Wednesday. Monday is bad enough without armageddon to contend with, Tuesday is just Monday with slightly less angst, Thursday is too close to the weekend, and everybody knows that Americans don’t do anything extra on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. No, Wednesday would be best, maybe right after lunch.
And, really, ending the world just before Christmas is pretty rotten. By Dec. 21, most of us will have suffered through the worst parts of the holiday — which includes, musically, “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and those dogs that bark “Jingle Bells”; cinematically, Jim Carrey’s turn as the Grinch; and literarily (?), dozens of not-so-clever parodies of “The Night Before Christmas” and those silly family update letters stuffed in Christmas cards — and will be ready for the highlight of the holiday: one brief day of rest before we take back all the junk that other people gave us, tear down decorations and get ready for Valentine’s Day.
No, ending the world on Dec. 21 is notoriously bad planning. I’d like to give those ancient Mayans a piece of my mind, but I have something more important to worry about: It turns out that the world’s supply of Alludium Phosdex, the shaving cream atom, is alarmingly low.
Where’s Duck Dodgers when you need him?
Chris Schillig’s wife, Holly, wants the world to know that she figured out how to light the prelit Christmas tree this year just before Chris threw the darn thing out the door. You can reach the holiday grump at email@example.com
or @cschillig on Twitter.
Originally published on Dec. 6, 2012, in The Alliance Review.
I shocked my wife recently by performing the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song from memory.
This included a passable vocal rendition of the Earl Scruggs banjo solo. Scruggs was in the public eye last week because he died, an extreme way to trend on Twitter, but effective if you’re willing to sacrifice.
Anyway, I summoned my best bass to imitate singer Jerry Scoggins and launched into “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” which spent 20 weeks on the country charts in 1962, six years before I was born. “Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed,” it begins, and takes the audience (in this case, my long-suffering spouse, desperately rolling over in bed to ignore the lunatic lying next to her, who was belting out lyrics and playing the air banjo — my air guitar’s in the shop for repairs — with reckless abandon) through the rags-to-riches tale of food-shooting, oil-finding Clampett, who moves his family from the hinterlands to swank Beverly Hills. Chances are good you’re singing it now — “bubbling crude,” “black gold” “Texas tea” and all.
For a guy who just last week wrote about how his memory for names is shot, I’m happy to report my recall for ephemeral nonsense is as strong as ever. In addition to “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme, I can rattle off principal actors in “Leave It To Beaver” (Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow, “and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver”); the number of consecutive issues that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby collaborated on the Fantastic Four (102), and the names of all 10 Led Zeppelin studio albums (to be fair, the first is self-titled, two and three are Roman numerals, and the fourth is runic shapes that are loosely transcribed as “ZOSO”).
Yet ask me what I had for dinner last night or how many years I’ve been married (my pat answer to the latter, “All of them,” doesn’t play well) and I’m at a complete loss.
We live in the golden age of pop culture because virtually everything is available to us — in print, on disk or online. Want to read “Gulliver of Mars,” the book that inspired Edgar Rice Burroughs to create John Carter, which inspired Disney Studios to make the biggest bomb in its history? Twenty years ago, you had to haunt used-book stores or order sight unseen through the mail. Today, it’s free online.
Around 1987, I took a movie appreciation class where the biggest problem was how to watch any movies. A few students had VCRs in their dorm rooms, but almost nobody had pre-recorded videos. We begged and borrowed movies — not necessarily good movies — just to have something. I ended up working with a group to analyze special effects in “Alien,” not because we particularly liked it, but because it was the only movie we had.
Today, that’s as alien to younger film fans as the title character was to those crew members who watched it pop out of a man’s chest.
Want to relive “King Kong,” “Casablanca,” “Double Indemnity,” or other Hollywood hits? You no longer have to stay up until 2 a.m. and receive a fuzzy signal through a rabbit-ear antenna from some station in Outer Mongolia, only to doze off five minutes before the movie starts and wake up as the final credits roll. Chances are good the movie is available for purchase, rental or loan on DVD, Blu-Ray or instant download to scratch the cinematic itch on your schedule.
The same holds true for music, poetry, drama, art — you name it, you can likely find it.
Today, the hardest part of pop culture is making time to enjoy everything that interests you. Or maybe it’s finding a way to step out of its path and connect with the real world outside your door and not the one on the omnipresent screen in front of you.
In previous generations, people like Jed Clampett knew dozens of ways to catch food, mix roots and herbs, and live off the land. Today, people like me know dozens of tunes and trivia about characters like Jed Clampett.
I guess that’s progress, as long as the banjo you’re hearing is the theme from “The Beverly Hillbillies” and not “Deliverance.”
@cschillig on Twitter
Originally printed in The Alliance Review on April 5, 2012.
One day after watching Patrick Stewart play the lead in this newly released Macbeth on DVD, and I can’t get the adaptation out of my head.
While remaining mostly true to the Bard’s language, everything else about this brilliantly re-imagined version of the Scottish Play is brand new. Director Rupert Goold drags the tragedy out of the distant past and into some cryptic, World War II-era hospital netherworld, with the Wyrd Sisters serving as nurses who are as likely to kill their patients as save them. (More likely, actually.)
Stewart is brilliant as Macbeth, and Kate Fleetwood seductively evil as his “fiend-like queen.” Half the fun is watching how the familiar parts of the play — the dagger of the mind, the witches’ cauldron scenes, the forest coming to Dunsinane — are given a fresh coat of paint. Despite being Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, this lasts 180 minutes, the runtime bloated with shocking imagery and avant garde camera angles. Nevertheless, the lines themselves are perfectly clear, and when things get too gory, all one needs to do is close the eyes to experience the grandeur of Shakespeare’s language.
A few caveats: The Porter, the only piece of comic relief in the original, is here made cutting edge and dangerous. Following a scene where he urinates in a sink (which Macbeth later uses to wash his hands) and mimics sodomizing a little girl, he pops up like Rambo in the closing scenes, fighting alongside Stewart with a belt of bullets slung over his shoulder. The climax itself is too action-movie like for my tastes, although the shot of Lord and Lady Macbeth descending to hitherto unreachable depths of their underworld home via elevator is the perfect closing scene. Call it a suitable coda to this dark exploration of ambition unchecked by morality.
The DVD has no extras, but purchase does support the Public Broadcasting Service, always a plus.
… I hear “Father Christmas” by the Kinks ….
… read the classic Carl Barks’ comic-book story “Christmas for Shacktown” …
… hear Orson Welles and Lionel Barrymore in their rendition of A Christmas Carol from the golden age of radio …
… read, see, or listen to some version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (with the exception of the rotten live-action movie from a few years back) …
… listen to one (or all) of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas CDs (but the original, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, is still the best) …
… and of course watch movies It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and Holiday Inn, but I’m too tired to dig up images to go along with them.
Anybody else have any favorites?
I made time to watch The Walking Dead tonight. “Uneven” is the word that first comes to mind.
The 90-minute debut of Robert Kirkman’s zombie survivalist comic book on national television managed to mix some character development among its gore, but even the direction of the great Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist) couldn’t overcome the familiarity of the primary threat. Yes, they’re zombies, and we all know the rules: They’re creepy and they’re drooling, they feast on human (and horse) flesh, and they’re susceptible to blows to the head. Nothing in The Walking Dead contradicts these rules or adds to the genre in any substantial way.
It’s up to the characters, then, to carry the episode, and this they mostly do. The human element — the angst, the survival instinct, the weird bedfellows that are the result of the zombie apocalypse — is well represented here, although our primary protagonist, lawman Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is rather bland and one-note. An overlong opening sequence shows us Grimes waking up in the hospital after a gunshot injury to learn that the world has undergone an infestation of zombies. A similar expository scene was handled much better in 28 Days Later.
The Walking Dead shows enough promise to bring me back next week, and it reminds me that I need to catch up with Kirkman’s comic book. I read the first volume and enjoyed it, but for some reason, I never proceeded beyond that point. A giant compendium of issues 1-48 might be the way to go here, and maybe my time would be better spent on that than on the television series.
I had fun marking Halloween with my high school students this year. In my AP English Literature and Composition class, we finished our reading and study of Turn of the Screw, Henry James’s maybe/maybe-not Victorian ghost story. I also read the class Cherise the Niece, a weird, rhyming picture book about a little girl whose aunts tend to turn up dead.
In AP Language and Comp, I read the class one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories, “Fever Dream,” about a boy who is convinced that his scarlet fever is taking over his body, one limb at a time. Creepy stuff, especially for a confirmed germaphobe.
Students in Film Studies continued their viewing of Hitchcock’s classic, Psycho, while my freshman classes, in the midst of studying Edgar Allan Poe, were treated to the very first “Treehouse of Horror” episode from The Simpsons, the one that culminates in James Earl Jones’s narration of “The Raven.”
Good stuff, all. Still, having Halloween fall on a Sunday is a bit of a downer. Halloween night should be all about reading and watching scary stuff, but the thought of a workday following fast on the holiday’s heels sucks the creepy vibe right out. Bummer.
As the new television season gets underway, networks have missed the perfect opportunity to piggyback on the country’s newly minted education obsession with a remake of “Welcome Back Kotter” for the high-stakes testing era.
Surely you remember beleaguered Mr. Kotter and his Sweathogs. Comedian Gabe Kaplan played Kotter, who returns to his alma mater to teach a baker’s dozen of incorrigible students, including Vinnie Barbarino (“Up your nose with a rubber hose!”), Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington (“Hey, Mr. Caaar-TEAR”), and the uber-annoying Arnold Horshack (“Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh!” with hand thrust into the air). Kotter is regularly hassled by clueless Vice Principal Mr. Woodman, who dislikes both Kotter’s unusual teaching methods and the subhuman Sweathogs.
In the updated version – informed by No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, the federal government’s love affair with charter schools at the expense of public education, and one-sided documentaries that paint teachers themselves as little better than adult Sweathogs – we find that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In this new version, Kotter is still perpetually in danger of losing his job, only this time it’s because he has failed to improve his Sweathogs’ test scores in various target demographics, which include students from impoverished homes, students from specific racial and ethnic backgrounds, and students with special needs. Now when Mr. Woodman bursts into Kotter’s room in the middle of class, he’s waving spreadsheets, raving about “value-added” and “adequate yearly progress” and crunching numbers based on formulas that nobody outside of John Maynard Keynes understands. Audience laughter ensues.
In one episode, some of the Sweathogs apply at a swank new charter academy funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, they are denied admittance because the academy fears their scores will adversely affect their reputation in the community. The Sweathogs return to their original high school, which the charter school has cherry-picked for its best and brightest, thus perpetuating the self-fulfilling prophecy that public schools are stuck in an irreversible downward spiral. In a cameo appearance, Melinda Gates is hit upon by John Travolta’s Barbarino character and flees the school in disgust, blaming Kotter for his lack of classroom discipline.
In another installment, Kotter is temporarily replaced by an Ivy League graduate of Teach for America, whose résumé consists of a six-week crash course in educational theory. Applying a strict business model to the classroom (because it worked so well on Wall Street a few years ago), the new teacher realizes a modest increase in test scores. However, like most Teach for America candidates, she leaves after her two-year commitment, just at the point where, according to most studies, her teaching would become as effective as an experienced educator’s.
Kotter is rehired, in time to be asked to serve on a special panel to explore solutions to the nation’s educational woes. Fellow panel members include politicians, millionaires, and politicians who are millionaires. Kotter is removed from the panel when the other members realize he has actual classroom experience. He is replaced with Oprah Winfrey. Her appointment makes no sense, but it does give her a chance to say, “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” for the audience’s raucous applause.
The next week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan invites Kotter and his fellow faculty members to a special showing of “Waiting for Superman,” the new documentary about American public education that demonizes teachers’ unions. Afterward, Duncan has Mr. Woodman threaten to fire the bottom ten percent of teachers, based solely on test scores (because idle threats are the optimal way to motivate people to do their best).
When Kotter points out that firing the bottom ten percent creates a (ital.) new (end ital.) bottom ten percent, and that it unfairly targets teachers (usually new and inexperienced) who work with the most challenging students in large urban districts, the audience boos. The very prospect that learning could be contingent on factors such as quality parenting and socioeconomic background is absurd; everybody knows public schools are solely to blame for all our nation’s ills. Besides, politicians have learned that blaming the same people you rely on for votes is ballot-box suicide; the teacher witch hunt is a much more convenient scenario, which is why they concocted it.
In a special episode, Kotter loses out on a merit-pay bonus by half a percentage point and must take an evening job working alongside some of his students at a local pizza parlor. He is so tired that he can barely stay awake, let alone be the dynamic entertainer-educator-innovator-surrogate parent-magician needed in the classroom. Meanwhile, the local newspaper considers running his students’ test scores on the front page, thereby exposing him to additional ridicule, all punctuated with a raucous laugh track.
I have more story ideas, but I doubt that more than half a dozen episodes of my proposed new “Welcome Back Kotter” would air before everybody finds something more interesting than education to worry about, like who the new judges on “American Idol” will be and will the nation survive this economic recovery. In that order.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (cschillig).
This week’s Alliance Review column, dated Sept. 16, 2010:
Once upon a time, if you missed a TV show, you missed it forever. If you’re over a certain age, this is the edict by which most of your boob-tube-related life was lived.
Growing up, I equated Tuesday night with “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley,” followed by my personal favorite, “Three’s Company.” John Ritter, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt — I remembered all their names without Google, so indelibly were they etched on my prepubescent psyche — defined the swinging singles life and made me wish that I could one day live in a cool apartment complex where witty neighbors dropped by unannounced and all problems were solved in 30 minutes, minus commercials.
It was a real letdown when I rented my first apartment and lived next to a couple of nocturnal steelworkers whose fights were exceeded in volume only by their vociferous making up, and above a snarly old woman with curling chin hair and a penchant for coughing phlegm out her kitchen window. Mrs. Roper, she wasn’t.
Friday night meant “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “The Incredible Hulk” and, if my parents fell asleep on the couch before my bedtime, “Dallas,” with its heaping helping of oil, sex, intrigue, sex, high-pressure business deals, sex and sex. Who shot J.R. was the least of my concerns amid all that boudoir intrigue, I assure you.
But if I missed an episode of any of my favorites, there was no catching up — no YouTube or network websites, no DVR or season compilations on DVD. The only way I would see it again was if I caught it as a rerun later, but the chances of that happening were about the same as the odds of Phil Davison delivering a sane, sensible speech to the Stark County Republican Executive Committee.
Oh, sure, I grew up in the infancy of video recorders. Our first unit weighed in at about the size and weight of a manhole cover and featured a series of red-and-white switches under the front panel to record live TV. But these early devices were designed by people with advanced degrees in engineering exclusively for other people with advanced degrees in engineering; any recording of a show that you actually intended to tape was strictly coincidental. Despite my best efforts, I almost always ended up with something off Channel 17, the religious channel that my mom would make me watch whenever I said I was too sick to go to Mass.
Nowadays, the video recorder is as passé as charcoal briquettes and cursive handwriting. In its place is the DVR, which stands for Dummy-Version Recording. This means that even dopes like me can manage to record a TV show while out of the house doing something frivolous, like getting a surgical sponge removed from our intestines.
Unfortunately, as with all modern technology, the DVR has solved one problem by creating another: which unwatched shows to keep, and which to delete. This seemed like a ludicrous concern when I received my first unit, which could hold the digital equivalent of the Louisiana Territory inside its metallic innards. But by the time we swapped cable for satellite service a year later, we had populated all that space quite nicely, and anything new that was recorded meant an older show was taken off oxygen support and allowed to slip away.
The new DVR device has even more space, but I’ve filled it up to 90 percent of capacity in only a few short months. Now I’m left with the difficult decision of which shows to keep and which to jettison. A week’s worth of unwatched “Jeopardy” from last May? Gone to make way for “The Event,” whatever that is. An episode of “Secret Life of an American Teenager” that my daughter never watched over the summer? Save it — she might still want it. “Queen + Paul Rogers,” a concert that my wife accidentally set to record in perpetuity? We have five copies already, with more to come.
June was a big month for DVR at Casa Schillig, likely because it’s too nice outside to watch much TV. But it was also too nice in July, August and so far in September, too, so a bunch of oldies from Turner Classic Movies molder away on the service.
I hate deleting shows because it’s so final. Just because I haven’t gotten around to “Terror Train” or “Freaks” doesn’t mean I never will, especially with Halloween coming. It was a lot easier when I was a kid and we only had two VHS tapes to our name, which meant 12 hours max of recording time, instead of three days’ worth or whatever the embarrassment of riches is that we have today.
But it was easier still back in the time when you watched a show when it was first on or not at all. If you happened to be distracted by two beautiful roommates or your fun-loving neighbors at the same time as that first-run episode of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” — well, that’s what summer reruns were for.
Television 23 Aug 2010 06:54 am
Months after we started, my wife and I finally finished watching season one of Dollhouse on DVD, just a few weeks before the second season is scheduled to be released. The show was a constant surprise, much more smartly written than many critics (and even fans) gave it credit for. Given the rather formulaic beginning, I never would have predicted where the season ended.
The initial premise is that the Dollhouse is a Los Angeles-based, high-tech brothel where hookers called “actives” are imprinted with memories to make them the perfect companions for the idle rich. After each “engagement,” their memories are wiped clean, and they return to a naive, doll-like state, wandering about an underground secret lair until they are contracted out again. The opening episodes are trashily enjoyable in this vein, especially one that riffs on Richard Connell’s “Most Dangerous Game.” Later episodes show dolls (both male and female) being imprinted with expertise in a variety of disciplines and farmed out to work as investigators, body guards, and midwives, to name just a few professions.
The star doll, if you will, is codenamed Echo, played by Eliza Dushku, known to most fans know for her role in another Joss Whedon-created series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but famliar to me from her starring turn in the underrated horror flick Wrong Turn. Echo is really a young woman named Caroline, who has traded five years of her life as an operative in the Dollhouse in exchange for commuting a jail sentence. When her time is done, so the series goes, she will have no recollection of the time she served as a doll.
Issues of free will, slavery and the ability of technology to outstrip morality soon come to the forefront, and the show quickly moves beyond the more prurient aspects of its premise to become a real sci-fi mind-bender, especially as Whedon and company introduce the idea of rapid switching of consciousness within the dolls’ bodies and the possibility of customers wanting their own consciousnesses imprinted into the dolls’ minds. A constant bogeyman throughout the season is Alpha, a doll who has gone rogue and become homicidal.
Strong performances abound in the show, especially Fran Kranz as Topher Brink, a lovable if amoral genius who programs the dolls before each engagement; Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard, an erstwhile FBI agent seeking to learn about the Dollhouse, which has attained the status of an urban legend in L.A.; and Amy Acker as Dr. Claire Saunders, the Dollhouse physician who serves as Topher’s conscience.
The show’s writers have a knack for coming up with character twists and scenarios that seem totally obvious after the fact, but which nonetheless startle upon first viewing. Truly, this isn’t a show that somebody could drop in and watch in the middle; like Lost, another show I’m terminally behind in watching (I’m still in the middle of season two), it rewards — and even requires — close viewing from the beginning. Unlike Lost, however, Dollhouse never captured a sufficient audience to keep it afloat. Whedon seems to have anticipated this by filming a coda of sorts, “Epitaph One,” which jumps the series ten years into the future and provides some closure.
Still, the series survived a second season, which is scheduled for release on DVD this fall. Although it will likely take me another year to complete, I look forward to it.
This week’s column from The Review:
Right up front, I must say that I don’t know (bleep) about “(Bleep) My Dad Says,” a new show airing on CBS this fall.
Oh, I know it’s based on a book of the same name, which in turn is a spin-off of a website or a Twitter feed that purports to share blunt wisdom from somebody’s father. Or maybe it collects blunt wisdom from everybody’s fathers, homespun nuggets like “Don’t eat yellow snow” and “If you don’t shut up, I’ll cut out your tongue.”
I have no intention of watching the show, first because it stars William Shatner, a breathy and bombastic actor whose delivery makes me want to puncture my earlobes with roofing nails, and second because despite having a full slate of satellite channels, I watch little television.
But if I were watching, the last thing that would upset me is the word (bleep) or the shift-key stand-in that CBS is using in the actual title. This is why I’m not a member of the Parents Television Council, which last week sent letters to more than 300 companies, asking them not to advertise on the show because of its name.
According to PTC President Tim Winter, quoted in the Huffington Post (the Wikipedia of news), “Parents really do care about profanity when their kids are watching TV.” He then goes on to qualify the statement by noting that only “something like 80 to 90 percent of parents” care. That leaves me in that 10 to 20 percent who don’t give a (bleep).
Suppressing (bleep) has a long tradition, one that is rooted in the Norman Conquest of 1066 (betcha didn’t know you would be getting a history lesson), when those marauding Normans attempted to supplant vibrant Anglo-Saxon vocabulary with more genteel — at least to our modern ears — Norman French. It’s a prejudice that continues to this day.
Take George Carlin’s infamous Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television, which have since morphed into the equally infamous Seven Words You Can’t Say on Network Television, as they are used quite freely on premium cable channels. Not only can these words not be uttered on free TV, they also can’t be written in a family newspaper. However, I can use some of their French-derived equivalents — urinate, defecate and fornicate — with impunity. At least one of the remaining four I can describe more clinically (”breasts,” instead of the one-syllable word Carlin uses), but I can’t even tiptoe around the remaining three for fear of offending Beatrice Bluenose, one of the paper’s oldest and most conservative subscribers.
(The newsroom was very concerned about Ms. Bluenose last month, when on National Rain Day I attempted to warn people to “wear their rubbers,” a dictionary-sanctioned reference to boots that was nonetheless greeted with such disapproval from my colleagues that I excised it from the finished page.)
The point is — what is the difference between urination, defecation and fornication and their blunter equivalents? Why is it OK, hypothetically, for Dr. Oz (speaking of another show I seldom watch) to discuss defecation clinically, but not OK for a primetime show to use a more common term for humorous effect? Can we not recognize the medicinal effects of laughter and agree that (bleep) is as appropriate in comedy as “defecate” is in medicine?
For that matter, why is it OK for the Cleveland Zoo to feature an exhibit called “The Scoop on Poop,” but scandalous if they would advertise “The Skinny on (Bleep)”?
Yes, I know the PTC is concerned that society is becoming coarser, and that little kids (the lowest common denominator of all entertainment, apparently) might spew out the actual word — horrors! — instead of saying “bleep” when talking about the show, but only after they’ve finished talking about how many people they killed in their latest videogame venture. Because you know that CBS is targeting the 10-and-under crowd by casting the septuagenarian Shatner in the lead.
Besides, nobody who’s been on a playground has ever confused it with polite society.
I consider references to (bleep) as less an example of society’s coarsening and more of an opportunity for the next generation to reclaim its Anglo-Saxon roots, when men were men, (bleep) was (bleep), and William Shatner’s most important line was “Beam me up, Scotty.”