such a thing as satirical prophecy. This power is a mysterious gift, and I mustn’t
let it fall into the wrong hands.
Doing stand-up comedy, I once had a line about a Fundamentalist Christian who
had tattooed on his penis, "What would Jesus do?" Recently, that very
concept made up in the recesses of my warped mind came true. A Sunday School
teacher in St. Paul, MN, advised one of his students to write on his penis,
"What would Jesus do?"
In 1964, when the World’s Fair opened, I published "The Poverty Pavilion,"
illustrated by Mort Gerberg. In June 2003, Habitat for Humanity opened an unorthodox
"theme park" designed to give tourists a look at the world’s
worst slums. Reuters reported that "visitors can imagine children sleeping
in shacks infested with scorpions or snakes."
When we saw About Schmidt, I mentioned to my wife, Nancy, "I guess
Childreach will make Jack Nicholson their new poster boy." Now comes a
form letter from the president of Childreach: "Dear Mr. Krassner, Life
isn’t always like the movies. But it can be. In the movie, About Schmidt,
Jack Nicholson plays a recent retiree who sponsors a child through Childreach.
He then re-evaluates his life through his correspondence with his sponsored
child. I don’t want to give away the whole movie, but I can tell you that
Schmidt’s whole life changes…because he cares about someone–a child
he’s never even met.
Krassner, someone you’ve never met has been asking for you a lot lately.
In fact, she’s been praying for you every night. Most of all, Mr.
Krassner, she desperately wants to tell you a story. But since she cannot tell
you herself, I’d like to ask you to imagine. To believe, for five brief
minutes, that you are someone completely different. Someone you would never,
ever want to be…."
has been nipping at the heels of satire for many years, and now reality is increasingly
overtaking satire. I thought of a tv show called Feng Shui Vigilantes,
only to find out there are already similar series, such as While You
Were Out. So here I am, trying to extrapolate on industry trends in order
to forecast the programs of the future, simultaneously hoping that none of them
will be on the air by the time you read this.
ongoing reality show for those who find themselves smoking marijuana alone,
but at least like to see fellow stoners on the screen passing joints around
the room, talking, laughing, listening to music and munching the hours away.
last, viewers will be like flies on the wall, free to observe, in the comfort
of their living rooms, paid informants divulge information to their control
officers. A split screen will reveal the informee reacting to a monitor in the
greenroom. Security will be very tight. The show will be hosted by Bill Maher
who, at the NORML convention, outed Ted Turner and Harrison Ford as pot smokers;
that pair will perform an hilarious parody of the good cop/bad cop syndrome
in the pilot.
Mafia–This series, The Sopranos meets Will & Grace,
has an all-gay cast. The doubly stereotypical gang extorts interior decorators
and runs gay bathhouses. Softcore porn scenes with bumping buttocks occur each
episode. Limp wrists are in, stiff dicks are out. Dialogue ("Who moved
my soap opera?") and t-shirts ("It’s OK to Be Hetero") serve
as cute condiments.
from Hell–This show will be the result of an FCC equal-time requirement
in response to such mediums as James Van Praagh and John Edward, who hear only
from departed souls that are in heaven.
week a panel of experts in public relations will take a completely unknown person
and, like alchemists transforming underground buzz into mainstream awareness,
they will turn the subject into an instant commodity with total name recognition.
When that project is successfully completed, the panel will then carry out a
vigorous campaign to libel those same individuals, who cannot sue because they
are now public figures.
Family–Sponsors once depended on the number of eyeballs that a tv show
could deliver. But since a study indicated that scenes of sex and violence tend
to distract from the viewer’s attention to commercials, this new series
is actually intended to be dull, thus aiming for quality–that is,
brand-name consciousness–rather than quantity. And, indeed, the ratings
should soar to the top, perhaps because it will feature a different Nielsen
family each week, and all the other Nielsen families will watch it regularly.
Enemas–Executives at the Fox network will readily admit that it was
a real challenge to develop this particular series. "It was important,"
according to one spokesperson, "that this program be presented in a tasteful
manner." At first agents and publicists alike refused to return calls from
segment producers. But when Marlon Brando agreed to participate in the pilot,
then other celebs got on board. "I’m on a special diet," the
portly actor stated–"low salt and high colonics." The program
is sponsored by Starbucks to help promote their new coffee enema, the Anal Latte.
Track–Even diehard sitcom fans have grown tired of listening to the
reconstituted sound of an audience that had originally been laughing at I
Love Lucy and is now ostensibly laughing at Everybody Loves Raymond.
Virtually all of them are dead, but it’s the only form of an afterlife
of which I can conceive. Laugh Track will present clips of all new laughter,
with the only visual being that of the studio audience laughing. It will serve
as must-see-tv for those who want their own laughter to be stimulated only by
pure peer pressure without any interference from content.
Files–D, of course, is for disinformation. Ever since the Bush administration
announced that there would be an Office of Disinformation–and then, as
its first official act, the Office of Disinformation announced that there would
not be an Office of Disinformation after all–folks have been wondering
what they’re clandestinely up to. This game show provides the answers,
as contestants attempt to distinguish between facts and propaganda.
Sunday morning, representatives from a variety of religions–including cult
leaders and professional skeptics–will discuss spiritual matters in a lively
fashion. Such topics as the following will be explored: "Does the Deity
Have an Awareness of Itself?" "Can Blasphemy Be a Form of Prayer?"
"Is Scientology Really a Religion?" "What Motivates Suicide Bombers?"
"Should ‘Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance Be Changed to
‘Inside God’?" and "Did Jesus Masturbate or Did He Merely
Have Nocturnal Emissions?"
for Terrorists–This is a spin-off of those segments on the news, originally
intended to inform American citizens about the plethora of vulnerabilities in
our infrastructure. However, intelligence agents learned that international
terrorists were busy taking notes, ever vigilant in finding weaknesses in this,
their target country. When the first episode is aired–disclosing the lack
of security at the 10 dams scattered around L.A.–it will be attacked as
stretching the First Amendment too far, but defended as the risk of democracy.
Frivolity–Courtroom dramas of plaintiffs suing tv networks for forcing
them to waste time, forego reading and remain poorly informed.