TeeVee Mailbag XXIII: Those Who Are Not For Us Are Against Us
But the next time Oliver Stone subjects you to another four-hour rant wherein Nixon's kicking puppies and pushing crippled old women down flights of stairs, spare a few thoughts for the good things the man named Milhous gave us. Richard Nixon opened China and stared down the Russkies eyeball to eyeball. Nixon set the table for our decisive, straight-set victory in the Cold War. Nixon gave us Spiro Agnew. Did Jack Kennedy ever give us Spiro Agnew? LBJ? Millard Fillmore?
Goddamned right they didn't.
Achievements like that would cement any president's legacy, but the dour little Quaker kept on giving. Not content to let bygones be bygones, never satisfied just turning the other cheek, Nixon remembered each slight, stewed over every wrong, vowed bloody revenge against every perceived foe. And he was thoughtful enough to document every last fit of rage. Yes, Nixon gave us The Enemies List, and with it, gave the petty, the paranoid and the just plain vicious a new standard to measure up to.
Sure, plenty of rulers, leaders and captains of industry have doggedly hunted down those that done them wrong. But none have cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war with quite the same savoir-faire of Richard M. Nixon. Slander, character assassination and malicious whisper campaigns date back to ancient times. Nixon elevated them to an art form with a gift of language that could eviscerate even the most entrenched foe. When Nixon called you a cocksucker, then, goddammit, a cocksucker is what you were. For some, payback's a bitch. For Nixon, it was a passion to be pursued with zest and zeal.
So God bless you, Richard Nixon. Even if you are, you know, burning in Hell.
Now maybe it's not exactly clear what Richard Nixon's all-consuming lust for revenge has to do with television. Plenty, as it turns out. Because while the president's taste in TV programs doesn't really gibe with ours -- save for our shared passion for Petticoat Junction -- your TeeVee pals do have one thing in common with Richard Nixon: a blinding desire to lay the smackdown on any and all who dare oppose us.
You see, we get a lot of mail here at TeeVee. And while some of it is thought-provoking and insightful, we can't write every letter under a pseudonym. No, it's those other letters that, under the best of circumstances, wear on our souls and, under the worst, have us erecting stocks and hangman's scaffolds.
Most letters, like this e-mail from reader Lilbarry, are harmless enough:
Why, yes, Lilbarry. We happen to think many of the good shows out there are good. Thanks for your clever inquiry.
Unfortunately, not all of the e-mails we get are so innocent. Many are downright cranky. We want to think the best about you people -- that you're a refined sophisticated lot taking time out of your busy schedule of corporate mergers and high finance to have a well-deserved chuckle at the hands of TeeVee -- but the Dark Side keeps overpowering the better angels of your nature. The result? We can't help but conclude that many of you folks are just a bunch of meanies.
Or maybe Sprtmassge was just kidding around when he wrote to our Peter Ko:
We have to admit it: Sprtmassge's esoteric digs threw us for quite the loop. Rickshaw? Pete doesn't own a rickshaw; he leases a very fuel-efficient Mitsubishi. And fortune cookies? We don't write those. This is a Web site about TV. What the hell is Sprtmassge talking about anyhow?
And then it hit us -- rickshaws and fortune cookies are often associated with people of Chinese descent. With the last name "Ko," it is reasonable to assume that Pete can trace his lineage back Chinese way. Hence, Sprtmassge is using vivid imagery and easy-to-recognize stereotypes to hilariously lampoon Pete Ko and all people of Chinese ancestry.
Boy, that's really funn... um, well, you have to admit it's pretty cleve... ah, at least you can say that Sprtmassge has a well-developed sense of hum...
Oh, fuck it. Sprtmassge is obviously a real asshole.
Now Christian charity commands that we let such insults go unanswered. And perhaps the truly enlightened man is able to forgive and forget, to hate the sin while loving the sinner.
But Richard Nixon sure wasn't enlightened. And on this particular day, at least, neither are we.
So we logged on to AOL and -- just for research purposes, mind you -- looked up the profile of our good friend, Sprtmassge:
"You deserve it." Truer words were never spoken. But we're curious: After sending his anti-Asian screed to us, just what exactly does Sprtmassge deserve?
We can't answer that question. But we're certain that our more mischievous readers -- particularly those in the midtown Manhattan area on the lookout for a good physical therapist with a healing touch -- probably can.
So feel free to drop a line to our favorite race-baiting physical therapist, Sprtmassge. We particularly encourage picture collectors to pay him a visit.
And hey, if members of the Triad or the Yakuza should want to stop by for a little rubdown and a friendly chat, well, that's just the way the fortune cookie crumbles. Isn't it, Sprtmassge?
Nixon was right. It is fun to make nice with your enemies. Our shoulder muscles feel looser. Our brows have unfurrowed. Even our sciatica has started to clear up. And what's that spreading across Boychuk's face? Could it be the traces of a smile?
Yes, we should have started swinging the cudgel of retribution years ago.
So in that same spirit of blinding rage that moved the Ol' Trickster to drive his enemies into the sea and fashion crude tools from their bones, we present what is sure to be the first of many TeeVee Enemies Lists. Assembled here are the readers, groups and assorted nonprofit organizations who -- in the hearts and minds of us Vidiots -- have risen above the level of mere irritant to the exalted heights of painful ass rash. To the victors, go our respect, our congratulations for a job well done, and, of course, enough public abuse and ad hominem vitriol to send you running back home to Mammy.
And to those of you who didn't make the final cut of the Enemies List, don't despair. You'll get yours soon enough.
Enemy No. 1: Odd Man Out Fans
It happens every year. We review a spate of new shows, the majority of them are invariably awful, and we're forced to do our critical duties and send them off to their final reward. Most people accept this rite of passage, maybe grouse a little about the cruel vagaries of our tastes and then get on with their lives.
But there's always one group of fans clinging to the hope that if they shower us with enough e-mail, we'll rethink our unreasonable standards and hail their tedious parade of mediocrity as the feel-good hit of the year.
This year, fans of the program Odd Man Out have been hit one too many times with the denial stick. And in the case of reader LilLeo15, the blows apparently left lasting damage.
Oh... we don't have try too hard. We can just print letters like this one from Tim Coolong, who writes:
Oh, we don't know, Tim. Brush up on your literacy? You might even seek out some tutoring from reader Tom Bye, who offers this Odd Man Out-inspired syllogism:
Which we can't really deny. Of course, we're not the ones devoting time and energy to proselytize on behalf of a show that ABC's already canceled. So we guess that when it comes to delivering the big payback to our Odd Man Out enemies, God has beaten us to the punch.
Enemy No. 2: Online Newsgroups
Don't get us wrong. We love the idea of online places where people with similar interests can meet and kibitz about the issues important to them. But we hate it when they're commandeered by idiots.
Let's say, for example, you've got a Web site that, many years ago, ran a humorous little article poking fun at drug maker Glaxo Wellcome's hilariously inappropriate commercial for Valtrex. Maybe you remember it: soft lights, couples walking on the beach, cheerful narration. Which wouldn't seem so terribly out of place if Glaxo Wellcome wasn't trying to sell you a treatment for genital herpes.
A wry commentary about the oft kooky world of advertising? Not if you've got genital herpes, apparently. Right, AmandaLee?
Besides sores and discomfort, it looks like one of the symptoms of genital herpes is diminished reading comprehension. The article wasn't mocking people with genital herpes; it was taunting the eminently mockable Glaxo Wellcome commercial.
But try telling that to whoever posted the TeeVee article to
Fumed reader SETXdarlin:
Foamed reader charon:
Fomented reader Spastic Colon (and Christ, we swear we didn't make that name up just to pile more shame on the head of the put-upon herpetics):
Huh. Guess genital herpes affects your ability to write coherent sentences, too.
Enemy No. 3: Lazy Students
You've got to love the Internet. In the old days, when teachers assigned a research paper or a project or a book report, students had to trudge off to the library and spend hours of back-breaking research, looking up facts and reading books and typing footnotes.
But now, thanks to the miracle of the Information Superhighway, students have all they need to produce an A-plus report right at their fingertips. Now all students have to do to get the information they need is to send off an e-mail to complete strangers, asking them to do the assignment instead.
At least, that seems to be the tack that Jenna Redlinger is taking when she writes:
Jenna, we'd be glad to help. Just pepper your paper with a few of these "satistics" -- rigorously fact-checked by our staff for accuracy -- and get ready to knock your teacher's socks off. And we mean that non-violently, of course!
Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.
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