by Burt Prelutsky | Los Angeles
I have a confession to make. For the past year or so, I have belonged to a secret organization. It was a group of Hollywood-based conservatives. I have no doubt that you’re aware of the higher-profile members, mainly actors. And while I can empathize with those lesser-known members, the behind-the-camera people who worry that their livelihoods could be jeopardized if their employers and potential employers got wind of the fact that they aren’t left-wing dingbats, I finally decided to quit.
While I can appreciate the hunger some of these folks had to be able to speak freely among like-minded people, it aggravated me no end when they felt they couldn’t rock the boat even to the extent of letting the world know that not everyone in the entertainment industry was springing to the defense of child-rapist Roman Polanski.
While I’m in a confessional mood, I’ll share the fact that about 40 years ago, when I worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency, I once wrote a TV commercial that was so offensive that it was yanked off the tube after just a few airings. The product was a brand of packaged bread. The difference between our bread and the competition, I was informed, is that ours contained no lard. It was my bright idea to drive this point home by showing the biggest, ugliest pig we could find staring into the camera, while an announcer’s voice swore that nothing that had ever been part of that animal found itself into our product. The commercial only played in the Pacific Northwest, but it hit the air around dinner time, and apparently the switchboard at the station lit up like a Christmas tree. Hundreds of viewers complained that they’d just lost their appetites, thanks to me and Porky.
But now, when I see Harry Reid showing up on camera to boast about all the pork he’s pushed through the Senate, I’m the one getting queasy.
I recall that the director of the spot stood on the set when he arrived, took one long look at the enormous porker, then turned to me and asked, “Does the pig have any lines?”
At the time, two thoughts simultaneously ran through my head. The first was that it would make a great title if I ever wrote my memoirs about working in advertising. The second was that the man had taken leave of his senses. But it was later explained that he thought that there might be a voice-over, and that he would therefore need to get the pig to move its mouth so that it appeared to be speaking. Thank God I hadn’t written any dialogue for the animal. If that creature had started moving his mouth, I suspect the viewers wouldn’t have just called the station, they would have come after me with torches and pitchforks.
Again, when I saw Harry Reid moving his mouth, boasting about the passage of ObamaCare, while flanked by those towering pillars of goo, Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, I, too, felt like barfing. Lieberman and Nelson looked exactly like those political wives who feel compelled to stand beside their husbands shortly after the louts have been exposed as having had carnal relations with young staff aides, prostitutes and/or livestock.
In fact, when I saw those three miserable excuses for human beings standing there, I was reminded of the opening scene of “1776,” when John Adams comes on stage to state, “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm; and that three or more, a Congress!”
Looking at that disgusting trio standing there trying to look proud yet humble, you couldn’t help asking yourself how it was that three of the seven dwarfs, Dopey, Grumpy and Sleazy — I mean, Sneezy — had ever managed to wind up in the United States Senate. CRO
copyright 2010 Burt Prelutsky
Television scriptwriter, former humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine.