Let’s get the party started with a little mixed grill of tasty bloggage, shall we?
I gotta tell ya, whenever those VH1 compilation shows comes on — “The 100 Most Shocking TV Moments,” whatever — they always fall short. None ever mentions what I consider the most jaw-dropping shows on television. Which are, of course, the paternity-test shows on “Maury.”
You think: It cannot get any lower than this. You think: These people must be actors. You think: No sane human being would make such a spectacle of himself. Or herself. And what about the baby?
Small wonder, then, that Maury’s paternity-test shows are audience favorites, that they have, god help me, returning characters:
Guests are encouraged to be forthright, and Sanquenetta is. “I’m not 100, I’m not 1,000, I’m a million percent sure he’s the father of my baby,” she says. “Maury, this is the first and last time you’re gonna see me on your show.”
That last statement alludes to some of Povich’s more notable female guests, who have made a staggering number of appearances in seeking to establish first this man, then that one, then still another as their children’s fathers. (A woman named Georgetta has attained legendary status by appearing 12 times to test 13 men.)
…”Maury” fans express delight when such guests as Georgetta make repeat appearances. The previous week featured the eighth visit by a woman named Simone, who is known for her lightning flights from the stage each time she hears the words “You are not the father.”
“During her taped piece, we showed a retrospective of all of her appearances on the show,” Faulhaber says. “And she came out the first time and said, ‘Maury, I’m 110 percent sure.’ And the next time she goes, ‘I’m 130 percent.’ . . . ‘I’m 155 percent.’ ‘I’m 200 percent.’ ‘I am 1 billion percent.’ . . . And each time it’s amazing, because she sits there and she says, ‘I know it this time.’ “
You really have to read it all.
Meanwhile, I’m 1 billion percent sure you’ll be bummed out to learn that southeast Michigan seems to have a homicidal animal killer on the loose. I suspect it’s the usual story — a badly damaged person in a spiral of sorts:
Since January, authorities have found nearly 40 dead domestic and wild animals — some decapitated, some skinned — within a 3-mile radius of Superior Township, including coyotes, foxes and deer. On March 16, they started finding dogs. The most recent find, on Sunday, included the tied-up pit bull puppy and a cocker spaniel that had been shot in the back of the head.
However, as someone points out in the story, Jeffrey Dahmer got his start this way. Keep your cats close and your dogs closer, if you live nearby.
Finally, we come to the much-commented-upon Westboro Baptist Church, which has grabbed the spotlight in recent weeks by bringing their God Hates Fags act to the funerals of soldiers killed overseas:
The three protesters stood by the sidewalk, holding signs and chanting antimilitary slogans outside the funeral of Army Cpl. Nyle Yates III, who died in Iraq. “Cpl. Yates is in hell!” they screamed Monday morning, dragging the U.S. flag on the ground. “Cpl. Yates is in hell!”
Lately, in Michigan anyway, their activities have been somewhat mitigated by another group, who stand between the Westboro-ites and the bereaved family and basically outshout them. I suppose, given the choice between hearing that your dead soldier is in hell or hearing a less-cruel chant, I’d go for option B. Still.
Here’s what bugs me about this story. Two things, really — first is the language used. The Westboro Baptist Church consists of “the Rev.” Fred Phelps and a bunch of his relatives, and that’s pretty much it. And yet they have a name that makes them sound like a real church, and a website, and so instead of being called, more correctly, “a clan of crazy people from Kansas,” they get a certain gravitas just by being identified as a church congregation. Not much, maybe, but some.
This is one case where the need for journalistic “objectivity,” and the need to file people into certain easy-to-understand slots — “activist,” “protester,” etc. — really stands in the way of the first job reporters have, which is telling the truth. In this case, you have to read between the lines, add up the euphemisms and weigh them against the facts, to figure out what’s really going on.
But that’s nothing compared to the second thing, which is: They have been doing this for years and years and years. The Phelps folk, I remind you, were the ones who showed up at Matthew Shepard’s funeral waving signs reading God Hates Fags, and that was eight years ago. Since then, they’ve protested at funerals of other gay people and AIDS victims, and while I won’t say they’ve been doing it with the approval of the rest of the country, certainly far fewer people were clutching their chests and squealing the horror the horror, mmm?
In fact, about a year ago, Phelps came to Fort Wayne for a “debate,” a “forum” or whatever — some sort of public discussion. And while the closest I can come to contemporaneous coverage is this incomplete excerpt from one of the newspapers, I distinctly recall that some phrases simply weren’t attributed to Phelps — “God hates fags,” for one. In fact, Phelps was politely identified, by most media outlets, as an “anti-gay activist,” which is a little like calling a Holocaust denier a “World War II historian.”
Anyway, while it’s good to know that decent people have a breaking point, it’s less good to know it lies somewhere between screaming “God hates fags!” at the funeral of an AIDS victim and screaming “God hates fags!” at the funeral of an American soldier. Still, I guess we’ll take progress where we can get it.