"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 17 January 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

The Writing's on the Stall



The renowned deviant humorist

Sigmund Freud once proposed anal

birth as a universal theory

amongst children, particularly

boys. Carl Jung, striking a

similarly profound victory on

behalf of downtrodden crackpots

everywhere, improved the notion,

observing the excremental mortar

binding diverse creation myths

of both mankind and the Earth

itself. Predictably, though, it

took the marketing visionaries

at Addison Wesley Longman and

Bantam Books to put a hundred

years worth of shitpot wisdom in

its place: namely, the hands of

toilet-obsessed preteens.


A million defaced bumpers testify

to the fact that shit happens,

but until recently, this insight

has been lost on everyone but

Mr. Whipple. Sure, breathtaking

scatological panoramas didn't

hurt Trainspotting, but soiling

the minds of the most naturally

receptive consumers is a

trickier proposition. The deft

rimshots of the past, ranging

from the Garbage Pail Kids all

the way back to the classic

Toilet Talker, often failed to

slide by parental filters.

Convincing parents to pitch in

for what amounts to a

commodified catalyst for

deep-seated shame and

humiliation clearly demanded

strategy. In fact, it demanded




With the sundry excretory and

eliminative bodily functions

gathered under the proprietary

rubric of GrossologyTM, biology

instructor Sylvia Branzei

launched not only a successful

line of books, but also a

booming cottage industry.

Recognizing the visceral fizzle

of fried worms compared to gonzo

gastroenterology, publishers

responded with Gross Anatomy,

The Gas We Pass, Everyone

Poops, Gross Grub, and the

groundbreaking Barf-O-RamaTM

series. The sales were nothing

short of gastroincredible, and

Branzei's Grossology brand is in

development as a TV series, no

doubt pitched as School-Outhouse



The point isn't science, really,

even though correct

pronunciation of coprophagy (caw

PRUF fa jee) amongst youngsters

is far from trivial. A media

climate where one can't even

watch good old-fashioned trash

TV without an ugly TV17 bug

marring the screen demands

increased sophistication in

justifying delivery of exactly

what people want. The logic of

legitimization acts as a knowing

wink between the producer and

the consumer, and while both are

wont to be caught up in their

own rhetoric, it's mainly for

the sake of the alienated

nonconsumer and nonproducer that

such overtures are made. And

this ruse has come a long way

since the "ethnographic films"

of bare-assed natives and nudist

camps of yesteryear.


Today's information entrepeneurs

are probably wondering how far

it can be pushed. Nobody watches

Real Stories of the CHP to study

departmental policy - we're just

hoping to see the transcendent

moment where a cop's billy club

meets a perp's head. What, if

anything, is the current lineup

of weekend TV pathology if not

"crime does not pay" moved from

the pages of a comic book and

redrawn on the little screen,

with an emphasis on scarlet? If

there exists the slightest

possibility that it'll get

little Johhny to read or even

think, prospects abound. Perhaps

an intro to chemistry could be

spiced up by demonstrating the

effects of industrial-strength

cleaning products on Rover's




Alarmists might shake their

heads, but educators have reason

to see this trend as the biggest

breakthrough since art teachers

alerted kids to the logic of

Elmer including a picture of a

bull on his glue. Nobody wants

to hear the good news; that's

what the ads are for. A blob of

fake birdshit on the cover of

Animal Grossology instead

propels the content towards its

apogee, a delicious ad and

product unto itself. And if it

can be marketed as edifying -

well, let's just say The People

Vs. Larry Flynt is up for five

Golden Globes.


The real fear is that flatulent

preadolescents, having had their

outlets for shock value

indulged, will kill the market

by getting over it. But though

the first 10 years of our lives

might see us inhabiting 10

separate demographics, new

monsters are born every minute,

each with an adorably short

memory. Take BabyMugs, an

infant-oriented videocassette

that simply shows the faces of

other babies, and has proven a

smash sensation among toddlers.

Give them a few years and

they'll be whacking the screen

with their ultrarealistic rubber

dog turds, but by then, a new

generation will already have

been ushered in.



And the "beauty part," as the

VP's might say, is that come age

16, the same kids will be

driving their beat-up Miata

junkers to Urban Outfitters,

where the Barf-O-Rama line of

literature, now safely coated in

the patina of retro, already

resides. Of course, allowing for

the spiral of the kitsch

quotient, by then they'll

probably be back to reading


courtesy of Duke of URL


Duke of URL