The Softball Hangs, Fat, Over The Plate, Dept.
Sometimes a story just comes over to you, taps you on the shoulder, and plants a big wet smooch right on your kisser.
Courtesy of KUTV "Where Irony Goes to Die", the local CBS affiliate in Salt Like City and via the ever-vigilant Wonkette.
There's this fellow out there in the Land of Brigham and Steve and Egg Fu Young. He's seventeen years of age, by the name of Brigham Larkin. Brigham loves the National Anthem, sings it every day at home and around town when given the opportunity. And he loves President George W. Bush to the extent even of trying to dress like him, down to the selection of patriotic ties.
You see, Brigham is retarded.
His condition notwithstanding, he maintains a patriotic fervor and love for the Chief Executive that many unretarded folk would be hard put to match. But let's let the happy Caucasians at KUTV News tell the story:
"White Male Anchor: Welcone back. He is a young man who loves his country and wants to lead it!
White Female Anchor: He dresses the part and he's mastered the National Anthem. Nicole Hunter is here with a story '2 Inspire'. This man is remarkable.
Nicole Hunter: Love him! I can't even tell you,
(assorted chuckles and 'awww's from the anchors)
Nicole Hunter: I still just get so tickled when I think about my afternoon with him. He is talented, he's funny, and oh my gosh! oh, he's awesome! Just take a look.
(we see a young man in a suit press a button on a boom box and a recording of the 'Star-Spangled Banner' pours forth.)
Brigham's Mom: I really couldn't count how many times a day...
Voice-over: Seventeen-year-old Brigham Larkin comes home from high school and begins his daily routine.
Brigham's Mom: He walks right in his room, puts on his shirt and tie, goes downstairs to the bathroom in front of the big mirror
(we see him singing loudly and tunelessly to the recording)
Brigham's Mom:...just stands there and sings and sings and sings.
Voice-over: Ready to break into song anywhere and for anyone.
(we see him standing in the living room singing the National Anthem acappella)
Brigham's Mom: I think because of his disability is why people are so attracted to watching him accomplish this song.
Voice-over: Brigham has Down's Syndrome. Although technically a disability, it doesn't slow him down one bit!
Brigham's Mom: There are people with a genius-level IQ that are not as outgoing as Brigham.
(we see him on his front steps singing the National Anthem, full-voice)
Voice-over: It certainly helps with his budding singing career and he's very interested in politics.
Brigham: I love President Bush a lot. And I want to be President.
Voice-over: Pictures of the White House and a lifesize cutout of the President are in his room, along with a letter and a picture he was sent by the President.
(we see the signed letter and a photo of Bush boarding his helicopter)
Brigham: He has a helicopter behind his White House.
Voice-over: His wardrobe is even Bush-inspired.
(we see him showing his closet to the reporter)
Brigham: He wears a blue tie...
Voice-over: That would be one of Brigham's other focuses: ties.
(we see several hangars on which are draped a number of blue, red, and flag-patterned ties)
Brigham's Mom: Oh, heavens. Brigham is a tie collector. He probably has...I'd say about...seventy ties in his closet?
Voice-over: Most of which he says President Bush wore on TV.
Brigham's Mom: He's got about ten different...umm...Stars-and-Stripes ties and red-white-and-blue ties...
(we see him standing in front of a mirror singing along to a recording of the National Anthem)
Voice-over: Each of them getting their chance in front of the mirror.
(we see him from a different angle in front of the large bathroom mirror)
Brigham: I turn up my radio real loud and my mom hears me sing.
(we see him singing with brio before the mirror)
Brigham: I like it when Mom goes 'SHHHH!!'
Brigham's Mom: He is quite funny and entertaining.
(we see him reaching the climax of the song)
Brigham's Mom: Although his notes aren't perfect every time, I think that everyone who sees him sing this song can feel his love for the song and sets aside maybe a few of the errors that may be in the tune of the song and really takes if for the spirit and the love of the song that Brigham portrays when he sings it.
(we see Brigham howl out the final 'braaaave'. he then switches off his boom box.)
Nicole Hunter: Uhh! Just wanted to take him home with me.
White Female Anchor: I think he's precious.
Nicole Hunter: Love him, love him, love him! Now he's been singing at some of the City Council meetings.
White Female Anchor: Awww...
Nicole Hunter: His mom is really encouraging him to get out and do more public things and I actually am encouraging all of our viewers to e-mail me, this is an e-mail that I got from his mother, I try to do all the stories that come to me, it's on the website, '2 Inspire", just click on the link and send me an e-mail and tell me about the wonderful people.
White Male Anchor: He sure has Bush's wardrobe down.
Nicole Hunter: He does.
White Male Anchor: He does.
Nicole Hunter: He might be the first person taking fashion advice from President Bush.
White Male Anchor: Ha ha ha ha!
White Female Anchor: There you go!
Nicole Hunter: It's working for him though.
White Male Anchor: Ooo-ooh!"
Oh, where do I begin?
Maybe the raw condescension that allows a television reporter to treat a retarded teen-ager like an adorable stray puppy. Amazingly, she didn't say "I could spread him on a cracker and just gobble him up!". Perhaps she'd already said "LOVE him!" enough times that she didn't want viewers to, you know, wonder.
Or perhaps the coping mechanism that allows Carole Garber, Brigham's mother and what's up with the different last name? and where's Mister Larkin?, to exhibit her son on television. Ostensibly for his own good and to develop his social skills but maybe and understandably to help get him out of the fucking house for the love of Christ on the cross!, he's driving me nuts with the off-tune bellowing!
Or the fact that this is either the most patriotic or most subversive human-interest segment this station will ever run. I mean, come on. He's retarded and loves Bush? If Jon Stewart ran this, a right-wing shitstorm would break over Tenth Avenue. In a quote from the article that accompanies this clip on the page, we read the entirety of a statement Carole Garber made that had been truncated by the intrusive voice-over, "'There are people with a genius-level IQ that are not as outgoing as Brigham,' she says. 'Sometimes if you look at what's going to get you ahead in the world, maybe his social skills is what will push him ahead.'" Could there be a better thumbnail portrait of--or campaign slogan for--George W. Bush? "Sure, he's retarded but he's sociable!"
Or how Down's Syndrome is "technically a disability". Yeah, it's a disability...for pussies! I mean, go ahead, claim you're quote-unquote disabled. Just because you're, what?, "physically and mentally challenged"? Why aren't you more like Brigham, huh?! He's politically-aware and -active! You malingering goldbrick! Drop and give me twenty!!
Or Nicole dissing the Prez and Brigham and then very quickly snatching it back with that slick "It's working for him though". Oh, yeah, Nicole, way to CYA! I'm sure nobody noticed that. Not after your award-winning Nicole-and-Brigham-sittin'-in-a-tree performance. But, please, speak into the microphone: do you really "love him"?! Do you really want to "take him home" with you?! He's barely-legal, for fuck's sake! And he's mentally-incapacitated! Or is that how you get your kicks, you sick animal?!
All this said, I can't figure out if Carole Garber is speaking out of a mother's love or speaking out of a woman's desire to blow smoke up a reporter's ass. "There are people with a genius-level IQ that are not as outgoing as Brigham." Ummm...yeah... "Although his notes aren't perfect every time..." Ummm...nooo.... And would this be a story '2 Inspire' if, instead of singing, Brigham masturbated compulsively and multiply every day in front of the big bathroom mirror? What if he idolized Osama bin Laden and had cutouts and pictures of the master terrorist all over his room? Would conspicuously-single "Nicole Hunter" still "LOVE him!"?
Yeah. Wild times in the SLC. Go watch the segment. Flat print in black'n'white just doesn't convey the texture of this piece.