December 7, 2010

Never play their games

Okay, this is about two of my heroes. I have a lot of them and you may not agree with me about these two guys -- but in my book, they acted heroically. Though you probably won't recognize their names, I think they should be added to the liberal Mt. Rushmore. (C'mon, guys, let's build one.)

They are Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, and that's them being arrested on the left. Still doesn't ring a bell? Remember way, way back in 2007 when there was the huge Boston terror scare? I know: what terror scare? What I'm referring to is the wildly foolish incident where our own United States version of the KGB decided they were looking at the face of terror when they saw . . . some battery-powered LED placards with an image of a cartoon character from an Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. Scary! Oh yeah, now you remember: the big terrorism plot that wasn't.

Although normal people knew instantly that this was all nonsense, the thick-headed "homeland" (ugh) security people were scared out of their wits. That alone is fun. But the best thing, the moment that allowed for heroic theater, was the marvelous live press conference held by the dynamic duo of Berkovsky and Stevens. I fell out of my chair laughing when they got up in front of that mob of angry reporters and refused to answer any questions unless they were about "men's hairstyles of the 1970s".

I roared each time a new blotchy, red-faced reporter stood up and pointed an angry finger at the dynamic duo, insisting that they respond seriously to their Terribly Important Questions. But Berdovsky and Stevens remained in character (as if they were Stephen Colbert), only saying, "Oh, I'm sorry. That wasn't a question about men's hairstyles from the 1970s." They never dropped the act. The reporters were spittle-faced and virtually apoplectic by the time the press conference ended.

As I told our kids (i.e., my nephews) that day when I sat them down to watch a recording of the press conference, "these guys are true heroes." I told them to never let anyone stick them into a tight little envelope of their own design. You don't have to bend your shape to fit their preconceptions. Don't play their game; play yours. And especially remember that when people accuse you of things you haven't done, you have no reason to feel guilty. Just stand your ground and do not feed into their insanity. Play your game, whatever it may be. It was a great lesson for them, and one they always remembered. (And yes, I also did this with Andy Warhol interviews. The kids came to adore Andy, and rightly so. He never let people stick him into their suffocating little boxes; he played his own creative game, and the hell with you if you didn't like it.) This takes real courage.

I put this up today because I figured my blog readers might need a break, given that I've been cracking skulls here lately. There's a need to slam wingnuts, of course; I have to do it. But we also need to remember who we are and laugh out loud now and then. For me, that press conference was one of the few amusing interludes in our decade-long national nightmare.  Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, I love ya!

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