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Monday, August 16, 2004

John Kerry in Hollywood

"The Mudville Gazette is pleased to announce the First Annual John Kerry Fan Fiction Contest."

Sounds like fun! Here's my contribution.

(December, 1969. In a large boardroom, a dozen older men in conservative business suits sit around a long wooden table. Several are smoking, and cigarette and cigar smoke hangs in the air. A young woman, likely a secretary, has just turned on the lights as a projector screen flaps up, back into its cylindrical holder.)

“Absolutely brilliant!”
The man at the head of the table waves his cigar animatedly; he is smiling broadly. “I haven’t seen a young man with such a gift for comedy in years. I don’t care if this is his first proposal, we can work with it. I smell a hit series, gentlemen!”
The other men murmur in approval. From the looks on their faces, they enjoyed the movies as well.
“Mr. Kurtz,” one of the subordinates chimes in, “I love the lead character. The clueless leader is a common archetype of sitcoms, almost clichéd—not that has ever stopped us, right, gentlemen?” He continues to speak over the raucous laughter. “But this swift boat captain, this disjoint between his own self-image and how the audience will see him—that is comedy, gentlemen.”
“And that Super8 camera he carries?” another subordinate interjects. “The character actually thinks there’s a dress rehearsal for war!” More chuckles come from the television executives.
“I like the way every minor injury is another medal opportunity for the captain. ‘I twisted my ankle when I thought I saw Charlie! Better put in for another Purple Heart!’”
Another man gets up and hastily sketches a storyboard on one of the paper tablets at the front of the room. “Let’s start the show with another one of the Captain’s trademark Purple Heart requests. Now, instead of it being denied, a clerical error happens, and he gets one hundred outstanding Purple Hearts approved—all at once.” He sketches an image of the Captain, tilted to one side. “Just picture the actor walking, tilted, with all this weight on one side.”
“And let’s not forget that support character, let’s see, Rassman was the name, right?” The men nod. “Bumbling sidekick. Always falling down. Physical comedy, good, but I like the interplay between Rassman and the Captain. Rassman needs someone to care for him, but he’s providing the Captain with a chance to feel heroic, to feel like a superior officer, when he’s never going to accomplish anything heroic in reality.”
“Yeah,” another man agrees. “Anyone who can’t keep straight what country he’s in on any given day isn’t the kind to accomplish anything real. But he can accomplish great comedy!”
Another man jumps up to the paper tablet, and writes down a few keywords. “I’m seeing a ‘glimpse of the future’ episode, where the Captain is shown running for president. Just imagine the laughs we could get by having him run on nothing but his Vietnam record!”
The boss stubs out his cigar. “Now, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but we aren’t going to develop this sitcom yet,” Mr. Kurtz says. “Remember, we had to wait until 1965 to do that show about a World War II POW camp, and we’re delaying that Korean War drama until 1972. So, out of respect to the fallen, we’ll have to put this show on the back burner until, at minimum, ten years after the conclusion of hostilities. But put those ideas on paper, and we’ll talk later.”

(In a dark room adjacent to the boardroom, a young man with an angular face is watching the television executives from the other side of a one-way mirror. A young woman stands behind him.)

“I thought you said these Hollywood types would help bolster my war record, Ms. Fonda. But look at them. They’re laughing!”
“I don’t understand, Lieutenant Kerry,” Fonda responds. “I gave them your movies, and asked them to work their Hollywood magic. I don’t know how they could see them as anything other than a chronicle of a great hero. A leader for our times, not afraid to challenge the world!”
Back in the boardroom, one of the men makes another comment. As the men guffaw, Fonda turns to Kerry. “We have to pretend this day never happened.”
“I can do that,” Kerry replies. “Yes, pretend… like I must pretend to follow the company line, pretend that Nixon didn’t send me into Cambodia before his inauguration on a secret CIA mission.”
Kerry reaches into a black attaché case, and from a secret compartment, pulls out a battered military cap. Clutching the cap, he looks away wistfully, and then shakes his head. “No, I cannot do that. This experience is seared, seared into my mind.”

Check out the link. There are some very funny stories there.


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