I don’t recall the radio show or the host, but I remember how the conversation went that evening in the mid-nineties. The host, we’ll call him Tom, was spouting off ridiculous nonsense about Sharon Stone. “If she simulates sex in a movie,” he told his audience, “and gets paid to do that, that makes her a prostitute. There is absolutely no difference between her and the hooker out on the corner.”
I love that kind of logic. It sets a person up to be proven a jackass, and this guy made it far too easy. There was one problem, however: Nobody was calling him on it; people were phoning his show and agreeing with him and calling her a high-priced w***e. I wonder if Stone knew that flashing her vagina on the screen would get such a reaction from morons?
Since nobody was taking this talk show host to task on his crap, I decided to call the show and throw in my two cents. I used to call radio talk shows a lot, but those calls were always pranks. This time I was serious.
“What is the call about?” the female on the other end of the phone asked when I finally made it through.
“It’s about Sharon Stone being a w***e,” I answered.
“Do you agree or disagree?”
That was an odd question to ask … unless they were screening the calls, which would explain the lack of disagreement on the air. I decided to lie to ensure I’d be given airtime. “I totally agree, and I have something to add.”
“This is Tom, you are on the air!” Tom greeted me in a bombastic voice after I had been on hold for about a minute.
“Hi, Tom,” I said, sounding very cheerful. “I totally understand what you are saying.”
“Of course,” Tom replied, happy to have one more believer in his flock. “Actresses who simulate sex on the screen are paid to do that. How does that make them different from a prostitute? They should be getting arrested instead of receiving award nominations.”
“And you know,” I added, “the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger gets paid to simulate killing people makes him a hit man at the very least. He should be arrested for murder.”
Utter, absolute silence. Nothing. Dead air. That’s the equivalent of having a limp penis when bedding a porn star. Radio talk shows can never have dead air. I took advantage of it.
“Same exact thing,” I continued. “Arnold is a killer.
Don’t you agree?”
Tom stuttered and stammered. “Well … no … it’s not exactly the same.”
“It is, though. If she’s a prostitute, Arnold and the like are murderers. They are paid to simulate shooting people, blowing them up and breaking their necks. I’ve seen it!”
“That’s different,” Tom sort of tried to explain.
“How? Not by your logic.”
“I can see your point, but we need to take a break. Hang on the line.”
And then I was cut off. When he came back from a commercial he was discussing a new topic; something in the news had attracted his attention. Friends who heard the call recall how uncomfortable he sounded when I brought up the flaw in his argument. They remember how he really had nothing to say. For one brief, shining instant, I brought a conservative talk show host to his well-worn knees, and it felt great.
I’m not one to defend mainstream Hollywood, but I will defend a person’s right to make art. I will also stand up against stupidity whenever it rears its inbred head. The only way to fight it is through logic, humiliation and humor, and those are my tools.
If you are a fan of any kind of art (which, believe it or not, includes Hollywood films), you have the same duty. When you hear someone like this Tom character or Michael Medved making stupid points, you need to call them on it. Sometimes you may need to lie to be given the opportunity to do so, but so be it. You need to knock them down a notch, and you have to do it in the most public way possible.
Besides, it was just kind of cool to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a murderer … on live radio! I can’t imagine how many people heard that. And yet, years later, some people still elected him as governor of California.
Oh well, there’s always another show to call.
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