EXCESS HOLLYWOOD:  I, PRANKSTER Image

“Why do you have to always bother famous people?” my father asked me over a decade ago. My answer? “Because it’s fun.”

The question stemmed from a letter I had received by none other than Casey Kasem. I had written to him to ask some pointed questions about his views on copyright infringement, creativity and U2, which had used some of Kasem’s outtakes on a single. Kasem wrote a nasty reply where he informed yours truly (most likely using the voice of Shaggy) that I should chose my heroes better and learn a thing or two about the law.

Bothering celebrities and other famous people is something I truly enjoy. I don’t do it to all of them, just the ones who piss me off or those who take themselves too seriously. Sometimes I do it in a mean spirited manner, such as the time I stood outside a Newt Gingrich rally with a sign that read, “Newt causes cancer” on one side and “Newt kills children” on the other. Sometimes I do it in the form of a prank, like when I wrote a long, rambling letter to “TV Guide” about my love of Tori Spelling. I told the digest that I had a Tori altar and informed the editor that she should be on every cover. “TV Guide” sent a nice letter back to me saying that my missive was a little too much for the digest’s tastes. After all, the star gushing I read in that thing, for my letter to be a little too extreme was a hoot.

When I met horror writer Poppy Z. Brite, I gave her a dead crawfish and had her autograph a John Sandford novel. When I moved to Eureka, I sent a bizarre collage to our local weatherman, and six years later followed it up with an equally bizarre letter pertaining to the collage. And if I ever get to meet Paris Hilton, I imagine I’ll say something like this, in my most redneck-like voice, of course. “So, you’re that Paris Hilton girl, huh? I saw you in that video havin’ the sex with that man. You like havin’ sex with the men? Havin’ sex like an animal? A little animal sex? You like that? It juices up the thighs, don’t it?” I dare Fox to put that on television.

I’d do a lot more to the rich and famous, but there is one thing standing in my way: stalker laws. Apparently these things are strictly enforced, and I can understand that. All it takes is one yahoo with a gun to really mess up Hilary Duff’s day. For jokers like myself, however, these stalker laws really get in the way of a good time.

I’ve always believed there is a way around everything, though. If you can’t go around, under or above something, you burn it. There isn’t a single damn law that’s going to stop me from annoying the hell out of Heath Ledger if I really want to, or even Adam West. Nothing. So, without any further ado, here’s a letter I wrote to Mr. West. All spelling mistakes are intentional.

Dear Mr. West:

I’m a huge fan of your work on the “Batman” television show. While I’m not old enough to have seen them when they originally aired, I did catch them in that God of Gods syndication. In my eyes, you are Batman. Not Michael Keaton, not Val Kilmer, and definitely not Herschell Bifford (my neighbor, who dresses up as Batman on Halloween to hand out candy).

What I don’t understand is why, after all your Simpsons appearances, that television movie, and God knows how many conventions, you aren’t donning the suit for the new Batman film. They have this actor who played a serial killer — a serial killer! — putting on the cowl. I am outraged. Sure, he could be the Joker. Batman? No way. Batman doesn’t kill.

In order to protest this injustice I decided to do something thoroughly unorthodox (I’m not Jewish). I purchased a very expensive Batman costume ($183.00) from a local costume shop and made a sign that said, “Adam West is Batman, not a serial killer!” I then went to my local Blockbuster because that’s where all the people are. I marched around out front and tried to explain to people that you needed to be the Batman in the new film.

After about ten minutes, the video store’s manager came out and attempted to make me leave the property. I wouldn’t do it. Would Batman leave a wrong? No. He’d make it right and then leave. I told mister manager that I wasn’t leaving until they understood what I was saying. He then attempted to lay hands on me, and I did something you’d be proud of. I handled it like Batman.

When he touched my shoulder, I screamed, “Don’t touch me. I’m one of Adam West’s m**therf***kers! (I used the actual word.)” And then I punched him in the face and hit him with my sign. I bet he didn’t expect me to be a

5”2’ powerhouse.

After my mother made bail I was given an order to never go back to that Blockbuster or I’d be faced with trespassing charges. I think I may be getting sued, too.

I’m not asking for help or anything, but I’d just like to know that you are behind me on this. I still have the Batman suit, though it was confiscated at the jail, and I think a police officer peed on it because it smells like urine. Do you think I should give up, or should I “take it up a notch,” as Batman always said, and target supermarkets and fundraisers?

In my eyes, you are Batman. Let that other guy be Superman or Martian Manhunter. Adam West is Batman. I think you should have also been cast as the lead in “I, Robot,” but I wasn’t going to protest that because I didn’t want people thinking I’m a racist. Thank you. -Doug Brunell

Gee, I wonder why the Caped Clown never replied.

To some, these taunts and pranks may seem cruel. I look at it as a subversive art project, however. They are pranks, but they have social significance. They take the holy down a few notches and throw them into the pits with the rest of us. They alter reality and shape days.

I don’t know what West was thinking when he read my letter, but I like to think he rolled his eyes a bit as he imagined the situation playing out in front of a Blockbuster in Anytown, USA. I like to think he had to wonder what people thought when they saw the sign declaring that West wasn’t a serial killer. I like to think he may have thought about the whole thing over dinner, chowing away on his barely cooked Budget Gourmet as he contemplated writing back. I’ll never know for sure, but that doesn’t bother me any. I’ll roll right on, seeking out people like Bill Paxton and Sandra Bullock, and I encourage others to do it, too.

Pranks are fun. They are liberating. They are the great equalizer, and they catch everyone with their pants down. People have played them on me, and I’ve really enjoyed them. (Hell, there was one guy who said he loved my writing and wanted to give me a gift. He handed me a plastic baggie filled with what he claimed was his blood. I don’t know if it was real or not, or if it was even a prank, but I sure got a kick out of it.) When they are done right, they can be sublime. When done wrong, they can land you in court. But that’s where the adventure lies.

Next target: Donald Trump.

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