Friday, August 11, 2006

Family fun

Remember my rant about kiddie spas that sexualize little girls? That's nothing compared to kiddie beauty contests. The movie we saw last night, “Little Miss Sunshine," does a hilarious send-up of this fine American institution that's also surprisingly touching. Great dialogue, great acting throughout, but the pageant finale will go down as a classic. Nine-year-old Olive: "I'd like to dedicate this performance to my Grandpa." Emcee: "Aw, how sweet. And where is your grandpa now, honey?" Olive, with equanimity: "In the trunk of our car." I won't spoil the whole thing for you, but this emcee has to be seen to be believed. Think American actor wildly impersonating Eric Idle impersonating a 1970s American game-show emcee.

Ben and I laughed a lot during the movie, but it wasn’t entirely carefree humor — it was complicated because it was also poignant in places, and because it revolved around something I find truly horrifying. The kiddie-pageant thing recalled the JonBenet murder case so I did a little web-surfing to refresh my memory. That crime was apparently second only to the O.J. Simpson case in terms of media and public frenzy. You could spend your whole life analyzing the evidence (and a truly pathetic number of people have) to figure out who did it, and I haven’t formed an opinion, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that the parents are totally innocent and the murder was committed by an unknown intruder intent on molesting the kid and/or kidnapping her for use in lucrative kiddie porn. All that said, what kind of fucking sickos are parents who let their six-year-old daughter and themselves get involved in such an incredibly degrading public pursuit? Did it not occur to them that this could attract the attention of pedophiles, especially since they’re also wealthy? Did they really think it was all cute innocent fun? Oh yeah, I forgot the mother was an ex-beauty queen herself, so no shortage there of blinders and narcissism for both her and the poor kid. Barf.

On a different though only slightly less depressing topic, my initial first choice for seeing a movie last night was "World Trade Center," which Ben vetoed because for some reason he thought would be a downer. Especially in light of this week's foiled terrorist plot involving liquid explosives in carry-on luggage. In my automatic “how-does-this-affect-me-personally?” reaction to news events, I thought back to Ben traveling alone with three-month-old Becky to England in May 2002. He was carrying her in a Snuggli, which I would think qualifies as carry-on luggage, so today at Heathrow they'd make her ride in the cargo hold. Also they would have made him open and imbibe the bottles of formula or frozen breast milk he would have been carrying, to prove it wasn't nitroglycerine.

Has everyone fled in complete disgust yet? No? Well then, this is why I love Dooce, because she uses exaggeration and offensiveness to great humorous effect: "If you haven’t ever heard a Utah accent all you need to know is that if you had to listen to 30 seconds of a local newscast you’d offer a blow job to the first person who volunteered to stab you in the ears." Isn’t that refreshingly honest and plain-spoken! Even though I’ve never heard a Utah accent! More feel-good fun here tomorrow on the Family Channel!

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