from the on-line magazine "The Latest Sedition"
- October 12, 2001
House Makes "Un-Friendly" Request of NBC
by Gil Christner
BUSH TO NBC:
"DUMP THAT GUY CHANDLER"
Fictional Character "Too Funny" Compared to President
Special to the Latest Sedition
a move critics are calling censorship by the Bush administration,
the White House has demanded that NBC eliminate the character
of Chandler Bing from the hit TV show, "Friends."
a "goofy style, good sense of timing and all-around likability
factor" much greater than that of President Bush, the Administration,
in a strongly worded memo to NBC president Robert Wright, asked
that the character be written out of future episodes, "preferably
due to a horrible bloody accident."
Perry, the actor who portrays Chandler Bing, was in rehab and
could not be reached for comment. However, this latest move by
the White House precipitated a flurry of opinions from both sides
of the political spectrum. While most Hollywood and New York critics
complain it is only one in a long series of censorship attempts,
some conservative pundits concur with President Bush's logic.
is not the time for anybody on television to outshine our Commander-in-Chief"
said Bill O'Reilly, of Fox News Network's "The O'Reilly Factor."
"That guy Chandler has always been funnier than the President.
What message are we sending to the Taliban when we let some dopey
Hollywood actor steal the thunder during this national emergency?
For God's sake, we're at war. Give Bush the punch lines."
see this as proof of the ever-tightening stranglehold the Administration
is putting on free expression in media. The networks have already
agreed to limit the amount of time Osama bin Laden is heard on
American television. And it was rumored that the White House chastised
NBC for airing an interview with former President Clinton after
the events of September 11. But Howard Kurtz, media critic for
the Washington Post, sees this as going too far.
Bin Laden is one thing," says Kurtz. "And nobody ever liked Clinton,
if you don't count the vast majority of the American public. But
what's the point of killing off Chandler? I mean, what, is he
giving out some secret coded message when he whines about Monica's
anal retentiveness? I don't think so."
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer claims that stunting
humorous dissent is a perfectly acceptable strategy for getting
America behind President Bush's War on Terrorism. "We shut down
Bill Maher, and got Letterman to go back to really lame jokes
about the 99 Cent Store," Fleischer commented. "Leno was never
a threat, Dennis Miller was already on our side, and Jon Stewart
and the Daily Show has been completely turned around. In fact,
the current joke in Washington is, what's the difference between
Jon Stewart and Dan Rather? One is a big cry baby that will do
anything Bush asks him to, and the other is on CBS."
asked if that was an example of the level of humor the American
public can expect from the White House in the future, Fleischer
told this reporter, "You're about to be audited by the IRS."
Christner is a writer and actor living in Los Angeles. Most recently
he was the guy in pajamas on Buffy The Vampire Slayer who said
to the killer robot, "It's 3:30 in the morning!"