Culture

In Case You Missed It: Dark sides

fred willard

There’s no use in me covering the Aurora, CO shooting. The story is everywhere, and the The Onion has said everything that needed to be said. Every additional detail reveals a sadder, more disgusting picture, and it’s just going to get worse. The media coverage is ridiculous, but wait until he’s in court. It’s been inspiring debate about gun control, but this will likely go nowhere. No one expected the double identity, primarily known as the down on his luck medical student whom everyone liked. He bought most of his guns and ammo off the internet. Doesn’t the U.S. Government track stuff like that? Not saying I’m advocating a nanny-state, but I just assumed the government was tracking most things for possible terrorist activity. WOO FEAR STATE!

That being said, I like covering the coverage. I love how the shooting has been reported so terribly, so ruthlessly by major news networks and so earnestly by Redditors. I love that countless television specials cannot compare to the voices we didn’t know we wanted to hear. Think: these hack roundtable discussions are planned by and consist of people, somehow oblivious to how to be people. It’s as if every pundit has become a different, more extreme version of themselves in the wake of a large national tragedy. I will admit that I’ve been heartless while writing some of the In Case You Missed Its. Some may even say I was heartless just a paragraph ago. This article by the Telegraph butchers journalism into a bloody stump, forcing a Match.com profile to be  hot news. But enough about this.

Instead, I want to talk about Fred Willard’s exposed penis. Fred Willard belongs on my short list of favorite people. Best of Show cemented this, and he is usually the best part of subpar movies he finds himself in. He was arrested for “lewd conduct” in an adult movie theater, impressive for a man in his 70s.

The parallel drawn between Fred Willard and other famous pornography theatergoer Paul Reubens seems right. Sure, they both share an affinity for watching porn on the big screen, but both of these comedic actors have an act that relies on innocence. Both play characters oblivious to the outside world’s perception or expectations, but never in a negative or cynical way. Their characters are fundamentally and incredibly happy to just be alive. Fred Willard has been fired from his position as narrator of the PBS show Market Warriors, making this the lowest-key non-scandal the tabloid world has ever seen.

I don’t want to say “I’m happy Fred Willard was caught masturbating.” Again, heartless, but also creepy. There’s a joy that comes from seeing someone I respect and who can do no wrong instantly become human in an embarrassing way. It’s not with venom, like “about time he got caught masturbating,” but more “I’m glad Fred Willard has a dark side,” “Fred Willard’s Dark Side” being the best band name of the week.  It’s being able to know someone in a way that makes me empathize with them, even though I’ll never meet them. For a dark side, I’ve seen uglier.