Saturday, April 23, 2011


If Jennifer Lopez let loose a fart of epic proportions just as she was getting ready to rip into another exhausted contestant on AMERICAN IDOL, what would be the repercussions? Let’s assume that they have somebody, on post, in the control room, hovered over the control panel, ready to push that red button down the instant somebody accidentally, or intentionally, utters a profanity. Wouldn’t the same principle apply to an excess release of gas from one of their million dollar celebrities? Think about it. The next day, wouldn’t all the headlines remark upon the fact that Ms.Lopez farted, live, on national television. What the article wouldn’t say is that everybody reading that article, writer included, farts, what, twenty, thirty times a day? But nobody talks about it. Not truly. When we were kids, certainly, when such bodily emissions carried a certain weight, implied a kind of half-skewed pride, we’d joke about such stuff all of the time. And we continue to do it, in certain company. Not in public. Yet I have no doubt that such an occurrence – said incident being The World’s Most Famous Latina, Lopez, letting it rip, long and wet and loud, amplified by the microphone, further amplified by the newfangled stereo systems that people install in their homes so that they can hear whiz-bang-golly-gee sounds far removed from that of a singing star’s flatulence – would titillate the gossip pages for a good four, five days. It’s not often that the real stuff of ourselves is displayed to the world

I once stood not four feet from Jennifer Lopez, years ago, during the Toronto Film Festival, when she exited the Four Seasons Hotel and signed autographs in front of her patiently waiting limousine, and somebody offered her flowers, and she thanked them in what seemed like a sincere voice, and I remember thinking that I had never seen a more beautiful person in my entire life, a flawless beauty, a kind of take-your-breath-away beauty, which is cliché, I know, but beauty is cliché, and your breath kind of did disappear for a moment or two, and it was a kind of elemental, picture-that-comes-with-the-picture-frame-beauty far more beautiful than that which she had so far projected across any kind of silver screen, but at that moment she might very well have been holding within her a fart of David-Lean-epic proportions, and if I had known that, then, would it have made a difference to my judgement of her exterior illumination? If President Obama, or, god forbid, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were to burp or fart in the presence of the Queen, at a reception for the upcoming nuptials of the young prince, let us say, only days after Ms.Lopez committed the same heinous act on an American variety show, would the press wonder just what the hell the world was coming to? This is what I’m asking.

But we withhold stuff every day. That’s all we do. Keep stuff in. Have you ever talked to anybody recently about all the times that you flick snot out of your nose? We don’t even have a dignified word for that gunk – ‘snot’, ‘boogers’. Seriously. At least the Japanese have the good sense to call it ‘nose water’. How can we talk, with dignity, about something that has no proper certification? Or that feeling you get when you sense that the person in front of you couldn’t care less about what you’re saying, that they’re merely biding time, killing time, disentangling time, waiting for you to finish so that they can go back to thinking about what contorted images they will masturbate to later that night.

Or perhaps I’m being too judgemental. They might, in fact, be bored by what you’re saying because they were recently diagnosed with the ‘big c’, which is now an HBO series starring Laura Linney, which is just what I want, a ‘dramedy’ about how living with cancer is full of giggles and ‘life-lessons-learned-the-hard-way’, all very funny, all very earnest, undoubtedly worthy of multiple Emmy nominations, all designed to enable viewers to subscribe to HBO and thus keep the financial situation of its executives in a relatively stable state of being. They, too, have noses to pick, and one needs well-manicured nails to unearth some of those nuggets. Of course, there are undoubtedly hundreds of other people who would work on a show such as that, and, statistics would say, a fair number of them must have people with cancer in their lives. The grips, the caterers, those kinds of folks. Some of them probably think the show is exploitative, no matter how well it’s done, or precisely because of how well it’s done. Others might think it gives them exactly what they need. A few more might be so tired of dealing with disease that they couldn’t care less. (Shouldn’t we say “I couldn’t care MORE?” Wouldn’t that actually be more snidely dismissive?) Regardless of their genuine interest in a show that provides them with a paycheck on a bi-weekly basis, they still have to spend the bulk of their day keeping ‘their thoughts to themselves’, withholding farts, stifling burps, not letting anyone know that a subtle feeling of disappointment has been fluttering within them since around the age of sixteen. Maybe eighteen, depending.

I’m not saying that Ms.Lopez is the kind of person who would actually fart on TV. Don’t misunderstand me. She is a professional. She was a ‘maid in manhattan’, not in real life, not as far as I know, although she may very well have been, at one point in time, but she starred in a movie bearing that title, and anyone who could summon the stamina to work on a script of that calibre must have intestinal fortitude of the fifth degree. She wouldn’t allow inside gases to exit outside of herself, not while ascertaining the extent to which covers of Rod Stewart tunes from the 1970s constitute an original voice for this new millennium.

Must be tough, sitting there though. Her mind must wander. She must have to shift cheeks every now and then. A sight such as that must worry the guy in the booth. The one with the red button. He’s probably thinking mostly of swear words, of people muttering ‘motherfucker’ under their breath, but occasionally, I’m sure, flatulence and its (potentially) unwelcome, rank wave must wander through his bored mind. He has his own issues, but he doesn’t talk about them. And he trusts her, Ms.Lopez. He can recognize that she’s the real deal. A woman who keeps herself to herself. She knows that bodily functions have no place in prime time.