THE NICK & JESSICA VARIETY HOUR
Fuck Me Now, Reggie!
I’ve seen parts of, or even entire reality shows. I’ve watched countless hours of MTV, Fox News, and even The 700 Club. I’ve also seen more failed sitcoms than I care to mention. In all of that time, however, I have never seen anything as bad as The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour. And even if I live to see a live, coast-to-coast, ten-hour monlogue by George W. Bush on Quantum Theory, I will never see anything this dreadful again. If such things must be put to a comparison, I would rather watch a dozen seasons of retarded midgets and their adventures with Mormon missionaries. Even worse, I’d sit through each and every Bob Hope special without commercial interruption. Clearly, then, I cannot even begin to describe how completely insipid this hour of “comedy” and “music” really was. That Jessica Simpson will continue to work in this country after willingly participating in the most embarrassing television moment in the history of the medium is both a testament to how truly scary we are, and our need to be distracted at all possible cost. Whether this variety show was intended as camp, irony, or even parody, it is indefensible as anything but high-level torture for future political prisoners. The only thing less defensible is my desire to watch it, although I knew it was tailor made for a Ruthless discussion. The highlights:
- Mr. T appears in two separate skits, presumably to prove that he didn’t die from that cancer scare a few years back. Yes, my friends, he does utter “I pity the fool,” as if I had to tell you.
- Nick sings a duet with Kitt, the talking car from Knight Rider. It took everything in my power to keep from imploding while writing that sentence.
- Jessica dresses up as Dolly Parton and sings “Islands in the Stream” with Kenny Rogers. Few things have ever been as creepy as an 80-ish Rogers crooning to a woman young enough to be his granddaughter, “Makin’ love to each other, uh-huh.”
- A equally preserved-in-amber Johnny Bench shows up to hit a few baseballs into the crowd. Is it too late to rip down that plaque at Cooperstown?
- Several of The Muppets stop by to sing a few tunes. Surely the sign of any show’s desperation is a reliance on Miss Piggy for a few laughs. Even worse is the fact that Jessica is in a frigging Pizza Hut commercial with the same Muppets.
- Simpson sings a duet with Jewel, although it would be more accurate to say that she screams over, around, and through the poor Alaskan. If Simpson was mocking Jewel’s singing style, it must be asked why Jewel would sit there and be ridiculed in such a fashion. And it bears repeating: why, after millions of records sold, has Jewel refused to get her teeth fixed?
And all of that took place in the first half hour! I simply couldn’t watch the second half, although I did hear it blaring in the front room as I wrote this review. I believe there was a Sonny & Cher impression or two, several painfully unfunny skits (in the first half there were at least three that wouldn’t be humorous in any context, in any era), and many, many attempts by Simpson to play on her image as the lovable dunce. In fact, Simpson has claimed that her TV persona is just an act and that secretly — when no one is looking, apparently — she ponders the subtext of The Canterbury Tales and deconstructs the mysteries of time and space. And when she’s not forcing blood to pour from the ears of the unsuspecting or flashing those (admittedly) gorgeous breasts, she’s planning her triumphant return to the London stage as Lady Macbeth or submitting drafts of her epic poem written in some long-dead language. It never fails that the biggest twits in the popular culture are the first ones to insist that they can be dopey, silly, juvenile, and in Simpson’s case, think Chicken of the Sea is actually chicken, while cultivating a private, but equally powerful, brilliance. “I could contemplate the futile strivings of modern man in the face of technological dehumanization,” she chirps, “but why bother when I can dress up in my pajamas and sing with a sock puppet?”
And while it may sicken you to know that I spent even a few moments of my time with this pinnacle of drivel, hosted by a pair of simpletons who, in a just society, would be fed to a pack of starving wolves within minutes of this show’s broadcast, but I assure you that, as a Ruthless critic, it is important to stay on top of our rapidly disintegrating popular culture. And as fond as I am of a land that can still witness the release of historically important films on DVD, complete with remastered prints and scholarly commentary, the entire libraries of Ozu, Kurosawa, Altman, and Truffaut are still not enough to erase the soul-deadening pain of Nick & Jessica’s criminally unjust popularity. On occasion I do sense a media conspiracy to push certain celebrities against our will, creating a scenario where we come to believe that we have desired their ubiquity, but I am just as often forced deeper into my depression as I wonder how ABC could devote one hour of precious prime time space to these people unless they sensed a public demand. Was America really in need of a half-clothed cretin singing “She Works Hard for Her Money?” Holy mother of fuck, yes!
So let this be a call to arms, my comrades. If we desire at least a brief moment of self-respect on our journey into the toilet, can we use this variety special as a pretext for assassination? Can we send out a few vibes to the remaining members of the Manson family, informing them that Helter Skelter left out a few casualties? No one on earth is less deserving of wealth and happiness than Nick & Jessica, and at this point, I’d even settle for paralysis or disfigurement to keep them away from the cameras. They have hurt and maimed us before, but nothing could have prepared any of us for this shit. No second chances, no apologies, and no mere vacations from the limelight. Only a permanent solution will suffice, and I’ll leave the details to you. Is Robert Bardo available?