Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Dante's InfernoThank God I decided to subscribe to the Sunday newspaper. If not for the fact that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- an awful excuse for a metropolitan daily, by the way -- is delivered to my door each Sunday morn, I'd still be laboring under the belief that the former Princess of Wales was safely jet-setting around France with "friend" Dody Goodman.

Then, after a satisfying shower, a few cups of java, and a couple Advil to take the edge off I discovered how wrong I was...Diana was galivanting around the continent with Dodi Fayed, the guy that produced hum-drum dreck like CHARIOTS OF FIRE and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP! In fact, there was the distinct possibility that Dody Goodman and the former Diana Spencer had never even met!! I quickly made a mental note to watch the evening news instead of 'Simpsons' reruns and continued on with the paper.

Diana and Fayed are big news today, of course, because of the brutal car crash that took both their lives in -- of all places -- Paris, France. Chalk up another tragic event to those frog pussys. Reports from the scene indicate that the crash was the direct result of a chase involving the Mercedes (carrying Fayed, Diana, a bodyguard, and their chauffer) and a bunch of vultures whom we'll politely refer to as "photographers." Hey Frenchie, at least in our country celebrities are in more danger from stalkers, ex-husbands, and obsessed fans than they are paparazzi! Authorities are apparently questioning the role these swine played in the accident, but I'm sure they'll walk away with a slap on the wrist after promising "never to cause the death of a celebrity ever again." Remember, this is the country that dropped their pants and spread their cheeks for the German Army back in the 1940s. "Is Paris Burning?" I say, who cares!?

Of the two famous victims of the crash, I can't say I feel all that sorry for Fayed. Not that he deserved to go in this fashion, but he was -- from all published accounts -- a rich-boy leech that desperately wanted the fame he finally received. Think about it...he's Ron Goldman to Diana's Nicole Simpson. Their names, like that of JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald, are forever linked in the mind's of millions. Hell, who knew this guy was involved in the movie business until they read his obituary?

It's Diana that I actually feel sorry for. I know, this sort of compassion is way out of character, but I can't help myself. It's hard to even work up any good jokes about the matter. At 36, this young woman should've been bedding heads of state and working her way through a litany of politically-connected lovers, not lying on a morgue slab waiting for that Alfred E. Neuman of an ex-husband to come accompany her corpse back to the UK. She'd have been far better off if she'd never met Charles, a fact that's painfully obvious in these moments after her death. Their sham of a marriage only resulted in her bizarre celebrity status and brutal end. As the always eloquent, extremely tasteful Guy Junker put it on this morning's Channel 11 newscast, "Sorta puts a damper on a big sports weekend." Nice one Guy.

However, in this age of conspiracy theories, supermarket tabloids, and kooks running amok, let me be among the first to suggest that it wasn't Diana that died in the crash afterall. Hey, anybody see VERTIGO or Brian DePalma's knock-offs OBSESSION and BODY DOUBLE? Perhaps in her bid to avoid the press, a Diana-alike got into the car with Fayed and sped off through the streets of Paris. Was the "death" planned so that the former Princess could live in hiding, away from the prying eyes of the press? Or maybe it was just a simple game gone horribly wrong. The pair planned to meet up later, only to have the chauffer lose control of the car in the tunnel, resulting in "Diana" and Fayed's death...don't laugh when you see the headlines start floating through the tabloids in a week or so. And remember where you heard it first. (Looks like the Jonbenet Ramsey killing will finally move to the back burner for a little while.)

Of course, the news did put a thoroughly ghoulish thought in my head, one which I'm ashamed to even write: "Man, I can't wait to see what kind of mushy tribute Jerry Lewis does to Diana during tonight's telethon!"

That's right, it's telethon night, and nothing guarantees ratings like a ready-made tragedy for Jerry to play upon. I'm sure we'll get unctious footage of Diana visiting some kid with MDA (she must've at some point in her tireless trips to get away from Charles and that mother of his!) accompanied my melodramatic music and Jerry's faux sincerity. Personally, I can't wait. I've already had my first pot of coffee in preparation for countless hours of tote boards, Ed McMahon's boorish laughter, celebrity guests, and the inevitable point when a tired, frazzled, edgy Lewis snaps at some bewildered technician, co-host, or afflicted child. It happens every year, and it's -- unfortunately -- the moment I live for.

This year, though, I'm actually thinking about making a donation. Certainly all the entertainment the telethon has brought me is worth $25. If you're having your own pangs of telethon-related guilt, send a check to: MDA, PO Box 66002, Tucson, AZ 85718-6002.

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