The Gift Of Streaking

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about outsider politicians, sprinting, bellies, tummies, Darth Vader fucking, and more.

Hey now, look who’s back from swinging London. ME! YOUR FAVORITE BLOGGER! But before I get back to my duties in the take lab, let’s all give a hearty round of applause to Roth for manning the controls here last week and getting me to laugh out loud multiple times as I recovered from one of the milder cases of jet lag I’ve ever experienced. He’s a top man, that Roth. And you’re all top readers! Now let’s talk about some stupid shit!

Your letters:

Kristopher:

At the Oscars the other week, there was a bit where John Cena came out naked, commemorating when there was a streaker at the Oscars 50 years ago. This got me thinking about streaking, which seems to have died and was maybe was a relic of the hippie/free love era. I started to see it as perhaps one of the most curiously and senselessly human acts one can do. Is it not honoring some bone deep truth that we are of nature and chaos and the unknown? That all the rituals and behaviors we’ve accumulated to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the living world are potentially toxic, if not at least worth questioning and challenging? Or are streakers just sex pests getting their jollies? Can it be more of one than the other?

You’re talking to someone with experience in streaking, sir. So I can answer this question with supreme authority. I was at prep school, living in a boys’ dorm. We were overworked, bored, and hard up. Some of us were stoned (I, somehow, was not). It was late at night and no one was out on the quad, because Exeter punished curfew violations by burning you at the stake. We all sensed a vacuum that needed to be filled. With dicks.

So we said to each other, “Let’s go ho-ing.”

That’s what we called streaking. We called up all the other dorms and told them to look out their windows when the clock struck 2 a.m. We gathered in the common room, the air dripping with anticipation. We were already cracking up, but had to keep quiet so that we wouldn’t wake up our resident faculty members. Someone gave the go-ahead and we stripped down to nothing. Then we burst out the door in a single file and sprinted around the quad, roaring with laughter as all the other dorms cheered us on from above. I needed this cheering, because I was slow afoot and needed to keep up the pace. Ever laugh and run at the same time? Brother, it’s exhausting. I have never run so fast. I was still the last one back to our dorm anyway.

Then we all ho-ed again a few months later. It remains one of my fondest memories of prep school. I got to hatch a zany scheme with my friends, carry it out, and show the world my hairy balls. I don’t have to explain the thrill of streaking much more than that. People do it because it’s fucking funny. Everyone else is just minding their own business when all of a sudden HEY NOW, there’s a naked guy with his dick flopping around passing them by. That’s comedy in its purest form, and as president I would bring it back. Americans should stop trolling on their phones and start running around nude. The world would be a better place if they did.

Does that mean I’d ever go streaking again, at age 47? No. I know a young person’s milieu when I see it. It usually has firmer asscheeks.

Andrew:

I’m writing this time in light of the clown show that is Indiana’s governor race where at least a couple of candidates run on a mostly “I’m an outsider” campaign. My friends and I ask: isn’t this just a way to say “I’m unqualified”? Why can’t we use the outsider line when interviewing for any job where we have no formal training? 

This has been a scam for my entire life, mostly because it works. Everyone hates politicians, and everyone hates Washington. So every Donvek Bloomyang out there enters a race crying out, “I’m not a politician! I’ve never even been to Washington!” and then voters are like, “Ooh, they’re just like me! They’ll be a breath of fresh air in that town!” I bought that line of bullshit from Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, Steve Forbes, John McCain (such a maverick!), Barack Obama, and 500 other lifetime bullshitters. They’re all are part of the same ecosystem, where politics and industry are 69ing one another round the clock, so you’re not getting anything NEW when you vote for one of them. You’re either getting someone who knows dick about how to run a government (Trump), or someone who already fit right into the system (Clinton).

But elections are ad campaigns, and the message always matters more than the candidate. Voters want their leaders to represent them, which is why every candidate out there strives to be relatable by driving a pickup truck, eating shitty hamburgers, and owning a farm that they visit four days a year. These visuals feed into an evergreen delusion that many voters (me) indulge, which is that if THEY were elected President, they’d cut through all of the bullshit and change everything for the better. If you’ve ever seen Dave (but not Legally Blonde 2, because it’s horrific), you know how strong that fantasy is. All our government needs to function is someone in charge who has a bit of moral backbone and a hefty amount of common sense. I should not have needed Donald Fucking Trump elected president to understand how great of a lie this is, but alas. Now I know: outsiders are as useless to me as a paid Tubi subscription.

Because the work of government is fucking hard, if not impossible. Republican leadership in the House is currently getting a rough lesson in this, as they monkeyfart their way through one failed proposal after another. You have to draft good laws, and then you have to sell them both to your peers and to your constituents, none of whom may share your interest and all of whom are vulnerable to disinformation/propaganda/racism/sexism/homophobia/free snacks. This is probably why lifers like Nancy Pelosi get so testy when younger voters shit all over them. They know how hard the gig is, and they’d like a touch of gratitude for it. Please know that I will NEVER give Pelosi satisfaction on that end, because she’s an intractable old lump of shit.

But, on a superficial level, I get it. You need politicians who know how to do good work, and have both the intellect and wiles to at least get a few quality initiatives passed, or started at the very least. That makes for a lousy campaign ad though, so what we’ll always get instead is VOTE FOR THE ROCK BECAUSE HE’S FAMOUS.

BTW, I recommend this Politico profile of Democratic strategist Hal Malchow, who died last week after scheduled euthanasia. Malchow’s basic conclusion was that parties should just advertise themselves as a whole, rather than spending a shitload of money on individual candidates and races. Democratic gains since Dobbs make that strategy obvious, and Malchow’s approach could potentially render the age of outsider campaign strategies obsolete if his clients adopted it in full. But that would require people, you know, listening to him.

Matthew:

What’s the best way to advertise to people? Between streaming and DVR, TV ads are out. I can skip podcast ads (sorry). Social media was never good and is worse now, although I for one am susceptible to Instagram ads.  

It’s television, and always will be. TV audiences, especially on the big four networks, still dwarf audience sizes in any other medium. This is especially true now that print media has been eaten alive and web advertising remains a clusterfuck. You can reach niche audiences by purchasing targeted banner ads and by paying Kylie Jenner to make duckfaces with your product, but the returns will usually be scattershot. That’s far less true if you’re airing a 30-second spot on Abbott Elementary or, even better, an NFL game. You’re reaching tens of millions of people in one go, and those people will register your ad even if they’re skipping past it on the DVR. And if you’re like me, you watch most sporting events live anyway, so you can’t skip past the ads.

This is why I’ve now seen the “We Will Rock You” GMC ads 50,000 times. I will burn down their assembly line and plant a rainbow flag in its ashes.

Dusty:

I’m so sorry, but I have to do this. Almost every single character on TV shows and movies from at least the past 15 years has blue eyes. It’s not every one, but it’s a lot. And you are never going to be able to unsee this or un-know this.

Whoa hey I have blue eyes. That means I could be a movie star too!

[you watch video of me acting]

OK fine, I can’t act. But yes, there is no shortage of white actors with blue eyes (or blue contacts) out there for producers to choose from. Blue pops on screen more than hazel, so there’s your explanation. I would notice this phenomenon more if I cared, but I don’t. It’s Hollywood. It’s an industry designed to manipulate what you’re looking at. That’s how you end up with Furiosa being played by not one, but two of the best-looking women on the planet. That’s what I’m paying for here. I want the lie.

TS:

In 2024, the Year of our Lord, INXS is basically a non-entity. The thought of this idea made me sad. INXS was a legitimately great band! They were cool enough for the alternative/120 Minutes crowd, yet crossed over to the pop charts and were liked by the general public. Everyone knew and liked INXS! Put on the Kick album at your next BBQ and watch as the adults casually groove while eating their brats. Yet, they are virtually unknown to the youths of today. What other once-famous bands do you think are virtually non-existent or practically forgotten today?

Most of them. That’s how pop culture works. Or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. A band or star has their moment, and then they go away and someone new takes their place. It’s not exactly a shock that no one else in my house but me remembers (or likes) Dangerous Toys, or “Tattooed Millionaire” by Bruce Dickinson, or the fact that The Hard Way is a perfect film. Nothing is meant to last, and nearly everything that does comes by its longevity via artificial means: advertising, movie/TV soundtracks, televised singing competitions, and my generation’s general (and pathetic) need to keep our childhood icons relevant. It’s better when these acts fade from memory, so that I can think back on them fondly rather than hear them serenade me while I’m buying generic Cheerios at Aldi.

As for INXS, I don’t necessarily agree that they’ve been wiped from the cultural record. I’ve definitely heard their shit in the grocery store, and who can forget Rock Star: INXS, the CBS reality show where the surviving members of the band chose a new lead singer who would leave the band after just one album? The original INXS still lives on regardless, especially in my head where “Disappear” still plays on a loop 27 years after Michael Hutchence died. That’s one of the greatest pop songs of the 1990s, regardless of how much run it gets outside of my skull in 2024.

And that run isn’t as vital as people in my line of work would have you think. My 18-year-old put on Bobby Darin in the car the other day, and I don’t remember that guy blowing up after being showcased on an episode of Stranger Things. Just because something isn’t in the zeitgeist doesn’t mean it’s gone. All great art is still accessible—in certain ways, more so than ever—and it still matters to anyone who stumbles upon it and falls in love with it. All of that can happen organically, without dinosaurs like me trying to force it.

HALFTIME!

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Aaron:

Can you recall the last time you sprinted out of necessity? Cops/wild animals as opposed to racing the kids?

The airport! When my wife and I took our family to the U.K. last week, we had to connect through Atlanta. If you’ve ever dealt with Hartsfield, you already know that sprinting is required. For the first leg of the trip, all of us were seated in the DFL row of the plane, right by the shitters. Our layover was a mere hour, and we’d have to wait for the entire rest of the plane to deboard before we could even begin to make a run for it. But the flight attendant assured me that our connecting gate was nearby. We were arriving at the D concourse, and our London flight was on the E concourse. D is right next to E in the alphabet, so it stood to reason that it would be a quick walk from one gate to the other.

Wrong. In Atlanta, every concourse is 56 miles from every other concourse. It’s kind of like commuting from one side of L.A. to the other. So I turned to my wife and said, in my best action movie voice, “You stay with the kids. I’ll run.” And then I broke into a dead sprint down the escalators, through an underground tunnel that ran the length of the entire state of Georgia, back up the escalator, and then all the way to the ass end of the E concourse, even though our gate was like E2 or something. I’d never felt more alive. Everyone else in the airport surely looked at me running with wings on my feet and said to each other, “He must be someone important.” And you know what? I am. Felt good to hustle to the gate and then spend nine hours in a middle seat, with my feet stewing in their own juices. Real Jack Ryan shit.

While I’m on the subject of air travel, lemme tell you one more story from that leg of the trip. Both of our flights were overnight. If you’ve ever flown an airplane at night, you know that the rear galley turns into a lowkey cocktail party once the flight reaches cruising altitude. The attendants shoot the shit with one another, and then they’ll happily give you a water if you ask for one while you’re in line to piss. Well, on our flight to Atlanta, I saw an open water bottle on the drink cart back there while I was waiting for the bathroom to come open, so I reached for a spare cup to pour myself a quick drink. The attendant back there was NOT in a soiree state of mind. She’s like YOU HAVE TO ASK ME TO DO THAT, and I thought she might send me to jail. I’ll never fuck with the drink cart again.

Cory:

I was watching our local news the other day and I finally realized I mostly read the news. The only real news I watch is the end of the national news and my local news which comes on at 6pm, the rest I only read through websites, emails, social media, the local newspaper, etc. So, how do you consume your news?

You’re looking at it. My news is 100 percent web-sourced. Even with Twitter in hospice, you’d be surprised how often I still learn that something important has happened by seeing someone tweet about it without knowing the context. Someone will post, “My favorite M. Emmet Walsh moment was when Frances McDormand put a knife through his hand,” and that’s how I find out the man has died. I certainly wouldn’t have learned it from watching Entertainment Tonight on a daily basis. Instead, my news comes to me in a steady IV drip through Twitter (almost exclusively for NFL news), Slack channels, Defector, and my morning glance at the WaPo homepage. The idea of watching news on television is about as appealing to me as taking a voice call. The handful of times I’ve put on cable news this century, it’s taken me all of five minutes to remember why I avoid it.

My parents, perhaps like yours, are a different story. They watch the national evening news every night. When I visited them last month, I was treated to the sight of Lester Holt delivering the headlines for the first time in like two years. I alternated between ignoring the telecast and silently thinking about everything the show was doing wrong. The news industry isn’t without its problems right now—perhaps you’ve heard about them—but it’s still jarring to remember growing up in a time when everyone tuned into Tom Brokaw to learn about current events and believed everything he said. Ditto local newscasters, who were all 700 percent stupider. If these people told you that there might be razor blades hidden in your kids’ Halloween candy, they had to be onto something. Good thing that kind of shoddy journalistic craftsmanship is a thing of the past! Now I can get my news straight from the Liver King.

I think we’re all better informed thanks to this. And now I know how to land a 10 anytime I wanna get laid.

Paul:

Are “belly” and “tummy” interchangeable? Or is belly on the outside, and tummy on the inside?

I think of a “belly” as something protruding. A beer belly, in other words. This is because I’ve had a belly since, oh, let’s say age 8. I even once had a girlfriend who told me, “You have a fat belly” to my face. She used her baby voice when she said it, but that didn’t make it any cuter. By contrast, when my wife tells me I’ve gotten heavy, she’s much more clinical about it. She doesn’t do a baby voice. She just tells me I’m eating too much chocolate and that I need to cool it so that my aorta doesn’t blow up like a water balloon. Much more preferable bedside manner.

The point is, I have psychologically linked bellies to fatty tissue. Tummies are another matter. Tummies can be firm, upset, or pregnant. They are cuter than bellies. That’s where I stand on the issue.

Richard:

1) Has Darth Vader ever fucked post-Anakin transformation? 2) If so, does he fuck with his helmet on or off? 3) If his helmet is on whilst fucking, what about the rest of the suit? I feel like missing that heart monitor computer on his chest could create a potentially fatal situation.

He definitely fucked post-Vadering. Unless his dick got burned off, which would explain his vengeful personality. As to how Vader would fuck, we know from Return of the Jedi that the mask/helmet helped keep him alive, so that had to stay on. Ditto the Simon Says on his chest. A Storm Trooper brings him a space concubine, and then he does his business with his bottoms off but everything else still on. Do you remember when Tony Soprano dreamt that he was fucking a lady while decked out in Roman war armor? I’m picturing something like that. Some dipshit out there finds this a turn-on. I am not one of them.

Joe:

The Bears haven’t had a great QB since Sid Luckman. If Caleb Williams has a Kirk Cousins-type of career (just with the Bears instead of jumping around a few teams), do you think Bears fans would be happy with that? In this scenario, how good would Fields have to be for the fans to regret the Bears letting him go?

As someone who just divested himself of the Kirk Cousins Experience, I can tell you that NO Bears fan would be happy with Caleb Williams giving them a similar return. You draft that man to win you Super Bowls. No less. Bears fans are among the NFL’s stupidest, but even they know what proper expectations for a franchise quarterback ought to look like. If Caleb doesn’t turn out to be Mahomes II, they’ll be pissed. We all will, frankly. I’m here to see greatness, not mere competency.

As for Fields, he’s now backup to a lame duck Russell Wilson. He fetched nothing in return because every other team in the league knew his deal: brilliant runner, terrible passer. That’s not changing for him in Pittsburgh, or anywhere else. If Fields wins a ring elsewhere, then of course Bears fans would be mad. But that’s not happening.

Also, none of this conjecture will matter once the Vikings trade up for Drake Maye. THE DAY IS MINE.

Briane:

RE: the claim in your Funbag for March 12 about road grays, I say HOGWASH. Wikipedia, for gosh sake, talks about dark uniforms when the custom of different road and home uniforms started. And I mean look, I’m not even a reporter OR a baseball fan, I’m a fan of Drew Magary and the truth, so before just running a funbag and letting people puke all their nonsense all over stuff, maybe Google things.

Oops. Sorry.

(I probably should have googled Briane’s answer too, but she seems credible.)

Pete:

My cousin, who was 10 years younger than I, unexpectedly passed away last summer. I was stunned by the news. We grew up together and were very close to one another. We had very similar senses of humor (he was also a big fan of your work), and it’s been quite a few months, so do you think it’s okay to make jokes about him now? Not about him dying or anything maudlin like that, but just jokes about him? 

Yes. Part of the grieving process is remembering all of the departed, and not merely the tragic circumstances of their demise. You’re allowed to pay tribute to your cousin through some light roasting. Pretty much every good eulogy has a bit of levity somewhere in it, because you need the laugh. You’re incredibly sad and you have no idea what to do with your grief. So whenever another person is like, “Hey man, remember when John used to always fart out loud whenever we took him to Arby’s?” they pierce through the sadness for a moment to help you remember why you loved your best farting friend so much. That’s no sin.

Email of the week!

Chris:

One of the activities for my wife’s family reunion last year was to take all the kids to a state park near Boulder and hike a mile or so up a little river. While nature was involved, this was a well-maintained and popular spot with a parking lot, restrooms, picnic tables, a trail along the river, etc. so not like backwoods trekking. During the hike, my daughter’s sandals fell off and floated downstream, so my wife and I ran down the trail chasing them. The sandals came to rest in an eddy a few hundred yards down, right next to a couple in their 20s; the woman was beautiful and sunbathing topless. She graciously fished the sandals out of the water and handed them to us. My question for you is: What should have been the appropriate way for me (a man in my 40s) to interact with this woman? (a) keep my eyes at the ground and mumble thank you; (b) look straight into her eyes and converse normally; (c) give a prolonged look up and down to let her know she had the right to flaunt it and it was appreciated; or (d) turn and run and let my wife handle everything? Fwiw, I reflexively chose a mixture of (a) and (b) because my subconscious undoubtedly knew that would be the most awkward and make me look like the biggest fool possible.

You see? Streaking rules!

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