Winner of the Best Columnist of the Year at the British Liars’ Awards and Britain’s finest satirist, O’Farrell takes dead aim in Global Village Idiot at cell phones, awards ceremonies, genetic sheep splicers, America’s right wing cabal of dunces, dunderheads, dimwits, and the Big ‘D’ himself. “Just when we thought the lawlessness in Iraq was over,” O’Farrell observes, “even more blatant incidents of looting have begun. With handkerchiefs masking their faces, two rioters roughly the height of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld kicked in the gates of the largest oilfield and grabbed the keys of the gasoline trucks. ‘Yee-haw! It’s all ours! Millions of barrels of the stuff’ they laughed. ‘Yup!’ added the leader ‘ and this mask guarantees my anonymousinity!’ So after all these years there really is such a person as the Thief of Baghdad. Except strangely his accent sounded vaguely Texan.”
A writer for the groundbreaking television show Spitting Image and contributor to the screenplay for the hit movie Chicken Run, O’Farrell meticulously researched his conclusions “by spending five minutes on the internet and then giving up.” And while O’Farrell’s sharpest barbs and stingers have often been written to come out of the mouths of grotesque puppets and Claymation chickens, this time around he keeps the best lines for himself: ‘‘With the election of the 43rd President of the United States, the global village is complete,” O’Farrell writes. “’It has its own global village idiot.’”
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Global Village IdiotDubya, Dunces, and One Last Word Before You Vote
By John O'Farrell
Grove Atlantic, Inc.Copyright © 2003 John O'Farrell
All right reserved.
IntroductionMy mother grew up during World War II and doesn't like to waste anything. So when she had a new hip joint fitted recently she asked the doctor if she could take the old bone home for her dog. I suppose I should just be grateful that she didn't boil it up to make a delicious stock. "What sort of soup is this, Mother?" "It's Mom's hipbone and country vegetable." I told my friends this story and we all had a good chuckle. But then I overheard one of them telling someone else and as more laughter echoed around the pub I thought, "Hang on, what gives you the right to laugh at my family?" And so it is with poking fun at your own country and its government. It's all very well for Americans to satirize the Bush administration, but that doesn't give every liberal limey the right to start sniping at the U.S. president. Thus it is with some trepidation and a sense of humility that I offer this collection of essays to you from the other side of the Atlantic. I love the United States and its people whom I know have a great sense of humour, so please do not think that any criticism of your president or Republican Party policies is an attack on you as a patriotic American (unless you yourself happen to bereading this, Dubya, which-let's face it-is unlikely given the absence of pictures). It is because the United States has historically been a beacon of free expression and democracy that I worry about the direction in which its government is now leading the free world. You did a great job throwing off the hereditary monarchy of George III. It just seems strange that you adopted the hereditary presidency of George II. I also have great respect for the American traditions of free speech as enshrined in the First Amendment, and I was sort of hoping that this right might extend to non-U.S. citizens who aspire to noble American values (i.e., making a quick buck by selling a load of jokes that have been printed in British newspapers once already). My country is said to have a special relationship with America, which is very important to us here in Britain, if only as an excellent way to annoy the French. So I hope you understand that any jokes at your country's expense from this particular Brit are very much in the spirit of a critical friend. Okay, maybe one of those friends who stole your girlfriend and still owes you money and never calls you except to ask unreasonable favours, but a friend nonetheless. With a degree of distance from the United States and the American media it could even be that a British eye on topical events might offer a fresh perspective. Some things seem normal just because things have always been that way where we happen to live. When Vlad the Impaler was prince of Wallachia, many of his subjects were shocked at the radical suggestions of visitors from abroad. "What, stop impaling people altogether?!! Surely you mean gradually introduce some form of licensed impaling after hearing evidence from the Guild of Impalers?" In fact most of these pieces are not about American politics at all. Instead I have sought to cover as wide a range of topics as possible, from human cloning to the Miss World competition to soft-core pornography. (Come to think of it, these are all the same subject, aren't they?) I have tried to avoid banging on and on about the issues that really bug me because I thought it might get a bit boring for people to keep reading about car alarms and the uncooperative nature of my printer. Most of the essays are about three pages each-the idea being that you can sit down and read one piece a day, or possibly two, depending on whether you had All-Bran or boiled eggs for breakfast. Or perhaps you are travelling and keep being interrupted by a fellow passenger chatting to you, or maybe you're distracted by those bits of molten engine casing dropping off the wing, and in these situations it can be hard to concentrate on some major literary classic. But like the novels of Jackie Collins you can read this book in any random order and it will make no difference whatsoever to how much you enjoy it. This collection begins with George W. Bush well on the way to getting his new job, and ends soon after Saddam Hussein loses his. Where there is some topical or peculiarly British reference that might need further clarification I've inserted an asterisk to denote that there will be an explanatory footnote at the bottom of the page. I have left in the dates that the pieces first appeared although most of them are about issues that are very much still with us. This is only one person's reaction to the great events and profound moral issues that are shaping the new
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