If you watch as much PBS as I do, which you probably shouldn’t, you may have heard that Fred Willard would be hosting a spinoff of Antiques Roadshow in the near future. Antiques Roadshow was that show about experts appraising estate furniture at convention centers around the country. Once an episode someone’s grandmother’s candle holder would turn out to have been carved from a unicorn’s horn and be worth six figures. Remember when your mom turned into a hoarder in 2002? That was because of Antiques Roadshow.
Fred Willard is really funny. He was great in Best of Show and A Mighty Wind, easily the funniest person in both films. His show is titled Market Warriors, and it doesn’t really matter how it’s different from Antiques Roadshow because you probably checked out when I said “PBS” and are skimming this article for bolded words and links. Tits! You’re welcome.
Anyway, Fred Willard, at the tender age of 78, has just been fired from his hosting job by PBS after being arrested for Suspicion of a Lewd Public Act at a porn theater (theatre?) in Los Angeles. In other words, he went to a porn theater and masturbated. He was “roughing up the suspect” somewhere other than his home, office, or hotel room, and in today’s America that’s not okay. Public masturbation sounds categorically awful and should cost any well-known person their place in the spotlight, but…let’s pause before passing judgement on Fred Willard.
Today in 2012, we are more than 30 years into the Porn-At-Home revolution. First there were Penthouse and Hustler magazines, then came the video tapes you could rent or buy and watch on your TV, followed by porn you could pay your cable company to pipe directly into your house, then there was a decade of porn paysites on that newfangled internet and now today there are these wonderful things called “tubes” that will provide you with as much video of people having sex in whatever configuration you can think of at the click of a mouse button, basically for free. Before all that wonderful convenience, though, there was the porn theater. Do you have a grandpa? Your grandpa has been inside a porn theater.
Old people can be set in their ways. My grandfather still smokes, even though America decided 20 years ago that people who smoke are worse than child molesters, to the point that our President, who is obviously a smoker, has to spend his entire presidency pretending to be “quitting.” No matter how many homes, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and day care centers that heartlessly force him to go outside, no matter how many pills, patches, and gums they invent to make quitting easier than ever, the man will not stop lighting up. He likes that buzz, he likes getting that buzz that way, and “fuck you for telling me not to, me and my friends won World War II.” He’s seen the e-cigarette and he isn’t impressed.
Now let’s look at Fred Willard. What we see when we look at his recent arrest is a pervert who likes do “drive stick” in a room full of other dudes. Sounds sick, right? Now let’s try calling it what he calls it – jacking off. Fred Willard got arrested for jacking off. That’s it. He got caught jacking off the way he jacks off, which was embarrassing enough, and now it’s even worse because it’s a matter of public record and he’s lost his sweet tote bag hook-up at PBS.
He’s seen all the new porn technology. He had a VCR and he could never remember if it was channel 3 or channel 4 he had to be on to make it work and the sound never came out right. His grandson came over and set up a computer for him, but he typed in “sex.com” once to see what was out there and nobody told him it kept a history and his wife didn’t speak to him for six months. He tried the new stuff, but you know what? The man is accustomed to what he grew up with. Flogging the dolphin in a darkened room where all he has to do is show up and pay for a ticket is how he did it in the ’50s, and he’s going to keep taking care of himself that way until it’s no longer practical. The man is pushing 80, is it really appropriate for us to tell him how he should justify buying a new trench coat every year? Hell no it isn’t. Telling a man he has to change his crank-yanking routine at age 78, after 65 years of doing it His Way is just cruel.
So don’t give up, Fred Willard. When this blows over just find another theater. You’re hilarious and you deserve to churn one out however you want to.