Monday, April 21, 2008

Queer Collectibles: A Future in Bobbleheaded Popes?

By Kelly Jean Cogswell

If I had a dashboard, it'd certainly have a Bobbleheaded Pope on it by now. Lisa Farbstein, the media relations director of the D.C. Metro barely touched the tip of the pope iceberg when she bought one on eBay for seventeen bucks and caused a brief hoo-hah using it for an advertising special recommending the commemorative $9 Metro "mass pass," good all day April 17th, the day the Pope celebrated mass in Washington.

The spot got canceled almost immediately, but it's still all over the net, gleefully posted in news sites reporting how it got yanked from YouTube because the Archdiocese wasn't happy. They complained that the Pope was in red, more suitable for a lowly cardinal, and there was something said, too, about dignity, as if you can have any spending your United States tour talking about reclaiming the Church from choirboy fixated fathers, and purging faggots from Catholic seminaries to protect the faith. He defended families, too, just not queer ones. Oh no, not him. Not yet anyway.

This is the plan. To pick up a Bobblehead. In fact, pick up a couple, with or without the car. And install them on a little stick. When I feel like it I'll point my finger, lecture, and do some consciousness-raising. "Man on man action never hurt anybody. Women deserve a shot at the priesthood. Queer immigrants have families they'd like to preserve. Dogs have souls, too."

The Bobbleheaded Pope, being an agreeable sort, will nod and nod with only a little encouragement from his stick. Which I suspect is the real reason the Archdiocese pressured to have the ad yanked. Practiced on a large enough scale (I'm counting on you), this sympathetic magic might force the flesh-and-blood man to nod his snarling, bigoted head the next time we ask him to celebrate a gay marriage. Give love a chance.

It's not that far-fetched. Everybody knows that after a while dolls begin to take on lives of their own, like politicians that do okay when they've got scripts to go by, but when they begin to ad lib in the dark, oh boy, just see what trouble they get into. Especially when righteousness is supposed to be on their side, like Obama, and Eliot Spitzer.

A Bobbleheaded Pope, unleashed from his handlers, could go almost any direction from Chucky to Teddy, though after the brief taste of fame he had with Lisa Farbstein, there's every indication he'll go the way of Barbie after she got her first big break in Todd Haynes' "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story." No indy film for years was worth its salt without a long-haired plastic beauty, and for that matter: a colon. And after his stint with the D.C. M.T.A. I've heard whispers the plastic pontiff is reading scripts.

Inspired by his convincing performance in the Metro ad, Mr. Haynes himself has reportedly rushed a script into development -- a biopic of the salacious adventures of the Bobblefather's predecessor Pope Benedict IX, whom the Catholic encyclopedia denigrates as an insult to the "chair of Saint Peter."

That epic tale, taking Benedict IX from his ascension as a twelve year old pope and whore-mongering adulthood, to his miserable death as a penitent at Grottaferrata, is facing stiff competition from a possible film by David Mamet who's embraced the figure's astounding facility to mouth his sharp-headed, staccato dialogue and has already storyboarded a translation of Ben Hur to the wilds of Chicago. After his screen test, Mamet had nothing but praise for Bobbleheaded Benedict's portrayal of the title role. "A reincarnation of Chuck. I picked a winner. Fockin' A."

It will be something to see. Imagine, Benedict's little bobblehead bobbing to the top of freezing Lake Michigan with his rescued boss, rocking back and forth in excitement in the famous chariot scene recast on sharpened rollerblades, and dare I suggest it, Barbie, making a comeback as his unconsummated love interest, Esther? Her contract with Haynes has expired and she's hardly aged a day. The American Girls have been jamming their CV's into Mamet's face every chance they get vying to play the dame, but what suffering do their faces hold? What depth really, when Barbara was unforgettable as the anorexic dying diva?

In an ironic twist, the producers wanted to offer the inexperienced Bobblehead the role of Christ, but Mamet nixed the idea outright, "No bit parts for Benedict. Not with a range like his. After Ben Hur, why not Katie Hepburn in On Golden Pond? We've talked. He agrees. God, I love Benedict. He's open to everything. Full frontal nudity. Even kissing a dude. Plus, he works cheap."

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