You don’t know me, but we may be breaking up. I don’t actually have time to watch your show, so you won’t be losing a viewer—maybe just an occasional Youtube-clip-watcher, but an avid one. Like so many, I’d once held you up as a sort of icon of independent media in a sea of embedded shills— even if you were once led into “by puppets making prank phone calls” as you put it (oh such good times we had—sigh).
But recent events have left me wondering—are you…could you be… somebody’s monkey after all? And do you dance? Or are you really truly squarely scout’s honor a wincing, cringing, emotionally crippled hypochondriac? Please let it be the latter, Jon, for then there is hope.
After seeing your recent interview with Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano (HERE) which came off like a giggling plug for Sanofi Pasteur, my heart sank. I’m an autism parent and laughter is like a tourniquet to someone who just lost an arm in a wood chipper. In my case, both arms: my once healthy boy-girl twins began disappearing after flu shots at one year of age. It’s laugh or die for parents like me, but I’m no longer sure if you’re the kind of man I can click on in times of need.
I’ve had to think it through. On the one hand, if I myself were a clever pundit making umpty millions on cable and my parent network, which happened to have pharm-friendly ties, was hinting that I should make nice about flu shots in the midst of a marketing frenzy (and my extraordinary survival barometer was telling me that if I made the wrong noises in this instance, even if I didn’t jump on a couch or subscribe to an alternative church and was careful to never repeat my “mochachino” quip in earshot of a women’s basketball team*, something else I did or said could easily be turned into an excuse to make things far worse for me than all the other times I’d “bucked the pressure” combined), I might take a vague dislike of having people spray snot in my face and whip it into a full blown case of hypochondria in my own mind if it made me feel better about “assuming the position”. On the other hand, I might be Monk.
I like to think the best of people, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re crazy. Just in that localized way that germ freaks with OCD are. It wouldn’t actually surprise me if you turned out to be the real deal—and I mean that in the nicest way. According to the bastion of truth which is Wikipedia, you’re the son of a physics professor. You probably had a bit of Little Man Tate in you as a kid, a few allergies, weak stomach, night time fears, obsessive habits that you managed to keep to yourself, etc. According to certain theories of metabolism, it would be difficult for the body to support both an unusually energy-burning brain and a robust immune system— the price some pay for geek glory. Furthermore, excessive fear of disease obviously feeds on fact: certain illnesses still going around aren’t a day at the beach and some people, depending on their health status, may still tragically die of them. Plus you work fifteen hours or more a day in the studio where no one takes sick time; a mob of people depend on you to be at your best at every moment and being funny while you’re sick as a dog can’t be easy.
I do get it. Besides, I used to hang out with “you people”—comedians. I ran productions for the Improv in the 90s and noticed some truth to the cliché: the funnier someone is on stage, the more neurotic they are off. This wasn’t always true but there were a good handful of germophobes around. I discovered this because, not being particularly funny myself, I wasn’t a hypochondriac and had the insensitivity to show up to work hacking and spewing a couple of times.
But I just don’t know anymore, Jon... I’ll have to watch a few more old shows to figure out the psychological meaning of your little “jumpy spider hand” gesture—that thing you did when asking Napolitano if swine flu shots are “safe”. Do you do it when you’re trying to sprinkle a little “eau de truth” on a scripted promo or only when you’re being cute to hide your inner scream of terror? In any case, I’ve devised a test of your honor. If you’re really truly scout’s honor a hypochondriac, it will be impossible for you to touch the clip art below (click on the images to enlarge):
Okay, let’s just assume you couldn’t even get your finger near the screen. And let’s assume the hypochondriacal dendrites in your brain are too cunning to listen to me—a rank layperson— rattle off a bunch of drivel about the mercury in flu shots— or the squalene, formaldehyde, aluminum sulfate, diethylene glycol, MSG, bits of slimy monkey and pig innards, etc., that make up the combined recommended vaccinations. Let’s imagine you can’t hear mention of the Canadian studies showing that people who received the flu shot last year have a doubled risk of currently contracting swine flu (HERE), and that this may have to do with the Dartmouth study showing that swine flu was far more lethal in mice exposed to toxic metal than in unexposed mice, for whom the virus was mild (HERE).
I have to believe that you’ll cover your eyes and start la-la-ing if I mention that even the “little bit” of mercury in the “mercury free” flu shot we all know you get is still at least 5,000 times the EPA mercury limit for drinking water; or that it stays in certain organs indefinitely and is associated with dementia, heart disease and, in men, an increased risk of certain cancers— including unusually metastasizing prostate cancers. If you keep getting flu shots, in other words, you might as well just ditch that prostate now because, with the burgeoning rate of Alzheimer’s, you may forget to later.
I don’t think your inner Monk will be able to sit still to hear about how those with higher IQs may be at a particular risk for toxic injury to mitochondria, which Rachel Carson predicted almost half a century ago would be the downfall of many species of plant and animal— something that may relate to the doubled risk of allergies in those with certain “intellectual precocities”.
Let’s assume your mind will squirm past any arguments that many people calling out for independent vaccine research or whose children got sick post vaccination just want safer vaccines instead of the medical equivalent of a global McDonald’s Happy Meal monopoly on all consumable goods (an analogy that only works if you imagine the Happy Meal rammed into a blender along with its styrofoam box, a hunk of one of those formica tables they have in the retro Mickey D’s, some industrial floor cleaner and a bit of rat shit because you can’t sue even if your head explodes upon injection and they can stick anything they want in this stuff).
Let’s assume your assistant will stop reading at the first mention of Desiree Jennings (HERE) or my dad (HERE) or that current research found an association between Gardasil and Lou Gehrig’s (HERE). You don’t want to know that ALS —like autism, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s—all share mitochondrial injury as a factor or that the US government already conceded that vaccines can cause MS, autism and Guillane-Barre. You won’t be able to absorb the 10,000 to 15,000% rise in autism to the current 1 in 91 or that government study found that half the families presently affected stop vaccinating any of their children after diagnosis. But I know…Fox is packed with blowhards; my dad was just a guy; Desiree must have stepped on the cracks in the sidewalk; the research is theoretical; the US government concessions were…well, we just won’t talk about that; it’s “better recognition”; autism is genetic so the parents are nuts too and all the industrial chemicals in shots just make them that much better at killing the bugs that haunt your beleaguered soul.
Just for the record, I was kidding about breaking up. I don’t really think I know you either because I’m not crazy. To paraphrase Margaret Atwood, wanting to know an artist because you like their work is like wanting to know a duck because you like paté. I’m not an old lady in Boca who yells at soap villains… even if I was subconsciously influenced to let my twins have 31 vaccines before the age of two because a TV doctor on ER once shrieked that vaccine risk warnings were “not true”. I’m not kidding. Sad, isn’t it? People will die and children will be maimed because of what you said on your show. Some trust you that much. Ha ha (…not kidding).
For all the above reasons, I thought your joke about swine flu being concocted by Homeland Security and spread on sandwiches was untoward. Not all of us who are fighting for safer vaccines are conspiracy theorists and even if we were, why homeless people’s sandwiches? How silly. Why not their shoes? Don’t hobos roast them over trash fires?
Besides, not everyone in the safer-vax movement even votes for the same party and so could never generally agree on conspiracy theories. The diversity of the movement should be a red flag in itself and I know firsthand how hard it would be for you to get in line with Limbaugh on this. This is particularly true since—as one of our fine editors noted—he waited until Bush was out of office to get on the vaccine-doubting bandwagon and only did it to nail President Obama for a problem that’s been raging for more than twenty years. Too bad the president couldn’t see it coming. I hear he won’t shake hands in the bathroom. Hmmm.
I tend to be pretty cautious about wild theories in any event. Personally, I think a sick parrot crapped on a Mexican CAFO. I think that Bush, had he known about the Twin Towers attacks before the fact, would not have chosen that Jethro Bodine moment at Booker Elementary to be told the news on camera. And I have some serious doubts about Dudley Moore’s theory of the lost fleet of the Spanish Armada.
So, all told, let’s assume I can’t reach you through compassion or a Pubmed-a-thon because your hypochondriac brain defenses rebuff all emotional appeals and assaults of logic like Will Smith flinging off vaccine apocalypse zombies in “I Am Legend”. So now I’m going after your sense of self preservation.
I’m sorry—I have to do it. It’s for your own good because if you don’t get that neurotic fear of disease at least in proportion to a healthy fear of industry juggernauts, eventually you’re going to suck at what you do. You just can’t be subjectively driven so far off the mark on something this important and stay funny. Not that you aren’t in stellar company, though. A short list of your variously famous and infamous brethren in phobia— all of them a barrel of yuks: Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin, Javier Bardem , Adolf Hitler.
Remember the correlation between neurosis and comic ability? Yeah, but… irreverence to irrelevance is such a short fall (see graph, click to enlarge):
See how that works? I only put men on the graph (ignore Soon Yi—everyone else does) because, though you seem happily married, I wasn’t sure if you were bothered by “girl germs”. Now for a close up on the graph and a suggested course correction:
Recovery is possible. Just ask Jim. You can bring your cold meds and a stool sample kit on your ascension from the sinking rut of comedy death. Just take a deep breath, get on the right side of history and accept the leg up before it’s too late. Stop, Jon. Just stop.
Yours truly, a concerned viewer.
*Sumner Redstone, majority owner of Viacom—the parent company of Comedy Central, CBS and Paramount Pictures— was responsible for terminating the contracts of both Don Imus and Tom Cruise shortly after both publicly criticized pharmaceutical products, though presumably the terminations were for unacceptable on-air behavior. Redstone’s charitable organization, The Redstone Acceleration & Innovation Network or TRAIN, was launched by Faster Cures, a nonprofit “action tank” of which Autism Speaks is a member. Faster Cures seeks to “clear the path to faster progress through innovative programs”. Among many honorable-sounding efforts to accelerate cancer and disease treatment, Faster Cures lobbied the NIH to loosen existing regulations on conflict of interest divulgences in medicine.Adriana Gamondes lives in Massachusetts with her husband and is the mother of twins who are currently recovering from vaccine-induced GI disorders.