For years, many here and elsewhere have referred to former President George W. Bush as "a dick" or "that prick." Now, you may have heard, Bush's penis has made it to Broadway -- and it opened "huge" this week. Now the question is, will it be "extended"? And how did it get there?
Yes, this member of the administration has a cameo in the new Will Ferrell tribute, You're Welcome America, already one of the toughest tickets in town. It appears suddenly in the show, in living color, projected on a big screen, drawing gasps but also a few ahhs...sort of like Dubya while in office. It goes away and then appears again, provoking more shock and awe.
The New York Times reports today that it has already provoked at least six walkouts. Someone in the theater is actually keeping track. The New York Daily News was more demure, referring to it as a "ruder body part." Others beat around the Bush, failing to even mention the appendage.
The Times actually asked a Bush spokesman for comment (thank god it is no longer Dana Perino). No response came.
Since Will could not get the real thing his team searched the Web for a possible likeness. To make sure it was not a hard act to follow, a limp penis was picked for the role.
How did that happen? Director Adam McKay tells Playbill.com,
I hate to break it to most of America, but there are public-domain cocks all over the place. You go surf the Internet. There are plenty of dudes out there who don't mind having their cock used in a Broadway show. I'd love to know whose it is. He's putting himself on the line as much as anyone out there.
The idea of using the image of a penis originated one day in rehearsals. McKay and Ferrell recalled Dubya's comment that he had enjoyed being "a free man" before he entered the White House.
"We were joking that now that he was out of office, he could do whatever he wants," McKay told the Times, "and so I said, 'Let's have him show his own penis,' and Ferrell was like, 'O.K.' He is a frat boy, a big party guy, and you could imagine him doing this. Though I want to make clear I'm not blaming the president for our very bad taste."
One reviewer noted, "There is full frontal male nudity, ostensibly to imply that President Bush is compensating for something." Now the limited-run play may be extended.
Well, the media shouldn't be too shocked. They were happy to graphically cover the Jesse Jackson cut-off-Obama's-nuts episode last year (included in my new book on the campaign).
But Playbill also notes one serious aspect of the play:
[T]here is one unscheduled speed-bump on this Bush-whacking expedition -- when he asks for a moment of silence for the lives lost in Iraq -- and the audience turns chillingly still for what seems like a small eternity.
"That's our favorite part of the show," Ferrell admitted. "You just don't see it coming, and no one knows how we're going to get out of it. The reaction tonight is pretty close to what we get every night. Sometimes the audience is a little nervous and starts to laugh because they don't know which way to go, but tonight everyone was so dialed in to the moment and what we were trying to say. We've heard people felt a mixture -- they feel uncomfortable, they feel sad, they are stunned that they are actually being forced to sit there. That's the most satisfying part of the whole thing."
Director Adam McKay, a longstanding friend of Ferrell's and his sometimes screenplay collaborator, defended that tough call: "We all know that Bush is funny and that he's not competent, but the fact is, because of what he did, he killed people -- conservatively, 200,000 civilians in Iraq, and all these soldiers -- 30,000 casualties. As much as you laugh about him, people died because of this...."
Greg Mitchell's new book is "Why Obama Won" (Sinclair Books), the first book on the campaign from a "progressive" perspective. He is the editor of Editor & Publisher.