Fiction Is Stranger Than Truth

Parody loves company on the Net

The Internet, as I have been known to say, is the greatest medium for the dissemination of information the world has ever known. During the coup attempt in Russia in 1991, the Net was used to get information out to the West during a media blackout. Political activists are staging virtual protests to bring their causes to the world's attention.

And recently, a message that zipped around the world at the speed of light demonstrated the Internet's true power. The e-mail was deemed so important that some of my friends received it seven or eight times from different people. It went as follows:

"When John Glenn returns from space, everybody dress in ape suits. We only have nine days in which to bury the Statue of Liberty up to her head."

And civilization advances anew.

Despite all the high-minded rhetoric about the potential of the Net, I've long maintained that one of the true joys of the Internet is using it to promulgate sheer nonsense. There's a strange purity in creating a Web site that is of absolutely no use to anyone-at least you can be sure it's a labor of love.

And there are any number of budding Jonathan Swifts out there who have ascended the pinnacle of information technology and are using it for nefarious, tongue-in-cheek purposes-parody, mockery and even satire.

These days, of course, it's getting harder to tell parody from the real thing. Particularly in Orange County, where our leaders, trendsetters and voices of morality are so ludicrous on their own terms that it's difficult to mock them. How do you parody a bombastic caricature like Bob Dornan?

One site is willing to give it a try. The Viva Bob Dornan Committee '98 site (members.tripod.com/~vivabob98/index. html), which was started during the former congressman's quixotic campaign to regain his "stolen" seat, now proclaims victory in the election (which he lost by about 13,000 votes). It chronicles his endorsement by the Virgin of Guadalupe; lists El Dornan's campaign platform; and asks, as the only "true Latino," for the Latino vote. It's very funny stuff, but it's only marginally more outrageous than the real thing.

There are a number of other mildly lunatic OC sites out there-some genuine, some not. As a public service, therefore, I am presenting the following quiz designed to help our loyal readers distinguish fact from fiction, parody from reality, the ludicrous from the even more ludicrous. Read. Enjoy. Learn.

Part I: Notable Quotables

The following quotations are taken from the Viva Bob site and from actual statements by Dornan. See if you can tell which is which.

1. "You must go to the polls Nov. 3 and tell that Rosarita-wannabe Loretta Sanchez-Brixey, 'No way, Jose!' Send her a message: 'I'm voting for my good amigo Latino, SeŮor Bob de la Dornan.'"

2. "I'm the one who brought Latinos together when Loretta was living in Palos Verdes and basically shopping. I want to let people know that I'm the real Latino."

3. "As a tough Latino hombre, it is my duty to live my life as a Republican revolutionary. In the words of the great Mexican revolutionary bandit Emiliano Zapata, 'It is better to die on your feet than to vote for that wannabe gringa Loretta Sanchez-Burra.'"

4. "The above photograph is evidence of voting by illegal Mexican immigrants in the last 46th District election. Illegals fraudulently and overwhelmingly supported [my] opponent, Loretta Sanchez-Brixey-Smith-White-Anglo."

5. "I've got to touch [Hispanics] and reach their hearts, and that's why I'm dedicating the campaign to Our Lady of Guadalupe."

Part II: Fact or Fiction?

Below are several sites I found on the Web. Some of them have their tongues stuffed deeply into their cheeks. Others, perhaps more frighteningly, seem deadly serious. Can you tell which is which?

Automobile Safety Foundation(www.cyber.net/asf)

This La Jolla-based organization wants to warn America about a deadly danger lurking on every highway and side street in the country: steering-wheel locks. That's right-wheel locks are maiming and killing people every day who, innocently and without knowledge of their peril, take the key out of the ignition while driving, thus causing themselves to lose control of the car and crash. The Automobile Safety Foundation (ASF) wants people to be able to remove keys from their ignitions while driving in perfect confidence. It has even written a book about it, which you can read on their Web site (it begins: "Once upon a time, there was a round planet floating in space"). But World Powers are conspiring to cover up the devastating truth. Only the ASF continues to fight the good fight to alert us to the danger in our midst.

How to Run a Large Western Democracy (exo.com/~grin/)

Scott Dunn, author of this Web site, alerted us to it a few months ago. It offers some basic guidelines to prospective rulers of America. Some sample bits of wisdom:

"For all positions except the highest, hire only recent immigrants from communist or socialist countries, where the people have been robbed of their power or shot in the streets for speaking out against their government. Give them the power to ruin a man's life for failure to obey the smallest command."

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