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October 21, 1987 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, October 21, 1987- Page 9

The Ballad of Joe

Bob Briggs

By John Shea
This is the story of Joe B o b
Briggs and John Bloom and how they
two men became one. Perhaps you
have heard of the story.
In January of 1982, the editors of;
the Dallas Times Herald asked young
hot shot film critic John Bloom to
investigate why drive-in theatresj
were still thriving in Texas but
disappearing all across the rest of the;
country. The assignment probably
did not excite Bloom; he favored
high-brow foreign films over
American ones and it wasn't likely
he was going to find anything high-
brow at a drive-in.
What he found was Joe B o b
Briggs, a 19 year-old redneck from
Grapevine, Texas who told Bloom
he had seen 6800 drive-in movies in
his lifetime, and still found the time
to go through three marriages.
Bloom liked the redneck so much he
hired him to become the Times
Herald drive-in movie critic. The
column, "Joe Bob Briggs Goes to
the Drive-In," first appeared in the
newspaper's Weekend section on
January 15, 1982.
In reviewing Stryker, Joe Bob
wrote, "We've got 93 corpses, which
is the all-time drive-in record. (I
would like to add that each one of
the 93 on-camera killings i s
absolutely necessary to the story.)
Six breasts. Twenty midgets.
Medium kung fu. Superb bimbo fu.
A couple of quarts of blood... Three
and a-half stars. Joe Bob says check
it out."
People seemed to like Joe Bob's
style, and they called for more. As
time went on, Joe Bob graduated
from the mere shock value style of
the breast count to more serious
offenses. As Joe Bob might say, the
three kinds of people he hated the
most were "Blacks, honosexuals,
and Blacks."
Cheryl Cain, the editor of the San
Francisco Chronicle, called for Joe
Bob to stop hurting people in print.
"One cannot help wonder that if

children were being stabbed with
butcher knives repeatedly, or blown
to pieces by a sawed-off shotgun,
what kind of person would 'Joe Bob'
be considered then." Joe Bob
responded, "I hear you, babe. But
what about a nekkid Black
homosexual child that attacks ladies
and squeezes their eye-balls clean out
while they're cleaning the sink? Are
you going to tell me that's not
funny?"
It would not be an incorrect
assertion to say that some folks
down in Texas were throughly
pissed. If the feminists were not
crying 'foul' for Joe Bob reducing
them to a breast count, the Southern
Bapists were threatening to break
down the doors of the Times Herald
and lynch Joe Bob for his
glorifications of violence.
Well, if the Baptists had bashed
the doors of the Times Herald down,
they would have found no such
person by the name of Joe Bob
Briggs. Joe Bob, as many of you
might know, does not exist; he was
the product of John Bloom's
imagination. Bloom, described by
his collegues as a quiet intellectual,
had created his total opposite: a
stupid, loud, obnoxious bore.
You can see John Bloom and his
writing of Joe Bob Briggs in one of
two ways: as a brilliant commentary
on the pomposity of movie
reviewers in general, or as Bloom
letting his darker side come to the
surface. I am inclined to give Bloom
credit, to a point. Movie reviewers
in general, and I include myself in
this group, take their jobs too
seriously; we are too often inclined
to exaggerate our own self-
importance - a tendency which
should be met with a good swift
kick in the butt. Bloom sees this,
but what he fails to realize is that
there is a fine line between social
commentary and flat-out racism, and
he never bothers to look down at it.
The feminists and the Bapists
eventually got Joe Bob's hyde.
Bloom, or Joe Bob (it becomes
difficult to distinguish the two),
wrote a parody of "We Are the
World": "We are the weird/We are
the starving/We are the scum of the
filthy earth/So lets start scarfin..."
This time, the doors of the Times
Herald really were going to be
bashed down. The Black community
of Dallas felt there were strong racist
overtones in the piece, and a group
of people stormed into the Times
Herald's offices, threatening to

boycott the paper if they didn't fire
Joe Bob. The editors gave in and put
Joe Bob Briggs in drive-in Heaven.
Bloom himself was not fired, but
he quit because he felt Joe Bob was
treated unfairly. Now Bloom is
wondering across the country, trying

to keep Joe Bob alive through
lectures and a new book. I understand
he appeared on Kelly & Company
last week.
How sad. Bloom, a talented
journalist in his own right, has
satisfied himself with being a
redneck.

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