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Show Me That Smile Again

posted by Jen on 7/24/01

Puh Puh Puh Puh promise me, Kirk...that you'll never let guh guh guh guh (Kirk smacks him in the back of the head) GET THE TABLES!!!11

I remember exactly where I was when I first got a taste of Kirk. The year was 1988. My cousin and I were sitting on the orange rug in my grandma's house, poring over our new Tiger Beat and Tutti Frutti magazines. I was a young, impressionable 10-year old, but was slowly learning to form my own opinions of teen celebrities. My 12-year old cousin developed a preoccupation with Corey Haim that controls her to this day. In fact, before I continue with this story, I think I will share a quick tale on the topic. Dialing the Corey Haim hotline became a regular obsession of hers, since she got the mistaken notion that he "answers one out of every 300 calls." So one day, we went over our evil neighbor Benjiís house to watch Faces of Death. (Benji was obviously not like the other boys in grandmaís neighborhood) We begged him to let us call Corey and finally he let us do it. We dialed the hotline and, what to our wondering ears, Corey answered the phone!! The conversation went something like this:

Corey: Um, hello?

Cousin: UHHHÖMYÖGOD!! COREÖis it really you?

Corey: Yeah, itís really me!

Cousin: Am I really talking to Corey Haim?

Corey: Yes, youíre really talking to Corey Haim.

Cousin: Oh my God!!! How are you? I loved License to Drive!!! And Dream a Little Dream!!! And even Lucas. You were amazing!!! It was like I totally understood you!!!! You were awesome!!! Oh my God I love you!!! I have posters of you EVERYWHERE!!!

Corey: Thanks. I wouldnít be where I am today if it werenít for my fans.

Cousin: Listen CoreÖI just have to say one thing. Please say you arenít doing drugs anymore. Please say youíve stopped getting high on marijuana. I heard you were snorting pot for a while and I hope you are really clean now.

Corey: No, Iím still doing drugs actuallyÖ(laughing)Ö

...And then we discoverÖit was Benji on the phone the whole time!! That little bastard Benji! To this day, I grimace at the sight of him.

OK, back to the original storyÖporing through magazines. I was feeling a bit slighted, since I didnít have a star of my own to love. After disgustedly flipping through page after page of sausage-lipped Corey Feldman and the perennial ugly redhead, Mackenzie Astin from "The Facts of Life..."

I am a beautiful and unique snowflake. BARF!!

I happily settled upon Jason Bateman, and felt pretty self-satisfied with my choice. I distinctly remember reading the article about him, and reading his little discussion about how in real life, he actually gets along with his kid brothers from "The Hogan Family" and how he uses gel to achieve "the wet look" but just blows his hair out for "the serious look." I had finally found a boy to covet and call my own! I was ecstatic!

But happiness was not to be. Seconds later, the creepiest thing happened, almost as creepy as the time my cousin and I were making fun of my grandmaís Willie Talk doll and he instantaneously fell off the desk and onto the floor, rolled over, and looked up at us. Iím NOT making this up, this really happened!!! (Writerís note: My grandmother has this room in her house with hundreds of dolls nailed to the walls. Since Willie was the only one to escape the dolly crucifixion, I know he has vowed to someday garner the strength to stand up on his little legs and stab us in our sleep, still wearing that lopsided grin all the while. The sage advice "sleep with one eye open" has not been lost on me when I stay at gramís house.) But anyway, it was nearly as scary as that and I knew I would never forget it. My cousin and I turned the pages of our respective magazines (different publications, mind you) and BOTH of us, at the EXACT SAME TIME, came across a most repulsive sight: it was a hideous advertisement for Glad garbage bags. Now Iím not talking Tom Bosley ads here, folks. Iím talking Kirk Cameron, in full-page glory of Tutti Frutti, wearing tattered jeans and his trademark half-smirk, half-I-am-so-damn-fine grinÖand telling kids to buy GLAD Garbage Bags but Donít Do Drugs!

Now, perhaps it was the eerie coincidence of flipping open the page at the same time as my cousin, since my brain automatically made the association between Kirk and the evil Willie Talk. Maybe it was that rapscallion smirk pasted across his frankfurter face, a smirk that looked, and I hate to say it, but just like Willie Talkís. Or maybe it was just the stunningly bad marketing campaign "Say no to drugs, but yes to garbage bags???" that threw my brain into a tailspin. No matter, Kirk put a chill across my face like the Air of December from thereon out. (Writerís note: I promise not to make disgusting references to Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians ever again.)

Now letís think about this a minute. Politicians are always trying to solve the problems of the drug-afflicted youth of our generation and trying to get to the bottom of why we are so mentally unstable. Thereís really no fuzzy logic to work through here, guys. If youíre growing up in the eighties and all you see are "YOOOOOOOUUUU, alright! I learned it by watching you!!!!!" commercials, and movies with Robert Downey, Jr. with his pants down, paying off a pimp to score some nose candy, youíd be snorting a jigger of white-out every day just to escape the scary reality.

Hey kids, wanna get high?

Not to mention these confusing marketing ads and overexposure to Kirk, destroying our very lifeblood.

Now, if you didnít happen to catch him as Dexter in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, donít feel bad, you can still catch him in the hilarious comedy Like Father, Like Son, playing opposite the even more hilarious actor Dudley Moore. But if youíre more interested in catching his serious, sensitive side, maybe you should see Listen To Me, where Kirk and Jami Gertz debate drugs or gun control or something. These are the nice, light-hearted Kirk Cameron roles.

Listen to me. Or else I'll creep into your room and steal your chi while you're sleeping.

But, if you really want to be scared to the bone, perhaps you should see Left Behind. Chilling Kirk story number two: I was simply asking my religious aunt to explain the Revelation to me, since Iím one of the only practicing Catholics who hasnít read up on this. I asked if she had any books or movies on the subject. Well, she had a movie all right: a movie featuring none other than Kirk as the main character, Buck. What was supposed to be an instructional, apocalyptic tale of what happens to sinners and pilots when they screw around on their wives, left me with a ghastly, Twilight Zone-esque feeling in my body that made me quiver uncontrollably while I watched it. I felt like somehow I was "supposed" to see this movie and be scared shitless of Kirk all over again.

Quick plot summary: Buck and the evil pilot of the plane are left behind on earth to fend for themselves against the antichrist, while all the good people disappear into thin air. Buck is this big, grinning nuisance, fervently trying to figure out why half the world disappeared while the pilot is hooking up with Chelsea Noble on the back of the plane. So, while all the good people got to go to Heaven, Buck, the pilot, and the stewardess, and all the really bad people are left on earth. Now, isnít it mysterious that Buck, who is supposedly a nice, unsuspecting reporter, is grouped into the evil sinner/adulterer category? You think I laughed while I watched this movie? Not a once: I was scared half to death. If Iím left behind someday with Kirk Cameron and the antichrist, itís high time I start being a good Christian. (OK, chilling Kirk story #3. And Iím NOT making this up because Iím out of conversation about Kirk, but the lights in my office literally just turned off by themselves and I had to go over and turn them back on. Coincidence? I donít think so.)

If Kirk cinematography hasnít freaked you out enough, then consider his television appearances. Now, I donít know if you caught him as cousin Steve in that "Full House" episode, but he managed to make DJ Tannerís life a living hell in the time span of one episode. I think she was a freshman in college and they were dating and Steve kept trying to convince her to go all the way with him. She kept telling him to stop but Steve wouldnít listen. He had his way with her. But she told him to stop! But he kept going! But she cried no! Oh wait, itís actually a movie called She Cried No! starring Candace and Mark-Paul Gossellear. But I do remember Steve destroying her life on "Full House" as well. I remember DJ saying to him, "But, what happened to your braces, glasses, and zits? What happened to the cousin I knew?" And Kirk thought he was totally a hot babe, saying "Yeah, no big deal. I got them removed, I got contacts, and they cleared up." And he totally made fun of her, and/or blew her off the rest of the time he was visiting the Tanners, because thatís just the type of person Kirk is. This is not acting; this is just Kirk, being himself.

God, I just love everything about me!

While only slightly less scary, "Growing Pains" still proves my point that Kirk is morally out of control. "Growing Pains" is just a nice, little euphemism for barbarism at itís worst. I will admit, the show was actually pretty funny, but only when Boner appeared on the scene to provide much-needed comic relief. You canít help but feel bad for all the family members who step in Kirkís path of destruction. It isnít hard to figure out why Tracy Gold developed a severe eating disorder, or why Joanna Kerns chose to do make-up infomercials and bad made-for-TV movies instead of pursuing a career with regular TV shows. Living with that freaky little sister with the bad perm would be enough to induce lung hypertrophy in and of itself. But think about what Mike (Kirk) used to do to everyone... If Mike wasnít calling Carol fat or ugly, he was embarrassing the hell out of her every day at school. And he always got away with it, because he wore that pasty grin all over his face, to make himself look like he didnít know better. "Oh gee, Carol (chuckle, chuckle). I didnít think youíd be offended when I (chuckle, chuckle) put the whoopee cushion underneath your seat when you finally got a guy to come in the houseÖ (laughing uncontrollably to himself now)." Yeah, brilliant Mike. Not only did you destroy the only chance Carol may have had at landing a man, you couldnít even come up with an original practical joke to pull.

And when Carol wasnít around, for example, when she was trying to convince college guys that she attended NYUU (Remember this episode: College guy: "Wait a sec, NYUU isnít a school." Carol: "No, no, I meant I go to NYU, you?"), then Mike was maliciously picking on Ben. Poor Ben, who never had the ability to fend for himself. Mike would kick the crap out of him every day and then Benís parents wouldnít even feel sorry for him because I guess they hoped that Mike could somehow beat the ugly out of him. Ben couldnít land a girl and hold onto her for more than 5 minutes. Remember when he was dating that girl Blaine, and he kept saying. "I thought you wanted to date me. What about prom, Blaine? (slams his hand against the locker) WHAT ABOUT PROM, BLAINE? (slams his hand harder) WHHHHAAAATTTTT ABBBOOOOOOUUUUT PROOOOOOOOM, BLAAAAAAINE????" Oh wait, I think Iím getting him confused with Molly Ringwald again. (OK, my jokes are really starting to suck badly now, Iím sorry)

Oh no, we've been left behind!!! With mascots.

So, to wrap up this conversation about Kirk. Donít you find it interesting that his last TV series featured him playing himself, on a show called "Kirk?" Itís like, the network finally caught onto the fact that there is no part for him to play; because he will always just be Kirk, no Mike, no Dexter, and certainly no friendly cousin Steve. And thatís probably why the show failed after only one season. Because all of us are starting to catch onto who he really is, and we are starting to understand why we have a problem here.

I think I will spare you any further discussion on Kirk. I really just wanted to clue you in on the reality behind that goofy, snaggletooth grin that Kirk Cameron wears like a badge of courage. Kirk is not the nice, Johnny-come-lately you thought you could trust. Sure, he and his wife volunteer at Camp Firefly every summer. And OK, so he does a lot of charitable things with his time every now and then. But donít you see whatís going on here? This is a guy who is trying to make up for all of the filthy things he has done in his past by throwing himself into every good cause he can find. And not because he actually has a conscience inside that snarly little head of his. Heís doing it because he fears being truly "left behind" someday. As an aside, when I was doing a little research for this article, I came upon a Kirk Cameron shrine on the web (Iím not making this up, there is also a shrine to Brendan FraserÖ). It really scared me that someone could be so taken by his lies, his awful comedic shtick, his false anti-drug image. But then I scrolled to the bottom of one of the pages and I saw in tiny type "We had to close down the Kirk message board because SOME people were posting very lewd and vulgar messages about Kirk." I felt a rumble of pride swelling in my throat, realizing that more and more people like me are catching on to him each day. Iím not saying you canít watch his shows and maybe even let a giggle escape once in a while. You can watch an episode of him dipping Carolís food in strychnine, hurling cleverly disguised abuses at his parents, and using elaborate methods of mind control on Boner, as long as you can maintain your ability to separate truth from fiction. Because this is no acting. This is just Kirk, being himself. And the best is ready to begin.

- Jen




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