Yesterday, while unwinding from work, I found myself plopped on the couch watching a rerun of Family Guy. The episode was a takeoff of the 1982 film, “Poltergeist,” and was entitled “Petergeist.” (For you non-viewers of this subversively—and sometimes inappropriately—funny animated comedy, Peter is the family patriarch.) In one scene, upon finding themselves homeless and hungry, the Griffin family visited a soup kitchen. They sat down at a table and were waited upon by a staff person. The following exchange ensued:
WOMAN: “Hi and welcome to the soup kitchen. I’ll just start you off with a basket of pizza crusts and apple cores. Oh, and we do have one special today. It’s an avocado pit with a little bit of avocado still on it, and that comes on a ripped pair of boxer shorts.”
PETER: (examining a menu) “Now, I’m trying to decide between the tossed spaghetti on a newspaper and the half yogurt with a balled-up tissue in it.”
Later in the evening, I returned to the couch to watch NCIS, which was aired on the CBS affiliate out of Hartford. During the show’s commercial breaks, I was repeatedly subjected to political ads from Connecticut’s two U.S. Senate candidates, Linda McMahon and Richard Blumenthal. The ads were pointedly negative. The candidates “approved” of them nonetheless. I did not.
Come this Election Day, the citizens of Connecticut will be forced to choose between the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and the state Attorney General, between a woman who “made a fortune from…[a business that] lives off performance-enhancing drugs, violence and the exploitation of young people” and a man who “abysmally erred in lying when he said that he had fought in Vietnam.” That’s some choice.
It got me to thinking about the Family Guy episode, about the limited and distasteful options presented to the family at the soup kitchen. Who wants to eat if forced “to decide between the tossed spaghetti on a newspaper and the half yogurt with a balled-up tissue in it”? Who wants to vote if forced to decide between an exploiter and a liar?
I’m not suggesting that people abstain from voting. But I think a lot of Americans, myself included, are tired of holding their noses while they do so. What’s a concerned citizen to do?