Sting Like a B-52

“We’re trying not to be the poodle of the White House,” Mr. Valenti said. “If it looks like you’re under government supervision, you lose all of the integrity of the message.”

–“Hollywood Enlists Ali’s Help to Explain War to Muslims,” New York Times, 12/23/01

H’WD 9/11 “ALI”: 60 TV


MUHAMMAD ALI sits in an armchair on a porch set. He wears a credible white plush polyester polar fleece robe with a shawl collar, locker loops, and roomy pockets. Resists pilling and provides warmth without bulk for only $72.50. On a small table to his right is a copy of the Koran and a can of COKE.

MUSIC: [Aretha Franklin]

“You better think (THINK!) Think about what you tryin’ to do to me You better think (THINK!) Let your mind go, let yourself be free…”


To left of porch set, CHARLOTTE BEERS and JACK VALENTI beam and sway rhythmically, more or less


“Let’s go back Let’s go back Let’s go way on way back when”

[fade out]

VIDEO: [stock footage, slow motion]

ALI in the ring, gloved hands punching the air in triumph. Handler reaches up and removes Ali’s MOUTH GUARD. [Freeze frame]

ALI (V/O):

“We been hearin’ you angry Can’t stand our guts Say our foreign policy Is a big kick in the nuts

“Well I’m here to assure you the American Way Can unilaterally Carry the day.

“We don’t need no World Court To sanction our moves Man, that’s Mickey Mouse -Like payin’ U.N. dues!

“Remember our record in poor Niggeragua? Those cats woulda done better On the wrong end of a fatwa.

“An’ don’t get me goin’ On the story in Honduras Now Negroponte’s in the henhouse- May Allah preserve us!”


BEERS and VALENTI look troubled, then examine their shooting scripts.


ALI on porch, in a groove:

“Keep one eye on Bush, though He Crusader Rabbit! Got ten-gallon values- A real jive-ass Babbit

“Get down with his program? Import plenty of Wheaties Stay hooked on McDonald’s Go for adult diabetes.

“But don’t forget oil, now Or slack off on pumpin’ Cuz our ‘tosterone stalls, Slick, When our sport utes stop humpin’

” ‘Hey kids, let’s make the globe safe for more Hollywood crap!'”


frantic BEERS on cell phone; VALENTI sprints toward camera with drop cloth


Aw, Jack, I may endorse COKE But I’m no fuckin’ SAP-


MUSIC: [Franklin]

“ain’t no psychi’trist Ain’t no doctor with degrees But it don’ take too much time To see what you tryin’ to do to me.

“You better think (THINK!)”

Prudence Crowther lives in New York City.