Thursday, May 1, 2003

The class clown

Awkward bid for attention


Doctor, I would like to ask your advice about a problem child.

"Is this your child?"

No. A neighbor's. But he's always around our house.

"Is he abusing animals, wetting the bed, setting fires. Because you know these things can indicate a very serious psychosis."

Not exactly. But he is has done some peculiar things with frogs and is very interested in fireworks.

"Is he violent?"

No. I think he's basically a good kid. But he uses terrible language in public. Really crude stuff. It's embarrassing. A lot of us in the neighborhood would like to figure out a way to get him to stop it before our kids pick it up.

Copycat crudity?

"My suggestion would be to just let him know in a calm and measured tone that his behavior is inappropriate. Often a child doesn't know."

Well, he's not exactly a child. More like an adolescent. And, so far, this approach hasn't worked. He just seems to get worse.

"What about his parents?

Oh, they have a bunch of kids, Doctor, and loads of money. They're gone a lot, and I don't think they've been paying much attention to him lately.

"You know, that could be the reason. Generally, this type of behavior is a bid for attention."

That makes sense. He has been deserted by a lot of his friends and, frankly, people are starting to make fun of him. I feel sorry for the kid. He used to be well liked. Kind of the class clown. Witty. Clever. Naughty but harmless.

"What, specifically, do you find objectionable?"

Doctor - and I hope I don't offend you - but I was driving down Interstate 75 when I saw white billboards with black letters: "Go --ck yourself. I think eventually, they'll add an R and an O. You know, 'Go rock yourself.' Meanwhile, it looks pretty awful.

"Is this the first time you have seen such an obvious and crude bid for attention?"

Once WEBN bought billboards with pictures of larger-than-life breasts and pregnant men and some guys with their pants around their ankles.

"It sounds as if this provocative behavior is escalating. Can you think of anything that might account for this?"

WEBN radio has been knocked off as the most popular rock station by its "sister" station WKFS-FM (KISS 107) in the winter Arbitron ratings, which are very important to their parents, Clear Channel. In fact, according to the Enquirer's John Kiesewetter, WEBN fell to a fifth-place tie with WKRC-AM (550). WLW-AM (700) was No. 1, followed by KISS, WRRM-FM (WARM 98.5) and WIZF-FM (The WIZ 100.9).

"Are you sure WEBN is the culprit in the matter of these billboards."

Well, I can't get anybody to admit it. But WEBN has a history.

"Perhaps they're ashamed."


"Or it could conceivably be a copycat clown."

So, doctor, when we know for sure, and when advertising representatives call requesting money, when they want to play with our children, when they want to ride in our cars, we should ...

"Ignore them."

E-mail or phone 768-8393.

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