Saturday, December 29, 2012

How Things Got Around

Related to this, there's always been one little story which fascinated me. I won't say who it involves, though thankfully for him he's gone on to have a pretty successful career.

There was a local Philly newscaster way back in the 13th century when I was a teen. At some point a rumor went around that he had gone into the emergency room to have a gerbil removed from his rectum. When I say the rumor went around, I meant the rumor was universal everywhere simultaneously. I heard it from kids in multiple suburban school districts. Their parents were joking about it. Everybody seemed to know a friend of friend who worked in the hospital, blah blah blah. Even at the time my 15 year old brain was confused by the whole thing... Whatever the truth or not truth, just how did this rumor spread so fast?

I think eventually the local shock jocks etc. did pick it up, but shock jockery was less shocking than it can be now and I'm pretty sure they didn't lead on this "story." They followed. And, yes, it wasn't long before he moved on. But, again, he's done pretty well for himself so good for him.

The reason such a story had so much resonance can help explain a lot about the truly weird homophobia of the time (gay men are bestiality-inclined perverts who will stick anything up there), but that isn't my issue at the moment. The issue is that this little story spread like wildfire through contemporary suburbia essentially overnight, without the help of, as far as I could tell, mass media.