Showing posts with label What About the Children?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label What About the Children?. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2009

Daytime TV in the 90s

If you believe daytime TV is growing increasingly trashier each year, raise your hand. If this is a toughie, I'll give you all a minute or two to think it over. All right, time's up. You ready? Heads down, hands up. No peeking, I'll take a count.

It's officially unanimous. I know it, you know, the American people know it. Elsewhere across the globe, people are scratching their heads and saying, "Wow, is it just me, or has daytime TV really taken a turn?" That's just a rough translation from Estonian, of course, but you get the point.

Ricki Lake

Slimmed-down Hairspray alum Ricki Lake hosted this eponymous daytime talk rag, tantalizing us with the tawdriest of topics. Ricki's show was trashy, pure and simple. We loved dragging out the alleged perpetrator--be it cheating or, in the above case, cousin marryin'--and hissing and booing them to our hearts' collective content.

The satisfying thing about these shows wasn't so much that they were scandalous, but rather that they made us feel better about our own vanilla Wonderbread mundane lives. Sure, we weren't out there wrestling alligators and winning Nobel Prizes, but we also weren't marrying our cousins. Ricki's show served as a sort of trashiness litmus test, and unless you're gazing at a current photo of you and a close relative locked in a passionate embrace, I'd say you passed.


We all like a good fight now and then, but Geraldo really knew how to drive the point home. Early in his series (1988), he invited a slew of ideologically mismatched hate spewers and social activists to duke it out onscreen. Geraldo put skinheads and neo-Nazis onstage with Jewish and black activists and surprise of surprises, it got ugly. Remember, this was just the beginning, but you've got to admire him laying it all out there so early in the game.

Geraldo started strong, but went soft on us by the mid-to-late 90s. They re-spun his show as the more formally titled Geraldo Rivera Show and attempted to showcase a softer, more serious host. Clearly their hosts had missed the memo that people watched tabloid talk shows for the trashiness factor. I mean, we all got the memo. Also, I heard they forgot to file their TPS reports. For shame.

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones was a Springer-like daytime offering, with only slightly less skeezy topical content. It was, nonetheless, absolutely ridiculous. I mean, there was a show called You May Shake it for Money, But Leave Those Sexy Clothes at the Club, Honey! I'm not saying I wouldn't watch it, I'm just disparaging the writers' poor rhyming scheme.

The Jenny Jones show is now infamous for its implications in a murder case, the crime committed following an appearance on Jones's show. The Ambush was a popular 90s talk show trope as unsuspecting guests were confronted without warning. Michigan native John Smitz came on the show to learn of a secret admirer only to find that the mysterious source of affection was not a woman as he expected but one of his male acquaintances. Reportedly "humiliated" by the incident, Smitz fatally shot his male admirer just days after the episode was filmed. And you thought those episodes about wayward teens bombed. Talk about putting a damper on things.

The Phil Donahue Show

Yep, that's Donahue getting told by Marilyn Manson. Sorry, pal, he only likes the trashier talk shows. Tough break.

Yes, the snowy-haired Donahue we knew in the 90s had already racked up a good twenty years in the talk show business at that point, but his show was pretty adept at keeping up with the times. Despite his increasing resemblance to that old guy from Up, Donahue kept with it for awhile.

Unfortunately for our boy Phil, the incredibly overstocked marketplace of daytime talk shows eventually squeezed him out. While once he'd reigned over the airwaves, new and more salacious (read: shameless) shows eventually got the better of his once-loyal audience. Once upon a time they may have been shocked to hear about the dangers of reverse vasectomies, it seemed pretty tame in comparison to stories of incorrigible six-year olds hell bent on becoming strippers. Or, you know, whatever other filth his opponents were cooking up and serving to us in our daily dose of daytime dirt.

Jerry Springer

Jerry Springer is perhaps the most notorious of these daytime tabloid talk show hosts, if nothing else than for the sheer volume of fights per episode. You'd think his guest simply spend their lives looking for someone to punch in the face, yearning to be held back by a beefy humorless security guy.

Springer is pure entertainment and pretty much no substance, but it doesn't masquerade itself as much other than a sensationalist freakshow. It's like going to the car races to see a fiery fatal crash. You're horrified, but you also just can't look away. It's like some sort of magnetic force field that tugs your vocal chords and prompts you to chant, "Jerry! Jerry!" till everyone onstage has been sufficiently beaten up.

Sally Jessy Raphael

Sally Jessy didn't just have a fun-to-say name, she also had a fun-to-impersonate look. Inasmuch, her show sometimes paraded males costumed in Sally Jessy drag, each more huge glasses-ed and signaturely crop-topped than the last. Actually, tons of Sally's shows featured all sorts of drag queens, whether in pageants or singing showcases. I have no idea why. At least they had the kind sense to call them "female impersonators". Very professional.

Raphael was even spoofed by the usually benign Sesame Street. Now that's how you know you've made it, when there's a grouch character modeled after you:

Maury Povich

A long long time ago, in a galaxy lightyears from here, Maury Povich's show was not simply the who's-your-baby-daddy parade it is today. Back in the 90s, he also used to cover topics like out-of-control overweight babies and irrational snail phobias. These days, though, he's not quite so classy. I'm pretty sure he has some sort of autopilot mode that intones deeply, "The lie detector test determined that that was a lie. You are not the father!"

The Montel Williams Show

Montel pulled what shall now be referred to as a "reverse-Maury" or a "Geraldo special" depending on your point of view and/or preference for well-groomed mustaches. The show started out trashy and actually moved out of the genre rather into the gaping void of the morally empty abyss. The show's later years were characterized by inspirational tales of overcoming adversity and succeeding in the face of life challenges. In other words? It got boring. Bring back silicone breast implant nightmares!


How can you not love a woman who brings out a big ol' barrel of fat to document her own embarrassing diet struggles? That's just good TV.

No one can deny that Oprah is one of the most powerful and influential women alive. She tells us what our favorite things are and we dutifully go purchase $50 cookie dough and cashmere ponchos. She tells us what to read and we eagerly seek her sanctioned stamp of approval at bookstores everywhere. Everyone wanted to talk to her. Even the often elusive Michael Jackson (video above) opened up to her. She's like a good girlfriend we all just want to spill our guts to. In front of millions of people. To possibly get a free car. Thanks, O.

Love them or hate them, these shows expose a deep inner part of our human nature, one for which we yearn to see the complete and totally ridiculous humiliation of others to make ourselves feel better. Some of these shows have grown more salacious with age while others have tamed their trashtastic inner beasts, but in the 90s, the tabloid talk show ruled. Heck, we grew up with it, and we turned out okay, right? Now excuse me while I go file a slew of paternity suits.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frequently Banned Young Adult Books: 90s Edition

On an aside, this is my 200th post! That's a whole lot of 90s. PS don't forget to enter all and any personal or family Glamour Shots in the Glamour Shots Challenge! Send your undoubtedly embarrassing photos to

Not only did I miss banned books week, this poster is from last year!

I know I'm about a month too late to engage in any sort of nationally conscious discussion during Banned Books week; my complete inattention to detail and timely pertinent bookstore displays is starting to show. It's an important issue at any time, though, and if it means we get to join in on mocking all those who seek to censor our allegedly inappropriate literary content, then all the better. If there's a bannedwagon out there, I'm jumping on it. Get it? Bannedwagon? Anyone?

*Cranes neck and shields eyes from monitor glare to gaze out at bewildered readers through their computer screens*

Painful puns aside, it's an issue many of us may not have been aware of as children but that continues to plague libraries and school systems everywhere. In any given society, there's bound to be a vocal contingency of uptight people engaging in the rectal transport of sticks. In a society that enourages free speech, however, the irony of their existence is no doubt lost on their closed minds. That is, the free speech stipulations that allow them to spout misguided uneducated drivel without consequence is the same ruling that upholds these authors' collective right to publish what they please. Quite a conundrum, huh?

Unsurprisingly, parents make up the majority of literary naysayers. It's natural for parents to be concerned about their innocent children's easily corruptible young minds, but the idea of each of us having our own parents is that families can make decisions for themselves and not society at large. Unfortunately, whoever yells the loudest often gains the widest audience, meaning these book banners garnered a lot of attention for their shouting and finger-pointing.

The most frequent reasons cited for protesting a book are sexuality, language, or "unsuitable material". In short, our intellectual freedom to grow and mature as eager young readers is most often suppressed by a bunch of prudes. Because why encourage a child to enjoy reading when you can teach them the value of complaining?

Here's a light sampling of the most frequently banned young adult books during the 90s. Many of the books were written decades earlier, but remained in the forefront of the censorship agenda:

The Giver

In this 1984-esque Utopian science fiction novel, Lois Lowry outlines a world of compliant individuals content to languish in their colorless world. The protagonist Jonas is stuck in a frightening sterile world where people are tightly controlled and exist without emotion. They even take pills to quell the sexual "stirrings" they feel beginning from puberty. You'd think our book banners would be all for that with all of their anti-sex rhetoric, but apparently what comes next is too inexcusable to give the book any merit in their eyes.

The Giver was banned largely for its themes of community-sanctioned suicide and euthanasia, the "release" characters receive if they fail to fit into the well-ordered society. Admittedly it's a pretty heavy issue for young children, but the book touts these behaviors as a negative consequence of an overly uniform society. In more common terms, they're saying it's bad. Don't do it. The book has a strong message of individuality and personal freedom, which we all know censors don't like one bit. It's no wonder they don't want us thinking for ourselves; they want us thinking for themselves.


Oh, and pretty much every other book written by Blume over the span of the preceding few decades made the list. Some authors really know how to cause a stir amongst conservative morally straitjacketed PTA types. Forever was a shoo-in for raising a ruckus with its explicitly sexual content, detailing the experiences of a high school girl and her boyfriend's foray into physical intimacy. Let's put it this way: the book was released in 1975 and remains in one of the top spots on the banned books chart. I'll give you a hint why it remains so popular among young readers: it's about sex.

On an aside, some statisticians speculate that the dip in popularity of the name Ralph is in direct correlation to the fact that that's what the protagonist's boyfriend names his, er, private parts. Now that's a lasting impact.

Go Ask Alice

This story has a seriously awesome punchline. After years of speculation over the identity of the anonymous author of this drug-addled teenage memoir, it was revealed that it was actually penned by a Mormon youth minister. One of the censor-mongers' own! Ba-Dum-Ching!

Okay, so that didn't really kick the censorship habit. If anything, it just added fuel to the fire. As an anonymous diary, the book was provocative in its depictions of sexuality and extensive drug use. As a book written by a Mormon youth minister, it lost a little of that street credibility. Just a tad. Author Beatrice Sparks allegedly based the novel on the diary of one of her real psychiatry patients, but still. Regardless of the fact that the book is a cautionary tale against drug use, some parents obviously their kids will be drawn to try drugs after reading descriptions of the main character trying to bite her fingers off on a bad trip. Right.


Not all banned books were contested on sexuality. Some were just plain unsavory. At least that's what parents claimed of the wildly popular Goosebumps series. The books had kids delighting in reading, but apparently at the cost of exposure to some cartoon-grade violence. The horror!

Alice Series

A book about teenagers with sex on the brain? Why, I've never heard of such a thing! On her own blog just a few weeks ago, Reynolds Naylor addressed the issue of parents protesting the content of her book:

It’s usually parents who want their children kept “pure,” as many parents tell me, “from harmful influences.” The mother of a ten year old girl was very angry with me for talking about how babies are conceived in Lovingly Alice. She wrote that since her daughter read that book, “the words penis and vagina will be forever ingrained on her mind.” Another mother tearfully accosted me because she found the word “condoms” in a novel for teenagers, and said, “My eighth grade son doesn’t know what condoms are and I don’t want him to know.” Whenever I hear comments like these, my heart really goes out to their children.

Well put, Phyll. Parents are entitled to raise their children however they see fit, and they certainly don't need to check this one out of the library for their kids if it's in contention with their moral values. It's general right to exist, however, is a whole different story. (That story is called Achingly Alice, available at bookstores near you!)

The Boy Who Lost His Face

The Boy Who Lost His Face was written by Louis Sachar, the author behind the Wayside School books. The protests against insinuations of witchcraft I may support, but I can understand them. My favorite challenge, however, was the inclusion of "obscene gestures". Yes, you read that right. The reader doesn't actually see any obscene gestures, he or she just reads a description of them.

Harry Potter

This one is probably sort of a given. Sorcery, witchcraft, magic: all that good stuff is more than enough ammunition to set off religious protest groups. Despite the fact that the novels fell into the fantasy genre, many censors fear that that faithful children will abandon their Biblical aspirations in favor of a career in the dark arts.

Many parents also feared the books were a bit too dark and scary for young children, which is a reasonably legitimate concern. I'd advise for those parents to not let their six year olds read it. On the other side of the banning spectrum, some critics contended Harry and his pals set a bad example for their kids. He gets into all sorts of mischief and doesn't always obey his elders. You know, he has fun and he's a kid. Quick, hide the book!

Scary Stories

They're too scary. We get it. Let's move on.

The Face on the Milk Carton

The "sexual content" charge, though minimal, I can kind of understand, but the "challenging of authority" allegation? I mean, the book is about a girl who's been kidnapped by her own grandparents. Whose authority exactly is in question? Is it just the general notion that adults can make mistakes, commit crimes, or otherwise act unwisely? It's a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and my disparaging remarks about the tightly wound moral crusaders is just another blissful exercise in free speech. Let me freely say that most of these challenges are the most ridiculous, asinine ideas ever to spew from the mouths of overzealous overprotective over-meddling parents. You, of course, have the freedom to disagree with me. That's the beauty of it. Embrace it. Freely.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Married With Children

Sitting around today watching the entire cannon of Modern Family available to date on Hulu, I got to thinking about Ed O'Neill playing the patriarch of a dysfunctional family. I know, I know, it's sort of a stretch, but I'm almost certain I've seen this before. The patriarch part, that is.*

It just goes to show that Ed O'Neill was wasting his time playing all those hard-nosed detectives and policemen in the interim period. He was pretty much meant to be play this cliche of a former football-playing clueless bumbling dad. It's not typecasting, it's just logical selection.

Married with Children was one of those quintessential 90s shows that effectively captured the cynical sense of humor of a coming-of-age Generation X. The show focused on the Bundy family, a sort of white-trash take on the family situation comedies that flooded the airwaves in the 80s. Indeed, the show's working title while in production was Not the Cosbys. The Bundys truly were a form of anti-Cosby, a screwball comedy with a husband and wife team cut in the classic disparaging style of The Honeymooners.

While there was the occasional moment of heartwarming awwness, generally the show had a sort of hard cynical shell with which it reflected the negative side of family life. In a time when all family shows were happy family shows, Married with Children
stood in stark contrast for its controversial humor. Because, you know, anything that doesn't reflect alleged good family values is immediately deemed subversive by middle America. Conservative family values-spouting critics with too much spare time needed to spout something, so a TV show featuring a humorously misanthropic title family seemed as good a target as any.

The tasteless humor and vulgar subject matter divided audiences, with some crying out against the lack of TV-grade perfection in the Bundy family and others laughing at the show's non-glossy take on the grittier side of family living. Like Al Bundy says,
"When one of us is embarrassed, the others feel better about ourselves." As long as the Bundys were out there week after week humiliating themselves and bringing shame to their family names, the rest of us could seek comfort in the fact that at least our own families weren't that bad. It may not have been an outright victory, but instead a sort of consolation prize. Married with Children gave us the emotional equivalent of a lifetime's supply of Campbell's tomato soup. We may not win family of the year, but at least we've got something.

Even the intro gave us a tongue-in-cheek approach to the family sitcom, contrasting the sunny Sinatra tune "Love and Marriage" against the mundane images of our tasteless starring family:

Al Bundy (O'Neill), our (sort of) hero, was the family's mediocre breadwinner. Now awashed-up middle aged guy, Al had once been a talented high school football player with a bright future until he knocked up his then-girlfriend, now-wife Peggy. With dreams of college athletic scholarships dashed, Al settles for marrying Peggy and taking an unexceptional job as a shoe salesman at the mall. Al is nothing if not the picture of mediocrity, driving a crappy car, working a thankless and mindless job, and taking joy in bowling and watching TV in lieu of spending quality time with his family.

Al's wife Peggy (Katey Sagal) is an indifferent and inattentive woman who delights in outspending her husband's meager earnings and refusing to cook, claiming a fire allergy. Her daily quota of bonbons could support a chocolate-hungry small Caribbean nation, though she somehow manages to maintain her svelte figure. She's a vision in painted-on spandex pants, a fire engine-red bouffant hairstyle, and sky-high heels.

With parents like these, it's easy to see how these kids didn't grow up to be personified beacons of moral light. Their blonde bimbo daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) is a dim-witted and ignorant teenager known for her promiscuity and complete lack of understanding of everything. Her brother, Bud, is slightly better off intellectually though he is not known for his luck with the ladies. He's something of a leader for a band of merry misfits.

Their neighbors weren't much better. In early seasons, the lived beside Marcy (Amanda Bearse) and Steve Rhoades (David Harrisson), a somewhat more upwardly mobile couple who both work as bankers. Marcy and Al became rivals, with the former delighting in the latter's misery at every turn. Unsurprisingly, she was Peggy's best pal. Harrison left the show to pursue his stage career was replaced with Marcy's second husband, Jefferson D'arcy (Ted McGinley) a slacker bartender whom she married unknowingly while drunk. See, it's just one big happy family after another.

The show was extremely popular, though it was often plagued by public controversy. A few episodes in particular fell under attack by angry viewers:

A Period Piece (AKA The Camping Trip):

Conveniently available in condensed minisode format for your viewing pleasure, here is the short version of the episode:

The Bundys go camping with their neighbors the Rhoades during which all of the females have their periods simultaneously. The references to menstruation were more than enough to push some critics over the edge, complaining over the show's lack of taste and non family friendly content. Hey, no one said your kids needed to watch it. Anyway, I watched it, and I turned out okay. Well, anyway, I watched it.

Her Cups Runneth Over

This episode also caught a lot of flack for questionable taste and subject matter. The episode centered on Peggy's disappointment that her favorite bra has been discontinued on her birthday. Al sets out to an obscure and risque lingerie shop to retrieve a new one and encounters a number of inappropriate intimate items.

Terry Rakolta, a suburban Detroit mother who caught her children enjoying (gasp!) this particular episode, made a major to-do over the show's theme and content. She took to national TV, imposing her whiny prudish schoolmarm views on the rest of us. Rakolta explained, "
"I picked on Married...With Children because they are so consistently offensive. They exploit women, they stereotype poor people, they're anti-family. And every week that I've watched them, they're worse and worse. I think this is really outrageous. It's sending the wrong messages to the American family." Well, obviously. That's what makes a satire. It takes the messages and skews them. Someone get this woman a sense of humor.

I'll See You in Court

This episode never aired on Fox, proving too contentious for network TV. It was eventually released in the Season Three DVDs, but it's commonly known by fans as the "lost episode". Following the Rakolta crusade, Fox was especially cautious in its proceedings with Married with Children. "I'll See You in Court" followed Al and Peg as they escaped to an inn to reinvigorate their love life, only to find their neighbor's and their own sexual escapades being recorded on video by the sleazy motel. It sounds pretty tame right now, but in the wake of Terry Rakolta's tirade, it seemed better to be safe than sorry.

Despite our fair nation's uptight segment's penchant for engaging in the rectal conveyance of steel rods the show ran for an impressive 11 seasons, proving at least some of us still had a sense of humor. They told people it wasn't the Cosbys and people were angry that it wasn't the Cosbys. Go figure.

*Let it be known that Modern Family is totally new and awesome and not a rehashing of Married with Children. That is all.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Joe Camel

If you ever needed proof that we're fighting the wrong battles, look no further than the late 90s Joe Camel controversy. It's not that these moral crusaders didn't have good intentions, for no doubt they meant well. However, in their fixation on a single cartoon product spokescamel, they began to focus on symptom's of society's ills instead of the root cause. "If we could just get that blasted camel off of Playboy back covers," they thought, "No child will ever feel inclined to pick up a cigarette again."

Unfortunately for these folks, being The Man in telling the younger generation how to behave is probably the worst way to get them to acquiesce. In fact, the way most of us find out what's cool is by seeing what The Man brings down. That's not to say I'm calling cigarette smoking cool, of course. I'm no Joe Camel. That cartoon was one smooth character.

If nothing else, this media crusade only reasserts how uptight Americans are. This is what we do. We see that there are many problems that can not be fixed. Instead of picking a problem to focus on, we pick a tiny aspect of that problem from which to launch a media maelstrom of outrage and discontent. What can we say? We were too lazy to take a swing a solving the problem of youth smoking, so we cast out our excessive anger dart and target whichever minuscule point the dart pin pricks.

Admittedly I'm being a tad facetious. The Joe Camel ads, while certainly not as detrimental to society as moral watchdog groups would claim, absolutely came with myriad of mixed messages. The original Joe Camel ads (commemorating the company's 75th anniversary) featured the tagline, "75 Years and Still Smokin'". Perhaps this isn't the most welcome complement to anti-smoking programs in schools warning of emphysema and lung disease, but then again the ad isn't claiming that after 75 years you'll still be smoking. It's all in the semantics, you see.

Though the first to come under fire (from the media, that is, not lighters), Joe Camel was certainly not the only cartoon smokesanimal. From the 1930s through early 60s, Kool cigarettes had an adorable little anthropomorphic penguin hawking their goods.

A closer look into the Joe Camel Campaign shows it's pretty unlikely these ads were somehow intentionally aimed at children. A 1991 New York Times article explains

He has a penchant for dressing up in stereotypical masculine gear like hard hats, T-shirts, skin-diving wet suits and tuxedos -- all meant to appeal to the male smokers who predominate among Camel customers.

First of all, that sentence is ridiculous. It implies all real men go around alternating between their hardhats and tuxedos before a quick scuba diving jaunt. Obviously on all sides of the Joe Camel argument, serious amounts of exaggeration were in play.

The article also suggests that critics wanted to, er, penalize the character for its supposedly inappropriate traits:

Among the most contentious aspects of Joe Camel's appearance has been that nose. Reynolds has always said this protuberance is nothing more than an exaggerated rendering of a camel's nose; critics say it was drawn in a phallic fashion to suggest that smoking is a virile pursuit.

I have to say I'd never heard that one before, but my God, these people are Freudian. Okay, let's break this down. We've got a penis-nosed camel wearing sunglasses and a tuxedo, surrounded by fawning beautiful women, and proclaiming himself to be a "smooth character". This doesn't sound much like something to appeal to ignorant and impressionable young children. It sounds like something to appeal to ignorant and impressionable young men.

In all likelihood, the actual intent of the campaign was to be edgy and hip in a seriously calculated way. Sure, it's certainly an offense, but it doesn't mean they're trying to stuff cigs into the unsuspecting mouths of 3-year olds. Apparently not everyone felt this way. In this Bill Maher clip, an oddly mismatched group of interviewees discuss the controversial cartoon camel:

Regardless of Baptist Minister Tony Campolo's accusations against Camel, I beg to argue comic Kevin Nealon says it best in this segment: "If they influence kids, then why aren't more kids, like, riding camels?" Hmm. Probing question, favorite Weekend Update host. Why weren't more kids, like, riding camels?

The Journal of the American Medical Association stepped in and dealt the final blow to the thriving Joe Camel campaign. They produced a study that claimed that more kindergartners could recognize the Joe Camel character than Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone. First of all, that's really great news for these ad people. Secondly, maybe these researchers should have chosen some more contemporary characters.

The whole affair exploded in a highly-publicized trial, as testimonials claimed that the company was targeting young people because they were the most viable consumers with the most potential for growth. Well, as we said in the 90s, duh. That's how advertising works. We advertise to the people who will maximize our profit margins. It's not exactly rocket science.

Under pressure, the company pulled the ads, paid some money for anti-smoking campaigns, and replaced their spokescamel with a decidedly less cute generic camel silhouette. It just goes to show you: if you make a big enough fuss about some misguided notion, you can use a great deal of time, money, and effort formulating vicious allegations against a supposed wrong-doer and eventually bringing them down. Apparently a great victory for the moral crusaders of the world, the suave Joe Camel character was permanently benched. Thank God for that, too. We wouldn't want our kids exposed to obscene phallic-nosed caricatures.

Yes, I acknowledge that cigarette companies do a whole lot of wrong. That point is relatively moot. I just don't think that producing a suave hardhatted camel is one of them. Unlike today's more direct and effective anti-smoking campaigns, this didn't focus on stopping kids from smoking; instead, it sought to eliminate a character that children may potentially find appealing that could eventually lead to their interest in smoking. Not exactly a direct route there, is it?

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