Sunday, April 04, 2004

Hero of the Week

Kenny Hess, senior, Spanaway Lake High School

A Spanaway Lake High School senior has been banned from TV production assignments for the rest of the year because he altered the Pledge of Allegiance during a student-produced broadcast.

Way back in high school, our film/video class also did a morning broadcast for the classrooms throughout Lyme-Old Lyme High School. The typical format was that we read the school announcements, and would occasionally then show a video we'd made in class. Nothing that I'd call edgy. Since my inspirations were folks like David Letterman and Michael Moore, my contributions would be coverage of Richard Simmons visiting a local mall, or "man in the hall" interviews with kids late for class, or just skipping altogether. Of course, the one day I was off visiting my dad in Ohio is when the edgiest of videos was broadcast, and the plug was pulled. And it all had to do with corn.

After the morning announcements, the student talking head announced they had a special guest - the "lunch lady". The Lunch Lady was just another male student, in a bad wig, who's only reply to any question was another question: "Would you like some corn?"

Soon after her appearance, a complaint was lodged with the Principal that the Film and Video guys were making fun of the lunch ladies, who the complaining student was, I believe, related to. In reality, the guys weren't basing the character on anyone in particular. Trust me, no of us were THAT clever. But since they had supposedly offended someone, we weren't allowed to broadcast again for some indefinite period.

When I returned to the school I was pretty livid. Why didn't our film/video teacher stick up for us - instead, we got a lecture.

I think it was only a couple weeks before we were able to show videos and the announcements again. Sometime later, our teacher conceded that she, indeed, should have backed us up. But a little late to earn our respect or trust. I can only imagine that had we made a political statement in this climate, that we'd be in the same boat as Kenny Hess.

Instead, my life lesson in all that was just over corn.

I'm tempted to write the kid a letter of support. If he really wants to get into broadcasting, he should stick to his guns, and even sue the school. At the very least, he should end up interviewed on Headline News or Fox, and made some decent contacts along the way. He could likely land a decent internship also. He probably doesn't see it this way now, but he's a got a good foot in the door. And regardless, the kid has balls.