Where do I even start? I kind of hate it when I wake up in the morning with a bunch of different things I want to discuss. I could write multiple posts, and I may very well do that, not that people will read more than one. Or I could try to cover everything in less depth in this one post. Well, I guess I’ll just get started and see where my fingers and brain take me.
First off, I was saddened but not terribly surprised to read about the death of Dustin Diamond, who famously played Screech on Saved By The Bell. Diamond was recently in the news because he’d been admitted to a Florida hospital, having been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. I read yesterday that the lung cancer was actually secondary to a different, undisclosed cancer that had metastasized.
Cancer sucks. It can strike with incredible speed and cruelty. We lost our dog, Zane, a week after he was diagnosed with lymphoma. My cousin, Karen, died very quickly after a relapse of cancer. So did another cousin’s spouse, who announced that he had stage four liver cancer in September of last year and was gone by October. I suppose the one kindness that comes out of something like this happening is that the suffering that comes from being so sick is somewhat curtailed.
I never cared much for the Screech character on SBTB. Even though that show was a guilty pleasure for me, it wasn’t the most impressive showcase of anyone’s talents. I read Dustin’s book, Behind the Bell, years ago. I remember I read it because I was writing book reviews on Epinions.com and took great pleasure in reading certain bad books so others wouldn’t have to. I didn’t like the book and distinctly remember getting rid of it right after I reviewed it. I also remember seeing Dustin on Celebrity Fit Club back in 2007, while Bill was deployed to Iraq. I thought he was a massive jerk on that show, although the featured pic today came in handy when some random dick on Facebook asked me for a photo.
That all being said, at 44, Dustin Diamond was much too young to die, and I wouldn’t wish cancer on almost anyone. I think I can understand why Dustin seemed to be such a jerk as he aged out of childhood roles. He probably hated being Screech, the butt of everyone’s jokes. I mean, Saved By The Bell was kind of a shitty show, anyway. The character, Zack Morris (played by Mark Paul Gosselaar) was depicted as “cool”, but he was actually a massive jackass who was constantly looking for ways to screw over other people.
And poor Dustin, who was well paid for his work, was always the one getting dumped on. The writers on that show never let him be “normal”. He was always the one being made into a fool, while the other characters were “cool” and kind of “slumming” by being his friend. I wouldn’t say they really treated the Screech character like a friend. It’s not easy to always be the asshole.
I think having to play Screech would give anyone a complex. He was like a teenaged Weird Al Yankovic, but once that show was done, life got real. I think Dustin never really had a chance to be a normal person during his developmental years, and that probably made it much harder for him when he was an adult. Anyway… he’s out of pain now. I hope he’s in a better place. My good thoughts go out to his friends and loved ones.
Like a lot of other people, I happened to see the videos of the Rochester Police Department handcuffing and pepper spraying a nine year old child who was freaking out during a snowstorm. I certainly think what happened to that child is reprehensible. It looks to me like she was failed by many people, particularly her mom. I watched both body cam videos, which were included in the Washington Post article I linked. In the first one, you see the cop just trying to talk to the girl, who is running away from him. He seems to be trying to keep his cool, but she isn’t respecting his authority.
Then the mom comes out and starts yelling at the girl, using very abusive language which makes me think that things must be especially rough when the cops aren’t around. The girl starts to melt down, screaming. Next thing you know, she’s in handcuffs and the cops are trying to force her into the backseat of police cruiser. She finally gets pepper sprayed by a cop who has just had it with her and seems exasperated and impatient. I guess I can understand why the cop was impatient. It was freezing cold outside, and the girl was not cooperating. But if one of her parents or teachers had sprayed her with pepper spray, there would absolutely be hell to pay.
I’m not totally sure what led up to these events. There was something about the girl saying her mom stabbed her father. Her mom says the blood she saw was her blood, not her dad’s. And she refuses to cooperate with the police because she insists on seeing her dad. In the first video, her mom screams that she has custody and she is HER child and she will carry her ass into the house and deal with whatever’s coming. I felt very sad for that girl… especially when the cop tells her she’s acting like a child and she quite correctly points out that she IS a child!
I was impressed by how articulate and this girl was as she was screaming at the cop. She was also courageous. When I was her age, I know I would not have spoken to a cop the way she did. I would not have thought to demand anything, nor do I think I would have thought to tell the cop that I was a child when he accused me of “acting like a child”. I think I would have been scared out of my wits, not just because of the cop, but because I know my dad would have probably knocked the hell out of me for getting in trouble. Also, she appeared to be quite big for a nine year old. But, I will admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve been around children. Maybe nine year olds aren’t as small or shy as they were in my day.
Anyway, I hope that girl gets the help she clearly needs. I wish the police hadn’t treated her the way they did, although something did have to be done. I think there should definitely be some reform. However, I also realize that being a police officer isn’t easy. They never know what they’re going to face on any shift. And sadly, people can be very dangerous, even when they’re super young. That doesn’t mean I think she should have been pepper sprayed, though. I think she needs some real, competent, support from someone who knows how to help kids like her. Many people were calling for social workers. Maybe a social worker could have helped, but again, speaking from experience, I will say that just like cops, social workers can be a mixed bag. No matter what, she needs some adults in her life who won’t fail her again.
The final topic I’m kind of inspired to address this morning is one that probably deserves its own post, as well as my undivided attention. Maybe I’ll get to it today. Maybe I won’t. For now, I just hope the weather gets better soon. This gray, cold, depressing rainy shit we have is beyond a drag.