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Commentary: 2005 Orwell Awards

By Gary Earl Ross

Buffalo, NY – Greetings! We're coming to you live from the beautiful Bass Pro Shop in downtown Buffalo. It's time for this year's Orwell Awards, the golden piglets given in remembrance of Animal Farm and 1984.

The Boxer Award, for Animal Farm's tireless but stupid workhorse, goes to Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions for deciding to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. In response to criticism that the series suffers from weak writing and excessive gadgetry, Wilson and Broccoli kept the writers and fired the one actor left on the planet who made the writing palatable.

Named for the pig whose idealism energized Animal Farm before he was driven out, the Snowball's Chance Award is a tie. It will be shared by Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean and the growing Hillary Clinton for President movement. The Republicans are salivating like a Pavlovian werewolf with a different bell ringing in each ear.

The winner of the Newspeak Doublethink Award is Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Instead of saying, "I will never run for President," she says she will not seek the nomination. If she ever faces off against Hillary Clinton, the electoral process may grind to a standstill as liberals and conservatives, reactionaries and progressives, racists and minorities, Red-staters and Blue-staters, and everyone threatened by women with power clutch their faces like an Edvard Munch painting and scream, "What should I do? What should I do?"

In a unanimous decision, the Thoughtcrime Award is heaped upon the WB Network for its decision to reinvent Bugs Bunny and some of his friends as futuristic superheroes called the Loonatics. In response to the decline of traditional animation and the rise of Japanese anime, Warner Brothers has trashed the one set of cartoon characters left on the planet that embodied a sarcastic humor uniquely American. Sadly, Elmer Fudd will not be among the Looney Tunes depicted in the inevitable adolescent card game. I'm told he's meeting with Eon Productions as they cast the new 007. "Stay wight there, Pussy Gawore. I'll be wight back."

The Moses the Raven Sugarcandy Mountain Award is presented to President George W. Bush for promising to fix Social Security by refusing to raise the upper limit on Social Security taxes, establishing private accounts to take more money out of the current system, and borrowing two trillion dollars to cover the difference. What were his high school math grades like?

The Big Brother Award goes to Michael Jackson. Yuck. And the Napoleon Award goes to Erie County Executive Joel Giambra. If you live in Erie County, this award needs no explanation.

At last it's time for the Grand Orwellian, awarded for manipulative and self-serving bluster. And the winner is the Culture of Life movement, which can tell with mathematical precision how many abortions take place each year and will delay the business of the federal government to save the physical life of a single brain dead woman but cannot estimate how many Iraqis have been killed in the war, cannot decide whether the killing in Darfur is genocide or just murder, will not address the issue of overseas sweat shops run by American companies, and cannot even find a way to insure 45 million uninsured Americans. Accepting is the U.S. House of Representatives, which actually subpoenaed Terry Schiavo to appear in a hearing about whether her feeding tube should be removed. It's hard to tell which one is in a persistent vegetative state.

Gary Earl Ross is a writing professor at the UB Educational Opportunity Center. His courtroom thriller "Matter of Intent" is onstage at Ujima Theater April 1-24.