White House turkey begs your pardon

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President Barack Obama lays hands on a turkey, 2009
  • Lawrence Jackson/Wikimedia Commons
  • President Barack Obama reads auras, 2009
Last night, trying to take the temperature of America, I watched the first two episodes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on YouTube while I sewed, for the second time, holes that had appeared more or less simultaneously in each front pocket of a pair of pants. (The leading indicator of this problem is the cold metallic feel of coins hitting your thighs on their way down your pant legs, a 100 percent metaphorical experience.) I was left nonplussed on two counts. First, sewing—Jesus H. Christ has some famous bon mot about getting a camel through the eye of the needle, but you've got to imagine the guy never tried straight-up thread, which is nigh impossible. Second, Honey Boo Boo—was this good? Was this exploitation? If I were writing an exegesis for n+1, could I use the word abjection?

Happily, an easier cultural analogy became available in the sentient forms of Cobbler and Gobbler, two turkeys, though that ended up a wasted opportunity. The White House put its special spin on the annual tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey by choosing two birds and then asking the country to vote (on Facebook, natch) on which would receive the official pardon—a grisly, fucked-up, almost unbelievably hilarious publicity ploy. I loved it for all its reality-TV-era possibilities. The two turkeys' differences were delineated as follows:

Born on the same day on a farm in Rockingham Country, Virginia, Cobbler and Gobbler may look alike, but they're no birds of a feather. Cobbler craves cranberries, is known for his strut, and enjoys the musical stylings of Carly Simon. Gobbler, a patient but proud bird, loves to nibble on corn and enjoys any music with a fiddle.

"May the odds be ever in your favor," Barack Obama did not, unfortunately, say in a White House ceremony. The above description eschews any distinguishing traits that Americans could find controversial, though Cobbler, the white one, ended up retaining the edge in the popular vote.* Actually he just because the official White House turkey, or something, and both birds will be sent to a retirement home, and Gobbler will not be stoned to death on the National Mall. Or eaten, for that matter.

Meanwhile, in episode two, Honey Boo Boo receives a pig from her parents, who are trying to cheer her up after she's lost a beauty pageant. The pig, Glitzy, is a "boy pig," but Boo Boo decides that she'll treat Glitzy as a girl, so that he'll be her "pageant gay pig." Her sister objects on the grounds that simply dressing a boy pig up like a girl pig doesn't make the pig gay. "It can if it want to," Honey Boo Boo replies. "You can't tell that pig what to do."

Happy Thanksgiving, America.

*Kidding, they're totally both white.

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