Dave Barry

Classic '95: The smut patrol


This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, December 24, 1995

Today we present the results of our Smut Patrol survey, in which we asked you, our alert readership, to report examples of pornography being snuck into our lives without our even knowing it until somebody points it out and makes a big deal about  it. This survey was inspired by the recent discovery that there are hidden porno images in various Walt Disney productions such as The Lion King.

Of course some people objected to the premise of this survey. They argued that if we can't even see this alleged pornography without spending hours squinting at tiny details and freeze-framing our VCRs, why should we get all riled up about it?

The answer is "subliminal suggestion." This was discovered in a famous experiment wherein psychologists exposed two groups of subjects, in adjacent theaters, to the same movie. For one group, however, the movie was altered so that the words "DRINK COCA-COLA" were flashed on the screen very quickly -- too fast for the eye to detect consciously -- dozens of times. After the showing, both groups of subjects were released into the theater lobby, and do you know what happened? That's right: They ran, squeaking, under the furniture. That's because these particular subjects were laboratory rats. But the psychologists are pretty sure they were thinking about sex.

So we see how powerful subliminal suggestion can be, which is why we all should be extremely alarmed by the amount of hidden smut that was turned up by the Smut Patrol survey. It is EVERYWHERE, once you start looking for it, as we can see from the following survey responses:

-- William B. Edmonds sent in a road map of Dallas showing that, if you trace Route 20, Route 820 and several other roads, you form a male anatomical unit.

-- Kurt Batdorf sent in a package for Keebler brand "Grasshopper" Chocolaty Fudge Mint cookies; the manufacturer had pasted a label that said "Traditional Fudge Flavor" directly over -- please do not try to tell us this is mere coincidence -- the first two letters of "GRASSHOPPER."

-- According to Mark Poehlmann, if you get one of those children's reading books featuring Spot, the dog, and you cover up Spot's legs and tail and body, leaving only his muzzle and nose, you discover that Spot is actually a woman's breast.

-- Rodney Dent reported that "Recently, I visited Arches National Park in Utah and was shocked to find the landscape littered with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of phallic symbols." Dent suggests that this is probably the work of the National Endowment for the Arts.

-- Mary Heugel noted that "Bugs Bunny often wears women's clothes."

-- Karen Underwood reported that she once took a college course wherein a professor showed a frozen-shrimp package with a picture of some shrimp that, if you looked at them closely, formed the letters "S-E-X." (We can assume that the shrimp were trained to do this by psychologists.)

-- John Brennan reported that "If you take the Gerber Baby Food jar labels (the vegetables only), arrange them alphabetically, then cut out the pictures of the baby and fan them back to front, the baby is unquestionably mouthing a four- letter expletive!"

-- Meg Massaro was one of several readers who sent in a newspaper advertisement for a performance by Shari Lewis, who is shown with her puppets."WHERE ARE HER HANDS?" demanded Massaro.

-- An Iowa City reader named Carol, who -- for reasons that will soon become shockingly clear, did not give her last name -- reported that when she was in school, "they made us gals hold pencils in our hands and actually USE them."

-- Dozens of readers sent in the Land O'Lakes butter carton to demonstrate that, if you take the picture of the kneeling Indian maiden and fold it so that her knees are visible through a hole cut in her chest, then you have way too much spare time.

-- A reader who wisely elected to remain anonymous sent in an ad from the Austin American-Statesman that openly uses the word "tuxedos" -- which, this reader noted, "can be rearranged to spell out 'Do sex tu' -- and with no letters left over!" (This reader added: "I need about $200,000 to build a working model of my perpetual-motion machine.")

-- Andrew Jacob and Kevin Gabbey wrote: "Sitting down to watch some decent family entertainment, we were appalled to see sexual intercourse in the animated pornographic movie The Giant Penis From Outer Space Strikes Again."

-- Several people sent in cans of Renuzit Home Fragrance Spray, in the "Fresh Cut Flowers" scent, featuring a label photograph with what appears to be a distinctively shaped, very excited "flower" thrusting its way into the right-hand side of the label. Reader Heather Gollnick asked: "Did someone just kind of lean into the photo shoot and . . . oops, their fly was open?"

-- Tye Kraekel reported: "I purchased a 'Teacher Barbie' recently. She is wearing a very short dress that poofs out like a square dance dress. Now here's the clincher: She is completely devoid of underwear. How much could it cost Mattel to slap some panties on her?"

These shocking items are only a tiny fraction of the Smut Patrol responses. Suffice it to say that people found sex in everything, including the photograph that accompanies this column in some newspapers. Beth Price wrote: "From a distance and upside down, your picture shows a nude woman sitting on a rock."

Rest assured that we will look into this and make darned sure that this column is not being used in some sneaky subliminal way that we are totally unaware of (GET NAKED!) to spread filth and perversion (BOSOMS!). Because we would never be part of such a thing, just as we would never sell space in this popular, widely read column for crass commercial gain (DRINK COCA-COLA!).