Whit Stillman’s very funny 1994 film Barcelona concerns an American Navy officer in port to visit his brother, a mid-level business executive working in the Barcelona branch of a large American-based corporation. The navy man tells the local girls they meet at night in the discotheques that under the normal clothes his brother wears, “are narrow leather straps, drawn taut, so when he dances…” and other gags hinting at what one of the Spanish women calls “sadomasoquismo.”
At one point early on in the film, the American businessman hits it off with one of the local girls and the following conversation ensues with her friend:
Montserrat Raventos: Apparently, you are just the sort of dangerous, foreign man she likes.
Ted Boynton: What do you mean?
Montserrat: Your brother told her about your interests.
Montserrat: You know.
Montserrat: The Marquis de Sade, games of leather, weekends of fun. The straps under your clothes.
Ted: He said that?! That's completely untrue. He promised he wouldn't say that anymore. He's not my brother.
Montserrat: You don't know anything about the Marquis de Sade?
Montserrat: I don't believe you. So you're not wearing them tonight. That doesn't prove anything. Maybe they're at the cleaners.
Telling Ellen DeGeneres and her audience that he was trussed up by NBC’s makeup department in a “testicle vice”* for Halloween, apparently NBC’s Matt Lauer has taken the above scene to heart…and/or elsewhere:
Sarnoff weeps: NBC at its peak meant Miami Vice. Today, NBC at its nadir equals the Testicle Vice. And the following week, Lauer and sidekick Al Roker would double-down on the “fun,” having on-air prostate exams:
And for the rest of this month, it’s “No Shave November:”**
Lauer and Roker have also been growing beards since the start of the month for ‘No Shave November’ — joining other men across the country in a bid to raise awareness of male cancers.
Before the check, the hosts said they were undergoing the procedure to dispel the myths around it and to show just how easy it is.
‘We’re trying to raise awareness, trying to get men of a certain age to go to the doctors to raise some of these issues,’ Lauer said. ‘A lot of people have fears or concerns. We’re going to show you just how quick this procedure is.’
Say what you will about the earlier leftism of Walter Cronkite; he had enough common sense to keep his dignity intact on the air.
But then, so did most earlier hosts of the Today Show, including J. Fred Muggs.
NBC has spent much of the past ten years “raising awareness” about this topic or that. But in the attempt to constantly “raise awareness,” does it profit a network to lose all of its viewers in the process? Or to put it another way:
Conan: To increase ratings, Today Show hosts had prostate exams on air. Also to increase ratings, ‘Good Morning America’ hosts did not.
— Andrew Malcolm (@AHMalcolm) November 8, 2013
* Not to be confused with the Hillary lockbox, with all of the broadcast network anchors will be wearing between now and 2016.
** Just when you think you’ve gotten past pink shoes October in the “awareness raising” National Football League.
Update 11/20/13: The original clip of Matt Lauer was pulled from YouTube; it’s now replaced.