A specter is haunting America - the celebrity-specter.
Your children's tender, impressionable minds could fall prey to icky creatures whose abominable manners, atrocious taste, and unhealthy fads are ruining our collective future.
Who would have thought such generally silly, often insipid (though sometimes talented) figures could be so dangerous?
Children's author Katharine DeBrecht does. The J.K. Rowling of the Ronald Reagan set, whose liberal-bashing Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!
was a publishing sensation last year, has written a hilarious follow-up, Help! Mom! Hollywood's in My Hamper!,
this time setting her sights on Hollywood stars such as Britney Spears (Daisy Smears in the book), Madonna (Rayonna), Barbra Streisand (Barbara Buttersand), and DeBrecht's perennial arch-villain, Hillary Rodham Clinton (Congresswoman Clunkton)
, all of whom have inherited the cultural power once reserved for those amoral Greek gods (including their propensity for sleeping around a lot).
"With Academy Awards being handed out to movies about racist cops, gay cowboys, and communist sympathizers, Hollywood has declared an outright war on traditional values," Hamper's news release declares.
Speaking on a (hands-free) carphone during a chore-filled afternoon as she drives her three sons, ages 9, 7 and 3, to their Greenville, S.C., home, DeBrecht sounds more like a charming, thoughtful 36-year-old mother than an Ann Coulter-esque Republican apparatchik on Crossfire - though she's no less committed to her politics.
The freelance reporter - a member of the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women
and cocaptain of the state's Security Moms for Bush
- says she's irked that schools and day-cares don't carry "kids' books which specifically talk about conservative values,
" only those steeped in the entertainment industry's liberal agenda.
"I wanted to give families a book to help explain traditional family values to their kids," instead of titles such as "Heather Has Two Mommies, which is about lesbian parents, or Rainbow Fish, which glorifies socialism."
Thus DeBrecht's first book. She said she got the idea for Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! during the 2000 presidential election when her then-4-year-old son asked her what a liberal is. "Well, the harder Daddy works and the more money he makes, the more liberals want to take out of his pocket,"
she told him. (Pretty heavy stuff for a 4-year-old... .)
"His eyes widened," she said. " 'But if they're not under the bed, where are these liberals from, Mom?' he asked." The pro-business, pro-capitalism tome is about liberal Congresswoman Clunkton, who keeps interfering with two brothers' attempts to make an honest buck from a lemonade stand.
DeBrecht knows that, when it comes to politics, humor is the great equalizer: Hamper is a funny (though not very subtle) satire, which shows TinselHeads in full silly mode.
"I want kids to be able to laugh at them," she said. "I want them to know that celebrities can be silly, but that's not real life."
Illustrated by Jim Hummel, Hamper is fun to read for any age (one panel shows Jack Nicholson on the street holding the sign "Will act for Lakers tickets"). And (most of) its message seems relevant to folks with any political orientation.
It's about two sisters, Janie and Sam, "good girls" who always "remembered their manners," but have one weakness: Their favorite show is Stars Know Best. When a parade of celebs magically appears in their closet, the girls' lives are turned upside down.
The story's simple: A celeb shows up, mocks the girls' family, values and church, then hawks her products and her social cause ("Boycott Velcro," "National Ear Wax Day," "Save the Cauliflower") or New Age ideology (Toenailology), and leaves the girls to suffer the aftermath.
When Daisy Smears, a member of the Animals Are More Than People club, shows up, she "eyes the girls with disapproval," telling them their clothes are "so last year!" before plugging her new movie, Manners Are Mud.
But isn't Daisy's counterpart, Brit Spears, a Republican?
"I know that," DeBrecht says with the exasperation of someone who has been asked the question dozens of times. "But I don't appreciate the way she is sending out damaging messages" to young girls.
Celebs, DeBrecht says, "have a right to their own views," but they cross a line when they act as the "self-appointed leaders of our culture."
"Just because they act like buffoons on the screen, that doesn't make them special."DeBrecht, a Catholic, says the damaging messages keep on coming, including the latest salvos in "the war on Christmas," the subject of her next book, Help! Mom! The Ninth Circuit Nabbed the Nativity!, due out just in time for... um, the Winter Holidays.
Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or firstname.lastname@example.org.