Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Winky Dink and Homeland Security

Winky Dink. Dell comic book, 1955.


Happy young viewer bathed in radiation from the television as she draws with her magic crayons on her magic screen, 1953. Photo by Walter Sanders. From the Life Magazine archives.

The author has on numerous occasions expounded upon the significance of the cartoon character Winky Dink. Like the star inexplicably attached to his head, Winky Dink's influence shone brightly over the cultural landscape of 1950s America, sparking the creativity of hordes of rapt young viewers, while boosting the bottom line at CBS by selling millions of magic Winky Dink drawing kits at 50 cents a pop. The kits consisted of a box of crayons, a sheet of plastic, and a cloth. The cloth served two purposes. First, rubbing the sheet of plastic (AKA the magic screen) with the cloth generated a charge which would then cause the sheet to stick to the TV screen, similar to the way rubbing a balloon on your hair builds up static electricity that allows you to stick the balloon to the wall. Second, the cloth served as an eraser to clear the magic screen. To the chagrin of many parents, the cloth didn't erase crayon marks from the glass of the TV if Winky Dink's little fans forgot to attach the plastic sheet before drawing.

As the show unfolded, pictures would be displayed for Winky's viewers to complete. Missing elements included such items as Uncle Slim's bowtie, or a bridge or a ladder which would allow Winky to escape a bear attack or some other peril.

Sometimes, the missing piece of the picture was presented as a connect-the-dots puzzle.

Judging from the news coverage of the recent attempt to blow up an airliner with explosive underwear, what this country needs is someone who can connect the dots. The pundits and reporters on the cable news shows have seized upon the phrase "connect the dots" to explain what it is the intelligence agencies failed to do with the various pieces of evidence they had about the Nigerian terrorist who tried to blow up the plane. I believe I have heard the phrase "connect the dots" roughly 347 times over the past week. It may be used as frequently as twice in a single sentence. Usually, these sentences begin with the reporter lookly earnestly into the camera and saying "Look." Starting a sentence with the word "look" indicates the speaker without a doubt is speaking the truth, and you shouldn't even consider the possibility that he may be talking through his hat.

Even President Obama is getting in on the act. After meeting with his security team yesterday, he stated, "The bottom line is this, the U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots." The only way he could have made it better would have been to start out by saying, "Look, at the end of the day..."

Obviously, President Obama must be able to count on his trusted adviors to "connect the dots." We need change we can believe in! Heads must roll! High-ranking government officials must express a sudden desire to spend more time with their families and resign! I am hereby proposing that Janet Napolitano step down as Secretary of Homeland Security. As her replacement, my fellow Americans, I give you someone whose safety, whose security, whose very existence has depended on "connecting the dots" for over a half-century. I give you the one, the only--WINKY DINK! (Cue music: "Happy Days Are Here Again")

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