Monday, November 15, 2010

Donkey Kong For President

Barrels for Baghdad became the slogan for the Great Ape’s foreign policy. It created the most tenaciously petty rivalry between those who wanted an ape who was tough on terrorism and those who wanted Iraq to have some of what they were calling “oil” and what he was calling “a thousand dead Yoshi’s.” The meaning of this latter was not clear to the pundits at the time, but they suspected he might have been a Japanese spy.

Donkey Kong was an unlikely hero in the greatest story ever televised. The (mostly) mute protagonist failed to respond to early allegations of sexual assault on a member of royalty, but not many had realized how exponentially his popularity had already grown up to that point. His candidacy was known to some as early as two summers before the famous election, but it was never officially declared. Most of his positions, in fact, came through the grapevine and never from him directly. His early fans liked it this way. They thought he was a “genius” and a “world wonder.”

One ambitious journalist set out to catalogue the hundreds of positions that had been floating around in the year that followed, and his op-ed became the unofficial platform for what was being called the Konga Line Party. No one was surprised to learn that he was in favor of equal rights for non-corporeal citizens. He also wanted to convert the official US currency from dollars to bananas, as that had been one of his childhood dreams and, he argued, would be far more stable of a currency. He thought that paid mercenaries deserve unemployment benefits when they are between jobs and, according to one very vociferous philanthropist, unpaid ones as well. He wanted to relocate the nation’s capital to a place in the south Pacific, but, of course, no one knew where exactly.

Generally, he was very friendly with everyone who met him and threw parties at his mansion in Maui on a pretty regular basis. When his popularity became evident, he was offered the chance to debate his opponents in a televised debate but declined, instead, to host a party for the now-legendary boxing match between former rivals Glass Joe and Little Mac.**

Not accepting the invitation to debate was considered by all the commentators as a concession and they proceeded as though he was not in the race. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve, when Time Square was overtaken by thousands of banana balloons the size of small houses, that the press could not afford to ignore the movement. That year, as the ball dropped, the Jumbotron blinked rapidly with the words in 8-bit font: “The Year of Kong.” Millions watched, some to their great horror, as the largest gathering of bipeds since the Million-Man-March cheered and screamed “Kong” beneath a sea of yellow bobbing clouds.

After that, every reporter from here to Timbuktu wanted an interview with the famous hominid that now had such a cult of personality behind him. Most failed, instead turning their efforts to interview what they called “his people.” Garfield, for one, remained mostly apathetic, except that he wondered why the ape didn’t have a sidekick. Kong reportedly hates Garfield, though, as his love for lasagna reminds him of his intense hatred for Italians. Not much is known of the origin of this hostility, but one Sicilian blogger who got too close was given the message by one of Kong’s associates: “if that guinea pipe-fucker takes two steps I’ll rip his ugly wop face off!” The blogger decided not to continue correspondance.

The phrase “a thousand dead Yoshi’s” caught the attention of Dino, which lead Fred Flintstone to become a fan. Gumby, Oscar the Grouch and Crusty the Clown were all reportedly rooting for him as well. The only one to say anything profoundly negative was Mickey Mouse, who, some say, was mostly jealous because he had failed repeatedly to run for office in the past. ***

But as for the tangible voters, they became increasingly confused over the talk they began hearing from the leading opponents. Both seemed to think that they could do a better job than Donkey Kong, and in the eyes of the anti-Kong mentality, this became the only credential necessary to win a vote. No more talk of “appealing to one’s base” or “remaining moderate to gain independent votes” continued. The only issue on anyone’s mind in the final debates was: Can he beat The Kong?

But it was not only Donkey Kong they had to beat anymore. His running mate, Strawberry Shortcake, was much more open to interviews, though the scope of her platform seemed to be limited to one issue: fixing the budget deficit with a bake sale. The public works project, she argued, would create jobs, revenue and love. It was later revealed, though, that she did not realize she was a running mate at all, she just really wanted people to bake more.

Still, she was one tough cookie that the opposing candidates could not bring down with posturing, mudslinging or even debate. “Kong/Shortcake” was the bumper sticker to honk to that summer, resulting in a serious attempt by both candidates to undermine the validity of Kong’s bid for office. Officially, his origins were traced back to Skull Island. However, because this is not a recognized nation, he was declared a refugee until it was decided that U.S.-born Universal Studios owns the property to Skull Island, making Kong a U.S. citizen. Confident that the ape is probably older than anyone alive, he met the 35 year age requirement, and because no law has ever been written barring non-corporeal beings from taking an oath of office, there was nothing for the court to do but to legally grant the ape’s wishes to run for office.

But then a little more than a month before election day, in perhaps the best political strategy ever adopted by any political candidate since Mel Carnahan, Donkey Kong disappeared completely. He had been giving daily addresses to those in his lair, which were being televised on Spike TV every night. But one night, the secretary announced that the Ape would be discontinuing his appearances “here and everywhere, indefinitely.” Those closest to the King seemed to think his departure had something to do with the word “plastic,” but couldn’t tell if this referred to a sought after upgrade, a desire for a corporeal existence, or some obscure reference to Andy Warhol. Plastic seems to have been a Rosebud of sorts for the increasingly depressed ape, and he was wont to withdraw from everything.

So, having burned up so much airtime with anti-Kong ads, both rival candidates suddenly found themselves quite wanting of an image the public now so desperately craved. Kong was hip, he was smart, and above all: detached. All of these characteristics demanded by the clowns with the banana balloons trotting down the town square. Life would most surely go on, whether Washington had a digital leader or a tangible one. It was only after a day or two of mourning for the sudden loss of their new leader that the people began to realize that, present or not, Kong would still have been a better leader. This, coupled with the promise he had already made of a free Slurpee to anyone who voted for him, meant the race was still far from over.

On election day, both candidates offered to bus people to the polls in hopes that they would have their vote, but all of the buses now had Donkey Kong’s smiling face painted on the side. The only thing kids drew in art classes all around the country was a familiar brown furry creature, and the same appeared on high school football fields, bathroom stalls, T-shirts, mountainsides and even the skies. It would not have been uncommon that day to find the rising sound of drums pouring out of the thick trees and parking garages and into intersections and apartment complexes any and everywhere you went.

If there had been any doubt at all that year that Donkey Kong would be the unlikely winner, those doubts ended with the taking of Texas, Colorado, Arizona and the whopping California, which put Kong over the top. He had not only reduced his rivals to losing any chance at a simple majority but, in fact, obtained himself approximately 53% of the vote.

He won.

Pip Lapierre, the campaign manager to the Democratic candidate, had apparently, that day, defected, and was seen that night at the Kong victory celebration in a Hula skirt and jamming on a ukulele. Also, too, were many prominent figures from both campaigns as well as the networks. MSNBC cut their losses and chose a very ambitious and eager janitor to anchor the day’s election results; FOX covered the results on a big board, behind which were two hundred men crying; and CNN mostly deferred the matter to Youtube, where most of its correspondents had relocated.****

There was no military coup that year as the White House made preparations for the primate. Washington didn’t lie in ruins as the revolutionary government began its historic decline toward permanent irrelevance. Donkey Kong didn’t reappear until much later, just before the end of his term. For the interim period, the face of Strawberry Shortcake served as a comfortable but necessary face; a figurehead for the voie nouveau. She did nothing, and she became the best nothing-doer Washington had ever seen. She did nothing better than all but the Kong himself, who remained the truest inspiration to his countrymen for having done so.

When Donkey Kong returned, his address was brief and concise:

“Thank you for electing me. It made me very happy.”

Although he didn’t announce his candidacy for re-election, Donkey Kong won another term in a landslide.

**It was said that the numbers in attendance to the gathering far exceeded those who actually watched the debate.
***Even if he had wanted to endorse Donkey Kong, he had signed a gag order with Disney preventing him from saying anything that might jeopardize the sales of a new gaming console set for release later that year. Nevertheless, the console was a huge failure, due in part, to the concurrent release by an independent competitor of a new PC called the Banana.
****It should be noted that Youtube users “titil8memanparts,” “beiber4prez,” “juicylucy69,” “godluvslolcatz,” and “gbeckfan1984” swept at that year’s highly prestigious Peabody Awards.