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Al Franken And Uncle Roy

Pop culture's leading lights from the 1970s are likely to have a lot to answer for

Come now accusations of sexual harassment against Sen. Al Franken. The particular allegation here dates to an alleged incident in 2006. A reader was reminded of how insane the 1970s were regarding sex. Franken was part of the Saturday Night Live writing staff when the show aired skits involving, get this, a lovable pedophile.

Here’s a transcript of one of the “Uncle Roy” skits from Saturday Night Live in 1978. Buck Henry plays a pederast uncle who babysits his nieces Tracy and Terry (Gilda Radner and Laraine Newman). You can find the Uncle Roy skits online (there are three), but I’m not going to embed them here. Here’s part of the transcript I linked to at the beginning of this graf:

Uncle Roy: Oh, Uncle Roy’s got a surprise for you.

Terry: What is it? We want it now!

Tracy: Yeah!

Uncle Roy: Well, it’s a buried treasure.

Tracy: Is it buried in the lawn?

Uncle Roy: Nooo.. it’s buried on Uncle Roy.

[ the girls scream and yell, and start to dig around Uncle Roy’s pants pockets looking for the “buried treasure” ]

Tracy: [ pulls a box of Jujubes out of Uncle Roy’s right pocket ] I found it! I found it! It’s Jujubes, and they’re so good!

Terry: Oh, boy! Jujubes! [ the girls share ] Oh! Do a magic trick, Uncle Roy!

Uncle Roy: Oh, a magic trick? Okay. [ pulls a nickel and dime out of his pocket ] Here’s a nickel, and here’s a dime. Now, I’m gonna make the nickel.. [ rubs it on Tracy’s shoulder ] ..disappear! [ Tracy squeal with delight ] Here’s the dime, and I’m going to take it and make it disappear.. [ rubs it on Terry’s leg ] ..rubby-dubby-dubby! [ both girls squeal with delight ]

Terry: [ standing up ] Hey! I’m a magician, too! [ Roy looks on with interest ] I can make my face disappear! [ she pulls her nightgown over her head, exposing her panties to Uncle Roy ]

Tracy: [ stands up and copies Terry ] Uncle Roy! Look at me! I can’t make my face disappear, too!

Uncle Roy: [ pulls a Polaroid out of his jacket and starts to take close-up shots of the girls’ panties ] Oh, that’s good magic! You know.. your trick reminds me that it’s Wash Day today!

Girls: Yay!

Uncle Roy: So, why don’t you girls go upstairs and bring Uncle Roy all your dirty little things? [ excited, the girls run upstairs and start throwing their dirty clothes down the stairs to Uncle Roy ] Oh, yes! Littler things! Dirtier things! [ he catches more of the dirty laundry ] Now, why don’t you polish the banister?

I tried to find out if Al Franken wrote that skit, but my research indicates it was his frequent writing partner, the late Tom Davis. I was wrong — as two readers who watched the Henry interview till the end point out, it was two women: Rosie Shuster and Ann Beatts. Anyway, the reader sends in this more recent clip of Buck Henry defending the integrity of laughing at pedophilia:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrQZORhBNt8]

Again: Al Franken did not write the Uncle Roy skit, though he was part of the team that aired it. I’m not saying that Al Franken is soft of pedophilia! I am saying, however, that the 1970s and those who were at the leading edge of pop culture’s evolution back then are probably going to have a lot to answer for as more and more people come out about being sexually harassed or assaulted. I’m wondering if this purgatory spasm we’re living through is going to consume way more famous Baby Boomer males than we can even imagine.

UPDATE: Damon Linker is right. Hoo boy, is he right:

Now think of all the pages and interns and young staffers cycling through all of those offices on Capitol Hill, year after year, decade after decade. And the countless thousands of staffers who’ve passed through the White House and executive branch departments and agencies across Democratic and Republican administrations. And all the Supreme Court clerks and assistants. How long until one of these pages or interns or staffers or clerks or assistants, or dozens of them, or hundreds of them, begin to talk and make credible accusations against leading public figures of both parties?

How many unwanted advances, kisses, gropes, coerced sex acts, and other forms of harassment, abuse, and assault are we likely to learn about?

I suspect far more than any of us can imagine.

Already we know that the House has paid out $15 million over the last 10-15 years to settle sexual harassment allegations. And that is surely just the beginning.

The reckoning is coming. Washington is going to weather an absolute hurricane of sexual abuse allegations and revelations.

Bring it on. This is necessary, and important.



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