Studies in Crap: The O'Reilly Factor For Kids

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Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from  basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

The O'Reilly Factor For Kids

Author: Bill O'Reilly and Charles Flowers

Publisher: Harper Collins

Date: 2004

Discovered at: DAV Thrift Store

The Cover Promises: Someone's going to have to break the bad news about The O'Reilly Factor to America's children, so it may as well the man himself. ALSO: Want to win over today's youth? Pull on a sweater!

Representative Quotes:

"My father shamed me, and I got the message. Nobody should bully anyone, and no one should have to suffer through it either." (page 16)

"I didn't have sex until I was twenty years old! Can you believe it? I was kind of a shy guy around girls, and I had absolutely no 'moves.'" (page 76)

The O'Reilly Factor For Kids offers many surprises.

Its very existence, for example. Or the way O'Reilly reconciles his belief that people shouldn't "suffer through" bullying with his belief that people should watch his television program. Or his assumption that America's children should have thought often enough about when he might have lost his virginity to have formed prior opinions on the matter.

Or that he makes creepy-uncle promises like this: "If you enjoy doing something that a friend thinks is 'nerdy' or 'gay,' know that your secret's safe with me."

All that's surprising, but the biggest shock is how much this book -- despite the co-author -- actually sounds like Bill O'Reilly. It's written in the barking, pugilistic style of his TV and radio shows. When he writes "The bottom line is that this sex thing is big-time serious," he manages to drag the written word to his own spoken level.

The O'Reilly Factor For Kids is a scattershot guide to all the things O'Reilly thinks kids should do: toughen up, buck "the self-esteem police," ignore stereotypes, stop listening to rap music, and allow Chuck Knoblauch (!) to serve as an inspirational example.

O'Reilly also:

  • Calls teenagers "kids," which is exactly the way to reach them.
  • Recalls the one time he ever bullied someone. (O'Reilly was in Little League.)
  • Warns, "Girls, some guys will tell you anything to get the sex thing going."
  • Boasts he has never been "drunk or stoned."
  • Complains of "attacks" against him by "religious maniacs."
  • Reprints a newspaper article about his leaving Inside Edition for Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
  • Demonstrates a sparkling comic gift: "Every teacher you have is kind, smart, hardworking, and trustworthy. Sure, and I'm Brad Pitt."

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He even pretends to send you some Goofus & Gallant-style Instant Messages illustrating good and bad behavior. He divides the world into "Pinhead"s and "Smart Operator"s.

Here's a sample pairing:.
"A Pinhead is a kid who shoplifts."
"A Smart Operator remembers the birthdays of friends and family members."

And one more:

"A Smart Operator is a kid who looks past her neighborhood, town, state and country to see the world outside."

"A Pinhead is a kid who finds a way to use the word 'butt' in every other sentence, especially when shouting in the halls at school."

So that's what O'Reilly thinks a pinhead is. I have to admit, I prefer the old Gabba-Gabba definition.

Shocking Detail:

In a chapter misleadingly titled "Fun," O'Reilly instructs his young readers to:

"Write down a list of all the things you find the most fun, even the stupid things. If you really enjoy sticking a French fry in your ear in order to get a disgusted reaction from a girl, write that down, too. No one but you will see the list, so have fun with it."

This list, he promises, "presents a snapshot of who you are inside." Also,

"Your finished list will be like a profile -- you know, the kind the FBI puts out when they're looking for a serial killer. (Okay, I'm just having some fun with you here.)"

Your Crap Archivist followed O'Reilly's instructions:

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Next, I subjected my list to O'Reilly's follow-up questions to see what I could learn.

He writes, "You should reconsider any items on your list that make you uneasy. If you were afraid to write them down, that says it all."

So: It is unhealthy to engage in fun things that you would be ashamed to admit to your imaginary friend, Bill O'Reilly.

This excludes the following:

Highlight:

A preface titled "Direct To You From Bill O'Reilly" promises a rare event: The chance to learn what's on the mind of a man whose thoughts fill five hours of TV a week.

In it, he makes a case for this book's existence. He quotes a couple letters from [purportedly] real kids and then explains,

"I wish I'd had this book when I was a teenager because, like Elizabeth, I had many concerns. Unfortunately, no one had written a realistic book for kids. So I made dumb mistakes, got into trouble because I was too stubborn to know better, and did things I wish I could forget ... Maybe you'll laugh at my boneheaded behavior, but that's okay, as long as you end up smarter than I was at you age."

Think about it.

If our youthful experiences shape the adults we eventually grow to be, O'Reilly is, in this book, doing the world a great favor. If our kids don't make his mistakes, maybe they won't grow into him.

Thanks, creepy uncle teenage-virgin Bill!

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