In what HBO confirms is an unfortunate coincidence, mere weeks after the pay-network sustained criticism for an episode of Game of Thrones which was recently revealed to have a replica of President George W. Bush's head on a spike, this week's True Blood featured a scene in which men in President Obama masks committed a hate-crime. It's not nearly as incendiary as actually placing a president's likeness is a bloody situation like Bush on GoT, but the use is questionable at best. And if the vampiric series had just stuck with the age-old comedy standard — the Richard Nixon mask — I'd wager a pint of fairy blood that no one would have batted an eye.
And while putting any famous person's likeness on a spike is generally a bad idea, for most other purposes the Nixon mask is golden. Just reference the last 20 years of TV and movies and you'll see it crop up just about everywhere. That's because it was one of the first presidential masks to be manufactured and it was made famous in the wake of the Watergate scandal by cultural cowboys like gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and music legend Bob Dylan. Then it started cropping up in movies and TV, and when it was used along with a few other presidential faces in the bank robbery scene in the 1991 classic action movie Point Break, the Nixon mask's fate was sealed. (And so were its sales to Halloween enthusiasts and copycat bank robbers.)
And if that's not enough to prove my point, take these ever funny screen caps from film and television as proof. Dear HBO and all its wonderful series: when in doubt, always go Nixon.
"Wee-Wee, Pee-Pee!" yells Eric Foreman as he protests Gerald Ford's presidential pardon of Nixon. Relevant? Not in 1998, but we enjoyed living in the past with That 70's Show. Hilarious? Definitely. It's got gratuitous nudity, a well-placed '70s smiley face, a Nixon mask and a "wee-wee" joke. You giggled. Admit it.
Of course, Family Guy did it, too. (Even Nixon is mixed up in that "fabled" set of Family Guy Idea Balls.)
And where Fox cartoons go, you can guarantee South Park will take it further. How do you make a tale about a guy who rapes chickens laughable? Put a Nixon mask on his face, apparently. (Although, being in the ridiculous realm of South Park's signature inappropriateness gives him a leg up, too.)
Clearly, the mask really works in cartoon form. Even Cartoon Network classic — and mildly sexist — series Johnny Bravo showed us some Nixon when Johnny's friend the shark wanted to pick up chicks. Finally, you can't end a conversation about Nixon masks without referencing the bank robbery from Point Break (twice). Police everywhere can blame this cult classic for the times they inevitably had to deal with idiots dressed like former presidents in half-assed heists in the wake of the film's release and, let's be honest, even today. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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