Elmo’s Sex Scandal vs. the End of INXS

A Canadian Comedy Award winner, Michael Balazo has over a decade of stand up and sketch comedy...

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The past week’s major cultural news has left me emotionally confused and mentally deranged. First, there’s the never-ending saga of Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, who may or may not have put his hand up a boy, depending on whether he did… or not? This story has taken more twists and turns than a John le Carré thriller! Adding to the week’s bad vibes came news that INXS—Australia’s finest rock sextet—had broken up. I feel like all my heroes have abandoned me. Thanks a lot, heroes.

Like most of you, I’ve always looked to Australian culture for guidance. As a boy, I used to pray to Geoffrey Rush every night before going to sleep. Had it not been for Neighbours, I’d probably be dead and in jail. That’s why news of INXS’ sudden demise hit me like a ton of Australian brickybracks. How could such a vitally important band call it a day after only 35 years? Aren’t these men hungry to inspire kids like me anymore? I thought we were mates.

What makes this breakup particularly hard to swallow is that INXS aren’t a band of quitters. When they lost their front man to a masturbation blooper, did they throw up their hands and say “We can’t go on. There’s been a terrible blooper.”? No, they took a deep breath, dusted themselves off, hired a series of replacement singers—including Canadian J.D. Fortune, whom they found on a game show—and kept on truckin’. What on earth, short of another blooper, could have made them decide to give up now, right when we need them most?

From bad to worse now, as the world waits to hear whether Kevin Clash is a SICKO PERV who preys on the young, or an upstanding gentleman who merely entertains them. The story, so far, goes like this: Clash was accused of having sex with a 16-year-old boy; Twitter went nuts with millions of hilarious “Tickle Me Elmo” jokes; Clash’s accuser recanted his allegations; Twitter went nuts once more. Then, just as everyone was getting used to respecting Kevin Clash again—BANG!—his accuser recanted his recantation, claiming he’d been paid $125,000 to keep his mouth shut. Sesame Street hasn’t seen this kind of scandal since Cookie Monster’s 1979 glory hole incident.

So, what’s going on here? Is Kevin Clash the Gary Glitter of the puppeteer world? Or is his accuser lying? And how much does Elmo know? We’ll have to wait and see. It saddens me just to think that a man who does a funny voice for a famous red fluff with googly eyes could stop to such lows. Is nothing sacred?

The winner of this week’s battle is INXS, if only because I have no influence over Kevin Clash and his choices. INXS, on the other hand, are devoted readers of this column, and I know they care deeply about what I have to say. So, INXS, I implore you to smarten up, pick up your guitars, hire a couple more singers and give it one more shot. If that doesn’t convince you, I’ll start a petition to force you to stay together until I pass away. Once we get 500,000 signatures, I’ll present it to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a special ceremony in New York. And if you still refuse to do the honourable thing, maybe a couple of nuclear weapons aimed at downtown Australia will change your minds.


| Image from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
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