Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-in

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

John Bloom, film critic for the DALLAS TIMES-HERALD, became so enamored of the B pictures he was forced to watch as part of his critical duties that he invented a fictional character to review them: Joe Bob Briggs. Joe Bob hailed from Frontage Road, Texas, and had a passel of friends with such names as Cherry Dilday and Vida Stigall. He wrote in a clipped Texas vernacular and favored drive-in pictures, exploitation films in which bimbos got “nekkid” and showed their “garbonzas.” He ended every review with a breast-and-body-count, summing up the various categories of (usually) R-rated mayhem. Joe Bob raved about kung fu, as well as “chainsaw fu” and “hockey mask fu,” praised the “glopola” used in scenes of explicit gore, and criticized the verisimilitude of “slime monsters.” His traditional recommendation was “Joe Bob says check it out.”

Although Joe Bob Briggs may seem a film-buff in-joke, the uninitiated will soon catch the spirit of his redneck reviewing. To be honest, much of Bloom/Briggs’s writing here is downright laugh-out-loud hilarious, as long as one is able to put all liberal pretensions on temporary hold. Racist and sexist epithets abound, enough to offend more than one humorless soul. The book ends with the printing of the very column that resulted in Joe Bob’s supposed “death.”

In the wake of the self-congratulation surrounding “We Are the World,” Bloom sat down and wrote a Joe Bob version of the song entitled “We Are the Weird.” Certain verses were deemed offensive by others in the media, including several TIMES-HERALD employees. As a result, the “SLIMES-HERALD” (as Joe Bob refers to the paper) ran an apology and--along with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate-- canceled the column. Just as in that great drive-in classic DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, however, Joe Bob soon resurfaced, in print (courtesy of INTERVIEW magazine and the Universal Press Syndicate) and in person as a stand-up comedy act and on the Movie Channel.

Unfortunately, one selection missing from the collection is John Bloom’s letter of resignation from the TIMES-HERALD following the “We Are the Weird” debacle. In the letter, which was printed in the DALLAS OBSERVER, the very serious John Bloom explains that humor is one of the freest forms of expression and must remain so-- offensive and dirty as it may sometimes be.