He's a Plantation councilman, a right-wing Christian activist, an abortion protester, and a man who rails against the movie industry, which he believes is destroying the nation's moral fiber. But now Jerry Fadgen is preparing for his Tinsel Town debut.
The councilman warned September 27 of dire consequences following the decision by some South Florida groups to yank their support from the Boy Scouts of America. (The Scouts have been banished from many public facilities because of the organization's exclusion of gays.) Fadgen's prediction: Without our boys in green administering first aid, we will pay the "ultimate price."
Those words inspired local writer Jack Ash, who watched the meeting on cable television, to pen a movie script he called Be Prepared... to Die. "I immediately envisioned Pleasantville meeting Mad Max with a merit badge," Ash says. "Jerry Fadgen is a genius."
Ash sold the idea to a Hollywood producer just minutes after the council deserted the dais. He promises the flick, tentatively due for release next year, will provide a "veritable smorgasbord of death" resulting from the Scout stoppage. The lack of daily good turns will allow hordes of apparently healthy men to choke on their steaks or collapse from heart attacks, only to be left to die. Dozens of little old ladies will be run over as they try crossing the street without help. Multitudes of simple folk, tragically unfamiliar with how to stop bleeding, will perish from relatively minor cuts. The Fashion Mall, so rarely used by live people, will be utilized as a corpse-storage facility. And overworked emergency workers will flee, setting the stage for a motley group of heroically homophobic Scouts to make its triumphant return.
"Now this sounds like family entertainment," opines Fadgen, who has signed to play himself in the movie. "Take that, Murphy Brown, you sinful whore!"
The film will feature Fadgen and a trio of fellow councilmen: Bolo tiewearing Ralph Merritt will yammer absurdly and reverse himself so many times his head will spin à la Linda Blair; Ron Jacobs will cackle and make jokes throughout the terrifying ordeal; Bruce Edwards will oppose the Scouts' homophobia, only to set the stage for a Jonestown-style catastrophe.
Unbeknownst to Ash, Fadgen, and the moviemakers, New Times recently obtained a copy of the script for the opening scene:Interior Plantation City Hall. Night. The council members and Mayor Rae Carole Armstrong try to close out the night's business. Only a few stragglers remain in the audience. The camera zooms in on Fadgen's skeletal face, which has the pallor of plain yogurt and a chin so long his profile resembles a crescent moon. As he proposes a resolution in support of the Boy Scouts, his voice might sound solemn if it were coming from his mouth rather than his nose.
FADGEN: There are several organizations and individuals who deem it, I guess, politically correct to vilify and attack the scouting program. And while the press has seemed to hype the negative side of this issue, I've heard a lot of positive comments from people saying it's a good program. It's good for communities like ours. And it is good for the nation. It should be supported by everyone. The policies that the Boy Scouts of America establish [about gays] are to make its program strong and to protect the young men.
MERRITT: What does the resolution say?
FADGEN: Basically that scouting ought to be supported and the school board ought to continue its long-standing policy of supporting scouting.
MERRITT: I think that's the issue. I'd like not to get into the other issue.
MERRITT: I didn't know [the school board] was not going to support them.... How quickly we fall from favor.
MERRITT: A year ago you'd have been thrown out of office if you said something negative against the Boy Scouts of America... or apple pie... or motherhood.
FADGEN: Yes, and on that point... I think what we've been confronted with is a swinging of the pendulum of cultural change, where things that used to be considered good are now considered evil.
JACOBS: I would leave the school board out of this.
MERRITT: If you are gonna make a resolution that the Boy Scouts are a good organization and we think they should be supported, that's one thing. But you know you're getting into an area where I, as a councilman, have always felt we stay out of these national issues unless they affect the City of Plantation.... Of course scouting does affect the City of Plantation.
JACOBS: There is no issue [in Plantation].
FADGEN: What we are really talking about is that [the Scouts'] policy is to protect children.
MERRITT: I think if you want us to make a resolution to support the Boy Scouts and say they represent good standards and are operating legally in this country..., do that and try not to get into these other issues. Normally these issues go to the Supreme Court and they're over with. But this one, they're carrying on, they're going to make a big bandwagon deal out of it. But I have no problem with supporting the Boy Scouts. But if you get yourselves embroiled in some kind of a national issue that costs you legal fees and everything else to the taxpayers, then it's a tough thing. I'm not sure the school board is going to take action....
EDWARDS: Well, New York City has come up with a policy where they aren't going to let Boy Scouts use school facilities.
MERRITT [snidely]: That doesn't surprise me.
EDWARDS [uncomfortably, as if pained]: I would question why any action is needed at this time. I'm going to tell you very clearly, I'm not in a position that my wife and I would undo what we've taught our four children. We have tried to underline tolerance and make them aware that there are differences in people and you should not use those differences to negatively judge others. I'm going to tell you quite clearly, I don't agree with the Boy Scouts on this one particular issue. I'd just like to leave it alone. If you say you support the Boy Scouts, then all of a sudden, you're against the gay citizens.
FADGEN: No, we're making an affirmative statement about the good they do.
EDWARDS: You know what, Jerry? I've been sitting here four years, Jerry, and you've never brought up the Boy Scouts. You're just bringing it up now, so there's a reason for it.
FADGEN [ignoring Edwards]: As you know, there is a long-standing policy of not forcing our taxpayers to make charitable contributions, so I don't intend to ask this council to give a contribution to the Boy Scouts, but the members of our community ought to be urged to do that. In 1995 there were 5 million first-aid merit badges given out, 4.7 million swimming, 3.6 million cooking. The reason I bring that up is, how many of us might end up suffering from a heart attack and a young scout comes to the rescue, administers CPR, and perhaps saves your life?
JACOBS [laughing openly]: We're going to have to tell the fire chief about that one. [Simulating sound effects, he pretends to use a defibrillator on a dying patient.] Clear! Cha-chun!
FADGEN: My son a few years ago was working, and someone had a very serious cut, and while there was some hysteria around, he just came in, applied a tourniquet, and very calmly handled the situation until EMS got there. Right now the negative attacks on the Boy Scouts will hurt. And we may pay [pause for dramatic effect] the ultimate price.
After this prophetic prediction, Mayor Armstrong talks of making a "proclamation of some kind" in the future. With Fadgen's veiled threat lingering in the air, the issue is tabled.
MERRITT: Write it down on your calendars: "This too shall pass." The Boy Scouts will outlast this situation -- particularly in Plantation.
Producers are tightlipped about the film's ending, but it's been widely speculated that the Scouts, with the support of a grateful populace, take over the city and name Fadgen troop leader of Plantation. Public schools are abolished in favor of St. Gregory's Catholic Church. Registered lobbyists and developers are given Eagle Scout rank. Any woman who utters the word abortion is shot to protect the sanctity of life. And all gays are shipped to Fort Lauderdale, where the Scouts say they belong (conveniently setting up a sequel, Naugle's Revenge).
"I won't tell you whether that's the real ending," Ash says. "But it's got pretty good irony. As terrifying as a Fadgen government would be, it's not that much scarier than what's in there now, is it?"
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