MONDO EXTRAS

When Billie Beat Bobby

by Heathen April 25, 2001
When Billie Beat Bobby

Billie Jean King is one of the best female tennis players in history, winning 20 Wimbledon titles (six of them in singles). Bobby Riggs, who died in 1995, was on the US team that won the Davis Cup in 1938. He won Wimbledon once, then came out of retirement to challenge the skill of female athletes in his sport. Bobby desperately wanted to play Billie Jean, who was at the top of her game and the top of the sport. ABC, being the network that televised the match, figured this would make for gripping drama.

Writer 1: What the hell should we call this thing?
Writer 2: Shit. How about "Bobby and the B.J."?
W1: "Scarecrow and Mrs. King."
W2: Do we have Bruce Boxleitner?
W1: No.
W2: Christ. How hard could it be to get Bruce Boxleitner? He'd have made a great Billie Jean.
W1: We could use "Fat Slob and Mrs. King."
W2: No one will watch that, unless it's a porno.
W1: No one will watch this anyway. Look, let's just call it "When Billie Beat Bobby" and go home.
W2: Might as well fucking call it "Titanic." Oh, whatever. Let's get drunk.

Okay then. Gripping drama. So, two hours before it ends, we're clear about exactly what happens. Suspense sits down next to me, fresh off a bender, rumpled and reeking slightly of scotch, Burger King, and fresh raccoon. "I got laid off," it says, hiccupping before passing out on my floor.

As the credits roll, children play outside. "There was a time, not so long ago, when girls weren't allowed to play like the boys," a quaint voice-over shares. "Then, along came a girl named Billie Jean, who was destined to change all that." Young Billie Jean Moffat frolics outside on her lawn. What with her glasses and strange hair, she looks fresh out of The Far Side, and I find myself wishing that Gary Larson had in fact written this thing. It would rock. There'd be plenty of cows in it, for sure, and cows tend to elevate tennis movies to a special new level. Billie Jean catches a pass and gets ambushed by the boys, but hangs on tight to the ball. "JUST A COUPLE YARDS TO GO!" she yells tonelessly, sounding a lot like the Will Ferrell SNL character who can't control the volume or cadence of his voice. It could be time to romance my mute button. Suddenly, because the next four towns over called to complain about the ruckus, Young Billie Jean's mother calls her in and demands that she stop shouting and never play with boys. Impudent, Billie Jean spikes the football and flounces inside, but not before one last unmodulated shout. "THE LEFT SIDE OF THEIR DEFENSE IS WEAK!!" she robots, thereby ensuring that the opposing team's defense will, in fact, strengthen its left side. Brilliant play, BJ.

Mr. and Mrs. Moffat confront YBJ at the table. "I HAVE TO PLAY FOOTBALL!!!" the kid exclaims, because it's the only way she knows how to speak, and exclamation points are the only punctuation she uses in verbal communication. "DAD YOU GOTTA LET ME PLAY!!!" Apparently, in order to successfully advance the idea that women are equal to men, one must be a raging tomboy. Her father shakes his head at Billie Jean. "The kid is not my son," he mutters. YBJ's parents suggest she try more demure sports, like golf or ice-skating. "THOSE AREN'T REAL SPORTS NO ONE IS ON A TEAM!!!!" bleats YBJ. Cut to YBJ in a tennis dress, grinning like a maniacal…maniac. She's found her non-team sport. She wallops the young lad she's playing, and darts to the net in jubilation to shake his hand. He refuses, walking away in disgust. When a pal asks who won, YBJ sullenly replies, "He did." Back at home, washing dishes with her mother, Billie Jean announces that she isn't playing against any boys ever again. "IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP MY GOAL I'M GOING TO BE THE GREATEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER IN THE WORLD DANGER WILL ROBINSON," Li'l Billie Jean robots. Her mother looks sickened. Nice young ladies aren't ambitious, after all.

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When Billie Beat Bobby

by Heathen April 25, 2001
When Billie Beat Bobby Billie Jean King is one of the best female tennis players in history, winning 20 Wimbledon titles (six of them in singles). Bobby Riggs, who died in 1995, was on the US team that won the Davis Cup in 1938. He won Wimbledon once, then came out of retirement to challenge the skill of female athletes in his sport. Bobby desperately wanted to play Billie Jean, who was at the top of her game and the top of the sport. ABC, being the network that televised the match, figured this would make for gripping drama.
Writer 1: What the hell should we call this thing? Writer 2: Shit. How about "Bobby and the B.J."? W1: "Scarecrow and Mrs. King." W2: Do we have Bruce Boxleitner? W1: No. W2: Christ. How hard could it be to get Bruce Boxleitner? He'd have made a great Billie Jean. W1: We could use "Fat Slob and Mrs. King." W2: No one will watch that, unless it's a porno. W1: No one will watch this anyway. Look, let's just call it "When Billie Beat Bobby" and go home. W2: Might as well fucking call it "Titanic." Oh, whatever. Let's get drunk.
Okay then. Gripping drama. So, two hours before it ends, we're clear about exactly what happens. Suspense sits down next to me, fresh off a bender, rumpled and reeking slightly of scotch, Burger King, and fresh raccoon. "I got laid off," it says, hiccupping before passing out on my floor. As the credits roll, children play outside. "There was a time, not so long ago, when girls weren't allowed to play like the boys," a quaint voice-over shares. "Then, along came a girl named Billie Jean, who was destined to change all that." Young Billie Jean Moffat frolics outside on her lawn. What with her glasses and strange hair, she looks fresh out of The Far Side, and I find myself wishing that Gary Larson had in fact written this thing. It would rock. There'd be plenty of cows in it, for sure, and cows tend to elevate tennis movies to a special new level. Billie Jean catches a pass and gets ambushed by the boys, but hangs on tight to the ball. "JUST A COUPLE YARDS TO GO!" she yells tonelessly, sounding a lot like the Will Ferrell SNL character who can't control the volume or cadence of his voice. It could be time to romance my mute button. Suddenly, because the next four towns over called to complain about the ruckus, Young Billie Jean's mother calls her in and demands that she stop shouting and never play with boys. Impudent, Billie Jean spikes the football and flounces inside, but not before one last unmodulated shout. "THE LEFT SIDE OF THEIR DEFENSE IS WEAK!!" she robots, thereby ensuring that the opposing team's defense will, in fact, strengthen its left side. Brilliant play, BJ.

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