American Dad Does Riggo
So last Sunday night on American Dad, we met a special guest character named Tank Bates. Tank was a former Pro-Bowl fullback and accomplished ball carrier for the Washington Redskins, a stocky white guy, beloved by fans, who wore the No. 44. Uhhhh, ok.
"The persons in this film are fictitious," read the closing credits. "Any similarity to actual persons or events is unintentional." Uhhhh, ok.
"Listen, I'd do anything to have Tank's voice," said John Riggins, when I asked him today about the possible resemblance. "And the blond hair wasn't bad either, although I could probably do something about that if I wanted to. Let's face it, Tank is fleshed out a bit more than J.R. I don't think there's any physical resemblance between Tank and the big guy. And Tank doesn't look like, in his prime, he could have broke 5-flat in the 40. I mean, right now we're looking at 50 seconds the way that guy was put together. He was a tank. if they were trying to mock me, the creators completely missed it. But I'll give them a second chance."
Generous guy, Riggo. Especially because the Tank pictured in this episode, called "Daddy Queerest," was something of a cretin. If you're not familiar with the show, it features the midadventures of a (Redskins-loving) CIA agent and his family. Their neighbors include a gay couple raising a baby; one of the men, we learn in this show, is the son of 'Skins star Tank Bates, who is coming back to D.C. to get his uniform retired.
Tank drives a yellow Hummer, watches Skinemax, drinks canned beer, is "a notorious womanizer" who "slept with all the cheerleaders [and] the coach's daughter," and happens to be a raginig homophobe. He also doesn't know that his son is gay, and before the big reveal, issues all sorts of dramatically ironic slurs, including "fairy," "drag queen" and "fruit loop." Once he finds out, he says his son's
choice life "sickens me," that "it's wrong and I want nothing to do with it."
"No, I don't think that would be a major issue with me," said Riggins, who watched the entire episode on the Internet this afternoon and judged it hilarious. "I would hope I'd be a little more open-minded than Tank."
He didn't know this "tribute" was coming, didn't hear about it from any friends, and hadn't known it existed until Reader Jonathan sent me the link, and I sent it to Riggo's people. And being the sort of guy that he is, he didn't take offense at this particular portrayal of his uniform--nor at the story of Tank being stopped at the one after taking a hand-off from Theismann.
"I found it completely innocuous, and actually quite funny, to be honest with you," he said. "You know, it's art. And it's funny, it really is, and it's really well-done."
Anyhow, if there's anyone who should be insulted by this episode, it would be Redskins' fans. For one thing, their animated stadium crowd includes just 50,000 people. For another, Tank dismisses them like so: "You think I care what these drunken slobs think? They'll cheer for anything."
Well, that's an awful cynical description. Fortunately, it's just art.
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