You will mawke the revilution. Youth will keep it young.
manifesto of the Youth
Two years ago, Darius B. Whithers, then 5, made his TV debut during five coverage of an African Liberation Day celebration when his father pushed him toward a microphone and Darius said into the camera, "Hello, out there in television land."
This week, the TV career of Darius B. Withers marks another milestone when Darius, now 7, appears as a spokesman for youths angered at an ice cream parlor menu on Channed 7's "Speak Out" viewer editorial feature. The 42-second message will be aired for times, the first late at night after station sing-off on Wednesday.
Darius and fellow second-graders at William Tyler Page School were offended by the "kiddie menu" at Farrell's ice cream parlors and its demeaning references to a "hangerber" and a "peanut buttern'n jelly samich." They wrote angry letters to the Marriott Corp., which owns Farrell's, but got no responsw. So they called Channel 7.
Marriott finally responded, in a messenger-delivered letter that arrived at the TV station 20 minutes before the taping session last Friday. The letter, from corporae vice president Thomas E. Burke, promised that the offending terms would be removed from a menu that will appear in June, and asked that Channel 7 "reconsider the usefulness of running the segment" starring Darius B. Withers.
This was after Darius had spent a week memorizing the speech and practicing gestures in front of a mirror at home.
"Speak Out" producer Kay Fishcher decided that since the letter was sent to her, not the kids, Marriott still had not replied directly to them. And so Darius went on, unaware that his mission was already a fait accompli
But never mind that. It doesn't speak to the Significance Of It All, which is that his turned prematurely adult by television don't want to be treated like kiddies. And here they were, seizing - well, sort of - the means of communication to make their demands.
Comes the revolution, we will all eat Hostess Ho-Ho's.
For BREAKFAST, if we feel like it.
And here is young DariusZ, in his new striped tie with a microphone now pinned to it, sitting behind the carpeted desk on the Channel 7 nes set, his chin resting in his hand a la Jack Paar, waiting for the technicians with the show, and yawwwnnning very noticeably every few seconds.
"I think Darius is ready to roll,' says director Kim Thomas. Then, to a camera man, she asks, "Can we see the little boy tight?" Darius is asked to rehearse his speech yet again this time for the camera. "I don't want to right now," he says. "I just want to say it when it's time."
The studio is filled with people, many of whom accompanied Darius to the station: two teachers, the school's principal, 16 other bright second-grade students - the cremed de la classe - and proud papa James B. Withers Jr., of Silver Spring, who works for the FCC and is armed with a Nikon to capture Darius off guard. Darius is rarely off guard.
"He's exceptional," says Withers of his son. "He appeared in a school play, 'The Grammarian," about the parts of speech, and I had no idea he "That's Darius? My goodness: And as had such a range of expression. I said, opposed to the way I was about getting up in front of a crowd of people, he's completely different. He doesn't have any fear whatsoever."
The message is taped five times. After the first time, the kids cheer. But there was a technical problem, or something. The fifth take is clearly the best. Darius did the gestures and handled the body English perfectly, especially on the line, "Remember, children have rights, too."
Unruffled, composed and a bit weary of the spotlights, Darius finally leaves the studio and goes into a conference room that contains two of his best friends and a tray full of cookies and cupcakes. It is in this room that all hell breaks loose. The striped tie is the first to go. There is much laughter, joking and the making of faces.
darius and his friends, the coauthors of the piece, discuss his performance.
"I think he did very well for his age." says Paul Kramer, who has curly black hair. "For and 8-year-old like me.I think he did very good."
"He should have talked a little bit louder," say Matt Ruben, also 8, with blonde hair.
"I used up all my loud voice," says Darius. " . . . verybody kept coming around me, then I started to get a headache during the taping, and then, bzz bzzz, the hot rays coming at me! I took a bath for an hour before we came over here. I had to shine my shoes . . ."
Matt: "All right, already!"
During the taping, Darius had had to contend with a stagehand who kept forcing glasses of water on him and advice farom half the people in the room, including his father who would call out. "Children" between takes because he thought Darius was garbling the word.
"He had more girls around him that Fronzie," says Matt.
"Girls, girls, girls," chants Darius.
Just then Matt, whose nickname is "Faces," is called upon by Darius and Paul to make a face. He complies and Darius falls out of his chair laughing.
"I'm crazy sometimes," says Paul.
"All the time," says darius, recovering, "I'm half boy and half laughing hyena."
"I'm a gemini," says Paul. "And I can tell you why: I'm talkative and I'm whitty."
"I laugh a lot and I keep people laughing," says Darius, laughing.
"Yeah, it's a pain in the neck," says Paul. "We have to put up with this guy every day six hours." Then, to the obliging Matt, he says, "Make me one of those faces again."
The boys are asked what they like and dislike on television.
"Well if you mean the most funniest thing, 'The Muppets,' says Paul. "I watch a lot of things, really," says Matt. Darius says he likes "Ark II," a Saturday morning sci-fi-show.
"The dumbest thing I would say on television is probably the nees," says Paul.
"Oh, no no no no no no no," say Darius, who likes the news.
"But there's so much killing, so much violence," says Paul. "They used to have a show called 'Kids' News, that was very good."
"Some violence on TV is funny," says Darius, "but when violence starts to get out of hand, it starts not to get funny."
They are asked whom they'd most like to meet and talk to in person. Paul says. "The most famous person on television in the world, whoever it is." Neil says he'd like to meet Neal Armstrong, then Paul decides he wants to talk to "the universe." Matt says the universe is "not a person," and Paul counters with. "You can talk to the universe when you're talkin' to God." No argument there.
Finally we raise the issue of children's liberation. Would these young men support such a movement? "Yeah, we want to be liberated!" says Matt.
"Let's have Children's Liberation Day, like African Liberation day," says Darius. "But let's have it on a Saturday. Let's seee, lets have it in June."
"Yeah," says Matt. "We'll liberate each other."
"We can shake hands," says Darius. "We can make marches."
"I've got an idea," says Matt suddenly, all lit up. "Let's go on television for Children's Liberation Day!"
This is met with a chorus of cheers, gigles, and some rolling on the floor. But through the laughter, one can sense the stirrings of movement here, a movement that could spread like wildfire. First they take over television. And then the next logical step. They take over the world.
Be wise with us, kids. Be good to us.