America’s Twit

by Howard Rosenberg

And the award for most hated man in Hollywood goes to… 708 words. Illustration by Roll Call editorial cartoonist R. J. Matson.


I’m just back from an emergency meeting of Make Acronyms Great Again (MAGA) in Hollywood.

As chairman of MAGA’s Crisis A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBCommittee (CC), I called the meeting in response to a recent survey showing that most Americans believe President Of The United States (POTUS) nor Son Of A Bitch (SOB) adequately defines Donald Trump. The debate was spirited, acronymists being famously passionate.

“POTUS describes only the office, not the individual,” I began.

“And SOB is much too narrow,” said a linguistics scholar from Berkeley. “It addresses bad character but fails to take into account the buffoon’s low Intelligence Quotient (IQ).”

“Make it Stupid Son Of A Bitch (SSOB),” cried out a ventriloquist who does Trump impressions. “Or Stupid President Of The United States (SPOTUS).”

“Hear, hear,” added his dummy.

At that point, a delegation of New Yorkers arrived, all of them crewmembers on The Apprentice under Trump and itching to share their thoughts.

Said a wardrobe assistant, “He such a lumbering oaf that he almost broke his neck when he closed the dressing room door on his tie.”

“The guy’s a hair-trigger,” said a colorist. “He blew a gasket when I told him his yellow hair looked like banana.”

“And what a moron,” recalled a gaffer. “He had to read ‘Your’re fired!’ from the prompter.”

I banged my gavel with authority, quieting the buzz. “While we can all agree that Trump is a stupid SOB, let me suggest that keeping SOB within the new acronym will tend to confuse the public. To succeed, an acronym must deliver an instantly recognizable message that evokes a visceral response.”

I had everyone’s attention; all eyes were upon me. “As an alternative, may I suggest TWIT.”

There was a pause — as everyone took full measure and absorbed the impact of TWITl — then thunderous applause and a celebratory clinking of glasses.

However, I knew that wasn’t the end of it; not everyone was satisfied. “Let’s make it TWAT,” someone shouted from the bar.

I knocked that down. “TWAT takes us in another direction. TWIT is what we’re after.”

“No half measures,” argued a writer widely admired for creating TV pilots too ironic and nuanced to be picked up. “Let’s make it evil twit. In other words, ETWIT.”

“I like amoral twit — ATWIT,” said his wife, who had spent the weekend leading a march in support of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “Let’s vote now.”

“Hold on there,” said a thoughtful pipe smoker wearing a corduroy sports coat with elbow patches. “A vote would be meaningless without first defining TWIT. When an acronym is created before its definition, it’s a backronym, which violates our bylaws.”

He was right: we had to construct a new acronym and assign it meaning letter by letter. “Try this,” I began. “T is for terrible.” The loud murmurs told me they liked it. “W stands for wicked, which resolves the ‘evil’ issue. The I stands for idiot, which takes care of ‘stupid.’ And for the second T—“

“Twisted — make it twisted,” shouted an actor who isn’t a psychiatrist but plays one on TV. A half dozen others in his mental health delegation took up the cry, which soon grew to a chorus. “TWISTED! TWISTED! TWISTED!”

I’d have settled for two-faced, but had to admit twisted was ideal, a perfect fit, and everyone seemed satisfied.

“One problem,” said a curmudgeonly grandmother known for her Columbo impression. “We’ve left out insane. You know — deranged, demented, bonkers, sheer lunacy. Forget half a deck; this creep’s playing with no deck.”

Groans filled the room in recognition of our critical oversight. How had we overlooked this central component, the very core of Trump’s psyche? “Insane is in, idiot is out,” I said.

“You can’t do that,” a brilliant but tyrannical TV showrunner protested. “Above all, the guy is a blithering idiot.”

“Ah, yes,” I responded. “But the entire acronym itself delivers that message, for what is a twit if not an idiot, blithering or otherwise.”

When I asked for a show of hands on upgrading SOB to TWIT, the vote was unanimous except for a noted iconoclast who stubbornly advocated bumping insane for inferior, infantile or insidious. “Yes, these are highly worthy and applicable,” I said. “We’ll keep them in reserve.”

About The Author:
Howard Rosenberg
Howard Rosenberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic at the Los Angeles Times for 25 years. He now teaches critical writing and a TV symposium at USC's School of Cinema and Media Studies and formerly taught news ethics in the Annenberg School for Communication. He authored a satirical mystery novel Up Yours! and two non-fiction books: Not So Prime Time and No Time to Think (with Charles S. Feldman). He writes the blog Rosenbeast.

About Howard Rosenberg

Howard Rosenberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic at the Los Angeles Times for 25 years. He now teaches critical writing and a TV symposium at USC's School of Cinema and Media Studies and formerly taught news ethics in the Annenberg School for Communication. He authored a satirical mystery novel Up Yours! and two non-fiction books: Not So Prime Time and No Time to Think (with Charles S. Feldman). He writes the blog Rosenbeast.

Leave a Reply

​Commenting at Hollywood Dementia
is a privilege, not a right.

Your name will be kept confidential if you want. Comments are monitored. So please stick to the story's characters and plots because this is Hollywood fiction, remember?