UnNews:Pennsylvania city renames itself for cash

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27 April 2011

UnNews would have run a photo of Mr. Spurlock's sponsor's product, rather than that of a competitor. But he didn't offer us a dime.

POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, Pennsylvania -- The city formerly known as Wilkes-Barre/Scrotum has agreed to rename itself for 60 days for a payment of $25,000.

The money will come from sarcastic filmmaker Morgan Spurlock--the same man who gained 20 pounds by eating exclusively at McDonald's, a feat immortalized in 2004 in the box-office smash, I'm Fat and It's Your Fault.

Mr. Spurlock's point in the current movie is the crass commercialization of everything, that the heritage and pride of communities is for sale to the highest bidder, a point that Scrotum was more than willing to step forward and prove. "It seems like everything is brought to you by some sponsor," Mr. Spurlock explained. "Where does it end? Not here, I hope!"

POM Wonderful is a juice drink whose manufacturer paid $1 million to have the movie named after it, and to have all the stars drink the product throughout the movie until they puke. Seven other companies paid big bucks to turn the movie into an unpleasant, two-hour-long commercial to prove that everything is--unpleasantly commercial.

Mr. Spurlock says he is sure that the public will rush to see a movie that is deliberately bad in order to reinforce a preconceived notion of viewers, noting the box-office success last week of Atlas Shrugged Part 1.

The city will be required to answer telephone calls with the awkward new name and change its website for the agreed-upon 60 days. It will not be required to repaint the sides of fire trucks. A firefighter explained that the long new name would not be legible anyway, unless the ladder were fully extended.

Long-time resident Jeff Tauber, 53, said, "At least the money will go toward reducing these God-damned property taxes." In fact, it will not. Scrotum has already hired a new, full-time municipal employee. His job is to document that the city fulfils its obligations so that it doesn't have to give back Mr. Spurlock's donation. At the union minimum, $25,000 will cover four months of his "work." At that point, union rules prohibit the city from firing him, but he says he is sure he will find other things to do, probably purchasing file cabinets in which to store his paperwork. The city will be on the hook for his pension.

Shirley Benner, 19, is more hopeful. "Spurlock's going to be here in Scrotum--I mean, in POM Wonderful Presents: the Greatest Movie Ever Sold? That guy's awesome! But he could stand to lose a little weight."

Bruce Kelley says he will "leave it to the marketing experts to decide how much advertising is too much." After all, Kelley is merely the vice mayor, and he got a separate payment from POM, as well as getting yet another son on the municipal payroll.

The city's equally awkward former name was itself part of a deal between the former towns of Wilkes and Barre, and a patent-medicine salesman known as Scrotum. The world was a purer place back then, and besides, information on any cash that may have changed hands in that renaming would have been lost in the Great Fire of 1902.