Seinfeld: The Sponge, The Ribbon and The Mask

File this under: Life imitating Art.

To be clear I’m not a big Seinfeld fan. About half their episodes are tedious and predictable and about a quarter are OK and about a quarter are pretty good. However I’ve definitely seen a lot of the episodes because they run on three cable channels, all the time, and season seven had some real winners. Some of them were actually quite insightful about things we generally don’t think much about and like any good comedian Seinfeld was an astute observer of the human condition, especially our foibles.

Every so often a really good comedy sketch will turn out to be almost prophetic in its lampooning of some current event that doesn’t really happen the way portrayed only to have it eventually become a reality.

Like all good sitcoms “The Sponge” episode has several plot lines going on at the same time. The promiscuous Elaine finds out that her sponge contraceptive is going off the market and so she will now only have sex with someone whom she deems ‘sponge worthy’. Just the words “sponge worthy” are hilarious because of the juxtaposition of so many contrasting and ridiculous images.

George’s fiancee Susan also only uses the sponge so she won’t have makeup sex with George (which George desperately explains to Elaine is ‘all’ they have left after being engaged) unless he wears a condom and he hates condoms because he can’t get the package open in time. So he begs Elaine to give him just one sponge but she won’t do it (because all of the main characters are self-centered in the extreme) even though she already bought out the entire stock of them at the only pharmacy that still had any left.

Ok, so that explains the title and it was pretty funny. But what I’m writing about is the other subplot with Kramer. It has really proven to be a prophetic look into the future. Keep in mind this was written nearly three decades ago.

Opening scene – Jerry and Elaine in a booth at Monk’s. Kramer comes over from the counter with a clipboard in his hand.

KRAMER: Hey, boys and girls. I need you both to sponsor me in the AIDS walk.

ELAINE: Is that tomorrow?

KRAMER: Yeah, yeah, so…git-git…<gestures to Elaine to sign the form.>

ELAINE (signing): Well, I admire you for joining the fight against AIDS.

KRAMER: Well, if I didn’t do something I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

JERRY (signing): It’s hard enough living next door.

KRAMER: I tell ya, there’s some people, they just wear a ribbon and they think they’re doin’ something? Not me. I talk the talk, and I walk the walk, baby. <gets up> I’ll be right back.

So Kramer has signed up to go on the AIDS walk and even though he stayed up all night playing poker he still shows up tired and stumbles into the table as he fulfills his commitment. But what happens next is telling.

New scene – Kramer signing in at the AIDS walk.

KRAMER (to organizer at desk): Uh, Cosmo Kramer?

ORGANIZER: Uh…o.k., you’re checked in. Here’s your AIDS ribbon.

KRAMER: Uh, no thanks.

ORGANIZER: You don’t want to wear an AIDS ribbon?

KRAMER: No.

ORGANIZER: But you have to wear an AIDS ribbon.

KRAMER: I have to?

ORGANIZER: Yes.

KRAMER: See, that’s why I don’t want to.

ORGANIZER: But everyone wears the ribbon. You must wear the ribbon!

KRAMER: You know what you are? You’re a ribbon bully. <Walks away.>

ORGANIZER: Hey you! Come back here! Come back here and put this on!

Does any of that sound familiar? You know it does. What do the crazed Leftists scream at anyone resisting their dictatorial, Nazi-like demands to wear the symbol of obedient compliance: Put on the damn mask!

New scene – Kramer in the AIDS walk.

WALKER #1: Hey, where’s your ribbon?

KRAMER: Oh, I don’t wear the ribbon.

WALKER #2: Oh, you don’t wear the ribbon? Aren’t you against AIDS?

KRAMER: Yeah, I’m against AIDS. I mean, I’m walking, aren’t I? I just don’t wear the ribbon.

WALKER #3: Who do you think you are?

WALKER #1: Put the ribbon on!

WALKER #2: Hey, Cedric! Bob! This guy won’t wear a ribbon! <Cedric and Bob turn around and glare at Kramer.>

(For those of you unfamiliar with these two guys – they are the same homosexual men (named Ray and Bob) in the “The Soup Nazi” episode who intimidate Kramer and then steal the armoire that he was guarding for Elaine.)

BOB: Who? Who does not want to wear the ribbon? <Kramer is frightened.>

New scene – Kramer surrounded by Cedric, Bob, and the other walkers.

BOB: So! What’s it going to be? Are you going to wear the ribbon?

KRAMER (nervously): No! Never.

BOB: But I am wearing the ribbon. He is wearing the ribbon. We are all wearing the ribbon! So why aren’t you going to wear the ribbon!?

KRAMER: This is America! I don’t have to wear anything I don’t want to wear!

CEDRIC: What are we gonna do with him?

BOB: I guess we are just going to have to teach him to wear the ribbon!

<Kramer tries to climb up a fire escape, but the mob grabs him and pulls him back down. Kramer screams.>

And then we see Jerry and George absolutely clueless about what has happened to Kramer.

New scene – Jerry and George are standing at the end of the AIDS walk

<They see Kramer staggering towards them with cuts and bruises, clothes torn, one shoe off. He collapses and crawls across the finish line.

JERRY: Look at you. I told you. Up all night playing poker. Come on.

<Jerry and George are about to leave. George turn’s back and looks at Kramer.>

GEORGE: Hey, where’s your AIDS ribbon?

<Kramer looks at George disbelievingly.>

Wow. This is exactly what we are seeing now in 2022 America. Instead of ribbon Nazis we have mask Nazis. Instead of isolated individuals in a small movement exercising dictatorial compliance we have an entire country run by a single party (the democrats) foaming at the mouth and demanding mask wearing, especially by children in school who have almost zero chance of getting seriously sick or dying of Covid, not to mention the fact that a mask does about as much to stop the spread of Covid as a ribbon does to stop the spread of AIDS.

It seems that people of a certain bent, who mostly vote democrat, have this religion of the State where they believe that the State knows best and only the State can save us from whatever imagined boogeyman they happen to be afraid of at the moment.

Whether it’s alleged global warming (now morphed into climate change), alleged racism, alleged police brutality, AIDS crossing over to the mainstream heterosexual population, income inequality, CO2, capitalism, Covid-19, the glass ceiling, and on and on – whatever the wussy Left is afraid of today has to become a command tomorrow.

Kramer was right after all. This is America and we don’t have to do ridiculous, politically correct virtue posturing just to make the snowflakes among us feel better.

Transcribed by Brian Dickson on Nov. 11, 2002 on the Seinfeld scripts site

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