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Review: "Just A Typo: The Cancellation Of Celebrity Mo Riverlake" is Satire Ripped from the Headlines

by Christopher Verleger
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Feb 15, 2021
Review: "Just A Typo: The Cancellation Of Celebrity Mo Riverlake" is Satire Ripped from the Headlines

Last year was undoubtedly its own era of extremes. Every day, the headlines called attention to political polarization, violent outrage, and catastrophic health advisories. Our society's troubles were not magically resolved with the arrival of a new calendar year, but no one can argue that 2020 will go down in history unlike anything our modern civilization has ever experienced. Sprinkled among the countless stories about the election and the pandemic was another hot topic: Cancel culture.

Cancel culture is not a new phenomenon, and if you are not entirely sure what it is, author John Bennardo's uproarious novel "Just a Typo: The Cancellation of Celebrity Mo Riverlake" teaches you everything you need to know — and then some. Cancellation is not always unjustified (see Kevin Spacey), and "Typo" satirizes an extreme example where the ensuing calamity is hilarious on the surface, but also a grim reminder that social media gives a voice and credence to those who otherwise should not be taken seriously.

Mo Riverlake, whose real name is Mauro Basilio, hosts a game show, "Hats Off," on the Game Show Network. His celebrity status is not quite that of Alex Trebek or Pat Sajak, but he is a public figure with enough name recognition to cause a commotion when he tweets the word "flags" and inadvertently leaves out the letter L. By the time he realizes his mistake the network has fired him, camera crews are parked on his lawn, and the police have come to arrest him.

In a matter of hours, everyone Mo has ever crossed paths with weighs in on the allegations against him, appearing on outlets such as Oprah, Dr. Phil and The View, to name just a few. Mo tries (mostly in vain) to ignore the slanderous and libelous statements made by his former acquaintances — including an old roommate who falsely accuses him of statutory rape, his creative partner from a comedic stage troupe where Mo cut his teeth as a performer, and the elderly residents of an assisted living facility where Mo hosted weekly bingo.

While Mo cannot altogether deny some of the racist, stereotypical, arguably offensive remarks, the majority of which were made in jest, the homophobic slur hits especially close to home because of his gay brother, Todd. Given their historically turbulent relationship, Mo is determined to make things right with him.

"Just a Typo" is a highly entertaining, enjoyable read, filled with laugh-out-loud moments. As the pages turn, Mo's helpless, albeit amusing, predicament becomes increasingly ridiculous, and the narrator's self-deprecating candor proves how much fun the author had crafting this novel. Nevertheless and despite the tongue in cheek presentation, the premise is not altogether outlandish, so you may think twice the next time you read an unfavorable comment online.

"Just a Typo: The Cancellation of Celebrity Mo Riverlake," by John Bennardo, is available on www.johnbennardo.com. $8.99 / 266 pages

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.

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