I finally started watching Parks and Recreation recently and it’s a wonderful show. The humor is goofy but also really subtle and honest. I love the many details they work into the shot or script that reward you for paying close attention.
A public meeting is taking place and “Walt” stands up to speak.
Walt: I’m afraid this park will raise my taxes.
April: Ah, well, fear not! Between the normal parks budget and our corporate partners…
Walt: [interrupting] I’m also afraid the park will be noisy.
And full of spiders.
And dark at night time.
I’m scared of a lot of stuff. [pauses]
Everything is fine!
I’m Walter and I’m fine.
He sits down slowly, giving up.
I love that no one replies to him because he’s already contradicted all his own complaints. His fears about the park collapsed in upon themselves and everything is fine.
I love the comedy gag about “being afraid”. His first two complaints – “I’m afraid this park will raise taxes” and “I’m also afraid the park will be noisy” – sound like things anyone might say. It’s only the absurdity of his other worries that imply – surprise! – his previous statements were based on phobia rather than rational concerns.
I love the backstory this scene implies, of the phobia-riddled person who comes to city meetings to express their unusual fears, but is aware enough of themselves to know when their fears aren’t going to be taken seriously (“Dark at night time”).
I like to think this character comes to many meetings with similar complaints, but no one notices they all start with “I’m afraid”. It’s heroic in a way, since it must have taken a lot of courage for him to speak his fears publicly.
Unfortunately there’s only one credit for “Walt Koypond” and/or Brendan Jennings on IMDB, so we’ll have to wait for the fanfiction to find out what else Walter has contributed to Pawnee government meetings.
I have no idea why he’s credited as “Walt” when he clearly states his name as “Walter”. It seems like something that would bother Walter a lot.
I think there’s an underlying joke and message to this scene, about how democracy is so often driven by fear, whether it’s rational or not. We need to check ourselves and ensure we aren’t making decisions only out of fear.
We can’t pretend that spiders and night time and noise and our taxes don’t exist, our denial just gives them power over us. We need to seize power over ourselves, remember that everything is okay, and reject all fear.