I hear your objections already. “But Mallory, I have seventeen mortgages and my job was murdered in the Recession Tornado of Aught-Six.” “Mallory, I had to sell my parents in order to pay off my student loans.” “Mallory, I’m being chased by jewel thieves.” [gesticulates wildly] Pshshshspspshshpsh. Hush. LeVar Burton wants our money, and frankly he deserves it more than we do.
Do you remember the episode of Parks and Recreation where Ben asks Pawnee’s chief of police to volunteer security for the Harvest Festival, and he’s really nervous because it’s a fairly big favor, and the chief tells him that “Leslie Knope gets as many favors as she needs”?
LeVar Burton is the real-life equivalent of Leslie Knope. He gets as many favors as he needs, because he’s the kind of person who uses favors to help other people.
Perhaps you knew that Reading Rainbow was cut from PBS’ programming back in 2009 due to No Child Left Behind:
And perhaps you knew that LeVar’s been working on a Kickstarter campaign to revive Reading Rainbow, and that they reached their fundraising goal of $1 million on their very first day, and that he cried when he found out they had the money they needed. But they are still accepting donations! And you owe him your money. Frankly, every day that LeVar Burton lets us keep our money is an act of generosity.
If Kunta Kinte came to me and said, “Mallory, I want to film a shot-for-shot remake of National Treasure and I’m going to need all the money in your bank account,” I would say Cash or check, Mr. Kinte?
If Geordi LaForge came to me and said, “Mallory, I want to build a full-scale Viking ship out of marzipan and launch it out of the Bay of Biscay and I’d like to use your book advance to do it,” I would say What’s a convenient routing number, you cybernetic transhuman?
IF THE DIRECTOR OF THE DISNEY CHANNEL’S SMART HOUSE CAME OVER TO MY HOUSE AND SAID “GIVE ME YOUR WALLET” I WOULD THANK HIM FOR THE OPPORTUNITY.
(Yes, okay, of course, I’m not a monster; here is the Reading Rainbow theme song from 1983, go ahead and play it and sing along as loud as you like.)
From The Root:
Burton also promised in the video that goes along with the campaign that portions of the fundraising would go toward subsidizing the program to make it free for schools in need.
Contributors—who can still donate as little as $5 to upward of $3,000—receive various forms of “swag,” from a tweet shout-out to a private dinner with Burton. Some lucky donors may even get to wear the visor he wore in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“It was my mother who taught me that, by picking up a book, I could ‘go anywhere’ and ‘be anything.’ Ever since Reading Rainbow began in 1983, I have dedicated myself to fostering a love of reading in children, just as my mother did for me,” Burton explained on the campaign site.
Contributor levels I would like to see:
$1-100 – Donor is allowed to take home one mostly-empty water bottle from Mr. Burton’s recycling bin.
$101-500 – Donor will receive a telephone call from Mr. Burton. Mr. Burton will call the donor “champ.”
$501-1000 – The Chance To Repay LeVar Burton: Donor will receive the opportunity to do light household chores for LeVar Burton.
$1001-5000 – Donor will receive a fake college graduation ceremony, from the right school this time, at the end of which Mr. Burton will walk purposefully over to her, place both hands solemnly on her shoulders, look her calmly in the eye and say, “I’m proud of you. You did good.”
$5001-10,000 – LeVar Burton will observe the donor while wearing his Geordi LaForge visor for one twenty-four hour period, then offer constructive criticism.
$10,000-15,000 – The donor gets to spend a sunny afternoon at the Irwindale Renaissance Faire with Mr. Burton. No cell phones. The two of them will share roasted quail and stroll about the grounds. Mr. Burton will pepper their conversation with interesting tidbits about the trade routes and increasingly sophisticated cartography techniques of the Middle Ages, not because he’s showing off but because he genuinely loves learning. Donor will soak it in. Later, as the sun goes down, they will split a rice pudding and sit on one of those giant swings that Ren Faires sometimes have, not saying anything, just sitting together in companionable silence, and she will know peace.
$15,001 and up – LeVar Burton raises your child in your stead because he could honestly do a better job and your child would be happier.
[Partial donor joke credit to @ShrillCosby]
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.