The Designer’s Drugs: Dustin Diamond – Behind the Bell

Dustin Diamond: Master Biographer

Medium: Literature

Stimulus: Dustin Diamond – Behind the Bell

Anno: 2009

Poor Dustin Diamond. He spent the late ‘80s and the entire ‘90s playing one of the greatest geeks of all time, Samuel “Screech” Powers from Saved by the Bell. Then he spent the past decade suffering for it. Wiped completely off the acting radar, Diamond became a stand-up comedian, dabbled in pro wrestling, appeared in a sex tape, played bass in a fairly wretched band, played a reality show jackass, and was transformed into a gay icon on the internet. Most of his misadventures reeked of desperation, forming another exhibit of a typecast child star clawing at any spotlight available.

News of Diamond’s latest lunge for attention, a tell-all book about life at Saved by the Bell, effectively burned his bridges with that past life. When his former Saved by the Bell castmates got together for People Magazine without him, they went so far as to have Screech Photoshopped out of the cast photos. The die was cast, and when the book arrived, it was every bit the inflammatory train wreck expected.

It’s safe to say that Behind the Bell won’t win Diamond many friends. Before even considering the book’s content, it’s telling that his autobiography is one of the worst edited pieces of junk to see major release. There are multiple instances of a sentence suddenly jumping to another line, of misused words (principle instead of principal), and, most baffling of all, the sudden repetition of paragraphs on the same page. All this gives one the impression that Behind the Bell was a hastily assembled scramble for cash, attention, and revenge.

What Diamond has to say doesn’t ease this cynicism. While there are rare moments where one can see the human being behind the bravado (Part II is a fairly objective look at the making of the show and the book’s best segment), the majority of this book is comprised of Diamond talking shit and bragging about his penis and where it’s been. It’s hard to sympathize with the outsider who fell into a world of trophy parents and their entitled brats when he relies so heavily upon the word “Douchenozzle.”

It’s believable that the show’s cast behaved badly, that drug-using Johnny Dakota was a good guy in real life while the Bayside gang was awash in the substances they shunned onscreen. Yet when Diamond goes on to accuse Mario Lopez of rape, insinuate that the show’s creator molested the cast, and suggest that the in-house magician turned young Neil Patrick Harris onto dudes, it comes off as scorned gossip. Most unbelievably, Diamond claims to have slept with 2,000 women, and categorically denies his gay icon status. Yeah, right!

Disaster memoir at its finest.

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