Archive for category Pointyheaded Highbrow Stuff
The Persecution and Assassination of Stan As Performed By The Inmates on Aisle Five of A Waldbaums Supermarket In Piscataway, New Jersey Under The Direction of The Marquis de Sade
An Amish farmer, a can of pinto beans and a moose awaken in a large round cylinder. The sides are smooth. The walls are about 200 feet high. They can see the moon and the sky, but are completely unaware of where they are.
Amish Farmer: Where are we?
Moose: I’m not sure, but it doesn’t look like there is any way out.
Everyone looks around for a few seconds
Pinto Beans: Hey…what’s that Eminem song where a fan is writing him a letter while driving drunk off of a bridge with Eminem in the trunk of the car? The one where he says “My mom’s a yeti”?
Amish Farmer: Isn’t that Stan? Or Lose Yourself? Or both?
Pinto Beans: I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s really confusing. How does Eminem get out of the trunk to get the letter? And why is the guy writing a letter while driving with a 5th of vodka in him? If the guy Stan is dead, wouldn’t Eminem be likely to be dead sinking to the bottom of a pond too? And besides, if Eminem’s already in the trunk of the guys car, why doesn’t he just open the trunk and tell him this stuff instead of drinking, driving and writing? And why is that chick Spiro or whatever her name is singing? Where the hell is she in the car?
Amish Farmer: Ah…..I’m not sure…
Pinto Beans: Maybe all his crew up at 9 Mile sold him for some 5 XL hooded sweatshirts and Stan bought him, chloroformed him and put him in the trunk. The problem again is…aren’t there much more efficient ways to kill a man if this is your intent? And, if you are aware that you are driving into a lake killing the guy you are writing the note to, does it ever occur to you that he’s not going to read it???
And if both Eminem and Stan are dead, who wrote and performed the song? Maybe that’s why they got that Pedro girl to sing the hook. There were things Eminem didn’t record before the car sunk and they needed to cover up the missing spots.
Characters all collapse onto the floor. Stage goes dark.
Orchestra begins playing the opening from Seasons in the Abyss by Slayer. Characters arise and stare at their surroundings, then each other. Music fades.
Pinto Beans: Maybe he was losing oxygen, becoming detached from reality and BELIEVED his mom was a Yeti
Voice of Marquis de Sade From Above: Or maybe the trauma brought back repressed memories of being raised by yetis before they dropped him off in a basket with a note pinned to it in front of that trailer park out at 12 mile.
Pinto Beans: And KIM…”his mom” found the note and adopted him.
Moose: And then, later, we find out that Stan, the guy killing him in the trunk of the car is actually the same one who pinned the note to him when he was a baby in a basket.
Pinto Beans: And the yetis believed he needed to be destroyed because he had the location of their yeti base in the Falkland Islands and they were worried he might remember and sell his secret to the CIA.
Amish Farmer: Eminem was never in the trunk, Dodo or whatever was in there.
Pinto Beans: And then, he had to kill Kim and bury her in his closet because she was going to tell Stan where he was hiding.
At this moment, a giant ostrich flies into the cylinder attacking the can of Pinto Beans. The moose and the Amish farmer grab the can of pinto beans and begin beating the ostrich. The ostrich collapses to the floor.
Ostrich: (uttering its dying words) It’s Stan’s girlfriend in the trunk and Stan is talking into a tape recorder.
Ostrich disappears. Other characters collapse onto the floor. Stage goes dark.
Orchestra plays Napalm Death “You Suffer”. Characters arise from their positions on the floor again. When the orchestra finishes, they are led out in front of the audience and executed by a firing squad.
Pinto Beans: Why the hell is she in the trunk? Obviously Stan didn’t know who Bilbo or whatever her name was. So he just grabbed this woman out on the road and killed her? Because he thought she was Eminem? Or maybe she knew about the yetis too?
Moose: If he is in a car driving his girlfriend into a lake, as you say, and talking into a tape recorder….how does Eminem get the tape??? It’d be water logged and useless.
Moose: But where does that Jojo girl fit in.
Amish Farmer: He says in one of the letters “My girlfriend’s pregnant”, so we’d have to assume that Doro is his girlfriend since they’re sleeping in the same bed and she’s pregnant.
Pinto Beans: I like that song…I’m just concerned that if you follow it to it’s logical conclusions Eminem is dead and has been replaced by some sort of genetically rebuilt cyborg and yetis could take over Argentina within a matter of hours. Is this the world we want for our children?
Amish Farmer: Also, he never got the tape, it was confiscated at the crime scene, and Eminem is responding to a letter Stan wrote after he died, connecting the dots and realizing that the dude on the news who did that was Stan and the chick in the trunk was his girlfriend.
Pinto Beans: So Eminem wrote this guy a letter to tell him that he knocked up his girlfriend Nynex or whatever? No wonder he’s pissed! It’s Eminem’s baby in her body. What, is Stan supposed to raise Eminem’s son cause he had an affair with some groupie after some show in Las Cruces, New Mexico? I can’t agree with his actions, but you can imagine the rage he was feeling.
Amish Farmer: Stan’s girlfriend, not Eminem.
Pinto Beans: This Stan guy is something else. First, he kidnaps a well-known rapper. Second, he helps cover up a thousand year old yeti conspiracy. Then, he kills his girlfriend for cheating on him with Eminem….but the capper is that Stan wrote the damned letter after he died!!!!! Stan should have a damn Grammy for doing all that.
Amish Farmer: Where does Mekhi Phifer come in?
Pinto Beans: So…wait…I got it. Stan’s girlfriend wrote the letter after he was dead to honor his dying wish or something.
Moose: But SHE’S dead too!
Pinto Beans: So how does he get the letter?!?!?!
Amish Farmer: Mekhi Phifer!
Pinto Beans: And, we still haven’t really explained why Libido or whatever she’s called is in a car where two people die and she is untouched. Unless, as you claim, she and the girlfriend are the same person. But…then who is alive to sing the chorus?
Amish Farmer: Pre-recorded dub track.
The Marquis De Sade looks into the giant cylinder. His face covers most of the sky and light coming in.
Marquis de Sade: The yeti wrote the letter. (de Sade disappears)
Pinto Beans: But why would they pre-record it if they didn’t know it was going to happen? They couldn’t have predicted the accident or the song or the letter. The only thing that can explain this is that they put that Faygo chick in a time machine and sent her to the future, pulled her back through the vortex of time and plunked her down in a studio.
Amish Farmer: Stan planned it because he wanted to be with Eminem, so he made sure Dayglo went to record the track beforehand to be sampled in the song about him that Eminem would make because he and Eminem are the same person.
Moose: Going back to Mekhi Phifer. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the this angle. He might be the guy pulling all the strings. Like E. Howard Hunt did when the CIA and The Dole Pineapple Company conspired to kill JFK and Duane Allman. Also, he might be an Argentinian spy trying to locate the Yeti base before the nation is overrun by the beasts. Or, he could just be some friend who grew up with M at 5 mile and got sucked into one of the greatest criminal conspiracies of this century unwittingly. We might never know.
Pinto Beans: I used to own a copy of that Eminem DVD 8 Kilometers or whatever. I enjoyed the film. One day, the disc went missing. Haven’t seen it since. If that doesn’t tell you how deep this conspiracy runs, you are blind!
Moose: Stan planned the thing and had the tracks sung in advance knowing Eminem would write the song about Gogol being murdered in the trunk after singing the chorus…that’s genius. I think you might have solved this!
Pinto Beans: But what about the yetis?
Act 3 continued with no changes or stoppage of conversation
Amish Farmer: Gogol Bordello is giving birth to the yeti and made Stan drive the car off the bridge.
Pinto Beans: I thought Gogol birthed a nose, but I get her and her sister mixed up.
Moose: Not that I approve of him killing Nacho…but to plan all of that to get Eminem to write a song about him….knowing….KNOWING….Queso’s death would lead him to write the song. Criminal mastermind!
Pinto Beans: Maybe he even faked his own death. And he’s living on the Yeti base in the Falkland Islands. From what I’ve seen, the guy is capable of anything.
Silence. The characters look around nervously.
Pinto Beans: I’m not directly blaming a yeti for stealing my copy of 32 Degrees Celsius…but coincidences like this don’t happen everyday and when they do, they are not coincidences!
Marquis de Sade: (shouting from a long distance away) Stan never killed Eminem. He killed his girlfriend. Eminem was the one he kept sending letters and tapes to and Em wasn’t responding and that’s why Stan went off the edge and did what he did. And the singer’s name is Dido.
Pinto Beans: That’s certainly one theory.
All characters simultaneously explode
(co-authored by Brittany Diaz)
Many people remember Albert Einstein as the father of modern zoology, the inventor of the Kangol hat and the guy who posed for all of those Apple ads, but he was so much more. He invented the Theory of Relativity, which outlawed marriage between a brother and sister, and came up with a formula for a diet soft drink so tasty it could not be distinguished from a regular cola. He inspired many great leaders, including fight promoter Don King, who borrowed his trademark hairstyle as homage to the fallen scientist.
Einstein made many speeches. Often, they were in front of audiences, but he was also extremely talented at communicating with animals and once did an hour-long speech on hypothetical calculus to a teary-eyed den of mountain lions on the outskirts of Inner Mongolia. Probably Einstein’s most famous speech is the one he gave to Congress in March of 1937. Communism, fascism and fashion trends like the jaunty mustache were on the march in Europe and China had been broken by a band of willful 6 year-olds who had gained access to the top shelf of the cabinet in the dining room. Einstein saw what the world was becoming and issued this dire warning to the elected representatives of the people of the United States.
“My fellow Americans. Today I come to philosophize with a hammer instead of a Bunsen burner. My mind, weakened and tainted by the impurity of booze and fast women, is still capable of envisioning a way in which our world cane become a better world for our children. And our children’s children. And their children. Along with their great grandchildren. And the children who emerge from the wombs of those children. On and on south of heaven.”
“Where was I? Ah… A man becomes preeminent; he is expected to have enthusiasms. (Pause) Enthusiasms (Longer pause) Enthusiasms. (Really long pause) What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which brings me joy? (Pulls out a baseball bat and holds it over his head) Socialism! Godless, freedom killing, spirit destroying, human-bondage creating, wealth redistributing, nation wrecking, mind-erasing socialism. I dream every night of dragging the rich landowners into the street and stomping their faces into hamburger. But all this is not important. Today, I am here to talk about peace.”
“Many people have predicted that World War III would be really bad. Terrible. Awful. I mean, really bad. As a really, extremely smart person, I want to be clear that I too agree that war would cause both death and destruction. Because I am smart, I am able to go into a laboratory and build a portal into the future. I have done this. I have seen things. Bad things. Bats eating the gizzards of children. Children feeding children to other children. And why? War! War, ladies and gentlemen…what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again y’all!” (Members of Congress shout “Good God” in unison)
“As I emerged from the portal, a giant talking eagle perched on my shoulder and whispered into my ear. Eagles are wise birds. They are the only animal in nature besides man that are capable of taking vast fields of energy, converting them into laser form and using them to melt the faces of their rivals. This wise old bird told me something I’ll never forget. Here is what he said…
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. And I know not what weapons World War IV will be fought with, but chances are after the whole destruction of society bit plays itself out, humans will be able to once again be able to rearm and create shiny new weapons of doom in order to fight World War V.”
“And I know not what weapons World War V will be fought with, but I’m assuming at this point, for World War VI, humans would be advanced enough to create giant clouds of ice that would rain flesh severing hail on all the cities of the people they hate the most. And if World War VI be fought that way, World War VII probably will be fought by cybernetic beings capable of flaying the flesh off of an entire nation with the blink of an eye.”
“And if World War VIII is fought that way, aliens will probably come into the picture for World War IX because earth is the only planet remaining in the universe that has water, an element vital in the creation of alien hover boards and automated Chinese food buffets. And World War X will probably be fought in space by planet-sized computers.”
“This will lead to World Wars XI though XVI, which will use technology that is so advanced my eagle brain and mouth are not capable of articulating what will happen. But, seriously…it will be awful. Not kidding.”
“World War XVII will actually be a period of 1000 years of peace intended to cause great suffering among the billions of people who seem to rejoice at killing billions of other people. Then, the great peace will be broken by World War XVIII, a reenactment of World War VII performed by a group of talented actors in the foothills of North Carolina. It will initially be meant to entertain survivalists and other fans of war, but it will morph into a 10 yearlong brutal, barbaric struggle control of a picture of actor Henry Winkler.”
“World War IXX will be fought from flying cars equipped with Gatling guns. World War XX, The Platinum Anniversary War, will be the war to end all wars because Romans only came up with numbers up to twenty.”
“And this is why I, as probably the smartest person you will ever come in contact, with urge you to stop making other people die. Because even if they are complete idiots, they can still recognize both pain and the absence of being alive. And no one deserves that. Even Germans.”
Chances are, if you are an American under the age of 85, you remember where you were the first time you heard “Punishment” by Biohazard. As Brooklyn became “the next Seattle” in the mid-1990s and New York City Hardcore took over the Billboard Charts and Top 40 radio stations, Biohazard became the band that defined a generation. It was the time of full body tattoos, doo-rags and ordinary Americans spending their days dressed like characters in “The Warriors”. However, a recent report by The Dartmouth Journal of Advanced Medicine and Spreadin’ The Hardcore Reality, has called into question the veracity of one the band’s best known lyrics.
“Punishment” became the successor to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most popular song on the planet in 1992. The song is particularly memorable for the lyric “In reality, we all must face the fact that the majority of people are out there smoking crack.” The words were based on exhaustive research done by the band on the use of crack-cocaine by Americans. According to the album’s footnotes, 56 percent of Americans were “out there smoking crack” at the time the song was being recorded.
At the time of the albums release, some researchers questioned whether that many people were really hooked on the dangerous, highly addictive substance. Harvard scientist Kenn Nardi looked on Biohazard’s findings dubiously when he first heard the song. “Alright, yes, there are many people addicted to crack. But, for Biohazard to put forth the thesis that a “majority” of people” were hooked on the narcotic was a bit of an overstatement.”
Nardi, who received his PhD in New York City Hardcore Studies in 2003 and has extensively studied the cultural context and metaphysical meaning of Biohazard lyrics, went on to say, “I question if their sample size was large enough to justify the generalization. And, honestly, I’m not clear how they would define “out there”. Do they mean to imply this is only a study of outdoor crack users?”
However, the recent Dartmouth study has conclusively proven that the majority of people in 1992 were not “out there smoking crack”. According to studies’ co-author John Emery, “There are significant errors in Biohazard’s findings. First of all, they oversampled metropolitan areas. Data collection was also an issue. We have concerns that several of the studies participants were actually local winos who were paid in bottles of Ripple, Night Train Express and Maddog 20/20 and were willing to say anything in order to get their next drink.”
Current members of Biohazard have yet to respond to these charges of academic fraud. However, former lead singer turned actor Spyder Jonez did take a moment away from the filming of his new action film “Member of The Beast” to say that he “unequivocally stand(s) behind both the qualitative and quantitative methods used by the band and reject the possibility that issues like the cohort effect or some of the microfactors that hampered the work of Reinhart and Reigoff have impinged on the efficacy of our data collection and textual analysis. Most people is just crackheads, yo.”
Biohazard’s new album, Ermine Discipline, is expected out in the Spring.
Heavy metal rock band Slayer has come under fire over the past few weeks for allegedly using satanic imagery in many of their songs and on album covers. Several influential religious groups have recently discovered satanic references in the band’s work and are looking for answers. Barbara Weishaupt, the leader of Christians For Decency and So On and So On, has gone so far as to claim that Slayer actually makes several direct references to hell on the 1985 album “Hell Awaits”.
In a statement released by the band, lead singer Tom Araya denied that the band was referring to the mythical land of the dead where sinners are punished, but was, in fact, attempting to acknowledge famed Hungarian astronomer Maximilian Hell. Hell is best known for his patient, lifelong study of the surface of the moon. His work was so influential that several lunar craters are named after him.
However, not all of Slayer’s references to the devil can be so easily explained. For example, the band has been accused of referring to the dark prince of the underworld in the song Altar of Sacrifice when Araya screams “Enter to the realm of Satan!” In fact, in a 2006 interview with Boys’ Life Magazine, guitarist Kerry King claimed that the song is actually a reference to the final act of Shakespeare’s 1973 play “Macbeth”.
In the play, Seyton, Macbeth’s servant, bares witness to the decline and fall of the Scottish ruler’s empire. King, who recently portrayed Romeo in a Shakespeare in the Park version of “Romeo and Juliet”, is an avid fan of The Bard’s work and wanted the song to “reflect the realm of despair that Macbeth’s was in as he and his trusted servant dealt with news of their immanent demise.”
In the song “Skeleton Christ”, Slayer has been accused of using the expression “hail Satan” as an attempt to show their allegiance with the devil. This lyric, in fact, was written by Tom Araya during his conversion to vegetarianism and is actually supposed to be heard as “hail seitan”.
Slayer has also gone on record in the past in an attempt to clear up the misconceptions related to the song “Jesus Saves”. While some in the religious community have claimed the song to be a sarcastic dismissal of Christian values, it is actually meant to be in praise of Christians who are frugal with their money. The band’s original drummer, name withheld at the request of Kerry King, even went so far as to say that the band considered opening a bank called “Jesus Saves” in order to offer better interest rates to deeply committed members of the Christian faith.
Much of Slayer’s career has been filled with these false, libelous accusations. The album 2006 album, often incorrectly dubbed “Christ Illusion”, is actually supposed to be “Christ Allusion”, and is meant to be an indirect reference to famed German botanist and inventor of the fern Konrad Hermann Christ.
Many album covers are thought to be satanic themed drawings. Again, it’s merely an unhappy coincidence. Years ago, Kerry King asked his 7-year-old niece Wendy to draw him pictures of what she witnessed on her journey through the streets of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, promising her that the band would use the pictures as album covers. To date, every album cover has been taken from the drawings that little Wendy produced on her visit to East 55th Street on that fateful day.
The band has weathered the many storms of bad publicity and controversy due to the often deluded, utterly paranoid American public’s breathtaking ability to become wildly concerned about issues that have no impact on their lives, but it has come at a cost to their reputations. Things have gotten so bad that Kerry King has had to abandon his missionary work in Zanzibar because of all of the bizarre stories about the music.
Sadly, Slayer seems doomed to spend the latter part of their careers fighting off these irresponsible and inaccurate allegations made by a public hell-bent on removing satanic references from the minds of America’s young and impressionable future corporate employees.
The note under my door said “Meet at 3 AM in the parking garage behind the Waffle House.” I’d received notes like this before and, usually, they either led to great information or some guy in nothing but a trenchcoat asking me if I wanted to hold hands and whisper Carpenters lyrics into each other’s ears. Typically, these messages came from my high level contact in the CIA, a man who will only let me refer to him in public as Deep Thrombosis. He’s worked in The Company for many years and has put me onto some of the bigger stories Tyranny of Tradition has broken. He was the guy who tipped me off to Obama’s drumming on the first Overkill album and Nixon’s plot to assassinate the members of Black Sabbath.
I knew that a night meeting with Deep Thrombosis could be the thing that gets me that Pulitzer Prize I’ve been coveting all these years or even a date with The Great Kat. However, I was not prepared for the monumental significance of what he was about to tell me.
“Tonight, we are going to pull back the curtain,” whispered Deep Thrombosis while his shifty, beady eyes darted from side to side. “The information I’m about to give you could bring down the whole circus. If you print it, be warned, there is a good chance you will end up having a ‘boating accident’ or accidently hanging yourself while trying to install a garage door opener. And for godsakes, if you print this, you need to promise not to mention you got it from a source in the CIA! They’ll be able to track it back to me.”
“I will absolutely not mention how I got this information,” I told my CIA source. “I swear it!”
He proceeded to tell me the most outlandish story I had ever heard. A story of violence, intrigue and a CIA so out of control that it would go so far as to break up one of the great thrash metal groups of our time.
“The Company had heard some rumors that the next Slayer album was going to be all about drone strikes on Al-Queda bases. The thing was going to be called “South of Reason”. Typical longhaired hippie liberal propaganda. We’d have let Limbaugh handle them except they were going to reveal potential bombing coordinates, out some of our higher level agents, and really turn the metalhead public against the whole ‘secret murder of civilians who have had no trial’ thing. We couldn’t let it happen. So we took action.”
“The first part of the plan was to kidnap Kerry King and replace him with an actor who resembled Kerry King. We have a guy who has done some jobs with us in the past who was a dead ringer for King, a sort of grubby, misshapen fellow who slightly resembled a poorly shaven yeti. We scooped up the real Kerry and threw him into Guantanamo and told the guards he was actually Osama Bin Laden’s masseuse and to ‘not torture him’ until he gave us any information on the whereabouts of the secret terrorist training camps in Iceland.”
“The guy we are using as Kerry almost gave the thing away during the first show. He played three or four really great solos, which confused the audience. Luckily, one of our agents got ahold of him and told him to haphazardly move his whammy bar around really fast when it was his turn to solo and no one would know the difference. Things went fine after that.”
“We slipped a mind-altering substance into one of Araya’s drinks and, through the power of suggestion, convinced him to start listening to Asking Alexandria. We figured this would jam up any creativity that was flowing through his head. Then, we gave a copy of the band’s financial information to Lombardo. The rest is history.”
“The thing is, I’ve begun to realize that this sort of thing is dangerous. After all, if the CIA can destroy Slayer or overthrow the government of a foreign country or randomly kill civilians who happened to be in the same vicinity as people we believe to be terrorists without the consent of the American people, then what is the point of even calling our country a democracy.”
“I started thinking of what a soulless, unaccountable beast like the CIA could do if it really put its mind to it. Forcing Exodus to do a ska album? Getting Testament to hire Michael Bolton as their lead singer? Letting Janick Gers write all the songs on the next Maiden record? The possibilities were too horrible to consider.”
“So, I have chosen you to help put a stop to this. Publish this article tomorrow and remind America that in a democracy, the government needs to be accountable to the people or else they have ceased being a democracy. That transparency is the only thing that can keep us from becoming a nation capable of any atrocity in the name of opening new markets and exploiting new sources of human capital. That America should stand for something greater than the principal of bending other, weaker nations to our will. And that Slayer should start writing stuff that sounds more like it did before Divine Intervention, because honestly, the new stuff hasn’t been all that impressive. Except for God Hates Us All. That was pretty cool.”
I heard the sound of a car door slam in the corner of the garage and turned to look at it. When I looked back, Deep Thrombosis was gone.
Years from now, the Rick Santorum Presidential Campaign won’t be known for much. He has gone along way on the strength of an uncanny ability to make hatred sound virtuous, but let’s face it, his campaign is clearly having its final death spasms and will hopefully be put out of it’s misery, Old Yeller style, in a matter of weeks. Not that anyone will shed a tear for the man. Those who hate him will move on to more worthy targets and those who love him will find another dimwitted fear monger to cast their lot with any day now. America is chock full of hateful, well-spoken vipers who can carry the neo-conservative mantle yet another yard as it lurches ever so slowly towards 1951.
It’s easy to rail on Santorum and weeks from now, it’ll be even easier to forget he even exists. However, I think that he should be praised for one thing. His shadowy team of Gollum-esque backers has managed to create the single best negative campaign ad since LBJ nuked that poor little girl picking the daisy. If you haven’t seen the Obamaville ad and you happen to still double-check the locks on your front door when anyone mentions Willie Horton, you are in for a treat…
The first fifteen seconds of this ad are beautiful. It’s as if they hired George A. Romero or the guy who used to do the Nine Inch Nails videos to shoot the thing. The dimly lit streets of some American town. Pale, muted colors. Crows. Rusty playground equipment and the abandoned shoe of a child. Desolation. Despair.
This is usually the point where the bloodthirsty ghouls wander down the boulevard in search of brains. Instead, we get a flood of about 10 images in one second. Happy family. Front porch. Old couple. Jailed prisoner. Baby in red. Is the baby a communist? Is the baby a symbol of purity stained by years of liberal attacks on….I dunno…..babies?
Yes, that was a subliminal cut to an eyeball at the 17-second mark. Why? Who knows, but it sure is creepy. More despair in Zombie America. People losing jobs. Families in squalid apartments forced to eat nothing but apples. Cut to long abandoned hallways. Evil doctors lurking around every corner with needles, ready to harm you all the while bleeding your bank account dry.
Then, the best image in the whole ad. A man with a gas pump aimed at his head committing….uhm….dieselcide. More images. Religious candles being blown out by, I guess, liberals. Darkness. But, wait…it gets better.
Old people. About to be harmed. By Iranians. With nuclear weapons. Yes, at the 40-second mark, you did see the ad cut from killer Iranian leaders to Barack Obama and back again. You didn’t make that up. It really happened.
People. Marching in line. Drones. Zombies in suits. Sent to America to take your freedom and potentially restrict your family’s ability to visit theme parks. Wall Street. A menacing, monstrous looking tree with glowing eyes.
Images. Speeding up. You’re fired. You’re in your minivan and you’re angry. Obama. Piggy bank breaking. Faster. Eyeball. Red. Capitol. Faster. Jails. Bossy old women. Glasses. Faster. Iranians. Faster. The red baby. This hell on earth could only be one place…..Obamaville.
What could it all mean? It’s a surreal pastiche of terror. Watching this ad made me less concerned about the economy and much more concerned about the possibility of giant hawk-like creatures coming down from the sky and ripping my head off.
Forget all this policy mumbo-jumbo, let’s scare the bejesus out of them. It’s not that this is an uncommon tactic, it’s just that you rarely see it so clearly spelled out. This is the mother of all attack ads, because it implies, pretty clearly, that voting for Obama is not just a bad idea….it will, in no uncertain terms, KILL YOU. Short of selling bottles of rat poison with Obama’s face on it, I’m not sure how much more clearly you can make that point.
So, a tip of the hat to Rick. He left us with something that will stand the test of time. His campaign is directly responsible for taking things to a level that shady little hucksters like Lee Atwater never dreamed. He’s created the first all-American political slasher ad. An ad so vile, so repugnant, so clearly aimed to poison the well, that it will take Herculean effort to match its malignancy. After all, when your entire campaign is based on the idea that hopefully America will become so unlivable, so completely ramshackle, that its people will rise up en masse and elect a guy who could easily have been the Commander in “A Handmaid’s Tale”, why the hell not run an ad like this?
“We may be through with the past but the past ain’t through with us.” -PT Anderson
History is inescapable and never-ending. In spite of protestations from some historians, like the famous one by Francis Fukayama in 1992 that the end of the Cold War essentially meant history was “over”, we have yet to come anywhere near something that could be considered a conclusion. History, on many levels, is a trap from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Its long arm reaches through time and pushes us in directions we never believed we be capable of going. This, more than anything else, seems to be the central message of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic “The Shining”.
While it would be easy to dismiss the film as an exquisitely told, elaborately filmed ghost story, there is a deeper meaning at the heart of the film. The story begins with Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family undertaking the westward voyage that so many Americans have. Our history as Americans are filled with just this type of journey West in the hopes of finding fortune and freedom in a new place.
They arrive at the Overlook hotel; a resort in Colorado that shares is decorated in a Native American theme. This is not a surprise, because we learn early on that the hotel is built on a Native American burial ground. While this idea itself has become a horror cliché, it is important to note that, within the context of this film, it indicates the connection with a brutal past. One could argue that much of Western America was a burial ground for indigenous Americans who were steamrolled during the United States’ drive from seas to shining sea.
The ghosts of the past are not simply ghosts in The Shining. They are reflections of a troubling history of violence. Dick Halloran (played brilliantly by Scatman Crothers) offers us a metaphor early on that perfectly describes this. He tells Danny, Jack Torrance’s boy, that the ghosts in the film are like the smell of “burnt toast”. They may no longer be with us, but their presence is still strongly felt. Where Dick is terribly wrong is in his claim that the past cannot hurt us because it is like pictures in a book. The movie seems to argue that these “pictures” are very much alive and deeply at the root of the conflict that was raging through America in the 1960s and 70s.
In order to understand the film, it is critical to note the three separate reactions of the main characters in the film to the horrors of The Overlook. Jack gains from them a sense of belonging. He longs to be a part of the horrific history of The Overlook. He loves the violence at the core of its polished veneer. Jack is a metaphor for one view of those with power in the 60s and 70s. Disinterested in the suffering that takes place below their feet, they revel in excess while Rome burns. They are the governmental father figures that were supposed to protect the average American and instead gave us an overwhelming glut of consumer goods coupled nightmares like the Vietnam War.
Wendy (Shelly Duvall) is meant to be the symbol of most Americans. She cares deeply about her family but is blind to the actual circumstances of her life. She explains away much of the horror she’s experienced at the hands of Jack. Wendy doesn’t see the hotel for what it is until her family is shattered apart. Her awakening is meant to mimic what so many Americans feel when they look underneath the façade of the American Dream and see the massacred corpses it was built upon. Much of the interplay between the hotel, Jack and Danny go past Wendy, who is only focused on the immediate events at hand and misses the greater context of what is taking place. Her recognition of the violence around her is very much the climax of the film.
Danny (Danny Lloyd) is the next generation. He is equipped with the power to see and recognize what was there before him. He shines, or can telepathically see the images of The Overlook’s horrific past. The expression shining was actually taken from the John Lennon song “We All Shine On” by the book’s author Stephen King. The idea is that this new generation, the hippies, the yippies, the Panthers and the other groups of Americans in the late 60s and early 70s have become unwilling to play the game of forgetting the past and going about their lives. They were able to see how the past has impacted their world and they felt a desperate need to make the world see what they were witness to. Danny serves as a reminder of the violence that permeates the center of our collective fantasy. We must not be reminded of it or we might be willing to destroy it in order to save ourselves from it. Both The Overlook and Jack recognize the danger present in Danny’s vision and realize he must be controlled or even murdered.
Is this vision of America an accurate one? On some levels it is. Keep in mind this book and movie were created in the shadow of the chaos, both political and social, that were taking place in America in the 60s and 70s. The Presidency had been debased, the myth of America’s military superiority had been unmasked and the entire concept of the American Dream had been called into question. America could be seen as a madhouse on par with The Overlook. While this might be true, it is a massive oversimplification to argue that the “new” generation could be easily characterized by a visionary innocent while the leaders of the past simply lumped into the category of tyrannical, blood-thirsty madmen. There were so many shades of grey; the protest movement was far from beyond reproach and the government was not solely filled with violent, greedy sycophants. When discussing mass movements, simple narratives are rarely completely accurate
The deeper question at the heart of this film is of the role of the past in modern life. It’s simply not accurate to argue that the past is totally behind us. The world and its resources were divided up a long time ago and to accept these divisions as “the way things oughta be” does a profound disservice to those who today still suffer from decisions made lifetimes ago. Think of how the territorial distinctions made at the Berlin Conference in the 1880s have come to shape today’s Africa and you can get a glimpse of the power of the past. While much of the past is inescapable, I believe it is also something that can be understood in a way that makes some sense of the world. We owe it to ourselves and to those who are still among us to try to rationally understand the world we live in and how it got to be the way it is. This means living free of as many illusions about our history as possible. This may mean giving up some of the sense of identity that myth of a pristine past gives us. But, there is a redemptive power to truth and, while it may not save us, it can help us shine enough to at least see what is actually around us.