Some of the best documentaries simply reveal realities about the world. They relate a story and withhold judgment. This can seem ambiguous or unclear, but with some subjects there is either no other way to do it, or the film maker has found that this is the most capable avenue available to them to approach their subject.
The short documentary American Juggalo does just this. Offering shades of Heavy Meal Parking Lot, American Juggalo relates the story of the Gathering through the experiences and words of the Juggalos who attend it, and in doing so offers insight into the lifestyle and fan-base associated with the Insane Clown Posse. While I don’t think fan-base is truly the best way to describe what the Juggalos are and what their relationship to ICP and one another is, I hesitate to call them a cult following, in an attempt to with hold judgement myself.
The film is a fascinating collection of both heartfelt and misguided decelerations of purpose and togetherness, all trying to offer meaning and explanation (not excuses) on a complex, confusing, and often reject notion: Juggalos. I am not totally sure what to take away form the whole experience, but, as I said before, some documentaries are ambiguous, and so too are a many more subjects.
Tonight I was at Bufffalo Wild Wings watching the WWE pay-per-view, Survivor Series, and so were a bunch of other people, including a really nice guy with Down syndrome and his dad. It was really awesome, all except for the group of eight guys who came in half way through the pay-per-view, ordered a bunch of beers, and started talking down on everybody else. As soon as they sat down I knew that they were going to bum me out.
“These guys,” I said to Katie and Lucas, gesturing over my shoulder to them, “are really going to bring me down.”
Which was a shame, because I really didn’t want them to get to me, because I was having just about as much fun as the disabled guy at the table next to us was. Several times throughout the night I had to stop and comment on the kid’s knowledge and disposition. He was really enjoying himself and he knew what he was talking about. He knew every move and he made every count.
“If there’s only one thing in the entire world that that guy is incredibly knowledgeable about,” I said, “wrestling is it.”
I’d put him up against just about anyone else who was there tonight in that respect. If he were articulate enough he probably could have called the matches himself. He knew what he was talking about and he was having a great time. We all were. Except for the eight phonies behind me.
They started off with the usual stuff. “I can’t believe people think this is real.” “Don’t they know it’s fake?” “This is so stupid.” “These people are so stupid.” “Gay.” Then they started to ask their server if she would change the channel. They knew she couldn’t, that’s not how pay-per-views work at bars, they just really needed to make it clear that they weren’t there to watch wrestling. Their sense of entitlement was sickening.
I’ve only been a wrestling fan for a little under a year, but I feel pretty passionately about it. I’ve inevitably had to defend myself for watching WWE and liking it as much as I do. But I’ve got good reason: I just can’t help myself. In the current WWE intro that plays before every show, part of the voice over montage is Michael Cole saying ‘Ladies and gentleman, it is electrifying!’ And it really is. My first encounter with WWE wrestling was when on a whim I bought tickets to a RAW event last February for my Katie and myself. The Raw brand was going to be at the Breslin Center and the tickets were only 15 bucks. I’d never been a big wrestling fan, it’d always been to0 bloody and violent for me when I was growing up, but I figured hey, this could be fun. Kate and I went in knowing nothing, but that didn’t matter. It really was electrifying. We could not help but get sucked in, and I challenge anyone else to go to one of these events and not get excited. It must be impossible. It’s not just the entertainers, it’s the crowd. The energy is palpable. We were hooked.
After that, we started watching it on TV. A couple of our friends seemed to be closeted fans in their adult lives and started to watch it with us, filling us in on everything we had missed for the first few decades of our lives. By the time Katie’s birthday came around we were making a point of watching wrestling in her basement with our friend Paul as often as we could, which turned out to be four times a week this summer. So, when the Over the Limit ppv happened to be on her birthday and at Joe Louis Arena, I knew we had to go. The three of us that is. And again, it was palpable. I lost my voice for five days after that show. It was the first time that I saw how many people hate John Cena, but it was also the first time that I saw how well he can win everybody over at once. When he came out there were plenty of people booing him and yelling ‘John Cena Sucks’ in chorus to the tune of his intro music. But, when Cena picked Batista up off the hood of that mustang and gave him and Attitude Adjustment that sent him through the floor of the Titantron stage, nobody was booing.
That’s very much how it was tonight. When Cena came out plenty of people were booing him, plenty of people in BBW were booing him even. Lucas was booing him! But not when he got fired at the end of the match and took a lap through the crowd to shake hands with all his fans.
The kid at the table next to us was a pretty big Cena fan. And that’s what I personally really like about Cena, kid’s like him because you always know where he stands. He got fired because he refused to cheat. This kid was cheering for him the whole time. Even while the group of eight phonies behind us were putting the whole event down.
When the ppv ended the channel got switched to the football game and the phonies all cheered. “Finally,” one of them said, “Football.” Yeah, what a relief, no more of that garbage, something normal. I was pretty livid by this point and that sent me just about over the edge. “What the hell is the point of that?” I asked Lucas. “Do they really need to act like that?” I wasn’t paying attention to how loud I was being. I didn’t care.
“That’s the point of it,” Lucas said, “to get that reaction form you.”
“It’s isn’t that hard to piss me off. If they really wanted to piss me off that much they could have done it a lot easier.” Like I said, I was feeling pretty livid. “They’re a bunch of assholes,” I said, “they’re fucking jerks.” Earlier, when they had first sat down, Katie had off handedly said that it was weird that six of them looked super jocky and two of them like nerds. “It isn’t that two of them are nerds Katie, it’s that all of them are super fake, it’s just that two of them aren’t fitting in as well as the rest of them.” They were all phonies and they were all bullies. “They think they’ve won something here, that’s why they cheered. But they haven’t. My show ended, that’s why their football is on now. My show took precedence over theirs and everybody else here except them was watching it. For the past three hours we’ve all been enjoying wrestling and they’ve been missing their football. The only reason why it’s on now is that our show is over. They didn’t win shit and they aren’t entitled to anything. They’re just jerks.” That’s when I stood up to leave and turned around to see a few of them staring at me. I might be 6’3” but they knew that there was eight of them and so did I. That’s all that kept me from saying what I wanted to say. ‘Eat a dick. Eat a dick. Eat a dick. Eat a dick. Eat a dick. Eat a dick. Eat a dick. Eat a dick.’ I just stared right back.
They were bullies, each and everyone of them. And they thought they were really cool and normal. But they were just bullies and really fake. I can’t believe they’ve made it this far (out of middle-school) and still think it is cool (even collectively) to put other people down for liking something different. I think people who play quidditch are pretty weird, but I’m not going to put them down and I’m not going to laugh at them. I’ve had to defend wrestling a lot, and by that I mean I’ve had to defend liking it a lot too. When you tell people you like wrestling they give you a weird look and you can tell they are trying to figure out if you are gullible or just really stupid. “You know it’s fake, right?” they always ask. They really do think you’re stupid for a minute. “It’s not fake, it’s just fixed,” I’ll tell them. “It’s staged. Like some boxing matches have been. The outcome is known, but people still have to train and do some really hard work. If what you mean is do I know it’s entertainment, than yes, I do. If you think it’s fake just watch the 1998 King of the Ring, Hell in a Cell match between Mankind and the Undertaker. Mankind takes two falls from over fifteen feet in the air, one of his teeth rips through his soft pallet and gets stuck in his mustache when it flies out of his nose, about five minutes after that he gets choke slammed onto a pile of thumbtacks. Wrestling isn’t fake.” So even if it is staged, I don’t care. It’s fun, and it’s fun to share with people. I always want to talk about it with someone, even when I know they’re probably going to give me that same old look.
That same old look was the look that the eight phonies were giving everybody else tonight. But that’s just it, everybody else was enjoying his or herself, and having fun, and unabashedly being themselves. We were watching wrestling because we like it and because we like ourselves. The football game was much more mainstream, much more normal, that’s pretty clear already, none of us needed that pointed out any further by these eight phonies.
Part of me wants to say that I was so upset because that kid was sitting so near by and could have heard them being such jerks. But I know he didn’t and that he had a great time. The reason why I’m so upset is because I get upset really easy, it’s really easy for stupid people to piss me off, and these were the stupidest of people. There’s nothing worse than a bully, than someone who tries to make others feel bad about themselves simply because they’re happy to be their self.
Earlier I saw some concept images for the upcoming Green Lantern movie and it got me thinking…
“Wouldn’t this make a better science fiction movie than it would a super-hero movie?”
I know that people will argue that super-hero movies are science fiction movies. But that isn’t true. Just the same way that there are horror movies that aren’t science fiction. It can take place in space, it can defy physics, it can raise the dead or build a laser—but none of these things make it science fiction.
The problem is of course that Sci-Fi is both a genre and a topic. Because of this the distinction between what is science fiction and what is about an aspect of science fiction is sometimes difficult to tell. Stephen King has a book (Danse Macabre) all about how some movies, like Alien, might take place in space and have astro-miners and aliens but are inherently horror films. The astro-miners are the protagonists but the antagonist, the alien, is a monster. This is much the same way that Frankenstein (1931) is a horror or monster movie and not science fiction, even though it is full of text tubes and has a mad scientist. James Bond movies are full of lasers and space technology but it is pretty clear that these things are plot devices, MacGuffins, furthering the plot but adding very little in terms of theme.
But that’s what makes a movie science fiction. Theme rather than content is what makes it a genre. However, it’s common for the dichotomy in science fiction to be taken advantage of. Not just works borrowing the look or style of science fiction, but by the direct degeneration of a genre based on its successes. As a prominent literary genre, science fiction shares some themes with other genres, as they all do. But too often is a successful piece in this genre re-categorized as Literature, implying something about the nature of science fiction as a genre and the other books under that distinction.
(But this, in itself, raises the issue of genres. There is a very strong argument against organizing art by genre. None stronger, perhaps, than walking through a book store and recognizing the complete incompetence of the aisles. Nevermind high and low art. Because Brave New World can be removed from ‘Science Fiction’ and put in ‘Literature,’ it should not be a surprise that Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man can be taken out of ‘Literature’ and put amongst the growing number of black romance novels that are beginning to define the ‘African American Lit.’ section. But it is a surprise.)
Science fiction is a very difficult to interpret type of story telling because it is a topic and a genre. But it shouldn’t be this hard. the themes in science fiction, the true tropes of the genre, are abundant, giving, and clear. The morality, implications, intentions, behind these ideas and how they are used is what breathes life into true science fiction. Traveling through time or flying through space can mean more than just point A to point B. But often it doesn’t, and that is why so much posing as science fiction sucks. And it really sucks.
If we are going to hold on to antiquated organizational means such as we have now than new distinctions need to be made. Maybe there is a difference between science fiction and sci-fi and maybe it is high and low. But even if there isn’t, is it so much to ask that people at least start to think about it and make some better decisions.
There is a line in the sand. It the past few years I have only seen a handful of truly great and truly science fiction movies. Moon, Sunshine, District 9. If movies like these want to compete, then they need to avoid the Superhero Summers. I have pretty low hope for science fiction at the movies this year. I’d really hoped that the superhero trend would end and that movies like Avatar would start a new trend and, like the 80s, we could finally get some good science fiction. But maybe next year or the year after that.
I don’t really care about Green Lantern, at all. But, here is an opportunity, a real chance, to do something with the superhero movie as a type. Of all the comic book characters that have been offered the chance at film none of the big names has the clear option to be a science fiction movie more than Green Lantern. As far as a superhero story goes Green Lantern is soft science fiction bordering at times on fantasy. What more could they ask for? How much easier could it be to make this mainstream film science fiction and do it right- making it enjoyable but also provocative. Make a superhero movie sure, if you must, but make it explorative.
What’s wrong with the Creature From the Black Lagoon is everything that is wrong with science and religion: Love.
I can still remember when I first saw this movie. It was a long time ago. Throughout six and seventh grade I spent many Friday nights with my best friends Joshua and Nathaniel. We’d stay up “late” at Josh’s, sitting on his floor watching old movies his father had rented for us. We’d watch the classics: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, Abbott and Costello Battle Racism and Oppression in White Hollywood. And we’d watch the creature features, like The Creature From the Black Lagoon.
Remember when you were little, and you were never sure whether something was going to be really scary, or just exciting and funny instead? Watching The Creature From the Black Lagoon is very much like that. When you’re young so many things that shouldn’t be scary are scary, like dead bodies, and missing links, and girls. But when we get older the really terrifying stuff in the night comes out, like loneliness, and lose, and woman. And if we’re lucky those things can still be funny too. But what was nice was that back then they always were funny and scary. Back when we were little everything scary had the possibility of being funny, and that’s the way it should be. We should be able to laugh at ourselves over the stupid stuff we get torn up and freaked out over. I remember hiding in Josh’s closet, wound up in a curtain, waiting for Nathaniel to come out of the bathroom so I could jump out at him. And remember that feeling you used to get, that feeling when you’re trying to scare someone, and you’re so tied into it, so excited and young and funny that you’re scared too? Scared of your own tricks, of your own jokes, of how young and stupid and sublime you are. I had that felling. And it was wonderful, wonderful to be scared.
That’s what The Creature From the Black Lagoon is like. You don’t know if you should be scared or laughing. And usually it changes every time you watch it. Just like when you’re trying to scare someone else, if you want it to be scary, if you’re willing to let yourself go, let yourself be a part of it, it can be as scary and exciting as anything in life can be.
The last time I watched The Creature From the Black Lagoon I decided to get a professional opinion on the movie. So I went to Wynston Rose McCreary- The Swimmer. And right away she hit it right on the head:
“I don’t get it…is it supposed to be funny?”
Wynston is completely right, sometimes you can’t tell! The Creature From the Black Lagoon doesn’t always make sense. The character himself…its self, really is a contradiction between science and religion. And no, not like the way Nightcrawler is a Catholic, or John McCain is a Republican, but the way Jesus is the son of God, or Orion is the son of Darksied, or Luke is the son of Vader.
You have to understand; the level of weirdness in this film is of that like you’ve never seen before. It isn’t a horror film, or a slasher, or a thriller; it’s a creature feature. The villain isn’t evil, or demented, or a Dracula, they’re just weird. They’re blobs and flies and gillmen. The Opening scene of Creature is the creation of the heavens and the earth…and then all of a sudden WHAM! they cut to the primordial sands of evolution and start talking about how all life evolved out of the sea, pulling itself up from the dregs and the muck and pretending to be man. They even say the world is over 15 million years old. See? They’re coming at us from all angles!
The main character, The Creature, Gillman, is no less confusing when you think about him. He’s a sort of missing link, part man, part fish. Have you ever watched a fish in a tank? They’re fucking crazy! And so is Gillman. Fish are like retarded hairless dogs that can breath underwater. They go all over the place, eat all sorts of stuff, chase and roll and scrap with one another, and what do they do at the end of the day? Die on you. And Gillman is the same way.
In the film a group of scientists travel to the Amazon searching for The Creature. And, of course, they have to bring along a young, pretty, she-scientist. And of course, Gillman falls in love and tries to kidnap her. Which makes no sense! I’m not sure what he wants with her, he has no penis. So why is he kidnapping her if he can’t rape her? What, is he going to wait for her to drop her eggs and swim up stream so he can then fertilize them? Or, of course, maybe he’s just a little curious and wants to dry hump her a bit.
Honestly though, I find it pretty upsetting that the science crew and I totally expect Gillman to rape the girl. Why can’t he just kidnap her? Why can’t he just want someone to talk to, some company? Why is that so unbelievable? Oh yeah, because he’s a fish man. And that is exactly what makes Gillman so tragic: He’s a fish that is in love with a woman… not even Shakespeare could have written a story that compelling. Gillman, the eunuch child of creationism and evolution, is in love with a white woman in 1954. And, in the end it isn’t tragic, or cute, or anything lasting, it’s just unnatural, unreal, unbelievable. But, like any good love affair, totally frightening and worth dying for.
Sitting there in my room watching the movie for the first time in years with The Swimmer I had to consider our own unnatural love affair and how deep and weird and wet it was. I had to think about how long I’d known Wynston, how I’d met her, and how we’d gotten where we were, sitting there across my bed. When I first met Wynston I was all over her, just like Gillman. But unlike Gillman, her and I are really good friends now, and I didn’t get shot and lit on fire and drugged and killed for loving her.
I really do love her; she’s my best friend. And it really is weird and wet and deep, but it’s also real, and like any good friendship totally frightening sometimes and absolutly unnatural.
I think in the end what is most upsetting about The Creature’s story is that the very people that came looking for him kill him. They chased him down, they cornered him, they made him fall in love. And isn’t that the way it always is? We ask for it, we want it, we know the score and the price, but we still fall in love, we still go looking for it. That’s the point though. We fall in love and risk the weirdness of it all, the possible pains and growths and fears, but we still do it. And like we’re being transported through the Amazon or back to childhood we’re struck with the sudden fear and excitement and thrill of being scared. And it’s that thrill, that horror, that funny feeling that makes us laugh out loud when we know we love someone and are scared as hell that we do. And it’s that laugh that makes the search and the pain and the black waters all worth the while.
“Why is a movie about a black lagoon so reflective to me?” “I wonder what color their clothes are.”
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Jek Tono Porkins is a useless piece of shit. Of all the characters in the Star Wars Universe he is without doubt the largest waste of space. In a world where any character (no matter how small their part in the original films) can find immortality and depth in the Extended Universe, Porkins is the exception that proves the rule. His appearances beyond A New Hope are all limited to the cockpit he died in, most likely because he was stuck in it, and half of these are by mention only. He is a stock character. Like the running buffalo reel, Porkins is pointless filler. Fat filler.
Porkins, like Luke, once flew a T-16 before becoming part of the rebel movement. Like Luke he was a friend of Biggs Darklighter’s before he too died. However, Porkins, unlike Luke, was a fat piece of shit and an awful pilot. Looking at him in the cockpit, jiggling up an down, you have to wonder how he ever got into it. Or, if perhaps the reason he hasn’t been portrayed outside his role in Red Squadron is because he was in fact stuck inside his starfighter, his ass grown into the circuitry and all. Why didn’t he eject like Darklighter told him to? Because he was stuck!
His mass begs the question: did Rouge Squadron not have some sort of physical standard to which their pilots were held to? I mean I understand that they were hard up for flyboys but even Porkins proved to be less capable in the Battle of Yavin than did Luke, and it’s most likely Luke hadn’t even flown a starfighter before. I understand the retirement rate for Red Squadron pilots is about the same as the retirement rate of Italian Formula 1 race car drivers but it seems that there should be some standard- after all these men are being given expensive and precious equipment in the Rebel fight against the Empire. It seems they should be able to keep them inflight for at least the frist two minutes of an attack.
Porkins’ Wookieepedia entry is a testament to the utter uselessness of the fat fucker. Half of the article is dedicated to trying to make sense of his death and explain away his incompetence as a rebel pilot-
Though his X-wing fighter was maneuverable enough to avoid the Death Star’s sluggish turbolasers, a mechanical malfunction hampered his ability to dodge enemy fire. Jek always set his acceleration compensator to full power, and unfortunately in this case it caused him to misjudge his altitude. He needed a short break to restabilize, during which one of the Death Star turbolaser emplacements was able to home in on him and shoot him down.
An X-wing’s maximum acceleration in 3,700 Gs and has a maximum speed of 1,050 km/h but even in the weightlessness of space Porkins’ fat ass was heavy enough to fuck him over, slow him down, drop him too low and get him shot. The only “malfunction” Porkins experienced was a glandular malfunction of fatness and sucking.
The Star Wars franchise is notorious for creating figures in its toy line that are almost impossible to play with like Bacta Tank Luke (ohh, fun) and Count Dooku hologram (fucking pointless) but the Porkins toy takes the cake, just like Porkins. Nothing is better than a toy of a fat, clumsy, dead pilot. Even the barfing Jabba the Hutt offers more backstory and possibilities for fun than Porkins. I remember one Christmas morning when I was about 10 or 11 when my brother unwrapped his big gift and it was a X-wing starfighter with flashing lights, launching missiles, and an array of movie sounds. And then I opened my gift. What was i
t? Disappointment. I’d been given what I thought must have been the worst possible toy to give a Star Wars child: a TIE Fighter. Why was it such an awful gift? Because it, like its movie counterpart, was only good at doing one thing – dying. That’s all it did. Instead of flashing lights, shooting missiles and making realistic sounds from the movie it instead blew up. It literally fell apart one wing at a time, again and again and again right in your hands. I couldn’t have been more upset. If I only knew now what I didn’t know then. If I had been given the choice of an enemy ship who’s extent of fun was epic failure or a dumpy little Porkins figure AND an X-wing I would have picked the TIE Fighter. That is how worthless Porkins is, the piece of shit.
But don’t get me wrong; I don’t think he’s an awful Star Wars character because of his fatness. I think Porkins is an awful Star Wars character because he died almost immediately into the Battle of Yavin…and his fatness.
Porkins is an obese turd in an orange flight suit. It’s even in his name, Porkins- porky, piggy, swine, shit lover. It’s kind of insulting. Was Plo Koon black? No. Was Wenton Chan asian? No. So why did they have to name the fat guy Porkins? Lucas might of well as just called him Tommy Lardnova or Dic Muncher.
What’s in a name? that which we call Porkins by any other name would be so fat.