Films are propaganda

My new quest: to hit all of the regional/semi-obscure hamburger places on my trip across the country, i.e. In-N-Out, Whataburger, Carl’s Jr, White Castle, Rally’s, Checkers, Hot N Now, etc. Please advise on any other places like this, in which states they occur, etc. Maybe I will start up a page with some comparisons and whatnot.

I feel like quoting the lyrics to Iron Maiden’s song “Running Free”. I am now gainfully unemployed. My final exit was anticlimactic and fairly retarded. It still hasn’t hit me yet, except for every time I reach for my wallet and realize that money’s gotta last me for a while. I’m hoping that without the final commute and the daily lunches at the deli, this will be a cheap final two weeks. Plus I want to try and eat everything out my kitchen before I leave, which will most likely result in odd combo meals like a corn dog, a frozen burrito, cup-a-soup, and creamed corn with a big glass of Tang on the side.

I saw Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas last night at a midnight show at the Egyptian. I think this was my favorite for all of ’98, and it sure was a hell of a show to see right before I vanish into the desert on my own insane roadtrip. Before I reorganized everything to get to the Trinity site on time, I was planning on going from Vegas to LA, partially because of the trip in this movie. (Okay, they made the trip in Swingers, too.) I went with Duffin, and we both laughed our balls off. I’ve seen the film five times now, but the first twenty minutes still make it almost impossible to breathe. And it’s even better when you’re in a theatre with a bunch of people who are also partially fucked up and freaking out, too.

I got a weird, heavy vibe from the more philisophical parts of the movie, the narrations about the hippie community and the San Fran scene. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I have this feeling that in five years, I’m going to be writing some book that deals with my ambivalent feelings with Seattle. I guess when I first got here, it would be like that Steven Levy book Hackers, with this group of wizards casting pure black magic on unix machines, the internet, and the industry as a whole. I mean, when I was in college, we had our gang of hackers, and outside the work and the grades, it was all about the jokes, the caffeine, staying up for three days straight, and snorting lines of the purest technology available. I pictured Seattle as an orgy of an exponential factor greater – the same kind of momentum, but everyone would be bathing in cash and living the life. Instead, it’s diluted into a bunch of people shitting bricks over their stock options and taking orders not only from The Man, but from The Man’s idiot marketing team. Shit, I’m rambling again.

So we went to the fucking movie. I saw the new Star Wars trailer there. If you just downloaded it and you’re watching it flicker and jump in a postage stamp sized QuickTime window, go see it in a fucking theatre. It is so damned ominous – I couldn’t breathe through the whole thing. The details are mind-numbingly incredible. It’s the first time I’ve seen an audience applaud a trailer. When that thing comes out, it’s going to break every attendance record ever… until the second one follows. I bet it won’t win an Oscar though. They only give those to films with retarded people in them.

Before the film, I hung out at Duffin’s and ate some dinner. We came back later and watched Baseketball, which his roommate rented. I’d forgotten how damn funny that film was. It makes me wish Orgazmo was out on video already. Both of those films getting panned by critics is a prime example of why critics should follow Gene Siskel’s example and have an anneurism and die. It’s clear that the reason that they gave both of these films bad reviews is because they don’t like Matt and Trey, probably because they have a lot of good ideas that don’t fall into the traditional hollywood mold. Oh, and they didn’t cast Juliette Lewis as a retard.

I don’t mean to get down on the mentally challenged or anything. My point is this: films are propaganda. Popular films define a culture, and sometimes change it. After Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make a half dozen of those weepy chick-flicks, guys suddenly realize that they need to buy flowers and pay attention and be romantic to get into somebody’s pants. After Deliverance, everone in the world knew that if you dropped your wallet in Kentucky, kick it until you’re in Ohio and then bend over to pick it up. And what about all of the Rocky/Rambo films which got all of us (except me) whipped into a frenzy about the small guy coming out on top and killing the entire Red Chinese army with a steakknife and a pack of chewing gum? Propaganda. Big films can change the opinion of a country.

So, wouldn’t it make sense to make great films that tell people that it’s okay to be different, or that you should study hard and go to a good college, or that it’s our #1 priority to work hard and be compassionate to help others, or other good stuff? Instead, studios would rather make money telling people that retarded people are cute. And why not? Forrest Gump scored high in test audiences, and made the studios a trillion dollars. Retarded people are a license to print money in Hollywood. Even the most asinine person in the middle of Martinsville, Indiana is smarter than Forest Gump. So what happens when a generation of kids want to grow up being mentally handicapped instead of wanting to be astronauts or the Beatles? If I was the president, I would nationalize film studios. George Lucas, I’d let him keep making Star Wars films. In fact, I’d cancel the Stealth Bomber program and give him all of the money so he could make another 16 of those damn things. But everyone else – they are in the propaganda business. No more dizzy chick-flicks. No more retards, or short people, or fat people, or whatever else that we’re supposed to feel sorry for. And no more god damned redemption-through-sports films. If a group of underdogs wants to prove they are better than the tough jocks at the neighboring school, they aren’t going to put together a hockey team and win the pennant. They’re going to go to Stanford, get PhD’s in high energy physics, build an atomic bomb, and blow up the whole fucking city. I’d pay nine dollars to see that. And maybe then kids would think “hey, college is cool”, instead of thinking “I wish I was retarded so people would like me – maybe I will just act dumb for the rest of my life”

Am I completely out of line on this?

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