Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Slim and Precious are hanging out with their parents. watching a Discovery Channel documentary on insects.
RAYMOND: I’m sorry you kids are stuck in boring old Minnesota, but in this economy, I didn’t feel confident financing trips to some lovely tropical destination where you could get sloshed on tequila shooters and enjoy casual handjobs under a canopy.
PRECIOUS: Aside from the canopy, that sounds like pretty much every weekend at college.
WIFE: I thought you were a feminist. Can you reconcile that with your slutty habit of jerking boys you barely even know to climax?
PRECIOUS: Of course! I need the perfect technique so I can coerce men, literally have them wrapped inside my hand. Don’t tell me none of you has ever experienced, witnessed, or administered a handjob so powerful it could alter the course of history. Behind every great man is a female hand pulling, tickling, stroking, and tantalizing his strings.
RAYMOND: I haven’t had those experiences you mention since my days at boarding school, but that’s a story for another time. Maybe we should’ve sent Slim to boarding school. I’m afraid he’ll start college with his penis untouched by any hands besides his own.
PRECIOUS: And doctors’. They still do that cough test at physicals, right?
SLIM: Hello, bitches! I’m right here and my fucking ears work!
PRECIOUS: Are you implying this talk about your boy parts is possibly making you uncomfortable?
SLIM: I’m implying that I’m going to stab you in the cunt with an ice pick while you sleep.
PRECIOUS: Ooh. Sharon Stone, your inspiration has transcended the bounds of your intentions.
RAYMOND: Let’s keep the possibility of your mother and I becoming grandparents alive.
PRECIOUS: If they can breed an impregnable watermelon, the Cox name might live on regardless.
SLIM: Okay, fuck you all. I’m going to go upstairs and see if the internet has created a market for whatever is the opposite of Viagra.
WIFE: I think that’s called Rosie O’Donnell.
She and Raymond laugh hysterically.
SLIM (heading upstairs): That’s the funniest thing I’ve encountered since last Sunday’s “Family Circus.”
He goes to his room and slams the door.
WIFE: I hope he isn’t too sore. Teenage boys can be so touchy. . . .
RAYMOND: Based on what I see at my store, boys of all ages can be pretty darn touchy.
WIFE: I meant in the PMS-type sense.
PRECIOUS: I’m sure his ovarian irritation is nothing a shot of dry vermouth and a spirited bout of death-grip masturbation won’t solve.
WIFE: I sure hope so.
RAYMOND: Maybe he’s sad because those brothers he’s always hanging out with went to Mexico. Precious, maybe you can convince him to get out of the house and do something fun. Have a wild Spring Break here in Minneapolis!
PRECIOUS: I think that can be arranged.
Precious, Boobs Carlisle, and Jogs Chignon are having drinks at the Red Dragon, a dive restaurant mainstay with alarmingly large and potent tropical drinks.
PRECIOUS: Remember in high school when all those girls would come back from Spring Break with nuclear orange skin and those microbraids?
BOOBS: And hoarse voices from screeching at Senor Tequila or whatever those clubs that were always on MTV are called.
PRECIOUS: Senor Rohypnol!
JOGS: It’s Senor Itchy's. A lot of my friends were there last week.
PRECIOUS: And I bet some of them had unmemorable—perhaps literally—sex with orange high school girls with microbraids.
BOOBS: Working during the U’s Spring Break is nice because most of the frat boys are gone.
JOGS: Yeah. I was at ladies’ night at Grandma’s last week, and it was actually not a total sausage-fest for once.
PRECIOUS: Well, every night is ladies’ night in Tijuana! Grandma’s can’t exactly compete with that.
The waitress arrives with three very large pink-orange cocktails.
PRECIOUS: Let’s toast to Spring Break, the week after Spring Break, and a temporary douchebag break at the Vu.
PRECIOUS: Sweet Jesus, this thing would knock out a sumo wrestler. Or you, Jogs.
JOGS: I’m already sixteen percent finished with my weight loss. When I’m done, you’ll be a third wheel.
BOOBS: Just don’t be jealous if I try out a few dozen grade-A slabs of Midwestern sausage in the meantime.
JOGS: That reminds me: My sister wanted to meet with you.
PRECIOUS: Is she trying to break into the life?
JOGS: No, she’s a legitimate model.
BOOBS: That’s what they all say at first, but then you meet a handsome 35-year-old man named Fernando who says he’ll give you money and a boobjob if you just pose for a few innocent pictures and it all goes well aside from the razor-burn on your snatch and then Fernando and his friends take you to clubs and the next thing you know you’re naked on all fours on top of a pool table and three guys with banana whips and facemasks are smacking you with said whips and their rock-hard cocks and you’re sick of stripping but the cash is good and the drug connections are convenient and you mostly don’t go home with johns and if it was really intolerable you could quit, go back to school, and stay clean whenever you wanted to.
JOGS: I’m not sure if that’s going to cause nightmares or the opposite, but I kind of wish they had pool tables here right now.
PRECIOUS: We can go somewhere and play later, but I really want to stop at Sex World tonight. I have to pick up some porn for this project I’m doing on the subversive potential of generic appropriation for my Performativity seminar.
JOGS: Can’t you just get that from your dad’s store?
PRECIOUS: Maybe, but Sex World’s discount section is hilarious, and I was considering getting some nitrous, which Fantasy Experience doesn’t carry.
BOOBS: Fine with me. I’m in the market for a new pair of crotchless tights anyway. My old ones didn’t survive the last Promise Keepers convention in town.
JOGS: As long as pool is involved at some point, I’m down.
Slim and Chunky are hanging out in Slim’s bedroom. Slim is in front of the computer and Chunky is checking out the photo section in a biography of Roger Waters.
CHUNKY: Dude, last year we had Easter at OCB. That was pretty awesome, but lots of people were there dressed for church, which was kind of random.
SLIM: Great white trash minds think alike, apparently.
CHUNKY: Actually, lots of them were black.
SLIM: Dude, look! Ratso just logged on. Shouldn’t that fucker be paying some Mexican whore to give him the clap or some shit?
CHUNKY: Or watching a donkey show! I heard you can pay money to watch those bitches get fucked by donkeys or burros or whatever. Ask if he’s gonna check that shit out!
SLIM: Haven’t you seen shit like that on the internet?
CHUNKY: Of course, but it would fucking awesome in person.
SLIM (typing): I’m asking if Saggy and Ratso like slathering suntan lotion on each other’s bare torsos.
CHUNKY: Who cares about that shit?
SLIM: Don’t you think that’s really gay?
SLIM: He says they have new pictures on Facebook already. Dude, why are you updating Facebook and chatting online? You could do that shit here. Their Spring Break is lamer than ours.
CHUNKY: They’ll get fucked up and fucker sooner or later. What are we gonna do? Drink your mom’s fucking wine coolers and go get lap dances again?
SLIM: Can your poor ass afford one?
CHUNKY: My ass may be poor but at least it’s built. That Boobs bitch should be paying me to rub her snatch against it.
SLIM: I don’t think you understand the concept of a lap dance. You make it sound like the guy gets spanked by a chick’s crotch. That would require some motherfucking contortionist-type shit.
CHUNKY: We could check out the Vu or another strip club tonight.
SLIM: What the fuck is this bullshit? That sack-wrangler is wearing a thong. Are they at Spring Break for fags?
CHUNKY: Lemme see.
He goes to the computer.
CHUNKY: Noice. You get less tan lines that way, although I tan naked so my ass looks even better. Plus it’s still buffer.
SLIM: Well, hooray for fuckin’ you! Unfortunately I don’t want to spend Spring Break discussing male asses, so let’s bounce.
CHUNKY: Wait. I want to check out the rest of the new pictures first. . . . Hah, Ratso is doing body shots off some ugly bitch.
SLIM: I wonder if they’ll try to see a fucking “Girls Gone Wild” video shoot.
CHUNKY: Or maybe they’ll try to get in “Guys Gone Wild.”
SLIM: Does that shit even exist? Saggy better watch out.
CHUNKY: Why? Dude, that would be awesome.
SLIM: That’s not the word that pops into my mind.
Slim and Chunky get out of the latter’s discount-modded El Camino into the Third Street parking lot in downtown Minneapolis and take the stairs down to exit on Second Avenue.
SLIM: We should go somewhere different this time. What sounds good? Dreamgirls? Pole Position?
CHUNKY: Dude, I want to see Boobs, though.
SLIM: You’ll see more than that at any of them.
CHUNKY: No, dumbass, the person Boobs.
SLIM: Oh. She doesn’t want your jock, moron. And I don’t fucking think strippers go to work hoping to meet high school juniors to go out with, like, ever. What, do you think she’ll go to the prom with you?
CHUNKY: Why not? At least I have Tamra to fall back on. You’ll be the first Edina dude since my brother to go to prom with your own right hand.
SLIM: Fuck you! Anyway, I’m pretty sure my sister was hanging out with Boobs tonight, and I don’t think they’d go to the Vu. Although with those bitches, who knows?
Waiting to cross Third Avenue, they see a group of people walking down the opposite side of the street, laughing hysterically.
SLIM: Fucking downtown crowds, drunk idiots stumbling and puking surfers on acid. Downtown Minneapolis should not fucking be Tijuana Part Dos.
CHUNKY: Isn’t that your sister? (Calling out) Precious! Boobs! That guy with the hot sister!
Precious et al wait for Slim and Chunky to catch up to them.
PRECIOUS: Delving into Downtown’s musky crotch? I hear Lickety Split is having a fantastic sale on silicon two-headed dongs this week. You two can play Requiem for a Dream!
BOOBS (to Jogs): You can get hooked on diet pills like that batshit old bitch.
SLIM: Ellen Burstyn was fucking robbed at the Oscars that year! Aronofsky directs the shit out of people and nobody notices.
PRECIOUS: You and your testosterone canon—that’s one “N.” I may be tipsy but I’m not about to start spouting vastly unrealistic phallic platitudes.
SLIM: Fuck you!
CHUNKY: Dude, you guys should totally buy us some beer.
PRECIOUS: That would be wildly immoral. How dare you assume I would ever encourage you to behave like normal high school students? If you want to comport with normalization, don’t look at me to do anything but shed a single Foucauldian tear.
JOGS: We just studied that fag in my sociology class.
BOOBS: Not that again. You two can can it with the smarty bullshit. Are we going to Sex World or what?
PRECIOUS: Yes! I refuse to end the evening without European retro-colonial-historical anal videos, or something equally brilliant.
BOOBS (to Slim and Chunky): Are you coming with us or what?
Slim and Chunky look at each other and shrug.
PRECIOUS: Of course they are.
She puts her arms around them and skips toward the entrance, humming the Thunderpuss 2000 mix of “Sexual” by Amber.
The group has entered Sex World, which occupies three floors of a late nineteenth century warehouse. The upper portion of the vaulted ground level is interspersed with flat-screen televisions, all playing the same scene, which involves a cherry lollipop.
CHUNKY: Dude, internet shit is so much more hardcore than this. It’s like, a bitch sticking a sucker in some other bitch’s cunt and the licking it: big fucking deal. I saw worse shit in fifth grade.
SLIM: That may be due to your brother’s collection of tranny punch-fucking videos.
CHUNKY: True. Or those Russian guys coming in bowls of milk shot out of some bitch’s ass and then they both drink it.
SLIM: What the fuck!?
PRECIOUS: Jesus, I don’t think I’ve felt a hint of prudishness since the Larry Clark retrospective. I sure hope it’s the booze.
BOOBS: I’m gonna go upstairs and look for those tights.
SLIM: Don’t spend your sex paraphernalia dollars here! Come to our store. We have tons of different tights: edible, leopard-print, metallic . . .
SLIM: Of course!
BOOBS: I don’t want to drive all the way to fucking Richfield when we’re already here, though.
SLIM: But our mall is fucking awesome. You can get Indian food, shit at Dollar Experience, black people fried chicken, checks cashed . . .
PRECIOUS: It’s like Williamsburg without the scruff-core hipsters discussing steampunk over Zywiec served by 60-something Eastern European women dripping with costume jewelry.
CHUNKY (looking at video): Why does every bitch in porn have a pierced clit there days?
JOGS: I know, right? And that weird chunky two-toned hair.
PRECIOUS: I don’t think you’re in a position to decry anything for merely possessing qualities denoted by the adjective “chunky.”
CHUNKY (laughing hysterically): Pwned!
SLIM: Dude, your fucking name is Chunky.
CHUNKY: But it’s illiteral.
PRECIOUS: Literally illiteral, as Sandra Lee might say.
BOOBS: We should get moving it we want to play pool later. I’m going upstairs to check out the clothes.
JOGS: Can I join you?
BOOBS: Sure. At the rate you’re going, you won’t get to hit this for another decade or two, so at least I can give you something for the spank bank.
They leave for the elevator.
SLIM: This place is so much worse than our store. It’s huge and nasty.
PRECIOUS: Yes, Dad’s store never had the overpowering aura of semen that always seems to be lingering here.
SLIM: That’s because we hose down the jackoff booths like a fucking Ebola monkey had been in there.
PRECIOUS: Well, going to those booths is a tremendously exciting experience for some people. They’ve been waiting for days to relieve all this built up—I guess “tension” is one word for it—and anticipating closing the door, sliding a stiff bill into the slot with trembling hands, carefully selecting the channel called “teen” and watching a 23-year-old girl styled to look much younger with plastic butterfly barrettes rub her tight pink hairless pussy through translucent underwear while a man ten years her senior with decent musculature but a paunch expresses his desire to penetrate one or more of her holes with his disproportionately large cock . . .
CHUNKY: What floor are the jackoff booths on?
PRECIOUS: There’s a directory in the elevator.
Chunky hobbles as quickly as he can to the elevator, leaving Precious and Slim alone just outside the “mature” section.
PRECIOUS: So, are you going to help me find discount videos to subversively dub over, or were you in the market for a prostate stimulator or some sort of fucksleeve, or what?
SLIM: Why the fuck are you dubbing porn?
PRECIOUS: It’s for school, of course.
SLIM (sarcastically): Sure.
PRECIOUS: What, you think I’d be embarrassed to buy porn for any other reason? I’m all for embracing the liberatory potential of sex publics in all its messy contingencies. If you like fisting, buy or find a fist. Rimming? Find a disinfected asshole. Edgeplay? I don’t really know what that means, but I’m all for it as long as it’s consensual.
SLIM: I’m surrounded by this shit all the time. . . . I don’t know.
PRECIOUS: Maybe you need to find your niche. Enjoy your fetish. The discount wall has all sorts of shit, possibly including shit itself.
Slim is hesitant. Precious leaves him to contemplate and starts browsing the sale wall.
END OF PART ONE
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
For years, the American film industry was stagnant, a decaying factory, one capable of utilizing its well-greased gears to churn out a veritable fire hose-powered stream of brilliant diegeses. From the golden era of Coppola and Kubrick and Spielberg to the Golden Era of black and white classics that fail to hold up to the tastes and standards of today’s intelligently educated and judicious critical audiences—spoiled forever by the riches of method acting and the mainstream appropriation of techniques feigning challenges to linearity and the hegemony of so-called “realism”—the 4/4 time signature of the filmic universe—Hollywood once worked its magic. Yet all that changed.
Mark my words, I said to myself one blustery March afternoon in 1998, the new millennium will bring an era of floundering, of failed attempts at transcendence, of lachrymose overblown pseudo-extravaganzas that would make Tornatorre turn crimson and adopt a strict diet of wheatgrass shots and Chantal Akerman. The late 90’s were just too good to connoisseurs of the cinema: from on high, Cameron and Zemeckis, Van Sant and Gibson, and so many other luminous mainstream megaliths bestowed us with an embarrassment of riches. Our days and night were stupid with crackling dialogue, scintillating cinematography, and real stars shining, radiating a luminous power that no Oscar could capture the laud-worthiness of.
Then the Oughts came, and with them the grim realization of the tragically predictable ebbing of the industry. Where once movie houses had been the holiest of temples, their neon flashes beckoning converts more effectively than the lustiest Baptist revival this side of the Snake River, now sad streams of filmgoers trickled in and out, faces blank, numbed by their failure to recapture the vigorous energy, the sheer invigoration, that trips to films inundated them with just a few short years hence.
Time slogged ever onwards, seemingly apocalyptically, a lineal slide downward amassing velocity and with no evident counter-force, no torque or anti-gravity to repel the fatalistic rapid cultural drift. In most of the country, and in American satellites and territories from Guam to the Lesser Antilles archipelago, the film cognoscenti breathed a collective last gasp and began throwing in the Rocky 3 promotional towels they had preserved in weekly-dusted Lucite display boxes mounted in treasured alcoves alongside autographed stills of Hanks or Williams, and proudly showed off to wowed guests as incontrovertible proof of their dedicated adoration of high-quality domestic cinematic product.
Foolhardy as it may have seemed, glimmers of hope still fought their way to the surface, or perhaps one should say a surface, since said surface’s location was indeed somewhat removed from the ideological if not geographical center of the nation. More exactly, this now-mythical epicenter of hope was and to this day still is situated in Park City, Utah. Its founding father, Robert Redford, unlike other patriarchs of American film, chose not to give back to society with arguably slightly highbrow prepared food items or a haphazardly-constructed water park destined to wreak legal havoc via litigious fill buff tourists with cursory knowledge of tort law, but instead spearheaded a film festival whose niche, though likely not predetermined, settled comfortably into a slot, a situated identity developing therein, one with the potential to save the world of American film.
The slow growth of the Sundance film—a feverish pulsating in small creaks, then miniature bounds, until finally triumphal spurts of brilliance—certainly bears repeated academically rigorous book-length studies from sundry interdisciplinary fields. Yet however, such is not the aim of the exposition you find yourself currently enmeshed in; no, while we await the inevitable publication of said scholarly tomes, let us meditate on the last two or three years in American film and, most specifically, the invention of the genre that singlehandedly catapulted the U.S. cinema from a place of despair and rot to new platitudes lit with the pleasure only the most masterfully crafted narrative films can offer to eternally grateful audiences.
Before shooting my proverbial wad and simply naming—and I mean that in an inventive, originary, performative sense rather than a purely descriptive one—this new genre of film, I want to dip my wick briefly into some of the movements which came together to produce the newest, most important filmic strain perhaps since the advent of the wheel. This itself is not surprisingly an outrageously daunting task, so deepest apologies in advance in the most definite case that the following analysis is soaked in surreptitiousness. In fact, to highlight the a priori arbitrary nature of this self-appointed onus, I shall select three distinct but interrelated cinematic trends and briefly wax nostalgic on how they have contributed to the genre with which this tract is centrally concerned. For the sake of not sacrificing meaningfulness to clarity, I will now delineate what I will not call those three thrusts.
THRUST NUMBER ONE: THE ASCENT OF THE IRONICAL
Since the dawn of humorous writing and other cultural outlets in American society, undercurrents of satire and parody have always bubbled up periodically, evanescent rays of luminous hilarity in an often depressingly unfunny miasma of straightforwardness. Why waste energy on slapstick, on sight-gags—cheap devices from roots Shakespearian or vaudevillian, an intersectional legacy of staleness—watching morbidly obese people slip on banana peels or pregnant dwarves survive anvils or spinets tumbling from high-rise apartment windows. Men dressed as women getting hit in the crotch with shuttlecocks or finely trussed game hens ejected from overheating convection ovens blown open by electric or other forceful pulsations, or, really, genitals smacked by any object, from unturned rakes to misaimed golf clubs—funny in 1850, in 1950, but today: so played out.
And don’t get me started on Anglican witticisms with a pretense of bawdiness so flimsy, only wizened louche roués teaching World Lit classes in suburban high schools would be mesmerized in anything other than overpowering annoyance. Away, away! with that, with toilet humor, with knock-knock jokes and Weird Al and all the attempts at hilarity that should be locked away in a coffin shaped like Billy Crystal and thrown out to sea without ceremony.
Hooray, instead, for The Onion, for Colbert and Stewart and Garofolo and the legions of wry, wry pranksters subverting the dominant cultural-humorist paradigm with their wily tricks and pranks. Laud with me the sensibility of irony, the knowing virtual wink that separates the haves from the have nots, the haves who harness, specifically, the ability to see the necessity to ironically send up all those otherwise difficult targets: beauty pageants, motivational speakers, the political right, Christers, middle-aged dorks who think majestic wolf shirts are the epitome of unironic withitness. Finally, these can be exposed for the pathetic spectacles they are, and such exposure could never happen by just letting them represent themselves. Who would know? Who would realize? How and why?
See? You can’t answer these questions. When a “Guns Don’t Kill People. I Kill People” shirt falls on a college boy’s bony torso in the forest, and no one is there, what happens?
This is why we need irony. Irony if the first thrust, a thrust with political and cultural relevance trumping other theoretical considerations like whoa.
THRUST NUMBER TWO: A NEW APPROACH TO RESEARCH
Foolish filmmakers and their equally idiotic collaborators have, for decades, attempted to infuse their products with a sense of realism they believe need be a product of enthusiastic research. And so, actors and writers and producers have posed as asylum inmates, violent Dairy Queen employees, investigative journalists, Nazis, mafia dons, Wild West outlaws, cyborgs, gorillas, and who knows how many other characterizations. Scripts boast pedigrees earned from years scrounging libraries for arcane details, wringing industry experts for the latest medical, dental, legal, psychosexual, and mathematical theorems and suppositions—and these are for contemporary productions. Filmmakers portraying historical milieus delve deeper and further, unearthing minutiae guaranteed to elude the average viewer, and also the far above average viewer. So, you’ve captured exactly the clothing and physiovocal patterns of Swedish tenant farmers in Uppsala between March 1872 and November 1938? Epic fail. You’ve depicted 1963 mafia skirmishes so realistically that the capo wants your head and Witness Protection is pessimistic of your mid-term survival odds? Fail epic.
Painstaking research is for PhD students and high school debate coaches; forget those freaks and their bankrupt methodologies, and instead embrace the new attitude toward research: keep it quick, easy, and functional. Find a qualified group of people—and by “qualified,” read: those who only listen to releases scoring at least 7.3 on Pitchfork, those who either went to liberal arts college or can spew postmodern keywords without either self-hatred or post-surface knowledge of what they actually mean, those who discovered My Bloody Valentine at age 26 in 2007 and whose lives were forever changed thereby—get them. Put them in a room and watch the ideas fly.
For instance: Self-help speakers! Beauty pageants! Nietzsche! Hard drugs! Old people using said hard drugs! VW Bus! Proust! Homos!
And . . . Tada! You’re ready to begin phase two, which consists of spending as much time as you need—probably between two and five minutes—searching the interweb for details on your subject matter. Hopefully needless to say, the same far-from-painstaking technique should underlie your characterization and casting. So what if the Proust professor talks like he’s about as intellectual as Ryan Seacrest, or the drugstore clerk talks like a parody of a white Midwestern hipster obsessed with a wildly inaccurate vision of lack culture learned through the most ill-advised appropriations around, or the hipster nun with a heart of cubic zirconium-encrusted electroplated gold who looks, sounds, and is exactly like Michael Cera. Look, if you can get Michael Cera, he’s going to play the role he was born to play: Michael Cera. You get heaps of cred, massive audiences, and the right to masturbate more kinkily than you’d otherwise dare. So cast Michael Cera, by all means.
Now you’re almost there. You have a hilarious sardonically facetiously ironical script, written at Starbuck’s, not requiring revisions because it’s fresh, not over-researched, not over-conceptualized; what isn’t already perfect will be gilded with a Pitchfork-approved soundtrack and quirky costumes and props. So sit back, enjoy a PBR tallboy, and put on the Kimya Dawson tape on your Fisher-Price stereo as you prepare for the third and—for our purposes—final thrust.
THRUST NUMBER THREE: RIDE YOUR MOMENTUM TOWARD THE BIG “O”
So, you’ve got a movie you know Sundance audiences will love like Fred Phelps likes watching homosexuals cry after realizing their legal status is not equal to normal Americans, at least in California. But you’re in Utah—even better—and the audiences, with their American Apparel hoodies and ironic alpine sweaters and unnecessarily technical outerwear see your film and cheer wildly and would masturbate in oration except sex is grody and they try to ignore the fact that genitals exist because childlike glee is the best emotion and approach to relationships until you’re at least in your mid-30’s. Sure, some people can work as strippers and write about kids who do the nasty and get pregnant as punishment for said sin, but we laugh with them and maybe occasionally at them but with reverence, really, always. Not envy, though.
Maybe you win an award at Sundance and maybe you don’t. It doesn’t matter; the real win there is getting the audience’s reverence, good press (although feel free to ignore the highbrow party-poopers like J. Hoberman—your audiences don’t care about the politicization of sexual agency or Taiwanese puppet shows filmed in glacial real time; they want to see movies where things happen), and, most importantly, a distributor willing to invest money, mafia connections high-class call girls and –boys, and whatever else it takes to propel you to the pinnacle of awesomeness, the destination you dream about, the competitive endpoint of your brilliant journey from Starbuck’s to being a controversial yet widely, even largely, beloved B-list star with A-list name recognition: the O-Nom.
As always, when a new, exciting product comes out that seems to garner near-universal appeal from anyone intelligent but not hypercritical for the sake of being intolerably pretentious—or vice versa—there will eventually be backlash. Jealous, petty, pathetic losers will say, “I could sit at Starbuck’s and white a better script!” or “People don’t really talk like that!” or “There were debilitating flaws in the characterizations that made it difficult to relate to the characters, which the film is unfortunately banking on, to say nothing of the politically problematic implications vis-à-vis agency, especially with regard to historically subordinated groups!”
To the haters, just say, “Fuck off!” You need to know that there can be absolutely no doubt that you deserve an Oscar. Whether or not Harvey Weinstein all but buys it for you, it’s rightfully yours. Sure, it’s an honor just to be nominated, but it’s a lucrative honor, so milk it for the talk show appearances, the goody bags, designers fighting for your patronage not only on the big night but at nominees’ luncheons, the Globes, Bristol Farms, etc. So juice it, enjoy the spoils, but don’t forget that Sunday in March when the big moment finally arrives. Whichever categories you’re nominated in, go in knowing you deserve them win or lose. Sure, they might give the big ones to movies tackling PC issues just because Hollywood has to pretend to care, and the Weinsteins probably have more than one pony in the race, but as long as you know that no one is more deserving than you, you’ve won spiritually if not actually.
Finally, win or lose, you need to plan your future career. You don’t want to fade into obscurity; even though so many legendary bands only released one or two albums, you’re not trying to be the next Jeff Mangum and going crazy and appearing on a giant bicycle looking deranged and making indie kids nostalgic for an era they never experienced drool because you deign to sing two songs with Elephant Six bands that haven’t released anything worth listening to since 1999. No, you want a long-term career: more book deals so you can embellish your milquetoast suburban upbringing with revisionist cred for memoirs so precious they could make Isobel Campbell hopelessly diabetic, TV collaborations with formerly glorious film world stars allowing you access to cast queer icons alongside character actors from beloved 90’s dramadies who make savvy TV viewers say, “S/he needed to come back and if this isn’t the gol-darn perfect role to do just that,” and even more self-indulgent movies—after all, you’ve earned the right to not only be self-indulgent but also self-referential so apply that to genres that need ironical resuscitation like slashers and T&A Skinemax and of course gritty black action movies because, you may not know how black people actually talk, but you sure do know how said blacks ironically talk.
So, made connections; make a tentative plan but with lots of room for spontaneous projects, surprise one-offs, satires of new cultural strains yet to meaningfully emerge, and whatever’s necessary to cater to current and future Michael Ceras. The economy may be up the spout for shizzle, but you can invest in the brilliant marketability of yourself and your friends and co-authors and –artists, shining beacons piercing through the murk of today’s popular culture. Is there any doubt that more Oscars are not so very far down the pipeline?
Now that I’ve attempted to delineate three thrust which, taken together, combine to powerfully push into one forceful super-thrust, if you will, hopefully it has become clear that I am describing a cinematic/cultural form that embodies some of the most forward-thinking projects of recent years.
This mode, characterized by said thrusts as well as other more or less tangible patterns, objects, themes, and currents, lacks nothing in importance, but it does lack a name. Of course, one could argue that there is no “official” genre that encompasses all the cinematical masterworks of earlier decades. Certainly that would be a valid point, yet one only wishes one could group the canonized films of the past into more meaningful genres than “classic,” “drama,” or “partly science fiction with a 75% chance of tits.” Thusly, I have taken upon myself the arguably momentously important task of naming the genre whose tenets—thrusts—I have heretofore outlines. I shall take my own advice and proceed with the full knowledge that my chosen title is award-worthy, were there—if only!—such an award awarded.
Without further exposition, I non-humbly submit said word to you presently: Quirksploitation.
Like all great neologisms, Quirksploitation certainly speaks for itself. It names a concept, a category, that one can understand already exists, discrete but before now nameless. It’s a not uncommon occurrence, the realization that a concept exists before a word defining it does. One could go on a ridiculous pseudo-intellectual tangential rant about linguistics, but no need. Just think of other new words necessitated by new concepts, words which postdated said concepts yet smoothly glided into the common lexicon simply because they filled an obvious void, they leant description where it was noticeably lacking and needed: hegemony, chillax, dongle, fisting, sounding, hella, etc.
But I hope that coining a new word, revolutionarily important as it doubtlessly is, is not the sole combination to our culture I have made in this brief missive. My broader goal, besides introducing a term and explaining the characteristic traits constitution its definition, or part of it, of that term, is to inspire, to inspire hope for film fans that the past and coming years have offered and will continue to offer extraordinarily high-quality, award-winning or –worthy entertainment. Also, I should hope to inspire those artists, those originators of cultural products out there, to follow these guidelines and produce new films, television programs, and other stuff that will elevate our culture and protect it and the various sub-industries within it from declining back toward the stagnant puddle of worthlessness it occupied during the beginning of the siècle.
The consequences are nothing less than earth-shatteringly, mind-blowingly, life-or-death vital. Entire generations of confused teens and drifting young adults can discover themselves via subscription to an ironic, indie ideal that is so definable, so accessible. Some adults and lameasses will never catch on, but when a brilliant idea hits American society, everyone never does. We can create, enforce, and perpetuate a clear-cut identity that can unify the haves, alienate the have nots, and do it with humor, grace, and class.
This is not a revolution, but an evolution, a logical development in the progression of the higher social classes. It is out onus, as card-carrying members of said classes, to create and consume in a responsible manner, to solidify this new category, not only as a description of cultural products, but as an identity. It is where we should be today, where we must be tomorrow and the day after that.
It is what we are and what we should be, so join me and us and be and become it, for now and forever, for a better tomorrow and a whole life of better todays.