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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


California just turned into Utah.

And Dick "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction" Cheney seems to be enjoying a resurgence.

It's interesting, though, that these two areas in which Cons are finding traction are both related to fear and/or loathing.

Lefty that I am, I think an intellectually and morally vibrant Conservatism is important to our country, so I'm not rooting for Conservatism to go down this fear and loathing road. I sure hope they've got some more positive stuff on the shelf! Let's check in at The American Spectator, a Conservative periodical.

A fellow named Robert Stacy McCain writes:

"Any time a liberal starts jumping up and down and yelling about a "scandal" affecting a conservative, remember this reply: 'Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.'"

Chappaquiddick jokes. In 2009. That's the way forward, folks.

(Admittedly I'm going for a straw man instead of, say, closely reading rebuildtheparty.com. I wish Cons well, but by "well" I mean that they become positive players in the future, not power players for negativity and fear.)

* * *

Speaking of Cheney, I saw a horror movie the other night called Wendigo. It's the kind of thing I wish Tobe Hooper was doing; a blend of artfulness and grittiness. It's not flawless; there's a bit in which a wise Indian gives the child protagonist some Ancient Indian Wisdom, which is okay except Only The Boy Can See The Indian. That's a bit of unnecessary musty tweeness. And the film relies a bit too much on our being scared of hunters because they're hunters, and hunters are assumed to be inherently scary. I'm not a hunter myself, but I've known many, many hunters, and they're not scary per se. Maybe Director Fessenden finds them disturbing, but he doesn't sell me on his story's hunters being all that sinister at the outset. Compare to Texas Chainsaw, which DOES sell me on hillbillies being scary, despite my hillbilly-rich background. I know hillbillies are only scary on a case-by-case basis, but these movie hillbillies are specifically scary.

Other than these quibbles, the movie's dope. Lovely camerawork, and the married couple at the center of the film seem really authentic and closely observed. The expressionistic and blatantly artificial spook-show ending put some critics (like Ebert) off, but I like expressionistic, low-fi, stagecrafty artifice in fantasy films.

Anyhow, one thing I've been interested in lately is the way good horror movies, even supernatural ones, often bring the horror back to humanity. In Wendigo the Wendigo isn't the Big Bad: it's the Spirit World's Sword of Justice, coming to get the Big Bad, who's just a mean hick. In Zombie movies, like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, the Zombies are the initial problem, but the deeper problems are caused by humans disagreeing and squabbling for survival in the face of the zombie problem. In Hellraiser the supernatural monsters are only a deadly Deus Ex Machina, and the transformed human Frank is the main villain. In Alien, The Company, which puts profit ahead of human life, is a more contemptible villain than the deadly alien itself. Even in my beloved Texas Chainsaw Massacre there's a variation on this theme, as Sally flees from the crazed hillbilly killer to the comforting arms of the nice man at the barbeque place... only to find that he's part of the same Sawney Beane-style clan.

I'm pretty bad at plot analysis, but after a while even I get it: there's no problem so terrible that one's fellow human beings can't make it worse. In counterpoint, each of these films includes fellow humans who provide aid and comfort to the good guys/gals, so these aren't nihilistic misanthropic stories. I don't have any finer-grained insights, but the insights horror films offer into problems like Iraq and Afghanistan continue to intrigue me.

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