Thursday, March 21, 2013
GOD BLESS AMERICA THE MOVIE
Today's movie was a little bit alarming because it was on the borderline of TOO bizarre, though this is America Now and there is no TOO anything. It's like we Americans have become a culture of people doing Xtreme things. It started with skateboards and snowboards, little bicycles, bungee jumping. By now I see it in Bobcat Goldthwaite's GOD BLESS AMERICA. The irony in the title is Goldthwaite raw. He cracks me up the way Larry the Cable Guy cracks me up. Goldthwaite has a disturbing edge, like David Lynch has a disturbing edge, and like Roman Polanski, each in his own way. This crazy film starts with a guy not terrifically unlike me, growing weary of pop culture and what it does to the people around him. He sees himself in a world of people distracted by cell phones, television, every kind of mayhem flashed across the tv screen in the course of a day, hate radio in its ongoing froth, seeing people around him have lost their humanity, have lost the ability to know one another any way but superficially. He's having a hard time dealing with it. He never reached the point of turning off the tv and the radio. He kept them both on the most repellent stations. It was getting to him. Then he lost his job for being friendly to another employee. Very Kafka. Like America Now.
He watched television and became disgusted that so much attention was given to people of no moral integrity. He especially despised a reality tv show about the most popular girl at some high school. He saw her throwing fits because the car dad gave her for her birthday wasn't what she wanted. Our man goes to the school and parks in the woods after stealing a neighbor's new Camaro, a guy who annoyed him. He set out to get rid of the people that don't deserve to live. He started with the girl at the high school. He sat in the woods watching through binoculars. When she came into view, he went out with his gun and shot her. As it happens a girl who saw it went into raptures that some cool guy killed that bitch. She wanted to travel with him, go on a killing spree. It got awfully NATURAL BORN KILLERS about then. They made fun of themselves as Bonnie and Clyde. They went around the country, even went through North Carolina on the way from what I took for LA to New York, killing a few along the way and moving on. It was a bit edgy for me, because it is too much an image of our time that tells it without whipped cream topping. I kind of saw it a a film version of Picasso's GUERNICA. That's how I saw the spirit of the man who is mad at the world and doing his part to rid it of the people he assesses part of the problem.
His doctor told him he had a brain tumor, so he felt like he had license to take out several of these people who deserved to die because he has to die. Something like that. When I say the film is Xtreme it's because it feels that way. Strong feeling in this film. And strong mental works too. It is a very serious statement, holding a mirror up to American society, saying, Take a look. Early in the film I was thinking of justifications for censorship. I felt like it was trivializing this way of seeing the world enough to make it popular, without consequences like on tv. I was thinking, Haven't we had enough about hate and killing? And my answer to myself was, Evidently not. I watched these two lost American souls drifting about killing anybody that pist them off. Then he gets news from his doctor over cell phone that the tumor was a mistake. It was actually somebody else with a name similar to his that got mixed up. He had already invested himself in a very short lifespan, which was in motion. Time to go all the way. He and girl take over a tv studio with a goofy version of American Idol and shot up the cast and audience, all this on national tv, and police mow the two of them down on the stage. The end. The second half of it was acting out the commitment made in the first half. It's not something I'd like to see again, but I also have a feeling I'd like to see it again, because it had so much to say.
First viewing I was subject to the shock of seeing something made for entertainment of what is happening all over USA in this time. I was thinking, Why encourage it by making it pop? But I see, too, that it is already pop. It was pop back when Stone made his film in the late 80s. Serial killers are pop. On Yahoo news today I saw a short video of a guy who killed some people in court for his sentencing. He had written on his white tshirt KILLER with a black marker. In the courtroom he said to the families of the people he had killed, Fuck you, and shot them the bird. The judge laid it to him. He did all this to provoke, knowing he was going to get the max anyway. He just gave himself something to laugh about for the rest of his life in prison. We have films galore and television galore about killing that get more horrifying every year, keeping abreast of the market the films create the same way potato chips create a longing for more. Junk food for the mind. After half a century of murder and mayhem not only taken lightly, but spotlighted, made much of over the media, every problem solved with guns and killing, something is bound to come of it. This kind of behavior happens every day. Every day. Suicides happen every day in big numbers. Put it all together and we have an awful lot of people taking the suicide exit like in the Iraq Army and Marines, more suicides than killed in battle. An awful lot of people want out of their their own minds, want to shut them down permanently; though the turning off is mortal, so be it.
Since the corporate coup that took over our government that started with the assassination of Kennedy, the people who believe television are swept along with its belief system, which primarily amounts to, If it can't be seen by a camera, it doesn't exist. Add to that the political manipulation, the financial manipulation, preying on our weaknesses continually without letup, harping about this, that, and everything, anything to keep the enemy Silence from peeping through. Religionists support the most obvious frauds since the beginning of time in toupees and wigs, festooned in gold and glitter, Jesus wants your money for his ministry. People who have little to nothing to live on send money they could be using for enough coffee to make it through the month. Religious frauds are everywhere on earth. They go with humanity. The other most religious country in the world, India, has its world of religious frauds too. What a temptation; free money tax free for nothing. Send your money to Jesus at my post office box. It is difficult enough for me keeping up with the news by NPR and BBC American, not forgetting Yahoo news where I learned about the guy swallowed by a sink hole like Oedipus at the end of Oedipus at Colonus. The earth opened and he was gone.
If I watched tv my head would be filled with so many images I'd feel like a lake behind a dam, all the molecules in the water memories of tv shows, sitcoms from all my life, new, everything from Ed Sullivan to American Idol. In the first months of not watching television, this would have been 1961, I remember wondering what I was missing. Tv gave me a sense that when I wasn't watching, I was missing something. At first, it felt like cold turkey. Different shows I watched in the course of a week were not there anymore. News from five minute spots on the radio with commercial at beginning, in the middle and in the end. Pop media is so full of commercials we have become commercials. "Hi, how are you? Glad to see you? Haven't seen you in awhile. You been all right? Have you seen the new Christian school in Glade Valley? No? You MUST see it. It's a lovely addition to the county." The difference between how I see it and how the guy in Goldthwaite's movie sees it are close to similar, only difference is he sees it without compassion, and I feel compassion. I can't help but think, Forgive them for they know not what they do. Or: There but for the grace of God go I. It's a great big ghost dance of blind people. I don't want to kill anybody. I don't want to interrupt anybody's karma. I don't want to hurt anybody. I believe everyone has the same right to live that I have. And I believe most to nearly all the people around me feel the same way. There really is something to be said for a love relationship with God. It would be difficult for me living in this time without compassion.