A little piece I threw down for Tubbed Magazine. Stop by and enjoy the second coming of Pro-Street.
Think back to your first memorable experience that set your fate as a “car guy.” Don’t let nostalgia sway you, just blurt it out. Just roll with the first one that comes to mind.
I’d be willing to bet that it had nothing at all to do with what anyone else thought of you. Taking that a yep further, I’d sweeten that bet by adding that it had nothing to do with fame or money. While one or two of you may have though about the guy with the bitchin’ ride in your hometown that got all of the girls or that every other guy wanted to be, that seems pretty normal, and had nothing to do with defining just who you were. It started with the car, right?
Along that patch of blacktop we all travel on our way to becoming full-fledged car guys, we all get a taste of the pride that comes with a thumbs-up at a stoplight, or the strangers wanting to discuss our cars and the one they had “just like it” back in the day. Ego always grows a bit to fill those freshly upholstered bucket seats, and it’s all fine if you know how to keep it in check. And if you had any car guy friends worth anything, they knew how to help you keep that in check. It’s what good friends do.
It’s a family.
Compare your memories to what any kid coming into what remains of the hobby today will know it as:
A bunch of posturing and ego-driven, money-hungry wannabe celebrities driving catalog-sourced vehicles destined to provide big returns at auction. In an entitlement-driven, fame-is-everything era, we’re losing the real car guys and builders to a steady stream of TV stars and project managers. It’s an awful lot like Hip Hop and reality TV: Just a load of “look at me” bullshit with no redeeming value. And having already conquered reality TV, it’s not a far stretch to see the whole thing sink to a level of commerce-driven stereotypes telling you what’s cool this week, and making everything so base and trend-driven that they’ll be left with little choice but to either cannibalize the damned thing, or just leave it to die and move to the next.
Let’s roll with the whole Hip Hop analogy. Let’s create a fictional car guy who maybe came into the scene in the late-1970’s. He’s stoked about these “Pro-Street” cars, and can’t get enough of the look. It becomes in his mind the right look: Big, fat tires out back, a rake, skinny tires up front, and perhaps some form of induction poking though the hood. The essentials are in place. Our budding car guy is exposed to cars like Joe Ruggirello’s Mustang II or Lisk’s Challenger or Kollofsky’s ’55 Chevy (side note: Anyone else find it coincidental that all of these guys have names befitting a cool character or bad-ass cop in a movie?) or any other of a series of killer, pro-style bruisers. And much as any fan of what would come to be called “Hip-Hop” would have heard Grandmaster Flash or the Cold Crush Brothers early on and been drawn to it for the unique approach and the imagery it inspired in anyone outside of the Bronx, what would come to named “Pro-Street” did likewise to anyone who never cruised Woodward.
While Hip Hop evolved by taking outside influences from funk and soul to new wave and even punk, Pro-Street did likewise, borrowing from Street Freaks and Street Rods and other places, always looking to raise the bar just a touch. And, like anything gaining popularity, each had a stand-out that came to be the face of the movement: Hop Hop had acts like Run DMC, and we scored with names like Sullivan, Dobbertin and Hay (they could play the law firm in that film idea mention earlier). And in that popularity of a select few, we can trace the evolution of each, mans see the ongoing influences applied to shape just where each might head.
Like anything that goes popular, there exists the danger of haven it buckle under its own weight. While Pro-Street suffered from a number of ills, we could blame the decline on magazine saturation and constant competition to be the next big thing, with cars adding more extreme power plants and detailing and so-on, that it just became a caricature of itself, and begged for something to step in and rebel against it. We wound up with Pro-Touring, which didn’t seem to heed its own warnings, and is finding itself on a similar path. As for Hip Hop, it changed from a creative ocean of experimentation and arrangement to a soul-less money farm in the 1990’s (oh, the similarities between Hip Hop and Pro-Street are many, kids), and eventually a sad joke with all of the “gangsta” posturing and crunk-style bragging. (Side note 2: Consider that Dr. Seuss coined the phrase “crunk car” back in the 1970’s, and you start to feel all lightheaded, right? Scary how that works.) Where Hip Hop and its offspring found their way into the mainstream via MTV and radio play, hot rodding was doing likewise via major events, magazines and videos. TV wouldn’t be far behind.
It’s not such a far reach then, to compare Hip Hop and Hot Rodding. Each became a pale version of its former self once television became a part of the marketing. Hell, we could take this little notion on a whole other ride, but let’s settle on the marketing of each as being hand-in-hand harbinger of destruction forthe movement. Don’t get me wrong, I get the money thing… We all need to eat. But when the problems come banging down the doors, they usually look like the fresh-from-College guys from Marketing. And when they come visiting, even the goldfish stop swimming, if you get my drift. The dollar signs flash, and it’s off to the races. On the music side, it becomes about selling the image of what Marketing thinks that it should be, with reference to moving product (as Yogurt the Wise taught us so many moons ago, the real money is in merchandising). You craft an image, and get the kids to buy into that. On the car side, it’s eerily similar: Craft an image of what someone outside of the whole thing thinks it should be (based upon what the data shows will sell), and run with it, facts be damned if need be. Understanding that, it’s not so difficult to see why we had shows like Orange County Choppers or, keeping with the theme, Pimp My Ride. On one hand, you had screaming and yelling and time crunch drama because, by golly, that has to be how it is in a real shop, right? The natural outgrowth was American Hot Rod, Wrecks to Riches and their ilk. They appealed to the “behind the scenes” exclusivity gene which TV inserted into the genetic code, and never mind how skewed from reality it might be… Just cash that check and find more shit to fight about. Take that a step further in the appeal to “you can sell these cars and make money!” idea, and by golly, the shows practically write themselves. I am convinced that there are but two formulas for any reality-based show:
1. The Shop as setting for drama (family, client/shop, contest, money or otherwise) formula,
2. The find it/buy it/fix it up/sell for profit/repeat formula
…each of which may be seasoned to taste by adding celebrity appearances, surprises, some form of competition, pranks or canned “tech tips” wherever holes appear in the story line. Take a long, hard look at Monster Garage and tell me it isn’t so. Shit, get a hold of a script from Lords of the Car Hoards, Unique Whips, Leepu and Pitbull or Fast N Loud, mix them all up, and I’d bet that a seven year old could put a season’s worth of shows together at random, and you’d never be able to tell the difference. You could do likewise with any current Hip Hop video premise. It’s not about telling a story or building a cool car; it’s about who can brag the loudest. And that opens the door to really scary things, and can usher outcomes like not unlike the Lucifer Effect, as postulated by Philip Zimbardo (aka the Stanford Prison Experiment), wherein the wheels can be put into motion that make a good person do some really twisted evil things. I mean, what would the dollar amount be for you to sell out and bastardize the car hobby you love? Roll with your first instinct. That’s a lot of fucking zeros, isn’t it? And that’s chump change when the Advertising Department bros get involved (and you thought that little fishie was holding still earlier? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet). And when the image consultants and writers come to play, you’ll hardly recognize yourself. It doesn’t take a lot to go from singing about your sneakers over a sampled loop to bragging about the women you slept with in the penthouse last week and how big the rims on your SUV are when the residuals roll in.
And that’s where we stand today: It’s not about some guy with a cool 1970’s action movie cop name building a kick-ass machine that will set your synapses afire, blazing a whole new path for thought across your brain or even mashing two things together that have never been mashed before. It’s about having some money guy or project manager (at best) playing the douche (OK, sometimes it’s not a stretch for the guy. As a wise man once told me, “Only two kinds of people wear sunglasses indoors: Rock stars and assholes. Be on the lookout for a guitar.”) and creating some filler to top with ad sales. It’s loosely connected product placement opportunities designed to make the numbers so that Trent and Blaine in the front office can keep that tee time. You don;t have the imagination or thrill of discovery involved with your entry to the hobby anymore. Instead, you have an image to play up to, and try to out-douche so that you can make your own mark and score that show.
After all, it isn’t about the cars anymore, unless they’re a prop for your bitches to lean against while you pose with jewelry and assorted gold-plated handguns. While I can appreciate how anyone uninitiated into the family that is hot rodding can fall for this, you can bet your ass that I’ll be stepping into frame and doing my best to drop knowledge on Quick Mix Theory and Bill Jenkins’ Pro Stock Vega.
Why is is that every time an automaker re-designs a particular model, or brings back a nearly-forgotten nameplate, or even mid-cycle facelifts a car, that the very first fucking thing I have to read is every self-important know-it-all posting that they should have made it look like the 1961 model? SERIOUSLY?!
Here’s a quick thought, you morons: Not every car has to look JUST FUCKING LIKE THE ORIGINAL MODEL. Tastes and design requirements change. You wouldn’t sell a whole lot of Cadillacs today with giant fins or 150-lbs of trim on the flanks. Oh, you can bet your ass that there would be a half-dozen greaseball mooks on the East coast putting in advance orders (“Hey Joey… weez kin paint ‘Teen Angel’ on da continental kit! An’ I gots you some new fuzzy dice, bro!”), but following that, it would have no place in the modern day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for brand and model continuity, and a little nod to tradition is outstanding. Hell, I bought my Challenger based on that. Then again, that car was done RIGHT. It’s not a cartoon-ish caricature of the original like a certain Camaro. On the other hand, would I have been even remotely interested in the car had it looked like the ’78-83 models? Probably not. It’s about instilling some heritage, and knowing how that will work with the current (and future) brand direction.
Consider the return of the Thunderbird in 2000. Holy moly… what a catastrophe. That whole retro-design phase ruined it for a lot of cars, not to mention design enthusiasts. Back to the Challenger, what if, in 1970, we weren’t offered a fresh take on the Pony Car concept, but rather a 1937 Dodge coupe-looking thing with a wing on the back and a dual-snorkel hood? Would have failed, and gone down as a styling flop. This would have happened because people used to celebrate design and inventiveness. Perhaps this explains why every TV show is the same regurgitated bullshit, and why reruns of said shows sell like hotcakes. Originality just ain’t what it used to be.
Nostalgia can be a great thing, just keep it the fuck away from the new car-buying public in general.
Anyone can imagine a world of peace and love and never-ending happiness and blue skies and all of that bullshit. And anyone who watches enough television can imagine a world based within a world that’s taking place in an alternate reality of their favorite show.
However, it takes a real hero to imagine a world in which the most popular form of entertainment involves a mash-up of the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show, “Fantasy Island”, the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, “Deadliest Catch” and “Robot Wars”, but as a musical with choreographed dogfights between Elvis impersonators riding on armored Zambonis, battling to the death in a variety of improvised challenges (voted on in real-time by viewers via text) for an honorary degree. Winner gets the title, while the loser’s selected school has their electricity cut for nine years, and they are required by decree to sacrifice the tenured professor with the grayest hipster beard on their campus to the Lovecraftian deity Cthulhu, High Priest of the Great Old Ones. May he eat your home last.
There’s a shitty phrase. As someone who’s face isn’t classically “camera-friendly”, I have to wonder just why in the fuck I’d want to be friends with the camera in the first place. Consider: The camera is a liar. Or, more appropriately, the camera’s marketing guy is a liar. The present-day camera, anyway, suffers from a serious case of identity confusion. It’s that whiny emo kid that just can’t be itself because everyone is making it be something else, but in this case it’s perfectly justified because people are making it into something it shouldn’t have to be. But more on that later.
You’re sold (in the old days, anyway, when the camera wasn’t too busy receiving sales calls for life coaching (Unrelated But Yet Related And Certainly Worth Exploring Sidebar, or “UBYRACWES” — which, in hindsight, looks eerily like “you be racist” — but we’ll roll with it because, well, fuck you, you privileged son of a bitch: The person making these spam calls to help coach your life is probably making $13./hr, working from a call center, and pushing some book on you that, while probably very vague in its own right, will never have you reaching any higher than the call center person, and you’ll be $49.99 deeper in the hole, rendering you unable to afford to send photos of the following), status updates regarding meaningless trifles in the life of some bastard you would never have a beer with and their lunch salad that was “off the chain” (truly a description better reserved for that “chicken” you had at the buffet, or calls that you’ll ignore anyway on some cheap box of mirrors that will capture your awesome life, and the memories and all of that nonsense. Yet the reality is, you’re going to find that many of your subjects (i.e. “children”, “relatives”, “drunken friends”, et.al.) will be less than “photogenic”, rendering many of your life’s memories in a less-than-flattering light.
In the old days, when you had to use film and have it processed and wait for the results of your shitty photos, there were no “on-the-spot-do-overs” or “let’s do that again’s” (ooh… UBYRACWES time; or more appropriately “SCRACWES” — or “Somewhat Closely Related And Certainly Worth Exploring Sidebar”— the “retake” photo. Remember these in school? “Hey, all of you less-than-average-looking/non-camera-friendly types, be in the Library next Wednesday during the middle of the Chemistry final that Mr. Arminstrinberger won’t let you out of for the ten minutes it would take to re-shoot your graduation photo now that – not mention saving some poor motherfucker with an airbrush and a bad sense of humor like fifteen minutes to fix in post the agony of having to look at – the remnants of that zit you tried to rush along, but at the time of the original photo looked like a terrifying cold sore has healed enough to hide with that flesh-toned Clearasil –matched, obviously to someone with far “whiter” genes, like what’s-her-face from that Regis Philbin show… something Gifford. Kathie Lee! – but that’s another UBYRACWES for another time – and the odd wind and rain-styled ‘do you were sporting that day to play some distraction”), you simply dealt the hand you were given because film was expensive and every shot COUNTED, and waiting for the magic elves in the FotoMat to develop them so you could drive up, get them in your hand and promptly throw them out along with half a weeks’ pay, learning the valuable life lesson that not everything is best printed on quality Kodak paper. The camera was an unforgiving prick, and it often coupled with a partner, the “unflattering flash cube”, which was like the shit-sandwich combo of the big doofus in third grade who would point out your flaws to everyone (especially if they involved your poverty, which in turn was a direct cause of you wearing uncool sneakers and hand-me-down Toughskins with weird little patches in the knees that the corners would slowly peel back on), with the added bonus of his Salacious B. Crumb-like sidekick adding that extra layer of bright light to help magnify the flaws, should anyone have missed them on the first click.
Thus, I am not “camera friendly” in either the classical sense (read as “homely”), or even the more esoteric sense (as in “hey, camera, thanks for all of the great memories! Let’s be pals!”). The camera can suck it. In fact, I hope that Hell for cameras is when they end up in the Colonsocopy room. I can bear witness to having hoped that on one or two occasions (making this another UBYRACWES, but with a Too Much Information twist) that the camera in use was the reincarnation of my seventh-grade photo (“How you like me NOW, camera?! See anything INTERESTING? Oh… you do. Fuck. You win again, camera.”). I do wonder, however, just why we have yet to apply technology to video in the way we have to sound. Consider just how many “singers” aren’t exactly “microphone friendly” without the aid of processing and Auto-Tune and all of that. I can see someone like myself being overlaid (and consequently “over LAID” if you catch my drift!) with a little computer enhancement, and starring on a TV show. Sort of like Jar-Jar Binks (I’m getting a bit excited for the new Star Wars movies. Deal with it.), but like 11.2% less endearing. And probably less pants during sweeps week, but I digress.
I’d suppose that people today have it better, camera friendship-wise, thanks to re-takes and Photoshop (and possibly due to the slowly dwindling eye broccoli class of folks — another UBYRACWES with serious Darwinian subject matter) have it far easier than our generation with the Instamatic and flash cubes, making it easier to be friends with the camera. After all, I never once got driving directions from a Minolta 35mm that were worth a shit, although I did manage to lift the Katakana for “Film Goes Here” from one and convince a girl to have that tattooed under the impression that it meant “beautiful blooming orchid” (adding another layer of irony, consider that this was done as a tramp stamp, and I’d bet that few things have bloomed in that vicinity even remotely resembling an orchid – a lactose intolerance on her behalf could provide at least half a chapter of laughs via one of those SCRACWES with a grand TMI kicker). I can only hope that one day she’s having a Colonoscopy and that Dr. Fong gets a little chuckle as that camera gets another taste of its own medicine, courtesy of her cave of unholy winds.
A lot of talk the past few days regarding the car show world, from politics to rules and more. I had been writing a piece about this very subject prior to Detroit, and then felt it best to hold off on publishing it, as there were things afoot that could have made my post look, well, far more bitter for all of the wrong reasons. Rest assured, this is nothing more than my observations on the whole car show/industry slide toward oblivion, and not some “oh, they didn’t give us a trophy” or other nonsense. For fuck’s sake, we’re adults. And yes, it’s long. Should you happen to be some illiterate shit, or far too busy looking up memes or fail videos to read a few paragraphs, well, there’s the wonder of the internet, Billy Bob: Scroll the fuck past. Nobody asked you to chime in with your “I dun dint read, cuz it were long” reply. It’s a safer world knowing that the likes of you stick to looking at pictures anyway.
Some may be offended by my opinions/observations, and that’s cool. The truth can pack a nasty stinger.
Think back to the first indoor car show you attended. Chances are, you were a young and impressionable gear head who was floored by the kandy and chrome ocean you found yourself dropped into. Take that a step further, and consider the first ISCA-type show car that made an impression on you. Chances are, you went home and drew that car, or built a scale model of it, or simply daydreamed about it in class. I’m betting that to this day you can picture the car, and still get a little blip in the heart rate from it. It’s etched somewhere in your car psyche. It plays a role to this very day in what you like or don’t like on four wheels. It’s IMPRINTED on the very part of you that’s tagged “CARS” on that dotted-line diagram of your brain.
Custom cars, to anyone just discovering them are MAGICAL. They have a power far beyond propelling people across the pavement. They take on a life beyond their perceived purpose. They tend to grow with us. I’d bet that your memory even skews a few facts about them, and maybe even glosses over a flaw or two, lifting them even higher in your memory of their perfection. You do that with nearly everything you grow attached to. I’m betting my wife does that about me. Thinking about this, I should go give her a hug. And clean the living room.
Compare the above to recent shows, assuming that you still attend them. Any cars that simply “do it” for you like that? Do you still feel that emotional attachment or charge? I certainly don’t, and I’m smack dab in the middle of this whole thing, designing custom vehicles for a living. I try to create the kinds of things that some kid will recall 30 or more years down the road, and bring up in bench racing sessions. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some in the recent past that come close to “doing it” for me, and continue to inspire, but the industry as a whole has changed… the whole mood is dark lately.
Let’s not sugar coat this:
Car shows are the NFL of our world. A money-making enterprise. It makes sense, as they are a business, and the purpose of any business is to make money. I’m all for success, and doubly-so if your mission is to pocket some coin, and you happen to be doing that. Good on you. But the focus on the money changes things… It’s warped the very spirit of this car thing, and dragged it so far away from celebrating the automobile as art, and taken us to the automobile as return on investment or a showdown of who can spend more or grab the most ink in some magazine that’s months behind the times, and struggling to tell you that it’s still somehow relevant and that the internet is killing it, when in fact, they’re killing themselves and the industry by celebrating this push downward with third-rate articles and seven page features on uninspiring cars that would have been better served as a savings account. Again, don’t get me wrong. We are in a time of incredible talent with regard to the builders and designers and tools we have available to us in this industry. Yet, we’re losing the youth. Involvement is dropping among the next generation. And it is most certainly NOT because some kid grew up in the back seat of a Honda, or inherited a mini van as his first ride. That is a bullshit cop-out. Not every major builder or designer today grew up riding shotgun in a pro-street Chevelle, or had some Boss Mustang dropped in their lap for a first car. We drove uninspiring shitboxes. If you think that somehow more inspiration to build a ground-breaking, next-level beast of a ride comes from looking at a non-functional fuel gauge in a cracked dashboard in a rusty ’73 Monte Carlo any more than it does from the same situation in a third-hand Subaru, you are brain damaged. The next self-righteous motherfucker to use that excuse gets a foot in their ass. Allow me to shed some light on the REAL problem:
Today, it’s all nothing more than some bullshit cool kids club. Gone are the days of the “car as design statement” or even “rolling testament to craftsmanship” for the most part; we’ve hacked and slashed the soul from it all, and would up in a wasteland of cubic budgets and branding. It’s not about a fun build that pushes the limits of imagination, or thumbs its nose at conventional transportation, or even inspiring some budding builder to go and do likewise. Rather, it’s intimidating at best with endless checkbook builds where the goal is closer to making a name or a shop or builder, or trading damned-near a million (ad sometimes more) dollars for a trophy and a check that covers the transportation and week-long lodging and food for the crew supporting the car than it is to build for the sake of pushing skill. What in the serious fuck?! You expect ANY kid to want a part of that? Unless daddy is a CEO and is bankrolling the project, the odds get slimmer as we venture further down the income ladder. And don’t throw me this bone of plopping some car into the top five that doesn’t belong there as some gesture of “giving the average guy hope”. We all know it’s bullshit, and you can bet that you aren’t doing that guy or some kid attending his first show any good. He can see though the “everyone is a winner” bullshit. He has to each day at school.
Like anything, the moment it becomes more about money than the challenge of creating something, all is lost; it becomes a caricature of the very thing it used to be. We’re creating a hobby and industry filled to the brim with reality show-grade celebrities and hucksters, some with legions of fans who are undereducated enough to praise mundane and often idiotic design choices. And seeing the shows pander to one or two big-name builders, well… If you’re going to tell me that you can’t, without some degree of near pin-point accuracy pick put the cars that will be at the top of any show before the gates even open, then you’re either a lying sack of shit, or you’re holding onto that childhood innocence, and hoping to be inspired again. Perhaps the Pearl Paint Fairy will leave an airbrushed monster shirt under your pillow tonight, too. Innocence is lost. And it ain’t going to be found in the direction we’re headed.
The irony here is that we live in the greatest time, technologically speaking anyway, for production performance cars. 707 HP Challengers and Chargers??! While we were wandering the show indoors, looking at ‘flake paneled and blown bad-assery, outside in the frozen parking lot was a dismal (at best) display of smog-choked, poorly assembled and designed garbage. It was depressing. 170 HP was considered “performance”, and there wasn’t any sunlight poking over the next hill. That glow was from the flashers on the broken-down heap that couldn’t make it up the next grade. And maybe, just maybe THAT is what makes it all so fucking soft today. We DON’T HAVE TO AIM HIGH ANYMORE. We’ve managed to settle into a world of instant gratification., and that creates a laziness, and an unwillingness to try to raise a bar that we’re told is already so sky-high. That in mind, we’ve abandoned the things that brought us all here in the first place, and instead are chasing the lowest common denominator, the “my dick and checkbook are THIS BIG” attitude.
It’s a dark time, kids. Replace the breaker before it’s too late.
I see far too much of this bullshit on the interwebz:
“I’ll do your rendering for $100!”
With “rendering” meaning “a loosely cobbled-together bunch of photos I Googled and then made attempts to stitch together with the two tools I can sort of use in Photoshop.”
One last time, kids: NOT a rendering. Not on the best day of your life. And if you’re paying for, and supporting this crap, well, you’re not “on a budget”, you’re “A BIG FUCKING PART OF THE PROBLEM”. While it’s great that some cars have a huge-by-enormous budget for exotic and one-off parts, you simply need to realize that care and planning can make even a home-built ride a stand-out. If you’re willing to cheap-out on the very design of your project, well, it’s a given that you’ll do likewise in the build. And please don’t come to me in the eleventh hour of your SEMA proposal deadline with some fucking sob story about how you need a rendering, but you already threw money away on the photo-hack you just received from the kid on the forum. You knew going into it that some $100 rendering wasn’t going to make a manufacturer all hot and bothered, and squeeze out a new car for you. Too many things wrong with that mindset to even approach it here.
There are professionals out there who do great things in Photoshop, should that be the look you’re after… and plenty of other artists working in all media (should one of those be the look you’re after) who can craft something to actually be proud of, versus bragging that it only cost a few bucks. A rendering is a work of artistry and design, and a good one brings years of experience and knowledge to the table… Not simply some shit that your seven year old could pull off in 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the photo-hack of the Hirohata Merc will always be just a photo-hack of the Hirohata Merc and not YOUR Merc, no matter how many layers of flames or how big a set of smoothie wheels with poor camber and perspective some douche pastes on there. And for the record, you’re not “helping some new artist get a start”. You’re simply enabling yet another talentless hack with either a trial or pirated software to further soil a part of the industry that works its ass off to be continually undervalued. You deserve a series of ingrown toenails and festering boils on your heels, you dirtbag.
A rendering should represent YOUR vehicle, and showcase the pride and planning of your project. You know, thinking about it, maybe some projects are best left at this level anyway.
/drops knowledge AND the microphone; heads off stage.
As I’m sure that you know by now, the theatrical release of The Interview has been scrapped. This hits me hard, no simply because we have another telling tale of a lily-livered leader caving to some megalomaniacal fucking jerk-off, but because I will be denied the movie poster I was waiting for.
If you know me, you know that I love film, and movie posters even more. I love the art… GOOD art, anyway. Not these stinking, non-creative turds they pass off regularly featuring a low/back-lit photo of protagonist/antagonist in front of (INSERT MAJOR MOVIE SET PIECE HERE), surrounded by typography and copy obviously created by a seven year old with better things to do… but really good work, like that of Drew Struzan, or Boris Vallejo (I mean have you SEEN his National Lampoon’s Vacation artwork??!), John Alvin, the Hildebrandt brothers, Frank Frazetta, Saul Bass, and on and on. As a filmmaker trapped in the life and career of an illustrator, I live vicariously through this medium until I can one day make that leap. But I digress.
You see, I was looking forward to grabbing a 27×40-inch, double-sided hunk of poster-y goodness from the film. It embodied many things that I enjoy: Propaganda-style art, great color pop, spectacularly tongue-in-cheek typographical layout, and it would be a great replacement for the Army of Darkness piece that currently hangs in my office. Whatever. I mean, it would have been a Guardians of the Galaxy poster (full theatrical release version, thank you), but those have gone crazy in price. Think of how great that poster would look as guests stop by for an…. wait for it… INTERVIEW on a podcast??!
Anyway, I had attempted to place the order weeks ago, knowing that prerelease posters have been hanging around since Summer, and wanting to beat the rush… but was met with “Order Delayed” messages. Apparently, these were the hot item. Good deal… I’m in no rush, I’ll wait. Now, you can’t find them, and all orders are suspended. This PRECEDING an “official” announcement regrading the film. Hmmm. Conspiracy? Another red herring? Just another deflection of your attention? You do the math.
(Don’t get me wrong, I could drop a few hundred on eBay for one now, but decided that that was money best spent on food, clothing and toys from the less fortunate, and that has me feeling a lot better than hanging something on a wall.)
I mean, seriously. It’s a comedy. A genius premise, and certainly a grand stage for slapstick and subversive humor. But to make threats to people for showing it… or SEEING it?! What in the fuck, Chuck?! This nearly harkens (almost wrote “Harkins”, ha-ha!) back to my days in Catholic grammar school, when the Czar… I mean “Principal” had threatened us kids with disciplinary action, should we dare to go home and watch the TV movie The Day After (looking back on that, I now see that I understand far more about the Book of Revelation than the so-called “leader” at that school, and that her claims of nuclear armageddon ca.1983 was far off from what the book describes. It pays to know the mindset and capabilities of those in charge, I’ve found…), as we’d suddenly be faced with some sense of mortality, and then have to write an essay about how bad that can be. I compared mine to the fear of ABBA appearing on The Love Boat, and then having said ship become beached upon an iceberg, and the band playing on, as hundreds perished… the final soundtrack to their icy deaths being “Dancing Queen”. Oh, the horror. Looking back, those essays helped to shape who I am today. The joke is on YOU, sister! I’m drawing cars AND writing dirty words, and not living under a bridge… yet, I digress once more.
The poster. I will not be getting mine. “There will be no Christmas”, quoth the beast. Simply because of a “hacking” incident and some threat. If these guys were really looking out for peace, they’d have shut down any number of shitty movies, and let this one roll. Seriously. I STILL want a refund for my time having to sit through that steaming pile “The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of a Viable Screenplay” (should you have missed my feelings on THAT shit festival, scroll back a ways). I mean, if this were a publicity stunt, holy balls it would be great. But when you can’t even grab the poster? That’s either a sign that the marketing firm behind it all is absolutely inhuman brilliant and committed to detail, or that it’s the real deal, and we just sold out to bullies.
If these folks at Sony were REALLY interested in cyber security, they’d listen up. Hell, they’d have already done this, but let’s not split hairs. You can either implement this genius plan, or make a movie about it (and then scrap it when some freak sends a letter):
You grab the laptop from some porno addict, and you plug that hairy, sticky, probably-would-blind-you-and-burn-your-shadow-into-the-wall-if-placed-under-a-blacklight tool of debauchery into the network as your honey pot. Hacker logs on, and BAM! Enjoy your “free” trial and bajillion pop-ups, you fuck. Give me a shout for the rights and title ideas. The simplest of solutions often eludes us. I’m here to help. Hell, I’m always here, usually working, as I don’t golf or vacation much, and still have yet to receive reparations for the Polack jokes my people have suffered the ill effects from.
Mr. Rogan, I appeal to you thusly: Please sell me a poster from The Interview, as I’m having little luck in finding one on my own. No freebies or other nonsense, as there are much better outlets for charity… I simply want to celebrate the creativity you put into the film. My other options have wavered between a nice Hellboy first-run piece, or the iconic “The Thing”… but what I really wanted was my damned first choice, and I’m certain that you can empathize, much as I do with your situation. Wishing you only the best, sir.
Realizing that we’re officially eight months into the Christmas season (for those of you going by the decorations on display in your local Lowes), I thought it best to take a moment and reflect on the wonderous joy that listening to Christmas music brings me. If by “wonderous joy”, one means that it breeds to sort of feeling “similar to slamming my privates in a car door over and over again”. Pa-rum-pa-pa-pum.
It’s not that I hate this season. Far from it. I love the temporary feeling of giving that people have for a few short days, or watching morons brag about how they gave a buck to the Salvation Army Santa that one time. I hate (yes, “HATE” may be a strong word, but it feels nearly anemic in this case) the blatant commercialism, and made-up bullshit that surrounds it all, and we’re not even going to delve into another made-up holiday here. That would be like discussing the existence of UFO’s, and then expecting people to follow along as we turned to Godzilla and the possibility of giant mechanized robots taking over Tokyo and that a logical defense would be to create a super-human using gamma rays via an old microwave oven during a lunar eclipse while listening to Blue Oyster Cult backward. You can only stretch belief so far, and in my opinion, it stops at the whole gamma ray/microwave/BOC backward/eclipse thing, still many, many steps from “Kwanzaa”. You might find a richer history in “Festivus”, which shares an eerily similar point of birth of that other one there. 1966-67 must have been a hotbed of holiday manufacture. Strangely enough, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was released in… 1966. A YULETIDE CONSPIRACY! And let’s not even dare venture to the 1967 Bob Hope Christmas Special, which featured “Miss World”, Madeleine Hartog Bell, which was an obviously biased contest, as no formal invitation was sent to Miss Godzilla, spurring the alternate dimension battle ending with, as we all know, the great Microwave-Gamma-Ray battle which would propel Blue Oyster Cult to fame across all known realities, plus two additional ones we don’t yet understand.
But I digress. It’s not even a hatred for Christmas music in general. It’s having to listen to it from October through, well, whenever the heck the next commercialized bullshit begins… Which is usually Valentine’s Day, and you can expect those cards to hit shelves on 26 December. And it’s one shitty remake after the next. How many different ways can you sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”? At last count, seventy-three million, with eleven million of those coming from Whitney Houston alone. And don’t even get me started on the bullshit “It’s a CLASSIC!” ear worms like “Wonderful Christmas Time” by McCartney. This pile of reindeer shit from the guy who penned “Paperback Writer”, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Penny Lane”?! It’s nearly as annoying as “Last Christmas” by Wham!, or, well, anything else recorded after 1959. You can feel my pain, I’m certain. As a season of giving and all that, I hope that you’ll take time to give to those less fortunate, and continue that all year. And for you, in keeping with that theme from the start of the post, I’d like to make sure that you get a little Pussy this year. “Pussy with a CAPITAL ‘P’, Brian?!” you may be asking, “this must be high quality stuff! You shouldn’t have!” What can I say? I’m a giver.
And yes. “Pussy” was the name of one of the dogs in this masterpiece, which illustrates clearly just how terrible the music of the season can be. I would pay a lot to hear the studio out-takes from those sessions. “Come on Pussy! Louder!” It’s the Christmas music equivalent of watching your dog drag its ass across the carpet, yet, you’d probably stop this song long before yelling “STOP THAT!!” at poor Fido.