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Moscow Babylon June 26, 2002
 
Don't Get A Life
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
 

Warning: Getting "A Life" can be hazardous to your health! If you have "A Life," you could be subject to horrific bouts of paranoia, insomnia, stomach cramps, and sexual impotence. "A Life" is not recommended for anyone over 18, with heart problems, with a family or with living relatives. Using amphetamines or hallucinogenics while having "A Life" can lead to suicidal behavior. Call your pusher for details. Take "A Life" only as directed.

They have a new disaster film out in America right now about nuclear terrorists. The film stars Ben Affleck so you know it's going to suck and you're going to be forced to root for the bad guys. I saw the trailer showing the digitially-animated nuclear blast shockwave as it turns Baltimore into a rippled glass-topped parking lot. That was shweeet -- "we live in hope," as Gary Brecher's grandmother said. Would anyone in America really care if Baltimore got wiped out? Not really. In the first place, it would mean no more Baltimore Ravens, the ugliest Super Bowl winners in history, whose style was so offensive it made children cry and dogs howl. The only thing Baltimore has going for it is that it's Bonnie Prince Billy's new home. Songs like "Death To Everyone" and "I See A Darkness" would take on new meaning -- Oldham sacrificed for the soundtrack.

It seems strange that Americans would make and watch films about the very kind of nuclear terrorism that threatens it. It's as if America wants to rehearse its own tragedies. Rehearse the fear, the death. Yet as training and rehearsal goes, it's pretty lousy stuff: like training Marines to believe that every time their enemy fires, they miss, and every time our boys fire, they hit. Training for consequence-free war. That's not training for a real battle: that's training for delusion.

In our disaster-training films, the good guys win, the lights go on in the theater, you brush the pop corn and Junior Mints from your lap and shuffle back to your Chrysler mini-van with your fat wife and whiny kids. You say, "That was a good movie," on the road home, passing a world of strip malls, fast food outlets, Olive Garden and Chili's restaurants... You park in your garage, head straight to the television room, turn on 900-channel digital cable, flip through around the menu until you settle on a domestic thriller -- this time, a Michael Douglas film about evil, hyper-efficient criminals stalking his family, kidnapping his wife or daughter, following Douglas wherever he goes... at one point, Douglas gets into a car chase, two vans following his Lexus as he tears against the one-way traffic... you grip the arm rest of your La-Z Boy chair wondering if he'll get away... your wife brings you and the kids boxes of take-out Chinese food and some paper plates. For two hours you're gripped by the thrill of it all (and relieved from having to talk to your family): Michael Douglas perfect life torn apart, their perfect sweet happy home life, their sparkling clean kitchen and wonderful backyard garden: now destroyed, wife kidnapped, investigators killed, cars chasing him, Lexus exploding, phone calls in the middle of the night...you finish your Sweet & Sour Pork, Egg Fried Rice and General Tzou's Chicken, you burp, let out some gas that your wife pretends not to smell...Suddenly, a miracle! Douglas manages to thwart the criminals all by himself, they all get shot in a gripping climax! Douglas, wife and daughters are reunited, hugging with the flames and sirens in the background. The house and Lexus are destroyed. Yes, destroyed! (Insurance, you tell yourself, will compensate them.) Their happy home life will never be the same, right? They'll always be traumatized by that memory! And what a memory!

But you -- the guy in the TV room -- won't have that traumatizing memory. You, the viewer -- you got to live through that thrill, that "A Life," without any of the hazardous long-term effects that having "A Life" would have caused to Douglas's perfect family. So you'll be grateful for the lifeless life you inhabit: the TV room, the Chinese take-out, the fat, quiet wife, the obese kids in their wigger-wear, the large cubicle you drive to in your Saturn six days a week... The moral of those movies is to make you appreciate that life, while holding out the hope that someday, something might happen to you. Secretly, subconsciously, you may have even gotten a thrill when the bad guys destroyed Douglas's Lexus and burned his perfect clean home to the ground -- secretly, you've always dreamed about someone doing that to your home, your Chrysler minivan, your wife and children, your office -- you've dreamed of it, but you couldn't live with the consequences. Better to watch the movie. And when it's over, click it off, raid the refrigerator one last time for a bowl of Fat Free Chocolate Ice Cream and a 2-liter of Diet Coke, then crawl into bed with your snoring wife, whom you haven't fucked in over four years, a situation that hasn't bothered either of you for three years and eleven months...


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Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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