Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thursday, Thursday!

Hi there, dear readers.

It's Thursday here at The Public Unintellectuals (and presumably wherever you are, too) so it's time for my weekly pseudorandom article. Some of you may know this as 'Y. S. R.'s weekly rant', but I prefer to think of it as 'that day of the week when I get to write about things that actually matter to me'. Google, despite all their goodness (Chromium, Chrome OS, Docs, Gmail, et al.) have yet to master the art of knowing what I care about in the news, as you will undoubtedly have noticed if you have read any of my 'Top of The News' pieces.

For this week, you may have noticed that I had a poll up so that you - the reader - could decide what I write about. And what you evidently decided was that this made my job too easy, so you made sure that it was a perfect draw.

And 62%+62%+62%+62% is a logical possibility.

So thank you very much democracy. At the risk of sounding a bit like my colleague, it looks like the fascists had something right, after all. So, I can't just write about movies, music, rape being bad, or even something random about relationships and/or love. So what will I be talking about?

Why don't you just read on and see?

Just yesterday, I was in the town, doing what I always do in the town: buying used DVDs and going to the cinema (on my own, yes - make of that what you will). On this particular yesterday however, I decided to check out the new used media store that had opened literally across the street from my usual used media outlet. Who thought up that brilliant marketing strategy, I wonder? Probably the same guy who thought there should be five H&M's on the same street in Stockholm. I thought I was just a bit hungover from the night before, but Google Maps seems to agree somewhat.

Back to the story though!

So, I went in this store with the same exact thought I enter with every week: 'I will not buy even one DVD. I'm just browsing'. This time, I was greatly comforted - they didn't have a separate foreign film section: 'Ha! Amateurs! I might be able to not buy anything this time'. And then suddenly, while searching for Ran (which they didn't have, by the way), I stumbled upon two copies of the director's cut of The Wickerman. Those of you who have read my other blog will know both that I already have a copy of The Wickerman on DVD, and am deeply in love with said film. The problem though, is that I didn't have the director's cut; my version had 15 minutes of what Robin Hardy considers to be crucial footage ruthlessly excised from it by the Warner Bro's execs. So, for three pounds, I picked it up - still feeling okay ('It's only one DVD. You're fine, dude') - and walked to the cash register.

The problem was, that by the time I got to the checkout, I had in my hands some 20 quid worth of DVDs. I ended up spotting, picking up, and purchasing such cinematic gems as Apocalypse Now, V for Vendetta, The Omen (original, of course), Donnie Darko, Trainspotting, The Deer Hunter, and Starship Troopers.

Wait. What?
Yes, I did just say Starship Troopers and "Cinematic gem" in the same sentence (without the phrase 'is not a'), and I wasn't even being ironic. As this article is basically saying, that 'dumb action film from the 90s' is in fact a 124 minute relentless satire of war, fascism, and xenophobia. That page is all about why Starship Troopers was the critical flop that it was - timing - and this article goes on to support it further, with the mind-blowing implication that Paul Verhoeven is a time traveller. And if there's anything scarier than a time-travelling Dutchman, I don't want to know.

The facts speak well enough for themselves really, but since I enjoyed this film as a kid for it's giant insect aliens and explosions, I just had to watch it again for the political commentary. So I did, and here are my results:

Heil, mein... Er - Sky Marshal!
Holy Hell son, do I even need to go on? Blonde hair, rugged complexion, leather tranch-coats... Just look at those guys in the background! This could almost as easily be a screencap from Downfall as it is from Starship Troopers. I'll let those articles I linked above do the rest of the talking - and there is plenty of talking on the matter. If you want to read more, just search 'starship troopers anti-fascism' on Google. It's like some kinda public secret or something.

But all of this really got me thinking, as things have been know to do. What else out there has been totally misinterpreted? Lots of things, of course, and many of them can be found on the same site as that second article I linked: One particularly interesting subject of confusion is music. For those of you who don't know my music credentials, they are two-fold:
  1. I can't sing, play instruments, compose, or even read music.
  2. I do, however, have over 3000 different mp3s, occupying 17 GB of my hardrive. If I played every song, it would take over 12 days of non-stop listening to hear every song.
So naturally, despite my incapability of creating music, I do definitely consider myself something of a music aficionado. Most of the hidden song meanings out there I already knew, since I do listen to my music quite a lot: Every Breath You Take is pretty obviously creepy (stalking and/or rape is, despite Caowin's beliefs, quite wrong), The Best of my Love is about a breakup, and Born in the U.S.A. is about how much the state of having been born in the U.S.A. sucks.

Bruce Springsteen just trolled you, America.
But there are many far more obscure song meanings... Usually these come as misinterpretations that are supposedly 'secret meanings' that the artist was trying to convey. How many of you knew that Hotel California is about the Church of Satan? Or that Lucy in the Skies With Diamonds is about LSD? Don't be alarmed if you didn't, because both of those are complete bollocks anyway, but they are widely believed. One thing I never got about the Lucy in the Skies With Diamonds thing is that the initials are actually LSWD (not LSD), which stands for 'Low Speed Warning Device'. Now, don't get me wrong; I aren't saying that the Beetles could possibly have thought that song was a good idea without mountains of marijuana and LSD, or even that it didn't play some part in the creation process - but it is pretty well documented that the song itself is not about an acid trip. John Lennon was quoted saying that he "Never even thought of it ... Who would ever bother to look at initials of a title?"

Now, I am a journalist with integrity, so am I just going to take the songwriter's word for it that his song doesn't have to do with acid? Heck no. I did some independent research:
  • Whole Wide World by the Proclaimers was actually predicting the birth of the internet.
  • Black Betty by The Ram Jam is about how fun pellet guns are!
  • Gardening at Night by R.E.M. is obviously a Geordie chav trying to say "Going".
  • D.I.S.C.O by Otawan was totally a song about disco.
Well... Apart from that last example, it looks like the crazy dead Beetle may have been right: songs' initials don't usually mean anything whatsoever. But what about Hotel California and Satanism? That's got nothing to do with initialism! Oh yeah, but it is by the band who sing such ballads of youthful rebellion as Victim of Love, After the Thrill is Gone, and Love Will Keep Us Alive.

That's even less rebellious than Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart.
Come on, Eagles! Man up and talk about Satan already.
I kid of course - though not about the lack of Satanism in Hotel California: I love a good love song [Editor's note: No homo? - Caowinhim][Writer's note: You're a dumbass - Y. S. Rice]. Meat Loaf is one of my absolute favourite singers, and Jim Steinman sure did write him some amazing ballads. His songs are an eclectic mix of the hopelessly romantic: I'd Lie for You, If God Could Talk, and What about Love? as well as the obviously-just-about-sex: Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Original Sin, and Where the Rubber Meets the Road (hint: it's not talking about driving). R.E.M.'s The One I Love is not about love at all, but Losing my Religion is sure about having one helluva crush. F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E by Pulp, is both the truest song about love that I have ever heard, and a direct call to action against people who don't use punctuation.

I could go on, but the fact is that most of you probably already know that approximately 99% of all songs are about love - even Turning Japanese, which isn't in fact about masturbation at all. If you want a song about fiddling with yourself, you should listen to the accurately titled I Touch Myself by Divinyls. Or The Who's Picture's of Lily. Or Prince's Darling Nikki. Okay, so there are a lot of songs about rosy palms. Let's just agree that 99% of music is about either love or self-love.

Apolgies! I seem to have gone on a bit of a tangent there, huh? Where was I? Oh yes: "What will I be talking about?" Just kidding, of course - I've done enough talking for today: I discussed a good film, music, how bad rape is, and something about romance... Just like your vapid voting said that I should do. If you found my topic changes to be confusing and annoying, then you have only yourself to blame.

Serving, as always, your poor democratic decisions,

Y. S. Rice


Pictures are hotlinked from across the web. I've been testing out some different HTML, so these ones don't actually link to the page, but only to the pictures. Still... That's something, right?

Articles are linked from Cracked - the only surviving original competitor to Mad Magazine - - a site that evidently believes that Starship Troopers isn't a waste of space - and, which has something to do with 'aerodefense'. This is something that I can only assume has something to do with combating this:

A menace to free Americans everywhere, I am sure.
"Feel my bubbles, ya Commie terrorist 'Cong bastards!"

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