Saturday, November 20, 2004

"I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic!"

Yes, so it's Saturday night and everyone's staying in, here at Chez Bex 'n' Noah. I've heard it said that staying in is the new going out, and I think I believe it. Truth be told, I'm still recovering from my bout with ickyness earlier in the week, and Noah has a new video game, so, hey. Why leave the house? And so we decided to watch us some netflix.

We started with a movie called "Equilibrium" that neither of us had ever heard of, but it stars Christian Bale and Noah's had a thing for Christian Bale since the days of the Last Emperor. (Incidentally, I always confuse the Last Emperor with Empire of the Sun; i think the former stars Xtian Bale while the latter features a scene in which a doctor sniffs at the poo of a young emperor. I could be totally mistaken). "Equilibrium" also stars Sean Bean, who apparently has only one character he can play (and that character be: Boromir). The movie was described as a futuristic sci-fi thing, and we like futuristic sci-fi around these parts, so even when the DVD splash page featured two men in floor-length vinyl coats a la The Matrix, and even when the prologue scene was just a whole semenwad of faux-Matrix, we were willing to try it out. We lurf the Matrix.

But, boo hiss! It was a movie about a 1984-esque totalitarian state, in which a force of highly trained soldiers and policemen enforced the policy of eradicating "everything that causes man to hate man," which, apparently, is art. The premise was that the fascist regime was intent on outlawing all emotion, because emotion would lead to hatred and then to war (and these tigers had already survived WWIII and they knew that a WWIV was a bad idea, so they wanted to eliminate war via eliminating hatred via eliminating emotion. They were 'feeling police,' rather than thought police. (Cue the Zappa: who are the brain police?)

Thing is, there's just no point in envisioning an emotionless future like that. It's surely going to be a lot more like the future of Brave New World, in which the population is sedated and subdued by pharmaceutical means. Soma quells anxiety and boredom and fear and rebellion and individual thought. In the Brave New World, the opiate of the people is literally an opiate. Soma numbs and soma soothes. Soma (and hypnopaedia) keep the caste system functioning, the industrial complex complexing and the people complacent and content. And, man, after spending last Sunday in front of the tv, I can tell you that Soma is here, friends. Doesn't it sometimes seem like EVERYONE you know is taking fucking brain pills?

Because they make it seem like everything necessitates taking brain pills! Are you sad, angry, sleepy, sleepless, fat, skinny, embarassed, exhibitionistic, horny, frigid? (interrobang). Take a brain pill. (Or a peepee pill, because apparently real men take peepee pills.) I saw so many commercials that I swear were targeted just at me: "Do you find yourself gripped with the irrational fear that we are using too much electricity which will result in a simultaneous global blackout and the entire civilization will collapse and a rogue terrorist will unleash a horrible biological weapon and/or the weapons silos will dysfunction bombs will go off and nuke the globe? Then this pill is for you!" or "Do you constantly find yourself crushing on dudes who can never possibly be your boyfriend? Take this pill!" And, for a brief moment, I was like: i should take these pills and be happy. Why ought I not to be happy? Other people are happy. I could take those pills and then everything would be perfect.

Baaaaaaa, baaaaa -- and then I bleated all the wall to the slaughterhouse. Baaa baaa baaa. I shook it off. Baaaa, baaaaa. I'd rather be the black sheep. Three bags full.

Anyhoo. I digress. So we watched 7 minutes of Equilcrapium and then turned it off, and moved on to the next dvd: The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, starring Tony Randall as the 7 faces of Dr. Lao. It was a kinda doofy, overt, parable; a morality tale set in the ol' west and featuring offensive faux-Asian accents. And Dr. Lao taught a small town an important lesson about conscience and pride, and he did with a magical magical circus. And when a small boy wants to run off with the circus, Dr. Lao teaches us an even more valuable lesson:
The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it. The way the sun goes down when you're tired, comes up when you want to be on the move. That's real magic. The way a leaf grows. The song of the birds. The way the desert looks at night, with the moon embracing it. Oh, my boy, that's... that's circus enough for anyone. Every time you watch a rainbow and feel wonder in your heart. Every time you pick up a handful of dust, and see not the dust, but a mystery, a marvel, there in your hand. Every time you stop and think, "I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic!" Every time such a thing happens, you're part of the Circus of Dr. Lao.

Naturally, we snorted and scoffed and tossed our heads and kicked our heels during this speech. But I would just like to say -- don't be soothed. Because being alive is fantastic.


ahniwa said...

Equilibrium isn't so bad. Sure, it's pure cheese, over-acted, but there's a great scene where Sean Bean is sitting in a church and Bale walks in (he's now realized that Sean, his partner, has been feeling). Sean reads a memorable bit of verse from Yeats:

"And I being poor have nothing but my dreams,
I have laid my dreams at your feet.
Tread softly, for you are treading on my dreams."

Then Bale shoots him in the head. Classy stuff. Oh, and they do use drugs for control, though not quite a la Brave New World. Of course, Bale stops taking his drugs, and that's when things get interesting. Of course.

As for Dr. Lao, reading that totally made me laugh. If you ever watched MST3K, Joel used that little monologue from Lao as his final goodbye to the bots. And they scoffed and said "WTF Mate?" to which Joel candidly replied, "What, guys? I really liked that movie." I imagine it's a "you had to be there" sort of thing; but thanks for the laugh, anyway.

ahniwa said...

Oh yeah. I love Sean Bean, whether he has one character or not. But his character isn't Boromir (not originally), because Boromir is basically just a reprise of his role as Richard Sharpe. Great series, if a bit campy.

wholesomedick said...


Anonymous said...

I found your blog by searching for the Yeats qoute that ahniwa wrote. Equilibrium is a great movie. Do some research on it. It was made with a miniscule budget, but it has a lot of heart. The gun battles are WAY better than the matrix. I like Equilibrium better than the matrix anyways, as the matrix always tries to wax philisophical but Equilibrium makes it's message clear: our emotion is what makes us human. Taking it away is the same as taking away our souls. I encourage you to give Equilibrium another chance and check it out. All the stunts were done by the actors with no wires, and the form of "Gun Kata" done in the movie was made completely up by the director in his backyard. It's become a cult classic in the states after making huge money oversees, and will be one of those movies that people will talk about in casual conversation. You need to see it, so you won't be left out.

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