Tag Archives: movies in bed
Post by Josh Zinn.
Picture, if you will, a time before the Internet. An innocent world that beckons with the promise of adventure and mystery, without the ability for its treasure trove of secrets to be divulged, pinned, poked, or liked by people in caftans whose explorative minds have been numbed by multiple mouse clicks, Judge Judy, and the soothing reliability of their favorite microwave fettuccini alfredo. Hold in your mind those precious memories of pay telephones, travel agents, Tab cola, and oversized women’s shoulder pads that helped define what it meant to be “on the go” when people still needed to leave their homes in order to satiate their fetishes and desires. Remember, “Ze plane! Ze plane!” and the hope it brought that some washed-up B-list actor could—in between mortgage-paying appearances on The Love Boat and Hart to Hart—find a glimmer of happiness in a temporary, entirely unsustainable setting.
Like a Jurassic Park for those who prefer lust and lingerie to lizards and Laura Dern, Fantasy Island revels in the fact that people desire what they are unable to attain in their day-to-day lives. For some, this might be a healthy version of a tater-tot casserole or a discount on nachos at the movie theater; for others, it’s a torrid affair with a vampire or disco lessons with Charo. Regardless of what its guests desire, however, Fantasy Island’s job is to make the impossible possible by promising the fading stars of yesterday a paycheck for tomorrow and by counting upon the dissatisfied lives of its viewing audience and their unquenchable thirst for an existence where clean Corningware is not considered a measure of happiness.
Sadly, the modern world no longer has much of a place for a Ricardo Montalbån-hosted tropical island where Don Knotts can become a sex symbol or women like Florence Henderson can uncover the power of their womanhood by fighting against the curse of a Don Ameche-led Satanic cult. Now, with the secrets of the world at our fingertips, people can simply find a web page, user group, or chat room that gives them the sense of normalcy and belonging that Fantasy Island may have once provided—it’s all the payoff, without the worry that Mickey Rooney or Milton Berle might show up in a Speedo.
Akin to a Make-A-Wish-Foundation for neurotics and hedonists alike, Fantasy Island captures a pre-internet moment in time when the world had yet to fully comprehend the scope of its depravity or its ability to write Twilight fan-fiction ad infinitum. It is an oasis of sin in the sun, accessible to even the most secretive of suburbanites.
Post by Josh Zinn.
Back when I was an unattractive and rotund child, I often used to feign sickness in order to stay home so that I could play Metroid and watch copious amounts of television. Because there are only so many times a boy can defeat Mother Brain and subsequently reveal his bounty hunter’s true femininity (if you never owned a Nintendo this is probably going over your head), the videogames regularly took a back seat to the joys of daytime programming. From the lurid tales of Divorce Court; the demonic possessions that plagued The Days of Our Lives; to the scandalous biopics of Liberace and Susanne Sommers that defined a then-young Lifetime television, my real education came not from the classroom, but from soaking in the televised depravity of the human condition.
Amongst this sea of scintillation, HBO would frequently air a film entitled The Legend of Billie Jean. Now, I’m not sure what it takes to qualify as a legend these days or if a female vigilante fighting for the cash to fix her brother’s scooter truly qualifies as such, but for all intents and purposes Billie Jean was a revelation for me as to what young folks could achieve if they adopted a defiant stance, a Dolph Lundgren circa-Rocky 4 flat-top, and a wardrobe filled with neon-tinted leather. No, this wasn’t some cheap dramatization of Mr. Showmanship’s seedy late-night male deliveries; this was a rallying cry for a life beyond the borders of small-town oppression, where men with bandanas on their brow, beef jerky on their breath, and beer in their bellies ruled the land.
Billie Jean and her ragtag group of freedom fighters (including Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson!) taught me that I didn’t have to listen to naysayers who didn’t believe in the power of youth and the possibility of a life outside of a six-pack of Mt. Dew and a minimum wage job at the dollar store. Furthermore, as she handily evades both the police and the rednecks that have defiled her brother’s possession, she becomes a symbol for women everywhere that they are their own keeper; a veritable Susan Sontag of the trailer park.
Finding myself at my own crossroads as I finally graduate from college this week, it’s easy to get caught up in the memories of experiences that have shaped my life. While I would love to tell you about the amazing learning journey I had way back in junior high school, the truth of the matter is that most of that time was spent at home, “sick,” watching a media-savvy Billie Jean exclaim, “Fair is fair!” to anyone with a camera and credentials. For those words of wisdom alone, I am thankful every day my folks bought my numerous stories about the dog’s puke on the floor being my own.
Post by Josh Zinn.
One of the biggest embarrassments I ever experienced as a child was believing that other people would be as interested in celebrating the birthday of my dog, Whiskers, as I was. In my mind, it was plainly obvious that my faithful companion was more than deserving of a celebration marking his fourth/twenty-eighth year; thus, I spent hours hand-crafting invitations for each person in my third-grade class (minus that smelly girly, Felicia, who had scabs all over her arms, sucked the liquid out of dandelion stems, and always wore too much rayon). Alas, however, even the promise of confections, canines, and Nintendo wasn’t enough to lure a single one of my so-called “friends” away from their Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget reruns. I was devastated; Whiskers nonplussed. We both ate a lot of cake.
I was reminded of this massive mongrel mistake recently whilst watching the television show Drop Dead Diva. Though a program about a beautiful but vapid model that dies in a horrific car crash and is reincarnated as a brilliant but overweight lawyer might not initially appear to have much in common with the trials and tribulations of a boy and his birthday dog, similarities abound. Case in point: Neither the lawyer, Jane, nor Whiskers are able to find much love in a cold, cruel world that dismisses them as second-class citizens based upon their outward appearance. Point 2: Jane has a guardian angel that feeds her nuggets of advice while Whiskers was fed nuggets of chicken by his guardian angel, me! Point 3: Jane pines for her modeling days and beloved boyfriend, Grayson. Whiskers, on the other hand, pined for the rubber pork chops he had chewed up alongside several of my beloved Chewbacca action figures. It’s all just too uncanny!
Drop Dead Diva is about as intellectual, thought provoking, and stimulating as its witty-by-way-of-secretaries-having-margarita-night-at-Chili’s-and-sloshily-coming-up-with-it title suggests. Like my dog’s deserted birthday party, it’s one of those programs that appears (and probably is) empty and sad, but is nonetheless filled with semi-delicious cake that you can gorge on when no one else is there to witness your rapid descent into self-pity. Sometimes, when you and your dog are dramatically ruminating over the meaning of friendship, a little junk food is the only guest you need.
Post by Josh Zinn.
Maybe it reveals too much about my personal life or the priorities of my parents, but ever since I was a wee tot I’ve had a deep fascination with the world of beauty pageants. Now, truth be told, I’ve never held much interest in the good deeds this year’s “Miss Southern Soy Belt” hopeful professes she can achieve by winning a crown (though she really does do a sensational job spreading awareness about the embarrassing pain of lactose intolerance, bless her heart), but being an audience to the numerous hardships this brave voyageur of beauty and intelligence (she has a bachelors in Communication!) must endure to claim her throne of dairy-free domination is a guilty delight on par with, well… It’s at least as good as the new, “BOLD and ZESTY!” flavor of Wheat Thins I sampled at Target the other night and that, let me tell you dear readers, ain’t chicken scratch.
The young competitors featured on TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras, however, don’t have a much of an interest in saving the world from the side effects of cheese—that is, unless salvation takes them to Build-A-Bear afterwards. No, in the minds of these pint-sized pageant participants, the ultimate goal in life appears to be proving their jazzercise mettle in a vicious arena that’s conveniently located in the conference room of a moderately priced, Midwestern hotel. There, amidst an array of stackable chairs, rotund women in stirrup tights, and the desiccated remains of Pixie Sticks, these tiny purveyors of sunshine wage war with one another through song, dance, and Ritalin-induced fits of hysteria and ennui. As desperate mothers wipe the Cheetos crumbs from their bosom and waddle up to the stage to guide their child through yet another Lita Ford-inspired routine, the world waits with baited breath as to who will be crowned the Ultimate Grand Supreme of such “star-spudded” events as the Nicholas County Potato Festival Pretty Baby Pageant. Needless to say, only one small fry can come out on top.
Toddlers & Tiaras isn’t good for you. It isn’t good for your family, for your neighbors, or even for that annoying woman in the supermarket who feels obliged to comment on the tastiness of the frozen dinner you’ve just put in your cart. In fact, for many, watching its endless parade of prepubescent, prettified Pollyanna’s is akin to welcoming the apocalypse to the dinner table. That said, there’s something eerily calming, refreshing, and downright entertaining in knowing your life will never be as terrible or tacky as the families you see on the television screen every week. If it’s true that everybody loves a clown (author’s note: No, it’s not) then Toddlers & Tiaras is a three-ring circus of painted faces and problematic parenting that’s guaranteed to make your misery seem just a little bit brighter!
Post by Josh Zinn.
Dear Val Kilmer,
Hi, you don’t know me, but I’ve been watching you. Not obsessively, mind you—I sort of forgot you existed after The Doors came out, so you needn’t worry about me judging you on all the weight you’ve gained—but enough that I can say that your 1985 movie, Real Genius, is a touchstone of my childhood. Sure, you share that honor with vanilla Dunkaroos, an episode of Punky Brewster where the Space Shuttle Challenger blows up, and the television movie, The Deliberate Stranger, starring Mark Harmon as Ted Bundy, but nonetheless, my 12-year old self’s sense of humor is indebted to the collegiate shenanigans you effortlessly showcased in that film.
Upon the suggestion of a friend, I recently re-watched Real Genius in hopes of stoking those Betamax fires of nostalgia. There you were again, Val, looking as irreverent and crazy as I remembered, wearing an “I Love Toxic Waste” t-shirt whilst sporting toy antennas on your head—Fun! Unfortunately, you weren’t as funny as I once thought. In fact, aside from your penchant for always being in the right place for an 80’s synthesizer-set montage, you were kind of just there, smirking your education (and my time) away in flip-flops and hair gel. I’m sorry to say this, Val, but this time around I found myself far more fascinated by the unusual kid you take under your wing as your protégé. Y’know, the really smart one who looks like a cross between Tyne Daly and Martin Short? Yeah, that one.
See, Val, I’ve grown up and with age, I guess, comes the realization that Real Genius, while still fun in a stay-in-bed-all-day kind of way, isn’t as groundbreaking a film as I remembered it to be. Sure, it may be one of the first movies to successfully combine advanced military weaponry with bikini-beach dorm parties and Jiffy Pop, but even amidst all those fluffy nuggets of combat, keggers, and comedy are kernels of unpopped gold. I know this is all so sudden and I apologize, but I didn’t realize until I saw you again that accentuating your character’s eccentricities by wearing bunny slippers to class just isn’t going to cut it in post-justaboutanythingsinceIwentthroughpuberty world. Times are tough, Val, and it takes a real genius to know when to up the ante. Until you figure it out, my eyes will be on Cagney… or is that Lacey?
P.S. – If it helps, I’m pretty much over Dunkaroos too.