Monday, November 14, 2005

The Hot Topic - Secret Pop Cult Shames!

The Duke's at "the helm" for this week's Hot Topic...


From out the head-holes of a buncha self-appointed "cultural commentators" comes a weekly side-swipe at the issues of the day, the issues of the night, the issues of the late-afternoon when the telly's crap and it's too early to eat.

This is The Hot Topic.

This week - "Um, I Haven't Seen It / Heard It / Read It" - Our Secret Pop Cult Shames!

From: The Duke De Mondo

To: The Hot Topic Team

Re: Secret Pop Cult Shames

Couple days past, myself and Sir Fleming sat debating the in's and out's of pi to a couple hundred decimal points, sat discussin the elusive wonders of Scorpius Gigantus starring Jeff Fahey, sat discussing the whys and wherefores of Land Of The Dead (Is it shit, is it amazing, who the hell knows? Neither of us two, that's for sure, since ain't a single syllable of agreement to be found).

In the course of it all, plenty banter about Jimmy Stewart, crops up least nine or twenty-four times in any given conversation, half a hundred jokes referencing the spin a the wheelchair this way or that in Rear Window.

Rear Window, least 48% of all punchlines uttered by yours truly in the course of a day involve Hitchcock's flick about the nosey ol' bastard an the diabolical goings on.

Who knows why, or for what reason, or what ungodly voodoo mania led to it all, but all a sudden I get slapped upside the knackers with the kinda guilt most often results in grown-men fryin neath the desert sun chewin locusts an hollerin bout the prophet Isaiah.

All a sudden I feel the need to fess up.

What it is, I say, what's got me sweatin out my teeth, what it all relates to, see, is that, well…

I never actually seen Rear Window.

For shame! And you, The Duke, joking about it every day in existence, and you ain't even laid an eye on the monochrome splendor of it all ever even once!

And worse.

The other day, chat heads in the direction of Quentin Tarantino, how unless Robert Rodriguez is involved, then anything Q.T related that isn't actually directed by the uber-chinned whelp, best avoid the fucker altogether.

"Like what", asks Sir Fleming?

Like, I dunno, like Four Rooms, for example.

"Four Rooms? It was alright!"

Forced into a corner, forced to make my point about no, it's not alright, when really, when the truth of it all comes staggering into the bar-room buggered raw at five in the morning, what it coughs out the throat is, to be honest, I haven't actually seen Four Rooms.

Because this is what we do. We have all the knowledge in the world regarding a certain flick, a certain book, a certain piece a music, we could talk about the fucker all week, we could draw diagrams and pie-charts that illustrate in no uncertain terms just what effect it has had on The Society and The Consciousness and So On. And yet when we get right down to it, when the guts are torn out the poultry and inspected by moonlight, what they reveal is that we ain't got a right in the world to make these proclamations, we ain't ever even seen / read / heard the bastard!

No-one's gonna get upset about a fella never seen The Passion Of Joan Of Arc, it ain't the easiest slab a celluloid to get hold of. But what about the fella sat in the corner of the bar scared to pipe in with his thoughts on Coppola because he ain't ever seen Apocalypse Now?

We all have them. These hidden shames. Maybe we never actually seen Goodfellas, or Terminator 2, or we never read On The Road even though we quote it endlessly, or we never heard any of Neil Young's 1980's recordings, yet we still insist they suck.

So what I wanna know, what'll get me through life even though I still haven't seen Rear Window, is the facts of the case re the following;

What's your secret Pop Cult shame?

From: Aaron Fleming

To: The Hot Topic Team

Re: Secret Pop Cult Shames

Popular culture discrepancies then, a topic that can only wield a plethora of embarrassing confessions, no priest or religiose could even begin to take in the admissions of gaps, holes and chasms of knowledge hitherto unseen by the masses. Luckily the Hot Topic Team far surpasses any supposed virtue possessed by the propagating and hypocritical harbingers of organized religion (although that's for another hot topic debate perhaps), and it is here to grant amnesty to those with guilty concealments.

So let the flood begin.

Movies, then. As I write this a university screening of Toy Story 2 is occurring that I would have been at, had I chosen to depart my warm abode today. The truth is I've never seen that one, although from all I hear it seems to be even more praised than the prequel, which I have seen and is great. This leads onto a number of other CGI movies
which I haven't bothered to see; Monsters Inc, A Bugs Life, Antz, Ice Age etc. I'm not too bothered about these, really. Hey, The Incredibles was great, but the interest just ain't there.

Another topical one is the Harry Potter flicks. Never seen em, never read the books, never bought the action figures, never swam the waters of synergistic marketing. I'm sure it's an interesting mythos, but I just don't care.

I've never seen The Godfather Part 2 (or 3, although I think this is less heathenish). Saw the first one, it's fine, bit overrated, but I couldn't be bothered watching the sequel. I know I probably should, I'm sure it's fantastic, but who has the time these days?

Titanic! Never saw the whole film, I doubt that'll ever be rectified, I'm not prepared to give over 3 hours of my life to that, especially when I know what happens (love story, historical ship sinking yadda yadda). I certainly won't be purchasing that mammoth new 4-disc DVD box.

Haven't seen Gone With The Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Das Boot, Singin In The Rain, Metropolis, Stand By Me, Blood Simple, to name a few big ones I should have seen (some I'd like to see, some less so).

Oh, and Top Gun and Days Of Thunder. Fuck them.

But something to remember here; everyone has gaps, no one has the perfect record. And for every big film missed there's a Porcile, or a Guinea Pig 3: He Never Dies, or a Punishment Park that has been seen.

From: Mark Saleski

To: The Hot Topic Team

Re: Secret Pop Cult Shames

Oh I really have to divulge this information? OK. Here goes...

Every so often, folks will be yammering on about all things political. The conversation will slide around to particularly brutish social situations. Then somebody will say, "Yes, just like in Lord Of The Flies." And then I will nod my head in agreement. But of course, I've never read that book so I don't know what the hell they're talking about. The closest I've come is to listen to Aerosmith's "Lord Of The Thighs" from Live Bootleg. Right. So we all know that a vinyl record is not a book and Thighs are certainly not Flies (and we will not go down the road of disgusting jokes here) so there's the truth, I've never read Lord Of The Flies. There are probably other books I haven't scanned my eyes over, though none as 'important' as this (and I'm not about to count Ulysses here as that seems more like an Olympic intellectual event than just plain old reading).

Then there's films. Let me just get it right out in the open: E.T. There, I've said it. But hey, I've seen Citizen Kane about thirty times. Does that make up for it? Probably not, since there are others: Schindler's List, Lawrence of Arabia (I did try there, but I nodded off and the back of my head whacked into the wall behind the couch), Taxi Driver, The Manchurian Candidate (I own a copy, surely that means something), Titanic. OK, I put that last one there because the snotty side of myself thinks its proximity to The Manchurian Candidate is kinda funny.

Music? Forget it. Everybody knows I own every recording ever made.

From: DJ Radiohead

To: The Hot Topic Team

Re: Secret Pop Cult Shames

OK... there is no way really I can come up with a truly exhaustive list. I will have to settle for naming just a few of my sins in this regard.

Most of them would come in the reading department. I am not as well read as I should like to be. I have only read Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I never read a lot of the 'great' literature (even if it was assigned in high school or college... I just faked it).

Movies... I am missing a lot of the so-called classics here. I have never seen Taxi Driver or Citizen Kane or High Noon. I must also admit... I claim to be a Tarantino fan (and I am) but I have never seen either of the Kill Bill films or Jackie Brown.

Musically... hmmm... I don't feel like I have really missed anything or at least don't feel bad about that which I have missed. Well... let me change that. I have only heard one or two songs by the Ramones or The Clash. I am not real well schooled at all in the 70s punk movement. I am not sure how much I would like that music or not but some of that
material is considered classic so I feel out of the loop there.

From: Mat Brewster

To: The Hot Topic Group

Re: Secret Pop Cult Shames

The Duke has never seen Rear Window! Well, pluck my eyes out with a pogo stick! Look over the horizon boys, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse should be trotting by any moment.

A fella I know that's the entertainment editor of one of the newspapers in Dallas sends out an annual list of recommended movies from the first talkies to present day. It's a big, grand list and also creates plenty of discussion. It is also daunting to look at and see just how many flicks I haven't seen, nor even heard of. I added it up one time and it would take over 200 back to back to back hours of movie watching to see them all.

Truth of the matter is that unless you are independently wealthy, or it is your job to sit and watch the flickery, there ain't no way you can watch all the films out there. In college I went to the movies nearly every weekend, and usually, I got to see every film that I wanted to see. But even then I didn't see every piece of cinema released. Now I'm
lucky if I get to the theater once a month.

So we all make choices as to what we're actually going to be able to see. A couple of days ago I had to decide between the more critically acclaimed Jarhead, and the completely panned, yet somehow appealing Doom. We take in what we can, lie through our teeth about what we've missed, and chastise those who haven't consumed all the things on our list.

Do I have a secret shame list? Sure. I've only made it through half of Gone With the Wind. Though I own copies, I've never seen reel one of either Rashomon or Ran, or even Laurence of Arabia. I can't recall a single John Wayne picture that I've seen from top to bottom, including Rio Bravo.

Ah, man there is just too many to list. The sense of shame barrels a man over. I can't even get into all the literature I've never read (including not a novel one of William Faulkner) or the music I've never heard (anything by the Sex Pistols, and *cough* the Clash).

From: Eric Berlin

To: The Hot Topic Group

Re: Secret Pop Cult Shames

I'm reminded of the scene in High Fidelity, where the record store troika is forced to admit they're music snobs. Once they admit it, though, they're proud of it.

And let's face it: we all want to be cultural snobs. We all want to know everything there is to know about our "area," whatever that can be defined as: books, alt rock bands, Charles Bronson films, television programs featuring children and robots, and so on.

And as I wrote the above words I wanted to stop at each mini-moment and write, I own Captain Beefheart's Safe as Milk! Does that make me a cultural snob? Not at all, it just makes me crazy on many a level, Zig Zag Wanderer that I am.

Since I'm a generalist and tend to soak up tidbits of various pop cultural arcana without ever delving into the dank cauldrons of true alchemic geekery (think There Are Some Who Call Me... Tim circa Monty Python and the Holy Grail for argument's sake), I'm constantly on the outside looking in upon cultural snobbery in fear and abject awe and, more and more of late, relief!

It's a relief when you let go of the pretensions, isn't it? If it's not in the blood, move on, my brotha, right? So I'll never read Balzac and I couldn't get through the first bloody page of any James Joyce novel I tried my mental motors at. Jethro Tull and Rush and The Mr. T Experience and The Alan Parsons Project will never be names I can summon at will in the midst of a snap-cracklin' music conversation. That's so early Jerthro Tull, bro! I'll never get to utter those glorious words. What's a fella to do?

I tried to soak myself in television for several months this year, which may have been my personal cultural Waterloo (and I can summon Waterloo but Ropespierre or James II? Not so much), but it's all too much, really.

It turns out that I don't care if Joan is from Arcadia or Pasadena or Burbank or wherever. I don't care about William Shatner's late career run on Boston Legal.

I just want to watch The Real World and Arrested Development and Rome.

And so at long last, I hope, I can rest easy in my own cultural digs.

So there you have it, The Hot Topic Team have coughed their confessions left and right cross cyberspace.

Now, it's over to you. Don't be scared, we won't tell nobody. What's your Secret Pop Cult Shame?

Thanks folks.

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