Category Archives: Film

Random Retro Reaction – 5/14/2014

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Last night I was catching up on my DVR and I watched The Misfits (1961) with Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.  This was a great film, written by Arthur Miller and directed by John Huston, that centered on a newly divorced woman who met an aging cowboy and just decided to go with it.  There’s a memorable scene where they’re in a saloon at a rodeo with a bunch of drunken cowboys, and Marilyn makes a bet over how many times in a row she can paddle a ping pong ball.  (The action starts at about 0:55.)

So, I’m watching Marilyn with her;

  • 1950s-pointy-bra mams
  • tiny waist
  • fertile hips
  • squeezable booty
  • small feet
  • graceful movements
  • wide doe eyes
  • delicate jaw line
  • and her high-pitched, almost musical, uber-feminine voice

And for some reason I had the following thought,

“If she suddenly started doing kung fu and beating the crap out of all these cowboys….. that would be absolutely f***ing retarded.” 

Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and the story was not ruined.  None the less, I’ve come to the conclusion that in 60-plus years, IF we still have the technology to enable things like films, DVRs and television, people will look at all the action flicks from this decade starring Scarlett Johansson and laugh in much the same way we laugh at “guy in a rubber suit” monster movies from the 1950s.

So, Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Lucy (2014), and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (2015), enjoy your days in the sun, for you will soon be the new Gamera.
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UPDATE

Vox Popoli further extends the premise and gets in a couple of really good burns on Joss Whedon.

http://www.voxday.blogspot.com/2014/05/mailvox-pulp-future.html

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006. Tim Burton – Ed Wood (1994)

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After reflecting on the Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theatre post, perhaps the most important function of the horror movie host was telling all the stories behind the story shown on screen.  The horror host’s knowledge added layers of context and depth to what basically amounted to any number of guy-in-a-rubber-monster-suit films.  While listening to Joe Bob Briggs wax poetic about the financing of Night of the Living Dead (1968) was both enjoyable and interesting, it wasn’t better than the film itself.  By that same token, listening to Svengoolie discuss the differences in the underwater scenes in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Revenge of the Creature (1955) was pretty darned cool, but it still wasn’t better than either of the films.  But what if a movie was so awful that the story of its making was more compelling than the movie itself?  Moreover, I can’t be the only person who ever watched a 1950s B-grade horror flick and wondered how much fun it must have been to be involved with making it?  And I certainly can’t be the only person to wonder how cool would it have been to drink whiskey with Bela Lugosi?

This brings us to Tim Burton’s 1994 comedy/drama/biopic Ed Wood.  The film lovingly chronicled the career highlights of writer/actor/director/producer Edward D. Wood Jr., who in the 1950s made a number of low-budget sci-fi, horror and exploitation films.  Wood continued to write, act, direct and produce up until his untimely death in 1978 at the age of 54.  Although it seemed perfectly logical in 1994, as strange things were clearly afoot with the zeitgeist, future film historians may be puzzled why anyone would have wanted to make, much less watch a movie about the worst director of all time directing the worst film of all time?  There were plenty of bad movies and bad directors in the 1950s, so why Ed Wood and why then?

Let’s recap, in chronological order, the chain of events that led to Ed Wood’s resurgence of relevance;

  • In 1961, the rights to Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) were sold to late night television and the film became a staple of UHF programming for the next two decades.
  • In 1977 Glenn Danzig changed the name of his punk rock label from Blank Records to Plan 9 Records, clearly referencing Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).  For the next ten years, each subsequent recording by horror punk pioneers The Misfits, and later Samhain, was released under this imprint.  This helped to firmly cement the film’s legacy with every punk rock weirdo in the United States of America.
  • In 1980, author and film critic Michael Medved posthumously awarded Edward D. Wood Jr. a Golden Turkey Award for Worst Director of All Time, while declaring Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) the “worst movie ever made.”  As fate would have it, this renewed the public’s interest in Wood’s work.
  • In the early 1990s, three of Wood’s films, Bride of the Monster (1955), The Violent Years (1956), and The Sinister Urge (1960), were featured on Comedy Central’s Mystery Science Theater 3000, which further exposed Wood’s works to a new generation of sarcastic wiseacres.
  • On May 23, 1991, “The Chinese Restaurant” episode of Seinfeld aired.  This was the eleventh episode of the show’s second season, in which Jerry, George and Elaine decided to eat dinner without a reservation at a Chinese restaurant before seeing Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).  Jerry Seinfeld made some notable squibs.

    “Just a movie? You don’t understand. This isn’t plans 1 through 8 from outer space. This is Plan 9! This is the one that worked, the worst movie ever made!”  Seinfeld further intoned, “I can’t go to a bad movie by myself. What, am I gonna make sarcastic remarks to strangers?”

It should go without saying that Seinfeld was one of the most watched and most frequently awarded programs of the 1990s.  However, Jerry was very astute in his observation that viewing an Ed Wood movie was a social event.

  • In 1992, Rudolph Grey’s biography Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. was released, and initiated the process of Wood’s life and work being publically reevaluated.
  • Also in 1992, Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion was released.  This exhaustive two-hour documentary by Mark Carducci chronicled the making of Plan 9 from Outer Space and featured interviews with Maila Nurmi (Vampira), Paul Marco and Conrad Brooks.
  • And finally in 1992, Konami developed a Plan 9 from Outer Space video game for the Amiga and Atari ST, as well as a DOS version.

This brings us to writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski who developed a ten page treatment for an Ed Wood biopic based on Rudolph Grey’s Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.  This script eventually found its way to oddball director Tim Burton, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Obviously, there was a great deal of retro inbreeding going on in the early 1990s, as one could literally turn on Friday night basic cable and watch Bride of the Monster (1955) on MST3K, wake up Saturday morning, drive to one’s local book store and pick up a new book about Edward D. Wood Jr., get back in the car, pop in the latest White Zombie cassette to hear songs with samples from Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), and then hit the multiplex for a screening of Ed Wood (1994), which featured the making of Bride of the Monster (1955), and depicts Edward D. Wood Jr. and Bela Lugosi watching the film White Zombie (1932) on television hosted by Vampira, to whom The Misfits wrote an ode on a record released through their Plan 9 label, and…..  You guys see where I’m going with this?

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As for Ed Wood (1994), the film itself, it was unlike any other movie of its time.  First and foremost, Burton insisted on filming the movie in black and white, which set the tone perfectly.  Seeing a black and white movie about the making of black and white movies was a stroke of genius on Burton’s part, as it reiterated to the viewer with all surgical precision of an atom bomb that this was the 1950s.  Sure, many independent films were shot sans color, but it was virtually unheard of for the studio-industrial-complex to release a major motion pictureTMin black and white.  The only predecessor that comes to mind was the Steve Martin film noir parody Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982).  Regardless, after Ed Wood (1994), Hollywood was less hesitant to screen new black and white movies at the multiplex, as evidenced by the success of Clerks (1994), Dead Man (1995), and roughly half of Pleasantville (1998).  Unfortunately this trend did not continue into the new millennium, and I, your humble narrator, am still irritated that I’m forced to watch Mad Men in color.  Yet, I digress.

The film was a constant blur or Mid-Century homes, cars, appliances, buildings, bars, clothes and music.  Speaking of which, Howard Shore’s film score was absolutely fantastic, and established the mood perfectly.  Shore combined the exotic percussion of Martin Denny and Les Baxter with the Theremin-laden sounds of 1950s sci-fi and B-movies.  The film score was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and even featured Russian Theremin player Lydia Kavina (the grandniece of Leon Theremin).  The resulting sonic retro-hybrid provided the perfect soundtrack for either making movies with Edward D. Wood Jr. or drinking a Mai Tai on Mars.

The entire cast was wonderful.  Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Edward D. Wood Jr. was outstanding, and he evoked the mannerisms, cadence and optimism of post-war America like a champ.  Allegedly, he studied the acting of Jack Haley, Mickey Rooney and Ronald Reagan to prepare for the role.  Bill Murray was absolutely hilarious as Bunny Breckinridge, and stole every seen in which he appeared.  Sarah Jessica Parker turned in a fine performance, portraying Dolores Fuller, the actress and Elvis Presley songwriter, who was Ed’s love interest for the first half of the film.  Even though the meme of comparing Sarah Jessica Parker to a horse has been a comedy goldmine for years throughout the more unkind corners of the internet, she actually looks sort of….. pretty in this movie.  It took me a while to put my finger on why, and it hearkens back to various skirmishes in the war of the sexes that I’ve observed over the past five years.  To wit, men want wives not coworkers, men value femininity in women, and the visceral repulsion to the manjaw-ificaiton of American women.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but she acted overtly feminine, channeling June Cleaver instead of Carrie Bradshaw, and as a result she seemed much more attractive than in any of her roles before or since.  Well, up until she tried to kill Johnny Depp with a frying pan, but he totally had it coming.

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The one part of Ed Wood (1994) most resonated with viewers was Martin Landau’s flawless depiction of Bela Lugosi.  This performance didn’t go unnoticed by the powers that be, as it won Landau an Academy Award for best supporting actor.  Regardless, the idea of befriending one’s heroes has always held appeal for..… pretty much everyone..… ever.  Tim Burton had experienced this first hand while working with Vincent Price on Edward Scissorhands (1990), and was therefore able to tackle the subject with expertise, plausibility and perspective.  Perhaps Burton’s greatest accomplishment with this film was that he made the audience care about the characters, especially Bela.  From the moment he showed up in the coffin store, to his profanity laced tirades about Boris Karloff, through addiction, rehab, and until his death, one just couldn’t help but root for the old man.  In hindsight, Burton’s treatment of Edward D. Wood Jr. shouldn’t come as a surprise, as much brighter people than I have previously pointed out that Burton is clearly an enthusiast, not a satirist.

Regardless, there were numerous scenes that depicted the social and workplace interactions of Ed, Bela and the gang, and allowed the viewers to feel as though they were standing in the same room or seated at the same table as the characters.  Most importantly, this allowed the viewer to feel as though they were sharing the camaraderie of a bygone past.  Not only did Ed Wood (1994) make the audience feel like they were there, it also made the audience wish they were there.  In the opinion of your humble narrator, several of these scenes stand out above the rest;

  • The scene where Ed, The Amazing Criswell and his entourage have drinks with Bela and try to goad him into delivering some of his most famous lines from Dracula (1931)
  • The night time filming of the infamous octopus wrestling scene from Bride of The Monster (1955)
  • Ed and Bela (in full Dracula garb) watching White Zombie (1932) on The Vampira Show on Halloween night, then scaring the bejeezus out of some trick-or-treaters

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I’ll leave it to The Amazing Criswell to summarize the effect of watching Ed Wood (1994).

All of us on this earth know that there is a time to live, and that there is a time to die. Yet death is always a shock to those left behind.

Even though that narration comes from the worst film of all time, I certainly can’t argue with the sentiment.  And for those of us born at the beginning of our civilization’s demise, looking back to the recent past often makes us realize, in no uncertain terms, that we’ve also been left behind.

After The Fact

  • Although I find the topic tedious, at best, I suppose I’m obligated to mention that Edward D. Wood Jr. was a transvestite (a heterosexual man who liked to wear women’s clothing), and then pontificate on some Kumbayah bullshit.  I’ll agree to the former, but I have absolutely no interest in the latter.  That said, the film addresses the issue with humor, realism and sympathy without coming across as overly “preachy”, or whatever it is that currently passes for “preachy” in our secular, politically-correct post-nation.  Upon re-watching Ed Wood (1994), it was refreshing to be reminded that no so long ago in America, people actually struggled with their sexual deviancy rather than making it the cornerstone to define their very identity.  Indeed, those were different times.
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003. Quentin Tarantino – Pulp Fiction (1994)

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During the course of this blog, I plan on covering over 100 examples of 1990s retro touchpoints.  Some of these are well known, and some are relatively obscure.  Out of all of them, none will hold a stronger claim to being the retro shot heard round the world than Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction.  While other movies became relatively successful despite their mid-century frame, Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction literally established retro chic as the dominant paradigm for the rest of the decade.  Pulp Fiction was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  The film quickly influenced all other forms of media, and even Roger Ebert deemed it the most influential film of the decade.

If you’ve never seen Pulp Fiction, get the hell off my blog and don’t come back until you have.  OK, I’ll throw a bone to the unfamiliar.  Pulp Fiction was a crime film with a nonlinear sequence of events that incorporated the humor, graphic violence and the intriguing dialog of pulp magazines and hardboiled detective fiction that were popular in the middle of the 20th century.  Additionally, the picture was highly stylized, reminiscent of film noir, and extensively utilized homage.  This much everyone agreed upon, and little else.  The critical reaction to this film spanned the gamut from accusations of shallow nihilism, racism, homophobia, and glorified violence to claims of transcendentalism, celebrations of multiculturalism, and redemption through honor.  Despite the discordant cacophony of critical theorist circle-jerkery, one thing was certain; Pulp Fiction allowed the critics to engage in psychological projection on a grander and deeper scale than any film that came before or has come since.

I remember seeing this film at the local multiplex with a group of friends in October of 1994.  For the first twenty minutes or so, we were all confused as to whether Pulp Fiction was set in the 1950s, 1960s, early 1970s or the present.  It wasn’t until Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules character referenced A Flock of Seagulls that we concluded it was either the present, or some version of the present in an alternate universe that was much, much cooler than ours.  This is an observation I’ve heard repeatedly over the years.  If I recall correctly, many people experienced the same conundrum with Reservoir Dogs (1992) until realizing that the characters were discussing Madonna.  There were several primary reasons, all of them retro, for the seemingly ambiguous time periods in which Tarantino’s films of the 1990s took place.

One of the things to register immediately with first time viewers of Pulp Fiction is that it doesn’t look like a 1990s movie.  Even when compared to other films that came out in 1994, such as Speed, True Lies or even the “present day” shots in Forest Gump, there is something fundamentally very different about Pulp Fiction.  It all starts with the film stock.

According to Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction was shot “on 50 ASA film stock, which is the slowest stock they make. The reason we use it is that it creates an almost no-grain image, it’s lustrous. It’s the closest thing we have to 50s Technicolor.”

While this point was lost amidst the all existential and sociopolitical posturing of the literati, the fact remains that the director explicitly stated that Pulp Fiction was intentionally shot to look like a film from the 1950s.

Secondly, Tarantino made good use of the many remaining buildings in Los Angeles which were designed in the architectural style of mid-century modern.  Also referred to as “Populuxe”, “Space Age”, “Coffee Shop Modern”, or “Googie”, this type of architecture brought modernism to America’s post-WWII suburbs and incorporated elements such as upswept roofs, large sheet glass windows, boomerang shapes and starbursts.  Pulp Fiction opens with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny having breakfast in a coffee shop clearly displaying the hallmarks of classic mid-century design, such as rock walls, open spaces made possible by post-and-beam construction, and of course large sheet glass windows.  The diner scenes were filmed in the now-demolished Hawthorne Grill, which was originally built in 1956.  Unless one lived in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, it was rare to see still-functional examples of mid-century modern architecture by the1990s, outside of the occasional church or stray ranch house.  Moreover, to those of us from the heartland/flyover, these buildings were what the 1950s looked like.

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The majority of story line deals with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta’s characters, Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega.  From the moment we were introduced to the two of them driving around while discussing the names of various hamburgers in Europe, they looked strangely anachronistic.  Sure, Vincent Vega had a very 90s haircut.  Lots of guys had long hair in the mid-1990s, but it HAD to be all one length as alternative culture had declared all-out war against the mullet and other forces of darkness.  Jules’ Jheri-curled ‘fro and mustache combo, on the other hand, was straight out of the late 1970s.  This brings us to Jules and Vincent’s iconic black and white suits, reminiscent of the Rat Pack or a tuxedo-clad James Bond.  Nobody dressed like that in 1994.  While their suits were well-tailored, the style at the time was derived from baggy Italian designs.  Additionally, men’s suits were often very colorful in the early 1990s, with harvest orange, avocado green and Joker purple readily available off the rack.  Even dress shirts seemed to come in myriad multicolored paisley prints.  (Watch an old episode of Beverly Hills 90210, Married With Children, or Martin for context.)  Not being one to pull punches whilst beating a dead horse, I’ll continue to belabor the point.  The early to middle 1990s were the golden age of well-made wacky ties.  If I recall correctly, by 1995 I’d effortlessly acquired several expensive-looking silk Spider-Man ties, but I had to go to several stores before I could find a plain black tie.  Regardless, Tarantino stated that the black and white suits were homage to French film-noir director Jean-Pierre Melville.  Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace character was the perfect feminine reflection of Jules and Vincent with her throwback white blouse and black Cleopatra haircut.  So much of Pulp Fiction could have been filmed in black and white without losing a shred of ambience.  Whether this was intentional or not, it adds to the retro feel of the film.

Next, we have the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, which was so influential in and of itself, that I debated covering it in an entirely separate post.  Soundtracks were a very big deal in the 1990s, as they filled the pop-cultural void between K-Tel and Now That’s What I Call Music!  Most of these featured currently popular songs from currently popular artists such as the soundtracks for Singles (1992), The Bodyguard (1992), and even So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993).  Others were more conceptual featuring popular artists of one genre covering formerly popular artists of another genre such as The Crow (1994) soundtrack which hit number one on the Billboard charts, or the Judgment Night (1993) soundtrack which forced collaboration between alternative/grunge/metal artists and rappers, often with striking results.  The Pulp Fiction soundtrack, however, was a retro smorgasbord of American surf music, soul and pop, which ended up going double platinum.  The music was very carefully selected, and each track fit the mood of each scene perfectly.  There was only one song by a new band, power-pop/alt-rockers Urge Overkill covering Neil Diamond’s 1967 hit “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”.  For those of you keeping score at home, that still counts as retro.  Upon further reflection, the official soundtrack lists “If Love is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)” by alt-country singer Mia McKee, but I’ll be damned if I can remember the song appearing in the movie.

From a pop-cultural standpoint in 1994, instrumental music had been dead and gone for decades.  Even for those with some conceptual knowledge of surf music, it was mostly limited to highly vocal bands like The Beach Boys or Jan and Dean.  It is impossible to overstate the impact that Dick Dale’s “Misirlou”, played during the opening credits, had on audience members too young to remember instrumental surf rock, yet old enough to appreciate the shock and awe of his loud, fast, intense and technically proficient style.  It often started with amazement, “This is incredible?”  Followed by curiosity, “Who is this?  I have to find this song!”  Eventually, one felt cheated, “Why have I never heard this before?  Why the hell doesn’t the local oldies station play songs like this?!?”  The exact same reaction happened all over again approximately thirty minutes later when the strains of Link Wray & The Wraymen’s “Rumble” and “Ace of Spades” would set the mood for Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace’s dinner at Jack Rabbit Slim’s.  Needless to say, both Dale and Wray experienced a huge resurgence in their careers and record sales as a direct result of Pulp Fiction.

In addition to Dick Dale and His Del-Tones, Tarantino introduced an entire generation to;

Furthermore, everyone was familiar with Chuck Berry, Kool & the Gang, Al Green and Dusty Springfield, but only from the same one or two hits that had long since grown stale.  Upon hearing this “new” material, it was as if Tarantino reached out from the screen, slapped the audience across the face and said, “Forget that Celebration and Johnny B. Goode shit!  These guys have HUGE catalogs of fabulous material, and you HAVE to hear them.”  The preceding sentence is much funnier if read with Tarantino’s trademark rapid, high-pitched, slightly lisping voice in mind.

Perhaps the most interesting legacy of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack was the effect it had on local music scenes nationwide.  Back in the 1980s, I remember hearing a music industry insider of some sort discuss The Ramones.  He said that in cities where no Punk Rock or New Wave scene existed, one would suddenly emerge overnight once The Ramones played a show in that town.  The same can be said of surf and rockabilly scenes immediately after Pulp Fiction was released.  (Note: I plan on dedicating many future posts to the 1990s surf music revival, the bands and labels involved.)

And finally we come to the retro pièce de résistance of Pulp Fiction; Jack Rabbit Slim’s.  This is quite simply the most perfect expression of all retro desires ever committed to film, from the Ed Sullivan impersonating maître d’ and the 1950s celebrity wait staff, to the vintage movie posters adorning the walls over the classic automobile tables.  You just felt it from the second Vincent and Mia pulled up in a convertible 1964 Chevy Malibu to the moment the scene faded during the twist contest.  Vincent Vega said it was “a wax museum with a pulse”, but I say this was retro-Valhalla.

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If Tarantino toyed with the aforementioned retro themes in the rest of the film, at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, he pretty much beat the audience over the head with them.  Mid-century modern architecture, early 1960s attire, hotrods, rockabilly music, and antiquated dance moves were to be had in spades.  Although not without humor, the sequence was entirely devoid of snark, sarcasm and detached irony, which allowed the audience to enjoy the date and the environment just as much as Vincent and Mia.  Tarantino was clearly an enthusiast, rather than a satirist, as the Jack Rabbit Slim’s sequence played out like an unapologetic celebration of the apex of American civilization.  If such a place actually existed, I and many like-minded individuals surely would have eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner there daily.

The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be

A common complaint or observation from critics was that Pulp Fiction was apolitical, but if one spent enough time contemplating the film, that assertion seemed lazy.  While not an overt political statement, there was definitely something different about Quentin Tarantino’s America.  Oddly enough, the only person to even acknowledge this was feminist cultural critic Estella Tincknell.  (Emphasis mine)

She contrasts the soundtrack with that of Forrest Gump, the highest-grossing film of 1994, which also relies on period pop recordings: “The version of ‘the sixties’ offered by Pulp Fiction…is certainly not that of the publicly recognized counter-culture featured in Forrest Gump, but is, rather, a more genuinely marginal form of sub-culture based around a lifestyle—surfing, ‘hanging’—that is resolutely apolitical.”

If I find myself in agreement with a feminist cultural critic about anything, then it must be true.  Regardless, while Pulp Fiction incorporated many cultural elements of the recent past, the film did not acknowledge the dominant counter-cultural paradigms of the late 1960s.  In Tarantino’s alternate universe, the hippies, feminists and pinkos implicitly lost the culture war, and failed to complete their long march through the institutions, which resulted in a much cooler present.  The important point to keep in mind is that every single character in Pulp Fiction is either a career criminal or an enabler.  It made one wonder, if these intelligent, interesting, strong men with their archaic, yet rugged codes of honor are the scum of the earth, what must the good men be like?  If in this world, Vincent, Jules, Butch and Marcellus are the losers, how magnificent must the winners be, ergo those with the will to power who are responsible for maintaining our advanced civilization?  Would such men have allowed political correctness to apply a terminal stranglehold to intellectual discourse?  Would such men tolerate a system where the likes of James Watson, Larry Summers and Jason Richwine lose their jobs for noticing repeating patterns?  Would such men have acquiesced to subsidizing a massive welfare state when we could be planting our flag on Mars?  Would such men be so submissively eager to legalize roughly twelve million third world illegal aliens because their enemies called them names?  If such men ran the media, would they think the single most important issue of our day is endorsing state-sanctioned same-sex marriage?  The answer to each of these questions is a resounding hell no.

One of the most appealing things about retro media is the ability to tap into the more optimistic and hopeful zeitgeist of a superior culture.  The future envisioned through The Jetsons (1962) was a lot more pleasant than the future envisioned so horrifically and realistically through Idiocracy (2006).  Much like that feeling of being cheated by withheld Dick Dale songs, many of us have a much more intense feeling of being cheated out of a shining future filled with jetpacks and space travel for a dystopian implosion filled with the many-splintered ticking time bombs of fiat currency, crushing debt and unsustainable equalitarian pipedreams.  It’s enough to make a righteous man want to strike down upon the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men with great vengeance and furious anger.  Or at least pour another drink.

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