Wow, is this really my first VERN TELLS YOU WHAT’S WHAT AND DOESN’T TAKE NO FUCKING SHORTCUTS of the year 2002? Or whatever this column is called. I can’t believe I’ve been neglecting my baby for that long. Jesus, I feel terrible. That’s what they call a “deadbeat.” Imagine – if instead of not Writing a column I was not fixing a broken crematory, and if instead of it being for 3 months, it was for 15 years, and instead of just not having anything here to read the end result was having hundreds of dead bodies pile up. Then this would be just like that thing in Georgia!
And that’s not even close to the scariest thing going on in the news today. 300+ dead bodies piled up – that’s comic relief! Just like that nurse’s assistant who accidentally hit a homeless man with her car, breaking both of his legs, then (not sure what to do) parked the car in her garage, leaving him there for 2 days until he bled to death, occasionally coming in to apologize. (More on why cars suck in my upcoming unabomber manifesto length review of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS.)
There was a time when these type of horror stories would’ve dominated the news for weeks. But compared to what else is going on, these are the wacky human interest stories thrown in at the end to cheer us up.
Yeah, welcome to Your Nightmare, everybody. The Unocal States of America. Alternate title: THE 1980s PART II. Where all your nightmares can come true, even before you ever thought of having them.
You want some corruption? We got your corruption. No, it doesn’t stop with Enron. We got corruption in the crematories, we got corruption on the crosswalks, we got corruption on the ice rinks. We got corruption everywhere! It’s our #1 export.
And while Bush and Cheney do their damndest to block any serious investigation of the criminal actions of their oil buddies, they go around pissing in the wind with phoney plans to better the world. Like that “economic stimulus package” that funnels money into the offshore bank accounts of corporations to help “stimulate the economy.” Or like I just read that Bush wants $135 million to tell teenagers to abstain from sex.
Shit George, I want $135 million to tell people to stop pissin on the fuckin floor in public restrooms. But the difference between you and me is that I KNOW THAT WOULDN’T WORK.
Why not start a $135 million ad campaign to tell birds not to fly, or dogs not to sniff each other’s butts? It’s nature, man! Teenagers will fuck.
But see the truth is George doesn’t care if it works or not. Because it doesn’t really matter what the supposed issue is. He’s giving $135 million to tv networks. What it really means is not “Come on kids, it’s time to get serious about not getting laid” but in fact “Hey NBC Nightly News, nudge nudge nudge, be nice to me, eh?”
Because we not only got corruption, we got suspicious shit. We got Bush and Cheney telling Congress not to look too deep into what caused the terrorist attacks of last September, saying it would take their energy away from the War On Terrorism. Seriously. What on earth could they be hiding? It’s probably nothing.
We got a shadow government too! Yep, you read that newspaper headline right. There wasn’t time to send the airforce to intercept the hijacked planes, or to get Bush to stop reading a story about goats to grade school children, there wasn’t even time to notify congress – for months – but, just hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center, they had already chosen 100 secret officials to send to an undisclosed location to become our new non-democratically elected executive branch in case the current one gets blown up. And they not only have no problem defending this, they have no problem calling it a “shadow government”!
Oh yeah, and nuclear war is back in style*! We got contingency plans and everything. We want the suicide bombers to know that if they suicide bomb us, it’s their ass! Like Sun Ra says on his album Nuclear War, “Whatcha gonna do without your ass?”
Now our children who missed out on the Cold War will be able to relive the excitement of growing up feeling certain that they will all die suddenly, horribly, without warning or reason. Enough time has passed for a big budget update of The Day After – recast as a reality tv show. Tune in to find out who gets “voted off” the planet this week!
You’ll find it all on the FOX NEWS NETWORK, cable tv’s answer to anyone who thinks the right wing bias of the media is too subtle. No need for “Please teens, stay away from the pussy” ads on this channel. I got up early and watched them announce the oscar nominations. These people are eating microwave popcorn at 5 am and we’re supposed to trust them to give us news? They criticized the nomination of Sean Penn – not because he used to be the best actor of his generation but is now lowered to playing oscar bait holy-retard roles, but because he made “anti-american” comments in an interview. Same thing for Robert Altman. One of them suggested that Altman would win as a way for the “liberal” Academy voters to make a statement against Bush.
Yeah, that’s right Fox News. We’re fighting for our democracy, for our freedom, for our peace. And we have chosen Gosford Park as our symbol. A symbol that cannot be mistaken. A symbol that looks like some movie about british people in funny hats walking around saying clever things to each other and getting in and out of big cars, but that nevertheless strikes fear in the hearts of the Bush regime, causing them to shrink in embarassment. I mean you can’t look at Gosford Park without seeing the hypocrisy and (etc. etc.) of the American government. That’s why… well, to be frankly honest I have no fucking clue why, but for some reason this movie scares the right wing kooks of the Fox News Network, whose star war reporter has vowed to do everything short of masturbate into bin Laden’s skull – the mark of a true journalist!
Here’s a funny story about a dude who Writes for an “Onion” type parody news sight who actually got flown in to be interviewed as a legitimate source on Fox News. That’s what we need from journalists right now is fake news about a once mildly popular standup comedian. Who needs to waste time thinking through the basic premises of what we say happened on September 11th? Nobody wants to see all this unpleasant news they report on unpatriotic networks like the BBC. Why even bother investigating the insider trading that could prove who knew what would happen on September 11th? We’re all tired of hearing about insider trading anyway. Enron did it, their friend George did it, he and his S&L crook brother might as well be doing it with the bills they create… who cares? We don’t care that every taxpayer in California is paying $2,200 for that fake energy crisis, or that Bush pulled a Clinton by having a cover charge for sleepovers at the governor’s mansion, or that the Pentagon gets so much funding that they actually managed to misplace 2.3 trillion fucking dollars, so why should we care about this? Let’s move on!
I have no choice but to tell you this in each column, so here it is: we’re in the shitter, people. We have never been lower. If we have the opportunity to look back at this in the history books (which is seeming less likely with every morning newspaper) these four years are going to be up there with colonial genocide and 400 years of slavery in the “proud to be an american” department.
But there’s one thing the fuckers should know…
ONE MAN CAN HELP.
You read me right. There is a certain individual who you turn to in situations like this. An individual I have discussed and recommended many times before, and now I’m going to do it again.
He can’t save us, but he can cheer us up. He can give us guidance. And he can remind us, cinematistically, how to stand up for what’s right and step hard on what’s wrong, giving it a good squooshin.
That man is Billy Jack.
That’s right. Billy Jack. The half native, half pacifist, Vietnam vet turned mystic asskicker who runs the alternative “Freedom School” for guitar strumming hippie kids, stands up for American Indian issues, fights off racists, rapists, corrupt cops and CIA street fighters, goes on trial, becomes a senator and filibusters the shit out of our whole corrupt system. (That last part happens in the last, and least popular Billy Jack film, BILLY JACK GOES TO WASHINGTON which is the closest thing we have to Enron: The Movie so far. Highly recommended.)
Because of its hippie values this series is now generally considered corny. And it is. But it doesn’t deserve any more scorn than any other corny action movies of the past. Dirty Harry is a better movie overall but which series paints a more accurate picture of the world you know: the one where hippies are serial killers and the only way for a cop to do the right thing is to be as brutal and unaccountable as possible? Or the one where rich people are racists, politicians are in it for the money, everyone wants to forget about the Mai Lai massacre, and cops beating up kids is a bad thing, that they get away with anyway?
Don’t get me wrong, I still like Dirty Harry. But I can’t stand behind those values. I’m so glad there’s one action hero who makes movies about Kent State, the Mai Lai massacre, corporate ownership of our government. And I mean, where else do you ever hear about native american issues? Outside of the reservation you NEVER hear about that shit.
That’s why I was glad… kinda… when I heard the announcement that Keanu Reeves was in talks to play Billy Jack in a remake.
The kinda part of course comes from the Keanu Reeves. I know that he is a 1999 Outlaw Award Winner but that was for a NONbadass in a badass role. Emphasis on the non. He has learned more kung fu than your average individual doing those Matrix movies, so hopefully that will come into play (since one of Billy Jack’s trademarks is taking his boots off for some dangerous karate kicking).
The thing I worry about is that Billy Jack should be able to project some kind of intelligence. I have no idea whether or not Keanu really is smart, but he never seems like it in his movies. If he starts spouting off Billy Jack’s words of wisdom it might sound like he’s reading em off of fortune cookies.
The good news is that Tom Laughlin, who played Billy Jack and wrote and directed the original series, has kept tight control of the license and didn’t allow people to remake it in the past. He plans to keep control of the remake and if he does we will be less likely to see a post-September-11th-izing of the politics in the movie (i.e. erasing any legitimate criticisms of our country). He still feels very strongly about these issues as you can see if you listen to the commentary tracks on any of the dvds.
They’re also in good hands with Jersey Films, Danny Devito’s production company. That may not sound so hot, but they did after all produce Pulp Fiction and Out of Sight so in my opinion they know what they’re doing.
I don’t know if this remake will ever really be made but just putting it in the entertainment news helps shine light on a neglected part of our cinematic past: the part where there really were movies coming from a “liberal” perspective, and where those movies happened to have karate in them and stoic dudes with occasional Badass oneliners. That’s really what remakes are about these days anyway, is advertising the original to a new generation. I don’t know anybody that saw Rollerball but I’m sure the video started to rent a little more frequently. You won’t find anybody that likes the remake of Planet of the Apes better than the original. And I guarantee you if you did the research, you could prove that the Michael Caine Get Carter had more rentals during the theatrical run of the Sylvester Stallone remake than there were tickets sold.
I’m sure we’ll all be able to remember where we were when we first heard the news that they were remaking Billy Jack. I was in an independent video store when a call went over the intercom – “I’d like you all know that Billy Jack will now be played by… Keanu Reeves.” I wasn’t sure I liked that but a few days later in the same store I heard some dude asking where the Billy Jack movies were kept, and I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.
Welcome back, Billy Jack. We’ve been waiting for you.
*In all seriousness, I just wanna mention that a good enough reason to set off a nuclear weapon does not exist and never will, so I hope if it ever happens the citizens of the offending country will realize that it’s time for some old fashioned vigilante justice. Normally I don’t believe in that type of shit but seriously. If G.W. Bush, or some foreign equivalent, ever decides to devastate the world “in self defense” (whether as a first strike or a retaliation) it will be time to buy guns and take the bitch out unceremoniously. It’s not worth taking everybody and everything out with you, you moron.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.