"I take orders from the Octoboss."

PCU

April 29, 1994

PCU fits nicely into my theory of the summer of ’94 – that it was a time when boomers were looking back while gen-xers were moving in – by sort of melding those two things. The first sound you hear in it is Mike Bloomfield at the Monterey Pop Festival saying something about “this is our generation, man,” and then a song sampling Jimi Hendrix’s voice over modern dance music. It seems to be saying “Look, this is like the ‘60s, only it’s the ’90s!,” and in fact comes from an album called if ’60s were ‘90s.

This is the directorial debut of DIE HARD’s Harry Ellis himself, Hart Bochner, but it’s written by two fresh-out-of-college twentysomethings, Adam Leff & Zak Penn. It’s probly meant to speak to young people, but its attitude is that almost all young people are brain dead idiots… all but a few wild and crazy guys brave enough to scoff at everyone else’s beliefs because they don’t personally care about that kind of stuff so people who do must be faking it.

All fraternity comedies are pretty much based on ANIMAL HOUSE, right? A canonical boomer classic. PCU follows the standard campus comedy storyline: a rowdy fraternity hated by the authorities is going to get kicked out of their building if they don’t raise a bunch of money fast, so they throw a big party. And the modern spin on it is yeah, you have your old idea of fraternities, but it’s different now, it’s harder to get away with that stuff. But we do what we can, on account of we are outrageous party animals like you wouldn’t believe. ’90s style! I have a Hammerbox poster in my dorm room, to name only one example.

The school is called Port Chester University, but we know the PC also stands for politically correct, because can you believe all this political correctness they got on the campuses these days!? It’s a new very current thing to 1994, I heard about how out of control it is from some old man who has a column in my dad’s U.S. News and World Report. If we don’t stop it soon who knows what racist slurs we’ll even be allowed to use openly?

Port Chester banned the Greek system in the ‘60s, so the central characters who live in a building called “The Pit” are not technically a fraternity. They’re just some bros and a couple of sisses who share a building and love to party, man, as well as to rock and roll and rollerblade and skateboard indoors. Basically ninja turtles except not ninjas or turtles.

There’s a dorky point-of-view character, Tom Lawrence (Chris Young, WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON), a “pre-frosh” visiting the campus and assigned to stay with the Pit’s senior (held back?) leader of charismatic douchebaggery Droz (Jeremy Piven, THE PLAYER, JUDGMENT NIGHT). Droz tries to pass him to Gutter (Jon Favreau in only his fourth film, including being an extra in HOFFA), who’s introduced moshing alone in his room, but he’s busy, so Droz tells Tom how “it’s a whole new ballgame, and it’s called PC, politically correct,” and walks him through campus. Every single other student is a cartoonish buffoon yelling political slogans: “save the whales” (an obviously noble crusade that was a cliche to mock in pop culture back then), “gays in the military now” (another no-shit-sherlock kind of cause that somehow was controversial at that time), “free Nelson Mandela” (the joke is that he was already freed, what a dummy this guy would be if he existed, really makes you think). Droz labels others as “cause heads” who move from one cause to the next. If you don’t care about anything it seems like a gotcha to point out someone cares about more than one thing.

The only non-Pit character portrayed as vaguely sentient is Droz’s ex-girlfriend Sam (Sarah Trigger, BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY), a sweetheart who clearly still likes him and is charmed by his dick jokes but has been peer pressured by “the womynists” into not dating white men. This is thankfully one of the few scenes that comes off as straight up white grievance/homophobic shit, this paranoid fantasy that the lesbians and the PCs are pressuring other women to hate white males. Otherwise, scolding someone into saying “freshperson” instead of “freshman” is the type of scorching hot, take-no-prisoners political satire you’re in for with this movie.

There’s actually a line of dialogue here that I think is funny: “You participated in a phallus-naming?” But it’s part of a caricature of feminists that smacks of “I’ve never talked to them but I’ve seen them around so trust me, I’m in a very good position to make uncharitable assumptions about what they would theoretically be like.” A few minutes later there’s a big “vegan” protest where they’re chanting against, specifically, red meat. Vegans of course don’t eat any animal products, let alone differentiating between different meats, but the filmmakers didn’t even know the basic definitions of the beliefs they felt deserved mocking.

Of course all of the Black people on campus besides Pit member Mulaney (Alex Desert from The Flash and The Heights) walk around together listening to their “leader” (Kevin Thigpen, JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE I.R.T.) talk about white devils and accuse people of being in the CIA. And there are jokes like protesters play bongos and the school uses recycled paper. I’m gonna tell Serial Mom on these fuckers for that last one.

One example of how this is not your father’s frat comedy (or at least wasn’t at the time) is that the uptight dean is… hold onto your socks, fellas… a woman! Jessica Walter (GHOST IN THE MACHINE) plays President Garcia-Thompson (is the last name meant to be a dig?) who promotes sensitivity training and multiculturalism and there’s a big joke about how she’s changing the mascot from an offensive Native American stereotype to a whooping crane. Can you believe it? So silly.

Ms. Garcia-Thompson has received many complaints about The Pit, on account of their wacky antics, such as throwing raw meat at the vegan anti-red-meat protest and putting speed bumps on the wheelchair ramp (what the fuck?). Preppy Republican alumnus Rand McPherson (David Spade in the role he was born to play) has been pressuring her to give The Pit back to his not-a-fraternity, which is called Balls and Shaft. If that’s supposed to be a double entendre I’m not clear what the non-dick-related entendre is. The president thinks she can kick The Pit out if they either don’t pay a damage bill on time or reach a certain number of complaints. I respect Walter not going too over-the-top, giving this one note character a little more humanity than you’d expect.

Tom gets chased around by various angry PC mobs he accidentally offends (I’m telling you – out of control!) and he’s about to go home but one Pit member, Katy (Megan Ward, ENCINO MAN), thinks he’s cute and kisses him so he stays and tricks the people chasing him into going to the party.

The part of this movie solely responsible for me renting it when it came out on tape is that Gutter happens to be asked directions by the tour bus for George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars. They decide they’re going to miss their gig but they give him a ride home, and Droz convinces them to perform at the party. I read that the writers wanted Nirvana to be the band in the movie, but then they got too big for it. I can’t imagine they ever would’ve been interested, but that would’ve been so bizarre! Especially since it would’ve had to end with a solemn dedication to Cobain.

Anyway it’s really funny that they wanted the hottest band of the time and instead got some old weirdos who were actually my favorite band in the world. As a fan it was a pretty rewarding representation of them in that era. You get to see a bunch of the band (many of them since passed), they play “Give Up the Funk,” plus a new one called “Stomp” that’s pretty good. Don’t know if it was short-listed for the Oscar or anything. The highlight is that since he was signed to Paisley Park at the time Clinton chose to do a cover of Prince’s “Erotic City.”

I would rank this as the second best George Clinton movie appearance. The best is THE NIGHT AFTER starring Keanu Reeves and Lori Laughlin. The advantage there is that it’s all original songs from a weird period of their discography, and they had Bootsy with them (he generally didn’t perform with George in the ‘90s). Also it’s just really funny for those guys to represent one of the scary things two white kids see when they accidentally end up at an “urban” bar.

 

Some PCU P-Funk trivia that I don’t remember if I picked up on at the time is that in the scene where Gutter talks to their bus driver that is P-Funk’s actual bus driver. I know this because at the time Clinton had a gimmick that he could turn anyone funky, even their bus driver “Babblin” Louis Kabbabie. So he would come out and perform this rap Clinton wrote for him, and he always brought down the house. I’m sure he was a fine bus driver too (other than getting lost on the way to Hartford).

The thing that’s less accurate is how it seems like all young people are super familiar with and fans of Parliament-Funkadelic. That was not my experience. The idea that the stoner guys are going to the show is kinda believable though.

As far as fitting into the theme of this movie, they are a poor choice, since yes, they sing about dancing and partying, but Clinton was big on having meaning behind it all, and definitely doesn’t subscribe to Drozism. Free your mind and your ass will follow.

In the end Droz saves the day by interrupting the president’s bicentennial event and getting all the other students to chant “WE’RE NOT GONNA PROTEST!” I honestly don’t understand how this story point even works other than that the young people are supposed to be so malleable that they would protest about not protesting (I guess?). Ha ha fuck all the young people except me and a small group of friends who are above it all.

20th Century Fox didn’t get whatever PCU was, and made the absurd decision to cut it to a PG-13 (for the 12 and under crowd hoping to get a preview of what’s going on on campus) and gave it an absolutely dog shit poster featuring art of a guy wearing a pizza box as a graduation cap. (See? Ninja turtles.) Arguably the DVD cover, with Piven photoshopped to have polka-dotted boxer shorts on (because underwear is funny), is an upgrade. The movie flopped at the box office, but got popular enough from playing on Comedy Central all the time that people the right age know of it, and may even love it. There are worse movies, even released around the same time. It’s competently made, with a pretty good cast, but as you can tell I find it most interesting as a history of a particular attitude that has somehow survived with minimal evolution.

The Pit people definitely aren’t meant to be bigots or anything like that. We’re supposed to take Droz’s sexist remarks in that “oh, what a rascal” ‘80s comedy way, and they pointedly have two women and one person of color as members. (No known gays to balance out the stereotyped “Gay Activist” character [Jonathan Wilson].) The primary antagonist, Rand, is explicitly a Republican, and they instigate his downfall by getting him to go on a racist and homophobic rant on a hot mic (over loudspeakers, but somehow he doesn’t notice it’s happening, it’s strange). So we know that makes him a piece of shit but to Droz it’s just a way to turn the PC police against him. So PCU is a preview of that South Park style “both sides are dumb and the only smart thing to do is not care” centrism – or as President Garcia-Thompson puts it, they’re “warped nihilists.”

It occurs to me that Spike Lee’s SCHOOL DAZE (1988), Doug McHenry and George Jackson’s HOUSE PARTY 2 (1991), John Singleton’s HIGHER LEARNING (1995) and the sitcom A Different World (1987-1993) were all about college around this same era, and they all had some jokes about activists on campus being uptight, but overall they portrayed it as admirable for students to be politically engaged, and maybe wrong not to be. To understand why those movies and television would have a different attitude than this one you would have to be familiar with the concept of white privilege, which was not widely discussed in those terms back then, but we know for absolute certain there would be jokes about it in a 2024 remake of PCU.

Screenwriters Leff & Penn based the script on their experiences at Wesleyan University, where they were friends with members of Eclectic Society, a fraternity founded in 1938 that became a co-ed co-op living space in 1970 when the students split with the alumni primarily due to a disagreement about recreational drugs. Other than that the Eclectic Society don’t sound like the group in the movie at all – they follow Quaker-style consensus decision making and have a bunch of arty alumni including the co-founder of the Blue Man Group, the gay rapper Kalifa, the singer and performance artist Amanda Palmer, three members of MGMT, the Afghan-American filmmaker Jem Cohen, and Himanshu Sur of Das Racist. Okay, and also Joss Whedon and Willie Garson. But most of these people would be made fun of by Droz and friends, wouldn’t they?

Maybe it was different when Penn did his own pre-frosh visit and stayed with the real life inspiration for Droz. In a Vice oral history of “the Culture Wars Cult Classic,” Penn says “Almost all of the people in the movie have some basis [in real people].” For example “Gutter is a dumb version of my very smart friend, Marc Flacks, who had dreadlocks and quit the football team to follow his Marxist studies desires.”

But the article also says, “They attended Wesleyan during a tumultuous time that included protests over the school’s investments in Apartheid-era South Africa, a push for more faculty of color, and the firebombing of the president’s office.” Two of those seem like very good things to be involved in! (Here’s a 2018 article from the Wesleyan newspaper with some Black students and professors’ memories of the issues on campus at the time.)

The Vice piece says “Almost 30 years later, many of the ideas that PCU skewered have returned as national debates on wokeness and cancel culture. These subjects have become an obsession in cable news, talk radio, podcasts, social media platforms, and political messaging.” I would put it a different way: this shit is fucking decades old, and the type of people who always get riled up by it still haven’t caught on to that, so the laziest hacks and sleaziest grifters are gonna keep coming back to the topic forever, because it’s easier than doing actual work.

Here’s some information you may not know about college students. Most of them are around 18-22 years old. Many of them are living away from their parents and among their peers for the first time, and have come to this place specifically to learn. So they’re more open to new ideas than most and are inundated with them at a high rate. They will learn from each other, some of them will become newly passionate about activism, some of them will carry these lessons through the rest of their life, most will chill out, for both good and bad.

Among these activist college students there may be some radicals who will say or do some stupid shit. And then they will grow up. It’s part of the process. Droz said and did some stupid shit too, it was just related to beer or boobs instead of stopping a war, so it was never held against the wider movements of beer and boobs. So whether it’s today or 30 years ago, if some huckster’s focus on a particular national or global issue is what some small group of 19 year olds supposedly said about it at a protest on a college campus you will never have any reason to set foot on, it’s likely one of these three things:

1) They think you’re stupid and will believe them that this is something an adult human being who has nothing to do with these people should get all worked up about.

2) They themselves are just very, very stupid, or

3) they are some kind of weird old pervert dudes getting too involved in some drama they saw while creeping around outside of the dorms.

I watched PCU and wrote most of the above weeks ago, before campus protests suddenly became front page news again. Students at colleges all around the country (including Wesleyan) continue to stage protests related to the ongoing annihilation of Gaza, demanding their schools divest from Israel just as Leff and Penn’s peers demanded with a different apartheid.

At some schools the students have gotten concessions, in others they’ve received a ludicrously out of proportion police responses. You could hardly ask for a more vivid portrait of our society’s suicidally foolish priorities than the NYPD’s raid on an occupied Columbia University administration building. We refuse to use our resources to heal or shelter our fellow citizens, or just try to make life good, because I guess it makes us feel tougher or something to overpay a bunch of thugs to dress up in ridiculous sci-fi armor and brutalize people for non-violent civil disobedience-related infractions like being on a lawn or in a building past closing time. As depraved as it is stupid. (Note: Funkadelic has an album called America Eats Its Young.)

Obviously Leff & Penn weren’t thinking of it that seriously, and I don’t think they want to be associated with the bozos who have moved from complaining about “politically correct” to complaining about “woke.” Penn says, “It was an affectionate look at the absurdity of the whole situation… back then, it more felt like this crazy little subculture of a bunch of schools that we just happened to live through.”

So I don’t want to be too harsh. But I will be. When I think about the college age activists who were right about the Vietnam war, and segregation, and women’s rights, and AIDS, and apartheid, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and police brutality, and Gaza, and many other things, then I think about smarmy Jeremy Piven with his t-shirt tucked in like somebody’s dad snuck onto campus, smirking and wisecracking at some hippie who happens to be right but supposedly for the wrong reasons… I just have no choice but to tell this movie to go fuck itself. Sorry PCU, you’re gonna have to turn in your Rage Against the Machine CD and go take that job at your father’s lobbying firm like you were planning to anyway. As Funkadelic says, take your dead ass home.

legacy: Being in their mid-twenties, and just getting started, Leff & Penn really did become a bridge to the future of Hollywood. They had already sold their first script, INCREDIBLY VIOLENT, which would be drastically rewritten to become THE LAST ACTION HERO. And of course that was a big failure but it was also ahead of its time in its meta-ness, something Penn would do with a little more (financial) success decades later with READY PLAYER ONE and FREE GUY. Leff didn’t last as long, only getting story and executive producer credits on BIO-DOME after this, but Penn became a major player in the evolution of comic book movies. He has story or writing credits on X2, ELEKTRA, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and (crucially) THE AVENGERS. Remember, at the time it seemed kind of unfair that IRON MAN director and fictional The Pit member Jon Favreau didn’t get to direct THE AVENGERS, but real life Eclectic Society member Joss Whedon did a good job.

signifiers of the time: Gutter wants to go to “Grunge Night.” The soundtrack includes Gruntruck, Mudhoney, The Modern Lovers and Swervedriver. “Afternoon Delight” is used as the ultimate cheesy song to torture people with.

tie ins: Mudhoney did a video for their cover of “Pump It Up” (which plays during the ultimate frisbee scene) where clips from the movie are seen on a TV.

 

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72 Responses to “PCU”

  1. “Balls and Shaft” is likely a play on Yale’s “Skull and Bones.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skull_and_Bones

  2. Not to be “that guy”, but although Jonathan Richman enjoyed a ’90s resurgence, The Modern Lovers broke-up in 1974 (Richman did ‘reform’ them with different members in the mid-eighties, but that too was long gone by ’94).

  3. As somebody who went to college in Connecticut in the mid-90s, I can verify that George Clinton was extremely popular and did in fact play on-campus while I was there. Clinton and the larger Parliament family (Maceo’s band was very popular as well) were beloved by the sizable hippie population of this time and place because they were seen less as funk or dance and more as a weird jam band, which was considered the highest form of expression mortal man had yet achieved.

    On the other hand, I barely knew anyone there who listened to Nirvana or Nirvana-like music. So I think the smug morons responsible for this piece of garbage movie made the right choice about which musical act with a completely antithetical ethos to appropriate for their brave treatise against the dangers of giving a fuck about anyone except yourself. AND they got to prove how not racist they are. A win-win for empty-headed dipshit edgelords everywhere.

  4. i think the fact that me and all my straight white cis friends loved this movie when it came out but that i also had zero recollection of how fucked its politics were until i read this is emblematic of the way deeply ingrained privilege has shaped the trajectory of american society for our generation. as the comfortable “everything is fine” bubble becomes more fragile than ever, its increasingly difficult for someone who wants to think of themselves as a “good person” to bury their head in the sand, which means the other side of the rhetorical arms race has escalated from this type of jokey above-it-all attitude to the type of toxic reactionary freakouts currently manifesting on the right in general and in emergence of the anti-DEI/woke/shithead as a more organized movement specifically. its somewhat ironic and wholly depressing (although not entirely surprising) that the long-term cultural impact of these attempts to play in a space of aloof jovial nihilism has ultimately inspired of some of the most outrageously flamboyant and disgusting “activism” in the history of the country.

    whoops!

  5. Interesting that Alex Desert is in it, considering he was one of the stars of BECKER, one of my favourite sitcoms (at least the Terry Farrell seasons), which was often touted as “politically incorrect” although it was pretty tame in that regard. Except for one really crappy episode where the title character, played by Ted Danson, is accused of being racist by a reporter and the message of this episode was “See how dangerous political correctness is? Those PC weirdos are the REAL racists, because they heard me say things that I didn’t say and thought I was saying racist things!”
    Anyway, Desert was playing a blind man in it, despite not being blind, which obviously wouldn’t fly today. And even more so, he is since a few years the voice of Carl on THE SIMPSONS, after it was decided that black cartoon characters should be played by black voice actors. So it all comes together.

    Honestly, this sounds like a movie by assholes, for assholes, but it really was a bit of the Zeitgeist back then. It’s strange that the counterculture in the 90s was basically “It’s my right to be an asshole” and that lead to a bunch of good comedy, but also a bunch of shitty comedy. Even I subscribed to that thinking for a while (not in a “Saying the N-word is part of my freedom of speech” way, more in a “Hey, if I wanna make a joke about a dark topic while I’m with my friends, you better not tell me that I can’t, because I wasn’t talking to you” way.), but thankfully I grew up.

    Still, it’s scary that there are people who might discover this movie at some point and be all: “LOOOOOOOOOL, they really say it like it is!”

    That said: I have to check out that IF 60s WERE 90s album.

  6. I also saw Clinton in concert in college in the 90s.

    I still think the movie is pretty funny but I really don’t want this to get some sort of comeback or have people remember it because the worst case scenario would be somebody like Ben Shapiro would get the rights to remake it and make David Spade’s Nazi Fascist character the main character and just get really mean about everything where I don’t think the movie is all that mean.

    If anything the movie’s lasting legacy is the only ad libbed line in the movie “You’re going to wear the shirt of the band you’re going to see? Don’t be that guy”

  7. Is that where this “Don’t where the band’s shit at a concert” bullshit comes from? That explains why I only heard about it recently, considering that the movie is completely unknown here and nobody gives a shit about what you wear at a concert.

  8. It’s strange that the counterculture in the 90s was basically “It’s my right to be an asshole” and that lead to a bunch of good comedy, but also a bunch of shitty comedy.

    Sort of boiled down to: those who understood Denis Leary’s persona was supposed to be ironic/those who didn’t

    But for better or worse, I believe he was the genesis of this movement

  9. I for some reason saw this in the theatre when I was 14. I vaguely knew who George Clinton was at the time because of HOUSE PARTY and SUPER MARIO BROS. but I also found it curious how the characters at this school were universally into him, but I just tossed it up to things about university I wasn’t aware of yet.

    It also felt at the time that the “PC threat” of the ‘90s never meant anything to people my age, other than “Yeah, I guess those people always shrieking about whales and trees are annoying. Good thing I don’t know any.” PCU is basically at that level, but even at the time I didn’t understand why I was supposed to side so much with the protagonists – social apathy just becomes its own righteous cause, evidenced right now as how the “anti-woke” can never shut up about it.

  10. Yeah my main relationship with this movie, which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in full, is that I just don’t get the whole thing about not wearing a band’s T-Shirt at a their concert. It seems like it must be recognisable enough to people for it to have caught on to the extent that it did/has, but I don’t get it. Maybe it’s generational, as someone who didn’t start attending gigs until 2001, or maybe it’s a national difference, or maybe it’s because I’ve rarely been into particularly cool bands and have come to regard the very notion of “cool” and even “credibility” as it pertains to pop culture with a great deal of distain. I entirely accept that it could not be them but me. But the point remains that I don’t get it. Surely at every gig of any band that’s ever had a charting album about 35% of the audience is “that guy”.

  11. Dreadguacamole

    May 6th, 2024 at 10:14 am

    Hey, George Clinton’s most memorable appearance is clearly in KUSO, how could you possibly think otherwise? Oh, I see, you said best, not most memorable – that makes sense.

    Other than that, this sounds like complete dogshit. Surprised it’s not more of a cultural touchstone among certain quarters. Though I have to admit the getting protesters to chant we’re not protesting is mildly funny on paper, at least. A distant, dumb relation to Bryan’s sermon from the balcony.

  12. Add me to the list of people who saw George Clinton play multiple free shows on campus in the 90s. In my case, I went to school in southern California, and there was a pretty big cross section of people who were into Parliament Funkadelic and the other related projects. I’ve always attributed this late-career popularity to the fact that a good chunk of Dr. Dre’s very popular music at the time (the Chronic and producing Doggystyle for example) involved building entire tracks off of looping Clinton samples and singing the chorus with slightly altered lyrics. I remember a friend having his mind blown when discovering Atomic Dog was the basis for Snoop’s first big solo hit. So, at least at my school, a lot of people were discovering Clinton and his projects through hip hop samples and Clinton (or his management or whoever) were smart enough to capitalize on that with lots of shows for the college demographic. He even played Lollapalooza in ’94!

  13. the “dont wear a bands shirt to their show” was basically a throwaway middling stand-up level joke based on the premise that it would be silly to wear the band merch at the show because the only reason to wear the shirt is to signal your support for the band, but your very presence at the show already inherently does that, making the shirt redundant and unnecessary, and therefore foolish. many people decided to accept at face value that this was not only good advice but a deadly serious unbreakable rule in the guidebook of how to be cool.

  14. I still remember the Saturday night in 2011 when I rode the train home and at one station dozens of people in Metallica shirts got on, returning from a concert that just had finished, so when I heard of this “rule” a few years later, it REALLY baffled me. A few years ago I even saw some guys wearing Sparks shirt while watching THE SPARKS BROTHERS, so who cares?

  15. In the spirit of this otherwise excellent review, could I humbly request that we retire the phrase “openly gay” please? In the words of Andrew Scott: “It’s an expression that you only ever hear in the media. You’re never at a party and you say, ‘This is my openly gay friend…’ … We don’t say you’re ‘openly Irish.’ We don’t say you’re ‘openly left-handed’ … There’s something in it that’s a little near ‘shamelessly.’”

    An American once told me the most true-to-life high school film was Mean Girls. What’s the most true-to-life college film?

  16. Good piece, Vern. This movie sounds bad, but it makes me think about my own youthful/college phase being “apolitical” (read: ignorant) and making crass jokes and all that– how it coincides with that first taste of freedom outside the cultural bubble you grew up in, testing boundaries for yourself and others. But I’m sure if faced with some of the crap I said or thought back in the day, my present-day self would be mortified. And it seems more and more folks refuse to grow out of that phase.

    All of which is to say, this current crop of college protestors are heroes to me. They are braver, smarter, more politically and socially aware than I was then, or am now. And their cause to me seems so obviously morally correct, and I am being driven insane every day by our the entire American government and media apparatus desperately trying to convince us otherwise. Dark times! But (most of) the kids are all right.

  17. So on the podcast I did for the 24 hour marathon of 1994 movies I suggested this because I would be fascinated to watch it in a theater with people in 2024. I recently saw Pulp Fiction and there were a bunch of high school kids there to see it as well. What made everybody laugh in 1994 was almost crickets and I can’t imagine how they must have felt about Tarantino’s character. Anyway, I’m down for more social experiments of watching older films like this with younger people.

    Anybody know the last big college comedy that came out? I cannot fathom any getting made anytime soon.

  18. There was THE HOLDOVERS if that counts, if we’re talking the last in (vaguely) the ANIMAL HOUSE vein, I guess the NEIGHBOURS films were the last popularish ones (second came out in 2016).

    In the interest of balance I will note that there are some decent gags in PCU that have nothing to do with correctness of politics or T-Shirts, eg the student whose thesis is that at all times either a Gene Hackman or Michael Caine movie will be playing on TV. Yes it’s based on observations of college students that were hacky if not completely inaccurate back then (they sit around doing nothing!) and certainly by now (they write about silly subjects these days!), but the idea was inspired enough to stick with me.

  19. Only a few months ago I told my sister-in-law and niece about that whole don’t wear the band tee to see the band rule. They were confused because they thought that would be the time to wear the tee. I told them I didn’t get it, but that was the rule to being cool. I knew it came from this movie, but I’m not sure I ever saw the movie, not in it’s entirety anyway. And now after reading the review I agree with Vern’s assessment of fuck this movie and now I have to tell my sis-in-law and niece to wear that band tee if they want to.

  20. Heck, some bands wear t-shirts of themselves to their concerts.

  21. Yeah, but that’s just because they don’t have anything else clean.

  22. Matt M – Right, but within the world of the movie, what do they think it means other than a dick? They just know they’re calling themselves a dick?

    jojo – I just know him from THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, I didn’t know. For now on I won’t mention him. Ever.

    deepfriednoir – I saw that interview too and I thought it was a good point, but I guess I forgot about it. In my mind it was important to the context here because out rappers aren’t very common, but of course if I had said “gay rapper” nobody would’ve assumed I was outing him. So I changed it. Thank you.

    re: P-Funk – I too went to numerous P-Funk shows in the ’90s (not at colleges though) and I wasn’t the only young person there, but we weren’t the majority. And when I saw them at Lollapalooza it definitely didn’t seem like most people were familiar. I’m just saying around here if a crowd of random college students had heard a muffled “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker” coming out of a building only a certain percentage would’ve known it and been excited. But good for Connecticut.

    re: the band’s t-shirt – I think it’s just a matter of if you want to express yourself through your t-shirts (which maybe is more important to young people) the cool thing is to be the guy wearing something nobody else is instead of the thing everyone else is. But I really only knew of this “rule” because my wife mentions it often (in the context of “if I wear this is it like wearing the band’s t-shirt?”) so after rewatching PCU I asked if she knew it came from that and she said no, she’d heard of it well before ’94.

    But she and her friend invented a middle aged update to the rule – they were seeing The Cure and saw people putting on shirts they bought at the show and they decided that since it was in an arena it was like wearing the team’s jersey.

  23. Glaive Robber

    May 6th, 2024 at 7:00 pm

    I ALSO saw George Clinton and P-Funk in college! I think it just comes with tuition.

    I don’t think Vern said any untrue things in this review. But I do think this was a decent showcase for certain characters. Jeremy Piven has such a uniquely slimy unlikeability, but I also think the movie runs on his specific comic rhythms, he makes it watchable.

    It’s interesting to read this review after catching a story about Rudy Giuliani, of all people, talking about humor on his radio show (which… why does he still have this?).He was bemoaning why “SNL” not only didn’t do more Obama gags, but why they SPECIFICALLY didn’t do any “racist” Obama gags. His argument, which I couldn’t believe I was reading, was that it was ACTUALLY racist to NOT be racist. I have… so many questions about this in regards to white people who love “racist” jokes.
    -Are white people actually aware that most of their racist jokes are actually racist?
    -Do they really want to live in a society where it is permissible to mock others SPECIFICALLY because of their skin color and/or language?
    -Is Rudy a “PCU” viewer/fan? Is there a GOOD version of a “PCU” fan, and Rudy is a BAD version?

  24. So to the others who saw the Parliament in the mid-90s, did George and the gang invite the crowd up on stage for the last few numbers? It seemed organic at the time and this was in Anchorage, where rules are more rough guidelines, but I’ve always wondered if that was a standard move.

  25. Franchise Fred

    May 7th, 2024 at 12:31 am

    Wasn’t this like barely 75 minutes before credits rolled? Maybe the R rated version was a full 90. Release the Bochner cut I guess.

  26. Franchise Fred

    May 7th, 2024 at 12:31 am

    Wasn’t this like barely 75 minutes before credits rolled? Maybe the R rated version was a full 90. Release the Bochner cut I guess.

  27. deepfriednoir

    May 7th, 2024 at 4:39 am

    Thank you Vern, you are the best.

  28. grimgrinningchris

    May 7th, 2024 at 5:24 am

    I can attest, for sure, that wearing a band’s shirt to their show being a show faux pas years before this movie. The only part that came from this movie the “Don’t be that guy!” tag.

    There is also the phenomenon of people not wanting to be “that guy” while still being “that guy” (and by guy I am not implying gender specifics). Like wearing THE Joy Division shirt to a New Order show (of which I saw hundreds when I finally saw them last year.

    I think this movie is wrong headed in so many ways, but it still makes me laugh and I still find it quotable. Mostly in things that have nothing to do with PC/nonPC stuff.
    “Go to sleep! go to sleep!”
    “Could you blow me where the pampers is?”
    “Sanskrit??? You’re majoring in a 2000 year old dead language??? Here’s Latin, best I got”
    “It’s the bird show! The fabulous rare bird show!”
    “I’ve dabbled in some collage work myself”

    Etc…

    Also, I booked Clinton and the 2010s iteration of P-Funk multiple times.
    The first time, I asked George “Is there anything else I can get you Mr Clinton?”
    “Yeah, a crack rock the size of a golf ball”

    So there was that.

  29. So to the others who saw the Parliament in the mid-90s, did George and the gang invite the crowd up on stage for the last few numbers?

    Uh, when I saw them, it seemed that someone forgot to invite George on stage for a few numbers…

    (he seriously was mostly nowhere to be seen — except for every 20 minutes or so — he would saunter across the stage, bob his head, point to the crowd, then disappear for another 20-30 minutes)

  30. grimgrinningchris

    May 7th, 2024 at 7:09 am

    jojo

    Every time I saw them (including when I booked them) he would take sojourns during some extended instrumental (save for some ohs and coos and chants from the band and backup singers) jams… but was never offstage for more than a few minutes. I don’t doubt your experience for a second, just saying it was never mine.

    Also, outside of this movie, I mainly know “Tom” (the pre-frosh) as one of John Candy’s sons in THE GREAT OUTDOORS.

    “Oh, blow it out your ass, Uncle Roman!”

  31. BuzzFeedAldrin

    May 7th, 2024 at 7:13 am

    Come on! Clinton’s best movie role was as the sleepy DJ in House Party!

    I’ll admit a certain fondness for this movie because of it constantly being on Comedy Central but it’s “you care about things?! LOL!” ethos was pretty played out by the time the movie hit theaters and has only gotten more insufferable since (if PCU was made today the Pit would be a Logan Paul style “hype” house and its members would be hosting several different podcasts debating flat earth conspiracies and sperm-retention techniques). The line that always gets me is when David Spade calls Piven’s character “forehead” which is so mean and takes me out of the movie but is also hysterical.

    I agree with other sentiments that 90’s liberal arts college campuses were dominated by hippies and hippie-adjacent culture. DMB, Phish, Guster, Widespread Panic, Rusted Root, Big Head Todd and the Monsters,etc. made incredible sums of money just from playing colleges with next to no commercial airplay. So having George Clinton be the centerpiece of PCU seems like a no-brainer.

  32. CJ – “Anyway, Desert was playing a blind man in it, despite not being blind, which obviously wouldn’t fly today.”

    I think this still happens regularly; for example, the child in ANATOMY OF A FALL is not blind irl, and I don’t recall any backlash over this. As usual, the anti-PC crowd exaggerates everything and are way more annoying than the sensible calls for civility that they bemoan.

  33. CJ – “Anyway, Desert was playing a blind man in it, despite not being blind, which obviously wouldn’t fly today.”

    I think this still happens regularly; for example, the child in ANATOMY OF A FALL is not blind irl, and I don’t recall any backlash over this. As usual, the anti-PC crowd exaggerates everything and are way more annoying than the sensible calls for civility that they bemoan.

  34. grimgrinningchris

    May 7th, 2024 at 11:25 am

    Yeah, Donnie Yen has played blind TWICE just in the past few years. Charlie Cox has played Daredevil now for 10 years off and on and will continue to and obviously he isn’t blind either. If there has been any outcry over these and others, I haven’t seen it.

    As for Desert, I wanna give props to (among many other things) his regular AND voice acting work in both Marvel and DC projects. Obviously he was on THE FLASH, but also voiced Nick Fury in several Marvel animated projects.

    And most importantly… Desert was and is the singer and founder of the EXCELLENT ska/reggae/jazz/soul band, HEPCAT, who have released numerous records over 30 years (including 2 on Rancid-owned imprint Hellcat Records) and toured the world. They’ve been on a few hiatuses and have had a couple members pass away, but they still play out and Desert is still their singer (though he did take his own hiatus for one album about 20 years ago and just did a few guest vocal spots instead of lead vocals).

    Alex Desert is a cool dude.

  35. I mean, without trying to start a discussion about who should be allowed to play what, I can imagine that Donnie Yen got a pass for his blind roles simply because the extensive stunt work prevented any actual blind actors from doing that job.

    Didn’t know that Alex Desert was so prolific, both in voice acting and music. After BECKER I can’t remember seeing him anywhere apart from a few single guest spots here and there and was quite surprised that he was picked for the SIMPSONS gig.

  36. grimgrinningchris

    May 7th, 2024 at 12:16 pm

    I can see that, CJ. That would include Daredevil too, Rutger Hauer in Blind Fury and lots of other roles in far more action oriented stuff.
    I am not sure exactly where the wind is blowing on regular differently abled people for more normal (not normal like not blind or not deaf, normal like not a full on action role- Alaqua Cox on Echo may actually be a first in a major action role). But off the top of my head, I can’t think of any blind actor playing a major blind character in anything. And the only deaf actor playing deaf previously that I can think of would be Marlee Matlin.

    On Desert, yeah, his output is more than people realize and most outside of the punk and ska scenes don’t even know about Hepcat. They really are great though… Don’t think 3rd wave skapunk and skapoppunk. Think Desmond Dekker through a filter of British 70s 2tone and a dash of Motown.

  37. Turns out they even were on Conan’s show once. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk8RuIM2NmA

  38. Glaive Robber

    May 7th, 2024 at 1:11 pm

    If you found a blind man that can “accurately” play Daredevil, we should give that person twenty Olympic gold medals for existing.

    Also, when I saw P-Funk on campus, they invited me to dance on the SPEAKERS.

  39. I don’t know, I had a good time with this movie. It made me laugh.

    You guys need to completely agree with a movie’s politics to enjoy it?

  40. There was a CW show on for a few years recently called In The Dark where the lead character was blind and played by a sighted woman. It was kind of murder mystery style action so I’m not sure it HAD to be played by a sighted person but what do I know. Also conversely, one of the future kids on This Is Us was played by a blind actor, but they weren’t in it much.

  41. Glaive Robber

    May 7th, 2024 at 5:28 pm

    @Kaplan, I don’t think that’s necessarily the problem. After all, most of us sign up for violent movies even though we know that violence is never clean and makes problems worse. I personally still watch superhero movies, and I think they’re fascist!

    In this case, though, we’re essentially talking about the nature of comedy. We laugh at stuff because it exposes an honest truth — yes, this situation would be uncomfortable, yes this authority figure probably can’t be trusted, yes consensual sex is often a bumbling and humiliating affair for many, etc. etc. “PCU”‘s violation is twofold. One, the targets in the film are broad and cartoonish, and we don’t laugh because we know they’re not based in truth. It doesn’t make you a prick to care about the environment or to champion womens’ rights. It’s dishonest, so it’s inherently unfunny, save for a solid quip or performance.

    But secondly, the movie exposes what we know is an ugly part of today’s discourse, a line of thought followed by some of the worst people in the world. And in those cases, maybe there’s a laugh or two (which isn’t much over 90 mins!) but is it worth allaying yourself with a modern sense of grievance that is polluting the way society now distrusts our neighbors?

    I keep coming up with the hypothetical we’ve faced in the modern world. If you were fighting for a cause, and you found out you were fighting alongside Nazis, would you keep fighting, or would you return home to re-evaluate your priorities and your belief system? This used to be a simple answer, but a lot of people are suddenly comfortable with some strange-ass bedfellows.

    That being said, as I’ve mentioned, I find a little amusement in remembering “PCU” today. But the made-up, hopefully-nonexistent Daily Wire contemporary remake of this would probably be the worst movie ever.

  42. That one blind alien guy who mentored Uhura in season one of STRANGE NEW WORLDS was also played by a blind actor.

  43. I don’t think watching a movie is the equivalent of fighting alongside Nazis. If I really liked watching Scarface and it turned out there were a lot of real-life criminals who thought Scarface was telling them how cool it was to sell drugs and kill people, I wouldn’t think Scarface was secretly an endorsement of those things, I’d think they were a bunch of bozos misinterpreting a movie.

  44. Stern, I remember seeing Pulp Fiction back in the day…and to me even back then I remember the Tarantino stuff being cringe and people weren’t laughing that much…it just seemed so wannabe try-hard and also at the time I was like where did they dig up this terrible actor?

    Kaplan I think you don’t need to agree with a movie’s politics to enjoy it but I’m not gonna run out and watch that anti trans comedy Ben Shapiro made. When they wear their politics on their sleeve and I don’t agree with them it can defintitely affect the way I see the flick more than a movie that just has those tendencies as a result fo the storyline. It’s not necessarily about what the people watching a movie may misinterpret, but if some red pill dudes made a movie that was a comedy about how date raping women is fun, there’s gotta be a point where I’d just say this was made for someone who ain’t me.

    But yeah overall the PC of the 90s now woke is sort of overblown to a large extent. Getting mad that a person who can see plays a blind person to me is sort of understandable, but there’s a lot more to a role than meeting the basic minimum requirement. We were hearing a lot a few years ago about how no straight men should play a gay character, and again I can get that from their POV…they want some representation. Fair enough. But then easy to turn it around and ask why should a gay guy play a straight role or whatever. I’m not gonna go so far as Billy Dee Williams and pine for the days where blackface was cool though.

  45. Vern mentioned several time how he loves DIRTY HARRY as a great cop thriller, but absolutely disagrees with its fashist message. And I am more or less a pacifist and hate all kinds of drugs, yet I love violent movies and laughed my ass off at more than one stoner comedy. It doesn’t seem to me like we are shaming here people for enjoying PCU on a mindless comedy level. It’s just that the movie appears to be centered on a certain kind of smug “Man, caring for other people is so dumb, don’t tell me what to do” mindset, that it really becomes uncomfortable, considering how it went from a silly edgleord view when the movie was made, to a mainstream political agenda in recent years.

    And I’m sure sooner or later we will all manage to generally agree on rules for who is allowed to play which roles and such. Until then I fully agree with “Why should an able-bodied actor play a paraplegic character if there aren’t any scenes in the script that an actual paraplegic actor can’t do” and see how it developes.

    (I just hope it won’t hurt Peter Stormare’s “I just have to mildly adjust my accent and can pretend I am from every European country that you want” career.)

  46. Full Disclosure: I’ve only seen any part of this movie in 8- 10 minute chunks, as some cable station used to seemingly play it on a constant loop. With that in mind, I was going to comment on how I thought some of the reactions seemed oddly angry for — what appeared to me — a harmless ‘snobs vs slobs’ comedy that is more poking fun at collegiate overzealousness than the causes behind this zeal. But perhaps the movie is more egregious in parts I haven’t seen.

    With that said, I’m sure if I spent three minutes on Google, I could find a ‘think piece’ about how the Ghostbusters are trumpers, that Walter Peck is really the hero of the story, and thus the movie is ‘right-wing trash/propaganda’. I’m sure the piece generated plenty of likes and follows for the author, and kept their readers sufficiently entertained for the time it took to read it.

    But at the end of the day… It’s fucking Ghostbusters.

  47. I caught PULP FICTION twice in a packed Melbourne cinema in 1994 and pretty much all the jokes landed with the audience (I don’t give a fuck what anyone says, Christopher Walken’s “Watch Monologue” can never NOT be funny as long as it’s Walken delivering it, while acknowledging the unfortunate racial slurs against Asians contained within ) including me.

    I did catch it 2 years ago with 2 nephews, one in his late teens, one in his early twenties. They both enjoyed it, dubbing it “pretty cool” as a movie, chuckled at most of the jokes, but understandably, the only parts which seem cringey now was Tarantino blithely putting the N-word in the mouth of his white characters, reserving the most egregious one for himself “I’m sorry, did you see a sign out the door that says DEAD [REDACTED] STORAGE?”, a line delivered directly to the movie’s main Black character who treats it casually.

    I know far more enlightened people found it cringe in 1994, sadly I was not one of them. My defense is, you’re allowed to be an ignorant ass when you’re young.

  48. You could find thinkpieces about all kinds of silly things on the internet…and you could also find thinkpieces on how red pillers are genuinely fucking up lonely kids who are taking that message seriously.

  49. BuzzFeedAldrin

    May 8th, 2024 at 8:10 am

    “considering how it went from a silly edgleord view when the movie was made, to a mainstream political agenda in recent years.”

    This.
    Perfect demonstration of how the “relax, it’s just a movie” thinking can snowball into larger societal problems when not called out. One person thinking advocating for human rights is silly is ignorant thinking. SEVERAL people thinking that becomes a movement.

    And Ghostbusters is absolutely a love letter to Reaganomics and deregulation. I don’t think Ivan Reitman would tell you any different?

  50. I’m just surprised to see political correctness painted as an unambiguous good by a bunch of action and horror fans. We’re just gonna pretend that there weren’t people in the mainstream blaming Columbine on Scream and The Matrix?

  51. “you’re allowed to be an ignorant ass when you’re young”

    It is. As long as you change at some point and own your mistakes. I call this the “Beastie Boys clause”.

    (Adult CJ would punch Teenage CJ for some of the gay jokes he made, even if it was at a time when homophobia was socially accepted mainstream humor.)

  52. Kaplan, oddly enough these people who blamed movies were often conservatives who said that political correctness is against free speech and looked for an easy scapegoat that wouldn’t take their guns away.
    But yeah, nobody here says that the woke, P.C., or however you wanna call them crowd is perfect. They often go too far themself, like when a while ago a German band was banned from playing at an anti-racism concert because one of their white members wore dreadlocks.

    But you can’t deny that the basic concept of it (Be excellent to each other, be a good ally to repressed groups and don’t be such a racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist generally bigotted asshole that only thinks about its personal comfort) is a great one and basically “Human Decency 101”, so it’s crazy that there are people AGAINST stuff like that and insist for example on calling certain groups by outdated, unashamed racist names because “We always did that and nobody complained 50 years ago and learning to use a new word would really cut into my personal freedom”.

  53. And Ghostbusters is absolutely a love letter to Reaganomics and deregulation. I don’t think Ivan Reitman would tell you any different?

    I didn’t say the take was incorrect. Merely empty.

  54. grimgrinningchris

    May 8th, 2024 at 9:21 am

    Despite writing a whole lot of movies that I really enjoy (including the very underrated mockumentary, Incident At Loch Ness with Werner Herzog) I have always thought Penn was kind of a Ratner-lite douche. Although I have found no solid evidence of him ever being willfully shitty to anyone, so maybe it is just projection. That said, I do not for a second believe that he thinks that POC rights, saving the whales, saving the rainforests, gay rights or women rights are stupid. At all.

    I think it is more an attitude towards CERTAIN types of people that make these things their identities to the point of separating themselves from anything else in the world except their chosen cause.

    Kinda like “hey, aren’t we at college to learn and have fun and discover ourselves? You screaming at me on the quad when I am trying to get to class or the dining hall or the rathsklellar is NOT helping your cause… I am not downing these issues… or downing activism… but stop screaming at people and making that your whole identity”

    I really think The Pit, even though they are the protagonists are still portrayed as mostly lazy and dimwitted… but they are who we have. In literature, movies, comics how many times has our antagonist been a detestable (or at least VERY flawed) person? From Ignatius Reilly to Travis Bickle to Rorshach.

    The main antagonists are, in the text of the movie “cocky, pointy-nosed little Reaganites” so I think that speaks more to Penn’s political stance.

    Also, though all of the other protest groups get eyerolls, not for their beliefs but for their laser sighted tunnel vision and demeanors, the only group that The Pit actively targets are a stupid prank on the Causeheads. And I think that one is more against them BEING the Causeheads (their rally issue changes every week) and that their issue THAT week is weak and nonsensical. Like Vern said, who protests “red meat”??? You either protest ALL meat or ALL animal products or none. I have never ever seen a “red meat” protest. Just like I’ve never seen a “Go Pescatarian!” protest. It’s an absurd notion, but perfectly in line with the Causeheads. They don’t need a real thing to be upset about, they just need signs and bullhorns (as also illustrated in the finale) and something to give them purpose because they have none otherwise.

    I’ve been involved in dozens of protests over the years, some that went sideways. But I’ve never been arrested or fucked around with beyond fielding anti-protest people so I can’t speak to everyone’s experience. Though my late fiance was gassed at the George Floyd protests at Ohio State… oooof.

    I have also had more whisky in my coffee than coffee in my coffee this morning and it isn’t even noon so hopefully at least some of this is comprehensible, even if you disagree.

    I think there is some really wrongheaded, boneheaded shit in this movie, but I don’t think Penn or any of the actors were denouncing any of the REAL valid causes so much as overzealous, sometimes overly confrontational methods of some.

    The Pit are idiots, depicted as such (even as in most snob vs slob movies… at least none of them put on a dimestore Darth Vader helmet to basically rape a girl) but idiots that just want people to talk, party and get along and stop screaming at each other.

    The bad guys are 100% the elite trust fund kids who are openly racist, sexist and homophobic and not just immaturely so.

    Okay, more coffee, less whisky now. Don’t come at with me pitchforks if you disagree with all this. At least consider it. And then we will talk.

    Also, I think we can just blame Ellis. Even Piven is on record as saying Bochner was HORRIBLE on set to everyone involved.

  55. grimgrinningchris

    May 8th, 2024 at 9:24 am

    I also think that in 10 years, if someone gives up on Sanskrit for their major… And writes, their thesis on the politics of the moviefilm, PCU… they are going to hit a fucking GOLDMINE when they find this comment thread! Your sight is gonna be cited, Vern!

  56. I’m just saying that to assume most young people dedicated to causes (or, in the exaggerated portrait of PCU, *every single one of them*) are just dumb posers trying to get attention or fit in, is in fact a conservative/anti-progress political stance, which is why it’s the exact one being used by war supporters right now to smear the protesters.

  57. grimgrinningchris

    May 8th, 2024 at 11:16 am

    I get that, Vern. And I think some of this almost harkens back to the mealymouthed ideas of Roth when it came to THE GREEN INFERNO and “SWJ”s. I do think he had something to say and I do think he had SOME valid points, but clearly smart guy that he is, he came off idiotic in some of those postings and interviews. I don’t at all think that Roth is against saving rainforests or indigenous tribes, he just had an aversion to a particular type and questioned not just the methods, but motivations of some of them. But also wound up coming off like a big dummy when trying to explain that because it isn’t an easy subject (even if just “we need to preserve ecology” SHOULD BE.
    Is that an off comparison?

  58. I’m just saying that to assume most young people dedicated to causes (or, in the exaggerated portrait of PCU, *every single one of them*) are just dumb posers trying to get attention or fit in, is in fact a conservative/anti-progress political stance, which is why it’s the exact one being used by war supporters right now to smear the protesters.

    People used to point out that ‘hippie’ outfits were being sold at Woolworth’s, and that the whole thing was just fashion.
    A war still got stopped.

    (eventually)

  59. Yeah, that’s a good comparison, chris. Supposedly supports saving the rain forests, but for now is focused on hating the people trying to save the rain forests. Classic southparkism. (And of course Roth has turned out to be a big time cheerleader for this war.)

  60. grimgrinningchris

    May 8th, 2024 at 12:36 pm

    I did not realize that, Vern. I haven’t paid too much attention to him since KNOCK KNOCK (not because I didn’t like it, I really like that movie- and ooof, even going back post Bond, post Knives Out, I didn’t even recognize D’arama with blonde hair on a rewatch recently).

    And again, Im not giving the movie a free pass because I find it funny (also again, mostly in its parts that have zero to do with activism), just giving a forgiving perspective about folks I don’t find to be social-awareness inept or their causes, just to trying to (nd sometimes falling) in their attempted parodies of both sides.

    Vaguely related, are you aware of or a fan of Longmont Potion Castle. Seems like it would at least be in your periphery. Surreal (very NOT Jerky Boys) prank calls, going on for 30 years now or more. He has a knack for finding celebrity phone numbers, one of my favorites is him getting Jeremy Piven and Alex Trebek (RIP) on a conference call, both not believing that the other was the other.
    Also, check out Alex Desert’s HEPCAT. Ha.

  61. I could have sworn I owned this movie on DVD. Back when video stores were still around, I was in the habit of buying any pre-viewed DVD for $10 or less if it was at all within my interests. I reasoned that for the cost of renting it twice I could simply own it, so if it turned out I liked it enough to add to my collection, I would already have it, rather than having to go pay at least twice that much for a new copy.

    In the case of PCU that turned out to be a sound investment, since in the streaming era it’s turned out to be one of those movies you can’t find anywhere. This review inspired me to finally go watch it, except I can’t find it. I’m in the process of moving, so maybe the box it’s in just hasn’t turned up yet. So at this time I can’t comment on the movie in full, only on the points raised by this review and the comments.

    Re the “Free Nelson Mandela” person not knowing he was already freed – “what a dummy this guy would be if he existed” … I was in high school when Operation Desert Storm started, and when walking between classes I remember there were a group of kids sitting in the stairwell with placards protesting the draft, which did not exist (the U.S. military draft ended back in the 1970s). Since they seemed fully encamped I assume they had been skipping classes to be there. I only saw them do it one day, and it was harmless, but that was my first encounter with people willing to fully commit to a cause they did not actually understand.

    “this paranoid fantasy that the lesbians and the PCs are pressuring other women to hate white males” … My memory of pro-diversity discourse in the early 1990s was that it regularly invoked the white male (especially the old and/or dead white male) as a negative bogeyman, much like “boomer” in the 2020s. It can be frustrating when you agree with a movement politically yet happen to have been born into the group they have chosen to demonize.

    It sounds like this movie portrays conservatives as the actual bad guys, and leftist students as faddish at best and prudish at worst but basically redeemable if they just learn to relax.

    Gen-X was famously stereotyped as politically apathetic, but another way to put it was that we distrusted tribalism. We wanted neither 60s liberals nor 50s conservatives to force their culture war down our throats. We each wanted to be left alone to be our own person, and we embraced pop culture that satisfied our hunger for something edgy and alternative and nontraditional and none-of-the-above.

    At the same time, racism and sexism were considered uncool! Being bigoted was a sign of being old-fashioned and out of touch. So it seemed like the tide was turning the right way anyway.

    In hindsight

  62. (Part 2 – didn’t mean to submit)

    In hindsight I can see how there is some white (and male) privilege baked into those assumptions. But it seemed like the right attitude at the time. Live and let live. Learn to get along. But I guess every generation reaches the point of having to deal with the fact that there are younger people who don’t share their value system, and Generation X might be at that point. Both ends of the spectrum seem quick to take offense against the other, and I find that exhausting, but maybe I’m just old.

  63. grimgrinningchris

    May 8th, 2024 at 5:34 pm

    Curt- I am hopping on your train. I may hop off at some point. I may even tuck and roll without waiting for a legit stop, depending.
    But you said some shit that I didn’t agree with fully, but a LOT that I did and more eloquently than Mr Booze will allow.

    That said, please don’t take any of this as poopoo-ing any of Vern’s or others thoughts on either the movie itself or its questionable (but I’ll take a debate over questionable over yelling about absolutes) message and politics… (the point of the movie? maybe? not sure… seriously) with the fine folks here.

    I’ve struggled myself with my younger self’s love of the movie and my older self’s confusion about it… and come to the final conclusion… “I’ll allow it” It makes me laugh (STILL, and again, mostly the not activism-pointed gags, but still) and I don’t think the writers or actors had any ill will towards actual activism by actual activists (but still maybe Ellis did) so much as posers and armchair activists.

    Again, despite the buffoonery of The Pit, the racist, homophobic, misogynistic neo-conservatives are the only ones in the movie presented as full on villains. It’s still a wonky, early 90s attempt to temper that through a haze of kegs and Clinton… but I can’t get offended by it- or stop laughing at what makes me laugh or not loving the Mudhoney, Costello cover..

  64. Kaplan I think you hve to stretch though to say Scream or The Matrix actually advocated killing school kids…so people saying that at the time were stretching.

    But it is very easy to watch a movie explicitly advocating attitudes and disagreeing with them, or maybe totally agreeing. That’s just engaging with what a movie is about.

  65. grimgrinningchris

    May 9th, 2024 at 5:11 am

    I’m not discounting anyone’s opinions here, especially Vern’s or of any smarter and more eloquent than me. Everyone is valid and everyone has been really thoughtful and cool (as is generally the case in this community that Vern has created and cultivated).

    Here’s another analogy… I love Dropkick Murphys. I have been listening to them, seeing them, following them, supporting them and eventually booking them since the 90s.

    HOWEVER… there is a huge sect of their fandom that I have no fucking patience for… these are the people whose entire existence is based around how MUCH they love Dropkick Murphys (and Guinness and Jameson and Boondock Saints) and I find that stupid, surface level, tunnel-visioned and annoying,

    I think THAT is what this movie is poking fun at. Not the causes themselves… but those types and how they present themselves. And how they are blind to anything else around them. That IS one of the themes… the activists in this movie ignore or flat out deride the OTHER activists in this more “our cause is more important” like some DKM fans ignore almost the entire scene around them unless it is in their direct periphery or connected directly to DKM and Irish or Irish-American cultural signposts.
    I know it is not a one to one analogy when we are talking fandom vs activism, but I think it is still valid.

    I never get the feeling that Droz and crew dislike women, blacks, whales, rainforests, gays (maybe the made up anti justredmeatarians)… just fed up with the infighting amongst them and obnoxious, tunnel vision behavior.

    They only really actively dislike the Causeheads (because they are posers), Balls & Shaft (because they are snivelly, preppy Reaganites) and the dean, because she seems like HER PC-ness is totally performative.

  66. grimgrinningchris

    May 9th, 2024 at 5:27 am

    Tying this into the punk scene again.

    BIGWIG is a New Jersey punk/hardcore band, been around for 30 years, they are still active but their heyday was in the late 90s and early 00s.
    Tom Petta, their singer/guitarist IS a vegan… but they wrote and recorded this song about the virtues of meat as a reaction to what was at the time a growing, hardline straight edge vegan movement that went so over the top that it often led to violence as many straight edge vegans started to act less like activists and more like gangs.
    Again, THOSE types are who I think the movie is ribbing, not the causes or ideas themselves.

    https://youtu.be/E-qEoNezKQs?si=sDSVutByDYqn97Cz

    Triply valid here since the song begins and ends with samples from… wait for it… wait for it… PCU.

  67. BuzzFeedAldrin

    May 9th, 2024 at 6:38 am

    Just jumping back in here to say that it’s crazy someone brought up Bigwig?! I haven’t thought about that band in years! Didn’t Warner Bros. sue them for copying Bugs Bunny on their Unmerry Melodies album?

  68. grimgrinningchris

    May 9th, 2024 at 6:46 am

    Buzz…

    Yeah, but it didn’t go anywhere since I think it wound up falling under parody/fair use. I guess the holders of Watership Down could’ve tried too, but would have had the same results. And also, you just can’t copyright the word(s) Bigwig, even in relation to rabbits.

    Not that folks here don’t have wide tastes and whims and fancies, but I’m stunned that someone else here knows that band! Cheers! Tom has been a good friend and played DOZENS of shows for me here since the 90s up through just before Covid. And they still play that song too…

  69. This thread desperately needs to get back to Parliament love.

    Because we all know Clinton’s best movie appearance is “Dancing Freak” in GOOD BURGER.

  70. grimgrinningchris

    May 9th, 2024 at 8:17 am

    hurtado…

    Aaaaaaaand my good friend, Steve won the ACTUAL Good Burger car in a promotional short film contest when that movie came out. And then lived for a year+ off what he got for it in a collectors auction shortly after.

    I’d like to point out that “Stomp” is not the greatest P-Funk song, nor from close to their best era… but it still rules and (along with Snoop’s sample of “Atomic Dog”) brought a whole new generation to the funk.

    And “a crack rock the size of a golf ball”…

  71. BuzzFeedAldrin

    May 9th, 2024 at 9:49 am

    Chris – That’s awesome you’re still in touch with Tom. I don’t think I ever saw Bigwig live even though I saw all their other ilk like Felix Frump, Society Gone Madd, Joystick, Sanbox, H2O (sorta?)

    NJPP represent!

  72. grimgrinningchris

    May 9th, 2024 at 12:47 pm

    They did a tour I wanna say just shortly before Covid and I had them here. Before that, they hadn’t been in town (I’m on the Gulf Coast so not the most immediate priority for more casual touring) since prolly ’05? But between 97 and ’05, I wanna guess close to 10 times? They were total road warriors back then- and also labelmates (Fearless Records) with a band from here called Blount.

    Back to PCU and P-Funk… I will also say that George and crew took up more of the stage (we actually built stage extensions for them- which came to good use for other shows later) than GWAR… and with no props or shit… just musicians and diaper guy and stuff…

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