the most powerful and dangerous organisms on Earth
Saturday, February 28 2015
Gretchen spent the day down in the City with Maresa, helping her run a food concession at an event called Seed. Meanwhile, I was here in the laboratory trying to work out the nuts and bolts of the ecommerce part of the Lightroom/Webapp that I've been working on for the past year and a half. As with everything on this project, that part is tricky because it needs to create a recurrent billing scheme.
Every now and then some little nugget of culture will come tumbling out of the cultural matrix and draw attention to itself. Often I can overlook such nuggets unless they are reinforced somehow, either by chance repetition or by resonating with some particular interest of mine. If they can adhere to consciousness long enough, I'll do a Google search or even do some downloading using Bittorrent.
The other day I heard about a movie from the early 1990s called Falling Down, about a guy who goes berzerk after his life falls apart. I immediately downloaded it and then forgot about it. But then either yesterday or today I heard a podcast (it was the Slate Money podcast) and Falling Down was mentioned again. So today, I finally got around to watching it. I started out watching it on my computer, but later moved into the teevee room and watched it on the media computer there (it was my first time of using the new Celeron J1900-based motherboard — it's a huge improvement over the earlier incarnations of the media computer).
I expected to like Falling Down more than I did. Movies from the early 1990s seem surprisingly dated to the sort of sensibility I've developed since them. The problem with movies from before a certain year (maybe it was 1997 and Boogie Nights) is the absence of random quirkiness and complex fully-realized characters. While the protagonist of Falling Down actually is fairly complicated for a Hollywood movie of that period (he's sympathetic but also heartless and cruel), everyone around him is a cartoon. The bad guys are pure evil (though we're not told how they got that way) and the good guys are yawn-inducingly sympathetic, and there is little inessential texture ornamenting either the plot or the characters. The only moment of contemporary-style quirkiness comes in the scene where our antihero decides to use a shoulder-launched missile and is shown how to fire it by random kid in the neighborhood who learned, he claimed, by watching teevee. As for my ability to suspend disbelief, it might seem implausible that a guy could cause so much chaos without being apprehended, but that's just one of the many jokes in Falling Down: a middle-aged white guy in a shirt & tie is practically invisible. Though they're the most powerful and dangerous organisms on Earth, our society conditions us to regard them as boring and absolutely harmless.
After watching Falling Down, I read the Wikipedia entry about it, and was surprised to learn that it had been the inspiration for the Iron Maiden song of the same name. (I'm more familiar with late Iron Maiden than I am fully comfortable admitting.)
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