Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sumo À Rebours

Frankencomic Joan Rivers was detained in Costa Rica as a perceived security threat. Her passport carries both her married and stage names, and this apparently spooked a Continental Airlines employee. As Rivers explained:

"If I were going to make up an alias, I wouldn't pick Rosenberg. I'd pick Jolie or Pitt . . . Do terrorists wear Manolo Blahniks? I can tell you Donna Karan does not make anything that hides a bomb.

"I tried the tears; they didn't work. I tried reasoning. I couldn't bribe because I didn't have any money [!]. I said 'I'm going to have a heart attack over this,' so the woman called the paramedics."

Nice to see Redd Foxx's material still works.

I would love to see more American celebs hassled in foreign airports. There's certainly a series in this, "Celebrity Terrorist" the most obvious. They can either be detained for crimes against culture (a significant form of terror), or their bags packed by show staffers with various compromising devices. The fun would be watching these entitled assholes use what natural talent they possess to keep from being strip searched. There'd be a learning side as well. With enough harassment and public embarrassment, celebs might reconnect with their humanity, see through the machinery of lies. Or they may just flip out, which would be good too.

If Brittany Murphy and Casey Johnson had faced more airport hostility, they'd probably still be dead, because there are certain people you just can't help.

In Joan Rivers you see the very worst of American celeb/comic culture. Here was a performer who cut her teeth in Village clubs and worked with Second City in its early, urbane period. But as she rose through the comedy ranks, Rivers became hackier and celebrity-obsessed. She groveled before money and status which colored her increasingly right wing views, but cried foul whenever the culture she adored bit her in the ass. (Johnny Carson was certainly unfair if not hypocritical in his dealings with Rivers, a huge blow to her career, but she had to know what crossing Carson meant.) Her plastic features reflect the world she long ago embraced.

Harry Shearer once did a bit on his radio show where Rivers, seeking employment, says "I'll work for any network, except Al-Qaeda. But with my agent . . ." I'm sure there remain plenty of openings. The car bomb circuit has yet to find its aging diva.

God bless World War II. Without it, many Americans would be lost in a relativist hell, unable to brandish mass murder as an example of human morality. Time/Life is still actively peddling its "World At War" series, and the ads contain the standard footage of Nazis marching, Hitler and Goebbels bellowing, kamikaze pilots crashing, anti-aircraft weapons blasting. You'll never go broke with this approach. WW2 is an endless moneymaker, as well as a nifty propaganda device. It's as though the Germans and Japanese were unique in world history when it came to repression and savagery.

Given our militarist culture, where millions revel in American aggression, you'd think that there'd be markets for less-celebrated conflicts, like say the Philippine-American War. Where's that DVD set? From 1899-1902, the U.S. kicked serious ass, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, defeated a nationalist insurgency, establishing itself as a young imperial power. Can you imagine the cable news coverage of that demonstration of American might? The sound of multiple orgasms from Fox News alone would drown out the competition. In a time when we can barely hang onto Afghanistan, such reminders are not only necessary, but potentially profitable.

Caught an ad for Chantix last night, Big Pharma's latest anti-smoking "cure." Apart from the fact that pharmaceutical companies are using the general public as lab rats, the side effects of Chantix intrigue me. There's a risk of depression and suicide, which some might consider worse than smoking itself. But then the smooth narrator warned that Chantix use could result in "strange dreams" and weird mental images. Now that's something I can get with. Who needs nicotine when Pfizer's dealing designer acid?