Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception since 2006, or earlater

Friday, October 01, 2010

Nearer my Templar to Thee: WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, BECKETT and THE BLIND DEAD

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I never thought I'd be glad that parental over-protective hysteria is so rampant in this country, but thanks to widespread anti-Catholic demonstrations and the recently released documentary WAITING FOR SUPERMAN  there's finally a real answer to "Won't somebody think of the children!?" Hopefully the protests and awareness will spread amongst the uppity parents of the nation and gain force in showing up these protectors of incompetent, dangerously apathetic teachers, papal pedophiles, and other abusers and saboteurs of our children's welfare who hide behind tenure and other outdated legalities that protect the guilty and champion the mediocre.


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And another thing: none of it's at all new! Let's take a look at BECKETT (1964, above), for example. Richard Burton is the jaded intellectual pal of Peter O'Toole's happy-go-lusty King Henry. Henry appoints Beckett (Burton) the archbishop of Canterbury in hopes of continuing his lascivious ways unhindered by marital rigmarole, but it all boils to a head real fast when Beckett gets all pious, giving away his fancy clothes and then protecting a pedophile priest! O'Toole wants to do right by the locals and send the priest out to be hanged, but Burton insists the priest go to the Vatican, for 'um', whatever amount of rosary-related penance the pope sees fit to assign.

Time for a quick personal anecdote: Of my 'group' from college, friends of friends who have since gone on to become doctors of psychiatry, professors of social work, professors, etc., a good portion of them were total flakes in undergraduate college, and it's hilarious to hear them solemnly and sanctimoniously preach the same stuff we used to make fun of... ala Burton in BECKETT. I'm not saying I'm any better but if I was Peter O'Toole I wouldn't trust them to screw in a light bulb and yet they're the one's with the degrees and certification higher than mine... and I'm jealous! An...an... and I blame society!



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Tomb of the Blind Dead (1971)
Hey, another reason I'm not a doctor is that I hate studying and going to class, but I know something about the embattled world of academia and the difference between real thinkers and educators vs. professors who just protect their little niche: a lot of times they just sort of follow in some (long dead) real thinker's footsteps (see my "Kill All Jonesers"), and appoint themselves 'experts' on people like Wordsworth and Whitman and yet, were they to meet them in person, said profs would probably run away in disgust (Whitman I bet you smelled really bad). I used to see these types in AA, touting how program-perfect they are and while no, they never actually got drunk or liked to drink, they're sure they would have had a problem had they ever started down that road to ruin! So now they're fucking experts on sobriety and so glad their "nightmare" is over!" Dude, what nightmare? We used to joke about how leaving behind half-full beers was alcohol abuse, and on that level only are they 'problem' drinkers.

A lot of this problem could be solved by taking the status and dusty immunity of academic, medical and religious positions away, and adapting a broader socialist system, like Argentina's.  Last I heard, a doctor made around $400 a month, A MONTH, in Buenos Aires. A cab driver, maybe $125 a month, a teacher, $250... and they get by, cuz it's socialism. Here we're blessed with a capitalist system, wherein doctors and lawyers are supposed to be robbing us all blind; we're supposed to not be able to afford our rent. In Argentina, the doctors make house calls! They come over to look at your tonsils, have a mate', smoke a cigarette with you in the kitchen, use your phone to call in to the office, get the next address of a patient in need, and they're off, like firemen. Imagine if your house was on fire but you had to go the firehouse and fill out forms and show your insurance before they'd go out to your house? Absurd, right? Imagine if before a cop would come investigate your robbery you had to show him your police insurance card? Why is that more absurd to us than hospitals where patients die in the waiting room or are turned away to bleed to death in the streets? Imagine having to pay the cops for them to arrest a burglar in your house? Actually, if that was bribes you mean by paying, that would be Argentina, too. But why is that different than health insurance? Why are doctors and lawyers chosen more from rich parents who can afford medical school vs. true humanitarians and gifted healers who may have something to offer, but are too lazy to study and think cadavers are gross? 



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Now let's move over to the priesthood and the issue of celibacy. I understand the motivation behind the vow of celibacy, but the celibacy thing should just be a natural result of being close to God. When God is near, sex falls away like a booster rocket, but only if the subject is truly dwelling 24/7 in the conscious grace of perfect love. Being called a priest does not automatically lift you beyond sexual desire, anymore than graduating college means you're an intellectual. If you're forced into the priesthood by fucked up parents and are horny as hell, not even allowed to masturbate by Catholic consensus, then you are a like a ticking time bomb. Why are celibate priests expected to somehow abstain from a basic human need? There's a reason straight guys get with other guys in prison - and a priesthood's no different. What I'm getting at is, you can't expect a dickhead to suddenly be a saint just because his parents paid his way to get a degree from the Sainthood Academy.

Here's a personal anecdote: as a child I had a lot of trouble learning to tie my shoelaces. I heard other kids and adults say that everyone knows how to tie their shoes by the time they are five years old. As I was already four and a half I just figured I'd wait it out. So on my fifth birthday I actually expected I'd just miraculously know how to tie them. I ran into the bathroom during my birthday party, untied my shoelace (which mom had tied, of course) and just assumed I would now magically know.

Needless to say, I didn't know how to tie them just because I was five. But I learned something even more valuable: you can't think that a socially-conferred title (like 'five' or 'professor') actually has any 'real' power to change you - "all children should be able to read by the time they're seven;" "all graduates from medical school must know how to fix a hernia;" "all teachers in the union are great educators" -- yet this is the party line towed by deans and union officials the nation over.

 Being five doesn't mean you can tie your shoes any more than being chosen as a priest means you are miraculously free of all sexual desire. If you have said desire and repress it, then look out, because all the praying in the world is only going to prolong the pressure cooking of your libido, like thinking you can hold a Nerf ball under water for 30 straight years and its never going to pop up and smack some poor kid in the face, just because he has a certificate that says 'No Nerf.'

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Now it's easy in retrospect to forget that plenty of children grew up going to Catholic school without being molested. There are plenty of great humanitarian doctors and excellent teachers, and teachers' unions are a good thing as far as assuring reasonable pay rates and so forth, but once in place, the union should be ready to get out of the way and let bad teachers be fired, unions should not be championing incompetence, or forfeiting across the board raises in favor of being granted more control, which our union recently did, the equivalent of your boss saying 'your wife and I agreed you would take a pay cut but she'll get to control your life."

Now I'll even go out on a limb here and say that most teachers who have tenure are awesome in every way, which is why they get tenure, but a very small and certain few got it by chicanery, string-pulling and just applying every year for decade after decade until a dean is overly forgiving and just gives everyone who applies tenure, and now there are 2-3 teachers who never should have gotten it and you can't get rid of them; or they get tenure and are great but then they let a little taste of power turn them into litigious, self-righteous grudge-carriers, kind of like old BECKETT. He was great as a teacher/drinking buddy but turn him into an archbishop/union rep and he's a menace to the public interest. Huffington's Kelli Goff writes about this in her review of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN: 
In a scene that will make every person's skin crawl, Guggenheim interviews a former superintendent who recounts attempting to fire teachers who were caught on video reading the newspaper as their students sat waiting to learn, and another who placed a child's head in a urinal. After firing the teachers in question -- like any normal person would -- the superintendent and district were forced to rehire them -- with back pay -- due to tenure. (Kelli Goff, Huffington Post, 9/28/10)

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Peter O'Toole's Henry is pretty sure old Beckett's just fallen in love with his new sense of power and is not actually believing all that holier than thou business, but he's wrong, Burton's Beckett has bought into the rigmarole hook line and sinker. And that's the problem with power in the wrong hands whether in Beckett's, tenured faculty, the clergy, or the unions. O'Toole's nutty king is worthy of power because he wears all his evil up front: he's good inside with an evil shell. Burton's Beckett hangs back and looks pious, but he's the real danger in the realm: he's evil inside and pious/good outside. Give him a title and he'll be crazy enough to take it seriously. Such people are dangerous to all concerned, blind to their own absurd sense of inflated self-importance, dead to the compassion their role demands, afflicted with what Lacan might call "signifier-blindness" (1) - BLIND DEAD, in fact!.

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The first of a trilogy, TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) involves ghost-zombies of old Portuguese Knights Templar chasing and killing all the sinful locals who trespass around their old Malta stomping grounds, wrapping their skeleton hands around all the lovely ladies and gigolo boyfriends,  most of whom behave in such a dumb, unassuming way as to be ridiculously easy to kill. It's a perfect metaphor for our current situation: we may be aware that these pious undead union Templars are out there, slowly shambling towards us on their slow mo horses, but unless we stop behaving like easy prey and start rising up en masse to demand radical reform of the tenure system, unions and the church, we'll be slaughtered by Templars, Draconians, and Freemasons, and our children will be abused systematically until the last spark of life drains from their dewy eyes. WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!??

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Until we take drastic steps like the above and/or failing that, getting out the torches and pitchforks, we're like those vice-engorged Portuguese in TOMBS, jetsetting ourselves and our children up for a royal trimming by the Templars. The idiocy of the humans in this movie is appalling. They're all alone out there and surrounded by zombies, and the guy goes: "Honey, you wait here. I'm going to go check out that weird screaming noise out there in the dark," leaving her of course completely vulnerable. Is this not what we say to our families, still trusting in the decency of the status quo to protect us? Honey you have to go to school - you have to listen to your teachers. And the teacher is always right, no one believes the kid in a me vs. him argument. Cuz they're teachers. They know things, until of course they're caught seducing a child - then they're hung out to dry. But what about boring a child? What about ignoring a child?


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NOTES
1. Like snow-blindness, rather than like being blind to signifiers.

1 comment:

  1. I feel kind of guilty saying this about a piece which deals with social decay and pedophile priests, but this was a blast to read. I've been hearing a lot of anti-Superman talk from teachers I know though, feeling that it scapegoats the profession when there are so many other problems. But I'll have to see it and find out. I had no idea that's what Becket was about btw. I'll have to see that too now.

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