Psychedelic Film Criticism for the Already Deranged

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Acid's Greatest Shorts: THE SUNSHINE MAKERS (1935)



"We're happy when we're / sad"
"We're always feeling / bad"
-- "How are ya?" / "Terrible!" / "That's fine."

"We're happy when we're / sad"
According to Annetesmusic on youtube comments, they used to play this between sets at the Filmore in 1969, with 'sunshine' being a common euphemism for acid. I believe it!

I have no memory of seeing this at 'the Filmore' or ever going there at all, but I did see it a lot around the age of 13-16, when I'd fill out the ends of my VHS tapes with old cartoons culled from TV shows like 'Matinee at the Bijou.' So The Sunshine Makers was on at the end of a tape I watched almost constantly - Nighthawks (starring Rutger Hauer!) followed by The Thing (1951) followed by Cat People (1942)... a perfect flow. I still remember all the words to the "Hail his majesty the sun" song, and the "Happy when we're / sad song." My brother and I would sing it to each other for laughs. I had no idea about the acid connotations til years later when it showed up as something they play between guests in Get Crazy.

Of course my brother and I rooted for the Sad people, who, after all, have a clearer understanding of morality and Lacanian objet petit a... i.e. the more miserable you pretend to be, the more happy you really are, vs. the terrible 'command to enjoy' perpetrated by the Sunshine makers. It's a chilling lesson, the reason everyone acted so miserable behind the iron curtain, and yet drank more vodka and had more fun than the rest of us, once the curtains were drawn. It's sci fi dystopia imagining along the lines of WILD IN THE STREETS and GASS-S-S, wherein acid-soaked hippie youth culture becomes the new jackboot conformity... and of course, you can read the hook noses and dark, vaguely ethnic clothing of the sad people as an anti-semitic signifier set if you so choose... but I'd rather just dig the row of bummer sprayers who get bombed with sunshine and start dancing like goofy little doofuses, and think of the recent footage of North Korean military displays and wonder if, at this advanced age, as the wind whips the trees outside my office window, the USA will ever get its 'true' sunshine on again. The consumerist command to enjoy is suffocating us... when all the time we were happier when / we were / sad.

Or were we? On the other hand, tralalalalala. I won't deny that acid saved my life, that I was beyond miserable and turbo depressed until first mushrooms than acid lifted me up from punk rock ennui and into the arms of my future loving hippie clique.

So enjoy... and remember, it's brought you by Borden's!!! MMM-hmmm Borden's.

And pray with me that one day, GET CRAZY will come to DVD.

1 comment:

  1. Clips from this (out of order) were inserted in Alan Arkush's "Get Crazy!", which was a tribute to the Filmore East where Arkush worked as an usher. (He appears briefly in the "Auld Lang Syne" scene, wearing his Filmore East usher shirt.)

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