Archive for the ‘media’ Category



August 24, 2007

Recently while checking out IMDB’s list of the worst 100 movies of all time, I came across 1959’s Santa Claus, whose prosaic title obscures a feast of the absurd. In this account, you see, Satan dispatches one of his minion to wreak havoc on Christmas and bring down our Saint Nicholas — who lives in space and employs Merlin the magician. They are pretty serious about all of this.

Before someone screams sacrilege they should remember that the Bible itself is quite a colorful hodgepodge to begin with. Including The Book of Revelation in the New Testament is more of a juxtaposition than having Santa battle Satan. The new and old testaments are likewise quite different in tone and message. In many cases it seems arbitrary what was included in “the book” and what was consigned to the apocrypha, and the artifact-nature of the bible is of course not stressed among those who take it most seriously. Sometimes people don’t even know what they are looking at.

As a skeptic I wonder if the bible harbors any “tells” (in the poker sense) that have somehow been neglected to this point. For instance it would be a bit suspicious if Jesus went out of his way to fulfill messianic prophecy. Would the true Messiah care about messianic prophecy? (I mean if he were super-duper anointed and all.. it at least wouldn’t be a priority.) The example I had in mind is his Passover entry into Jerusalem through the Golden Gate. It had been prophesied that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem through this gate and Jesus was surely aware of this. Wouldn’t it be a bit funny then if Jesus had approached Jerusalem from the west and then circled the city in order to enter it from the Golden Gate in the east?

From what we can tell, and it’s all hopelessly buried anyway – we don’t know which gate he used nor how many times the authors edited their story – Jesus did actually approach from the east. Maybe there are similar close readings that can be applied to “The Book”. Or have its authors/editors thought of all that already?



August 18, 2007

If you haven’t seen these before..

The Shining as a romantic comedy
Taxi Driver as a romantic comedy
Mary Poppins (my new favorite)
Martin Scorsese’s Sesame Streets

Almost all humor seems to work by way of juxtaposition. The first two mash-ups take serious films and pull them in a light-hearted direction. The latter two take children’s themes and push them into the dark.

Mixing the epic with the mundane is another favorite type of juxtaposition. The “former roommate” scene in Spaceballs, the “poo-poo undies” scene in Young Frankenstein and the wicked queen scene in Annie Hall all come to mind. Such contrast is also part of the attraction of revisionist lit like Wicked.

Speaking of the Wizard of Oz, I guess we could also call Dark Side of the Rainbow a “mash-up”. The most striking part is 4:01 in, where¬† Dorothy falls into the pig pen — but you can find that sort of moment eventually with any combination of random video and sound. There is doubtless confirmation bias at work here, as we see sometimes in etymology..