Homer: Kids, kids. I'm not going to die. That only happens to bad people.
Lisa: What about Abraham Lincoln?
Homer: He sold poison milk to school children.
Okay, so I adore anthology show Masters of Horror. Not only does it showcase new and upcoming talent in the genre (who aren't Eli Roth, my nemisis), but it gives a chance to those who have worked pretty thanklessly for years. I don't think I've ever sat through one I didn't enjoy on some level. Erm, until last night that is. Actually, I was really enjoying the first half, but then realized where it was all going, and at a snail's pace as well, and not only felt dissatisfied, but rather alarmed by its message.
It's not unusual to find political satire in horror; hell, like sci-fi, it seems ripe for it. I've seen quite a few on Masters of Horror itself, such as the amazing, surprisingly touching and sharp Homecoming, so when my sister turned it on last night and the opening scene involved the lead characters listening to a political talk show on the radio, I knew what I was in for. Or thought I did at least.
It got progressively stranger from there. The parents of a ten year old daughter don't think it's odd or creepy at all that an older gent, who is behaving so strangely I'd have a hard time not laughing in his face, offer the kid a lollipop of his favorite flavor, cherry. Um, yeah. Wjat they do find creepy and odd is a portrait of George Washington in their deceased granny's basement. Yup, folks Washington. George. The. The little girl screams when she catched sight of a beam of light only highlighting his eyes and the father proclaims that he was always scared of the painting. Yup, George Washington, the very same historical favorite who could ruin any Ouji reading at any happening slumber party just by his presence via the board; he's just not scary!
Well, it was called The Washiontonians and did have a Headless Horseman-esque opening sequence in which a Revolutionary figure stalks and cuts a woman's head off, so we decided to wait and see. Where was this all going? Down the crapper, it turned out. You see, Washington, according to this story, was a cannibal. Remember the cherry tree? Well, that was a metaphor for virginity, and cutting down the cherry tree equated in eating the flesh of a virgin. seriously, folks, I couldn't make this up if I tried. and I wouldn't want to.
You see, in the end, our lesson was that people want to believe the myth of history, it's what survives, and some would go to any length to conceal "the truth" (used in the same vague manner as it was on X-Files, where they threw around the term weekly without ever defining just what they expected it to be). In a none too suble allegory (with emphasis on the gory), we're shown that governments are cruel cannibalistic monsters who eat the people they serve and turn inward on themselves. At the very end, we're told that "one George was swapped for another", and we're shown a dollar bill with Dubbya's face proudly smiling back at us as the characters comically all exclaim, 'No shit!'
I got over the idea that history was written by the winners when I was in my teens; after all, if that were true, what would we know about Auschwitz, Wounded Knee, or Billy the Kid? What my sister said after watching it was true: History sorts itself out; it's the present people are usually blind to. But, more than that, the paranoia of governmental mistrust runs so deeply throughout the story, it scared me. The end comes as the cannibals are gunned down by "the men who could cover up anything", like Roswell, we're told. The kindly professor who was in search of that elusive "the truth" tells our intrepid hero to get the word out, no matter what. I mean, the whole thing is fucking insane!
And it's offensive. Trust me, I'm not the model of a flag waving partior these days, but I do respect our history and the men who had the vision to set us all on a new course in life. While they refer to Washington's image as that of a "kindly old gentleman" in the show, I've always thought of him as the spirit of youthful, idealistic exuberance, just like our own country back in those days. How, in any way, their situation echoes our present day conundrum completely eludes me, to compare the war in Iraq with the Revoltuion is hilariously offbase and plain bizzare, to compare the respective leaders is worse.
And I have to wonder just how they thought history could be hidden quite so well when we know more about them than we really should do via letters (and don't tell me Adams was in any way involved in any of this because, for Gawd's sake, it's Adams!); our attempt to "humanize" them stripping them of a kind of pleasant mystique we've kept to.
And what's with Washington's fake teeth? Do people really find them ominous and terrifying? There's such a strange focus on the grotesqueness of his dentures, with close-ups of the cannibals mock pairs and one even having an almost orgasmic reaction to the originals. Are people really scared of this shit?! Is this, like, some rational fear that other people have and we just don't know about it?! My grandmother wore dentures and, aside from the contant click-clack that could get on one's nerves, I wasn't ever really mortally terrified of them. And the thing with the wood- it's old, guys! We know from historic texts that they didn't look bad! Well, why would they? He was rich, he was famous, would he really have disguting dentures? Think about it. Or, please don't, actually.
I know it's just a fantasy, but who would write this stuff, who would believe this is an accurate analogy?! I always knew the complete whackjobs were out there, I just never realized that someone who was as seemingly intelligent as to get his works published would be on the level of men who wear tinfoil hats so the CIA can't read their thoughts.