FAM: Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land On The Moon?

Welcome to a Russian Roulette episode of The Friday Afternoon Movie, brought to you by my lack of functioning brain cells and a YouTube search for “documentary”. Today we present the kind of programming many viewers of FOX TV might remember in and around the time of the X-Files. Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? begs the titular question in the voice of an announcer for a monster truck rally with a smooth chaser of X-Files alum Mitch Pileggi to help lend an air of mystery and intrigue. This is all in the service of one of my favorite, inconsequential conspiracy theories — an elaborate hoax perpetrated by NASA in order to stick it to the Communists. Or not. I’ve never really been sure as to why NASA would go through such lengths to fake such an event; “Communists” is merely a solid go-to for any conspiracy taking place before the fall of the Soviet Union. Either way, it’s 40 minutes of “experts” with backyard bunkers explaining how the American flag could not flutter without an atmosphere and even hints at murder most foul. Enjoy.

How CNN Really Feels About You

Just an extremely motivational clip to brighten your Sunday afternoon. In the video above, crafted by video artist Omer Fast, dozens of CNN newscasters come together to give you the true measure of your worth in this life. Spliced in such a way that each word comes from a different newscaster’s mouth, the narrative’s sinister “you know me, and I sure know you” feel only intensifies as the clip goes on.

The version embedded above is two minutes long; on YouTube, you can find a higher-quality embed-disabled 10-minute version (highly recommended.) The original that Fast debuted in 2002 was 18 minutes long. [Via Wobbly, thanks!]

All Tomorrows: Sovereign Bleak

I always thought danger along the frontier was something that was a lot of fun; an exciting adventure, like in the three-D shows.” A wan smile touched her face for a moment. “Only it’s not, is it? It’s not the same at all, because when it’s real you can’t go home after the show is over.”

“No,” he said. “No, you can’t.”

Story goes like this: there’s an emergency ship en route to a plague-ridden planet, carrying essential medicine. The pilot finds a stowaway; a young girl, Marilyn, who just wants to see her brother.

The pilot now has a problem: he has enough fuel to get himself to the planet, but no one else. Interstellar law is clear: all stowaways are jettisoned immediately.

But space captains are heroic sorts. Whatever harsh decisions the author puts in their background to prove their grit, this is still a story. This time will be different. Marilyn is the perfect, plucky sidekick-in-training; surely the pilot can figure out some way to save both her and the planet’s populace.

No. There is no solution. She says her goodbyes and is ejected, with “a slight waver to the ship as the air gushed from the lock, a vibration to the wall as though something had bumped the outer door in passing, then there was nothing and the ship was dropping true and steady again.”

The above is from Tom Godwin’s The Cold Equations. When it came out in Astonishing Science Fiction in August, 1954, it shocked the hell out of the magazine’s readership, used to the last-minute triumph of human ingenuity.

Godwin’s classic was only the beginning. The ensuing decades would see American sci-fi delve into realms unthinkable to its forebears. Desperate to shake off the genre “urinal,” as Kurt Vonnegut so succinctly termed it, writers first ditched one of the key assumptions: that the hero will always save the day. Maturity, in this view, meant uncomfortable truths. Often, it meant unhappy endings, not just for the protagonists, but frequently the entire world.

This is a scattershot story of how the bleak tomorrow came to reign, and how it changed our visions of the future.

Rikki Simons Gurgles Slurs in The Bloaty Incident

Any Invader Zim fans here? If you fell into reluctant love with the tiny, spiteful Irken invader and his robotic companion Gir, you might have been keeping up with the recent blog posts of show creator Jhonen Vasquez. Over the past few weeks, Vasquez has been sharing daily bits of behind-the-scenes Invader Zim trivia, complete with grotesque digital illustrations, unforgivably long rants, and anecdotes that will probably get him killed very soon. Evidently, this stuff has been building up inside Jhonen and eating through his soul like some kind of psychic bile, until it exploded into a month-long pontification of, well, DOOM.

Above, Gir and Zim by Jhonen Vasquez, from Invader Zim Fact #25 – just one of the numerous drawings that accompany Invader Zim Facts. With his zip-up dog costume, built-in jets, and an unmistakable squeaky voice, adorable Gir gained a fan base as rabid and vast as Zim ‘s. However, Rikki Simonscomic book creatorcolorist on the show, and the man behind the squeaking, paid dearly for his involvement with Zim. Sometimes our work consumes us, and Rikki serves as an all-too-real reminder of what happens when we push ourselves too far. In a spectacular display of callous indifference to his once-colleague, Jhonen showcased a jarring, never-before-seen video interview with Simons in “Invader Zim Fact #31“. From the post:

A bit of info on the video:  It’s apparently a fragment from a documentary about voice actors by “Ani-Mazing” Magazine, one of the many publications I’ve never had the pleasure of taking with me to the bathroom.  The thing never got completed, and Rikki was actually the last person the filmmakers interviewed.  That’s just what the guy told me who gave me this thing.  If you ask me, AniMAZING Magazine should have stuck with magazines because the interview sucks as far as interviews go, and the sound and camera work is just awful.  The title of this last post comes from something the interview touches on, that Rikki, besides playing the lovable GIR, also played the lovable Bloaty the Pig.

Watch below, and be sure to stick around until the very end.

The Horror Of Nature: The Slingjaw Wrasse

Nature is a cruel, twisted bitch; the overseer of a vast menagerie of strange and awful things. These creatures were put on this Earth to inhabit our nightmares. Witness then, the horrible distended jaws of the appropriately named Slingjaw Wrasse, filmed in excruciating slow motion so that one may fully appreciate the powerful thrust of this fish’s disgusting (or, perhaps, just lazy?) eating habits. Yes, for now they are feeding on insects, but it is only a matter of time (or a matter of a massive dose of radiation) before they develop a taste for the human brain. Evolution will take care of the rest, no doubt bestowing upon them appendages not unlike our own legs, allowing them to walk upon the land — looking every bit like a Hieronymus Bosch creation come to life — if only for long enough to crack open the soft, eggshell-like skull of a child and slurp out its contents like so much jelly. Mark my words: The time is nigh; best to wipe them out while they can only swim!

Who Are These Fish People?

An excellent question and perhaps an unexpected one; but only to those that didn’t know Steve Peterson. The science teacher at Oblong High School and head of the A/V club, Peterson was a regionally-known expert on the subject of ancient cultures — specifically fish people from Sirius. Long after the school day would end, Peterson could be found, alone, recording an extraordinary body of work that cast a critical eye on the accepted theory of the origin of life on this planet. What arose from these tapes was a revelation, a vast series of clues including ancient Egyptian art and mythology, fish hats, the Pope, and Taco Bell. Also, breasts and penises.

Those who would dismiss Peterson as insane or a mulleted quaalude user are misinformed. In the days leading up to his mysterious disappearance, Peterson mentioned to many that he was being followed; his house staked out by individuals in a windowless white van. Peterson was last seen on March 5th, 1987. A student, James Whitlock, passed him on the street and grew concerned, describing Peterson as appearing “spaced out, more than usual I mean.” Whitlock approached him and asked if everything was ok, to which Peterson responded that indeed it was and that he “just needed a burrito.”

It should be obvious, then, that Steve Peterson was no madman. No dear reader, that is merely what they want you to think. The reality is that he was simply too close to the truth and the powers that be had him removed. This is all that remains of his life’s work; his revelation. All we can do know is carry on his memory and continue to ask: Who are these fish people?

[Uploaded by Rokhausen, found by Monty.]

On to the Hexed One

Jay-Z’s hypnotic music video for the song On to the Next One was released as “the first music video of the decade” on the morning of 01/01/10. Of course, Vigilant Citizen – who you’ll remember for his incisive analysis of Lady Gaga’s true Masonic origins – was immediately on the case. Jay-Z has been on the Citizen shitlist ever since the rapper wore a “Do What Thou Wilt” shirt last August, so with the release of this video came righteous vindication and the kind of breathless analysis that causes sharp spikes in the purchasing of duct tape and canned beans amongst the site’s core readership. God-fearing truthseekers weren’t the only ones dissecting the macabre clip. In an article on Jay-Z’s ties to the art world, Slate commented on the clip’s symbols of wealth and status:

Jay-Z and the director Sam Brown jumble bluntly evocative status symbols—a bulging stack of hundreds, Armand de Brignac champagne—with more mysterious symbolism—a bell jar containing taxidermy birds, a swirling ink blot, those whipping cords (which, it bears mentioning, are lifted from the 2002 video for Interpol’s “Obstacle 1”). Some of the most memorable shots in the video are of black paint pouring down a diamond-covered skull. The skull is a replica of “For the Love of God,” a Damien Hirst sculpture that the British artist fabricated for about $30 million in 2007 and sold for a purported $100 million (to a group of investors that includes the Ukrainian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk and, oddly, Hirst himself). Like the Jaguar XJ, Hirst’s skull telegraphs extreme wealth, but that’s not all: Screaming its value while begging to be mulled over, it’s a status symbol and a puzzle in one.’

But Slate’s art-fag analysis is just part of the big cover-up, because this video’s occult powers are clearly beyond anything that even Vigilant Citizen could conceive of, as explained by Derek Jones from the Light of the Lamb Church (Mr. Jones’ breakdown is, perhaps, the true masterpiece here).

Satanic mind control issues aside, the video itself is well-played. Watching this clip is like stumbling across yet another mind-blowingly amazing, anonymous Tumblr blog where nothing is contextualized, nothing is credited, and nothing stays on top for long (hello, NOWITSDARK). Incredible images flash past your eyes as you continue to scroll down… sometimes you’ll recognize a film still or some fashion editorial from 10 months ago, but most times you have no idea, though you feverishly wish you did. You look at the image properties for a clue, and of course it’s only named something like “tumblr_kwqnmlcOoe1qa2t6ho1_500.jpg”. You will probably never know. This video captures the awed anxiety of seeing too many disembodied things in rapid succession.

The Friday Afternoon Movie: A Scanner Darkly

Today is as good as any for a mind-fuck so the FAM is proud to present 2006’s A Scanner Darkly directed by Richard Linklater and featuring a rotoscoped cast headed up by Keanu Reeves who stars as Bob Arctor, a member of a household of drug users. Arctor is also known as Fred. This is the name he goes by at work, where he is an undercover police agent assigned to the household in order to discover the source of a new drug called Substance D. Fred has, in the course of his investigation, become addicted to Substance D as well and soon his surveillance focuses on one person: Bob Arctor.

And so it goes in A Scanner Darkly. Adapted from the 1977 novel of the same name by the late, great Philip K. Dick, one of his most personal work, in many ways a record of his drug experiences in the 70s. Twisting and turning, it is also one of his most complex, a labyrinth of alter egos where people are hidden from even themselves. Linklater handles all of this with aplomb, putting together a movie that deftly trumps its source in plot presentation. As much as I have always liked A Scanner Darkly it oftentimes trips over itself in explaining events, making for more than a few passages that require multiple readings in order to suss out.

Despite any problems with plotting, it remains one of Dick’s saddest works, and one of the few novels in which he goes out of his way to create real characters with a modicum of depth. The man, for all his brilliance, never put much importance on the people that inhabit his worlds; they function merely as tour guides, escorting the reader through the fantastic universes he has created. But the story of Arctor/Fred, perhaps by dint of it being a roman à clef, manages to overcome this proclivity and in doing so presents a powerful tale of paranoia and profound loneliness.

The fate of Arctor, used, abandoned, and broken, was one that Dick witnessed far too often and he channeled that hurt and anger into a story that sets its sights on both sides of the drug debate. It is most telling, then, that in his afterward, in which he lists people he has known who have suffered serious permanent physical, mental damage, or death from drug use he lists himself as well. It is just as sad that this list, included in the ending credits of Linklater’s film, had a name added to it. The story of A Scanner Darkly never really ends.

Inflate Bra In Case Of Emergency

It could be said that women have, perhaps, not had a great time of it fashion-wise. Throughout the centuries the industry of clothing the second sex has produced bizarre and painful contraptions to push, pinch, and bind women into various, and oftentimes decidedly unnatural, shapes. Whether it be the lotus foot or high heals, corsets or neck rings there is a strange and morbid thread woven through mankind’s history.

Intermixed with this sadistic molding of flesh there is, of course, a fair share of positively ridiculous inventions designed to make all of this that much easier on the modern woman. Nowhere is this better evidenced that in the Frederick’s of Hollywood ad from 1960. Designed to accentuate the all important Bust, it proposes a simple inflation device; meaning that it supposes that women would take to inflating their bras like life rafts or water wings every morning, devoting precious time to shaping their already heaving bosoms into keen edged, yet pillowy, missiles. Of course the side effect of this is looking like the young lady in the upper left corner; surprised and chagrined when her lactation fetishist husband discovers and misinterprets her morning routine.

via vintage_ads

Friday Afternoon Movie: They Live

It’s been quite a hiatus for the FAM. Why that was, no one knows. Perhaps the FAM was in hiding, on the lam after a particularly large methamphetamine deal went decidedly South; or maybe the FAM has been kept in a dank, dingy basement for the past two or three weeks, the unwilling plaything of a cruel and demented mistress. Like I said, we’ll never know. But the FAM is back, albeit with a gaunt visage and a faraway look in its eyes. Poor, poor FAM.

To ring in its return we present to you, our adoring, viewing audience Rowdy Roddy Piper’s breakout film, They Live; directed by the one and only John Carpenter. Now, I realize that there has been a particularly heavy dose of Carpenter on the FAM as of late and, rest assured, this will be the end. For a while. Hopefully. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. They Live is the story of a young man named George Nada who comes into the possession of a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the truth lying under the surface of our perceived reality. That truth being that the world is controlled by skull-faced aliens who jerk us about like puppets through the use of hidden, subliminal messages. This lifting of the veil terrifies Mr. Nada and he is encouraged to save the human race by masticating chewing gum and “kicking ass”. He is partnered with Kieth David — who previously appeared in Mr. Carpenter’s The Thing — who plays the part of Frank Armitage. Frank Armitage is also the pseudonym that Carpenter used when he wrote the script and is also the name of a character in The Dunwich Horror by one Howard Phillips Lovecraft. The story of They Live a has equally pulpy roots, the plot being taken from both “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson, originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and a story called “Nada” from a comic entitled Alien Encounters by both FantCo and Eclipse.

It is no surprise then that They Live turned out the way it did. This is a classic sort of quick and dirty sci-fi, with brash, one-liner-spewing heroes and a central premise masquerading as social commentary. But you know what? As cheesy as They Live can be — um, Rowdy Roddy Piper stars in this — it is still fantastic, a delectable morsel of Carpenter’s truly over-the-top films that are both unabashedly silly and truly enjoyable. It is mindless, yet guilt-free entertainment and sometimes, that’s all one need.