& Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Jan. 10, 2001
I am currently enrolled in an advanced placement politics class and because
of your waste-of-cyberspace website, our final project is an essay based on
the governments of Mad Max's ridiculously retarded world. Our teacher
informed us that he got the idea from a website filled with essays on the
topic, but I can only assume that he did not bother to read any of these
essays because I did, and I must say that they are complete bullsh-t. All
you did was summarize the movie and throw in a few words you looked up in a
thesaurus. In closing, I must say that you have wasted a good deal of your
time and mine in creating this website and I wish you a most unpleasant
future. You suck.
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Dec. 26, 2000
I am enjoying your website a great deal. It is truly wonderful!
Now, in spirit of sincere scientific inquiry, I would like to raise a few points about your interpretation of the movie THEM. (It was a great favorite of mine when I was a boy in the '60s.)
I believe that the expository myth behind Them that you expound is in fact another layer of repression. The film is not so much a symbolic representation of a good dynamic versus a bad dynamic (the struggle from the unhealthy fecal-parental identification toward a healthier adult parental identification), but rather a symbolism of the adolescent/societal imperative to conceal Oedipal issues -- in other words, the denial of the incestuous father/daughter relationship portrayed by Pat and Harold Medford.
Ask the following:
1. Granted that the ant queen represents "mother", where is "mother" missing in the human family structure of the characters? Answer: The missing Mrs. Medford, mother of Dr. Pat and wife of Dr. Harold. She has been conveniently absented from the exclusive relationship between father and daughter. Father and daughter both bear the title "doctor". Dr. and Dr. Medford is a nearly transparent expression of Mr. and Mrs. We are to take father and daughter as a couple, acting as if man and wife.
2. What is really symbolized by the big atomic blast in the desert "nine years earlier"? Answer: The inception/consummation (real or imagined) of the incestuous father/daughter relationship. Given the approximate age of Pat Medford, "nine years earlier" would have put her at the age of early to mid adolescence and budding sexuality. The atomic blast is also, by means of projection forward, the feared searing, all-destroying consequences of the revelation of the father-daughter incest. Both past event and future consequence of that event fall under the symbolism of the destroying (and horror propagating) explosion.
3. Why has the fecal-monster-mother returned from the grave, arisen from the sewers, returned from the desert? Answer: To reveal the father/daughter incest.
4. Why must the monster-mother be stopped at all costs? Answer: To protect the destructive secret of the father-daughter incest.
5. Who is Agent Graham? Answer: He is a "sanitized" (age appropriate and non-family) version of the Father. He is literally the father's "agent" -- stand-in, substitute, representative, disguised double. To quote you:
Finally, only after the persecuting mother is destroyed ...
does Pat Medford express a romantic interest in Agent
Graham. They become a couple and will presumably now start
In other words, once the monster-mother and the secret she was trying to reveal have been "destroyed" -- thrust back into the unconscious -- is it safe for the incestuous father/daughter relationship to continue, only now under the mask of new identity for the father, which serves as an added layer of security to hide the nature of the relationship from the avenging monster-mother.
Even the title of the film, the cryptic Them, which on the surface should refer to the ants, is really like the avenging ghost-mother pointing at the guilty couple and screaming "THEM! Look at them! The guilty ones!"
The reason the audience is relieved at the end of a film like Them is simply because the destructive unconscious material has been successfully repressed. The urge to reveal the truth (that all sexual relationships are continuations of incestuous relationships) has been thwarted and society is safe again. The world is spared. The real psychic horror in the progress of such a plot is generated by the nearness to the surface of this revelation. The more obvious fecal- monster-terror of the ant-mother is just a surface blind to conceal the deeper and unacceptable psychic horror of incest. In a way, your recital of fecal shapes and intestinal mazes (while all quite valid, I hasten to add) act as a smoke screen for the real points of near-revelation, which all lie in the interactions between father and daughter, and the reaction of father toward monster-mother, and father toward his future agent, and that agent toward father and daughter. Dwelling on the (non-human) fecal/anal stage nature of the mother-symbol (along with a great number of anal abstractions and generalizations drawn from that symbolism) allows the audience to disregard the far more "dangerous" Oedipal stage symbolism embodied in the human characters. I think this is why monster movies and horror movies and science fiction stories are so satisfying to adolescent and juvenile minds -- and relatively less appealing to more mature minds -- because they present early anal/oral/genital stage symbols in rather obvious forms that deflect the attention away from more troubling Oedipal stage concerns. These movies are "fun" on a surface level because most healthy adolescents have resolved their primary anal/oral/genital issues to a point where they are not very disturbed on a psychic level by their portrayal on screen. And such stories are reassuring to the adolescent mind on a psychic level because potentially disturbing Oedipal issues are successfully repressed or avoided entirely.
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August 3, 1999
Excuse me if this is a gross misunderstanding of
transparency, but I believe that the recently cancelled television show
"Mystery Science Theater 3000" is relevant to the site.
"Mystery Science Theater 3000" deals with a man who is sent to
space with two robots and forced to watch lousy movies to see how they
weaken his reserves. His entire world is constructed out of consumer
garbage. The robots are constructed of gumball machines, seat cushions,
and Tupperware. The satellite he is stuck on is constructed of such
things as Hungry-Hungry Hippo Games and Darth Vader masks. Even his
captors are mad scientists; stereotypes from popular fiction. One of the
scientists even calls himself TV's Frank. The human is stuck there.
There is no escape from pop culture, so he attempts to attack it. The
robots and him make-fun of the movies they are shown, and make jokes at
pop culture's expense. When they aren't watching movies, they talk
briefly. They aren't given much time to talk because they get a
"commercial sign" which rules over their life. Their
discussions even revolve around pop culture, where they alternately
celebrate it and question it. During one host segment the bots and the
"host" as he calls himself, another television reference,
question the fact that old sitcoms always had widowers and never
divorcees. However, they can never fully repel against pop culture
because they are it. The original host was Joel Hodgon, but he changed
his name to "Joel Robinson" in tribute to "Lost in
Space." So, even the human captor is the product of consumer
culture. To top things off, one of the robots is named Cambot, a living
camera (which has no apparent emotions or personality unlike the other
robots) who is their only link to the outside world.
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On Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:
January 03, 1999
I've always wanted to know what the "bust a
deal and face the wheel"
wheel's choices were. Using a digitizer, I was able to read the
following choices on the wheel:
But there are two more choices on the wheel I couldn't make out.
Do you know them??
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July 4, 2000
Zardoz was made in 1974, directed by John Boorman and starred Sean
Connery. It was set in a future in which a group of superior beings (The
Immortals) have separated themselves with a bubble from the brutish,
primitive inferior beings. The superior beings have become effete and
bored with their immortality and have become sterile. When the Sean
Connery character sneaks into the bubble he changes everything. The
final scene was haunting to me when I first saw it and utilizes the
second movement of Beethoven's 7th symphony to provide the soundtrack
for the depiction of the progression of life (aging, birth, death, etc.)
which the immortals ultimately embrace. I cannot hear Beethoven's 7th
without thinking of that scene.
It has been described as a sci-fi version of Nietzsche's philosophy.
Sean Connery represents the Ubermensch. It has direct relevance to today
with respect to the current pursuit of eternal youth.
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August 3, 1999
I just wanted to say that I hope you all are doing an
article about The Blair Witch Project because it is certainly one of the
most potent examples of simulated reality ever-- not just the movie
itself, but the website, "documentary," and other publicity
stunts designed to create the impression that the events of the film are
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August 8, 1999
I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoy the essays on your site,
particularly the ones on post-apocalyptic fiction. Its good to see
something intelligent surfacing on the internet every now and then.
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I was wondering if you are going to
analyze the movie "What is the Matrix?" It's so close to The
Futurological Congress -including the scene with the two pills -which, if
I'm not mistaken, takes part between Ijon Tichy and his sort of girlfriend
in the book- and the speech by Lawrence Fishburne -parallel to Prof.
Have you realized that movies about this
main theme -what is "real"- are trendy?
BTW, have you considered doing a review
on Kung Fu, the original series?