The Thrill of Shitty Movies

Fuck it.  I had a post all written called “My Name is Not Jesus and I Never Promised I’d Be Perfect” all about some bullshit that’s been annoying me, but I can’t bring myself to finish it because I keep losing interest.

The truth is that it seems to be human nature to make up standards you expect particular people to hold to and then to get pissed when they don’t.  And what can you do about it if you’re the person who’s being held to the undisclosed standards?  Not much.

So, you know, what the fuck?

Instead, I want to talk about why I love shitty movies, because, boys and girls, I do love me some shitty movies.

Seriously, I could sit through four shitty made-for-Sci-Fi channel movies before I sat through, say, “Steel Magnolias” even once.

And why?

Because I suspect that shitty movies are kind of expressions of our collective desires and anxieties and, because they’re so shitty, they don’t pretend to be anything other than that.

Take the “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” movies, especially the one I watched last night.  It doesn’t take a film degree to see that those movies are about the dangers of misreading or misinterpreting a situation.  One doesn’t have to be a genius to see that they’re about anxiety about women’s sexuality.

And so, it seems to me that, because you can dismiss so easily with figuring out what the subtext is, you can spend more time trying to figure out what’s going on in the subtext.  What exactly, for instance, is it about women’s sexuality that is so anxiety producing?

In the “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” movies, having sex or wanting to have sex makes men vulnerable to the point of death.  Women are draining and not what they seem.  They can devour you and turn you into something you aren’t normally.  They come between men.

Those aren’t hard themes to spot.

I don’t have to think too hard in order to be rewarded.  And I don’t have to wonder if I’m right because the truth is pretty self-evident.

From Dusk Til Dawn III

So, last night I was watching From Dusk til Dawn III and I have questions.

1.  It wouldn’t take much to make this a better movie, so why didn’t they?

2.  Ambrose Bierce.  Why did he see his doppleganger in the bar?

3.  Why, in a movie so nicely beautiful, are the vampires so ugly and cheesy?

4.  What was the boy Christian’s back story?  I ended up liking him.

5.  I totally missed the girl outlaw’s death.  When did that happen?

6.  Just Ambrose Bierce in general.  Who disappears in Chihuahua, Mexico?  It just seems unseemly.

Marriage as Sacrifice

This morning, as I was walking Mrs. Wigglebottom around the neighborhood and contemplating various things, I got to wondering about gay marriage.

If churches would still be able to define marriage any way they wanted–marriage in our church must be between Catholics only; marriages in our church must be between members only; we frown on interracial marriages; we disapprove of second marriages; etc.–then what does it matter how the state defines marriage?

How, exactly, is a secular straight marriage “ruined” by a secular gay marriage?

I had an idea, though, on my walk about tattoos.

There was a time not so long ago when people who had tattoos were outside of the mainstream of society in some way.  They were bikers or Marines or carnies or whatever.  The point is that they were doing something most people didn’t do and it made them visibly special.

The tattoo had meaning not just because of what it looked like, or the pain withstood in order to get one, but because having one set you apart.  It meant that you were a badass, willing to sacrifice in order to wear that ink.

Nowdays, tattoos are ubiquitous.  If your grandma goes out and gets a tattoo, you might think it’s cool or you might not like it, but you don’t think that your grandma has gone off and become a carnie.

On the one hand, the rise in popularity of the tattoo is nice, because it means that people who wanted tattoos before but didn’t want to send the “badass” message can now get them.  But on the other hand, it clearly means that the “badass” message is not completely obvious when one sees a tattoo.

I wonder how much of this feeds into our thoughts on marriage (not just gay marriage, but open marriage, and polygamy).  If marriage is, to many of the people in it, a sign of sacrifice, “Yes, I gave up other sex partners and I stopped looking for other loves and I pushed out of my mind the question of whether I’m happy with you or could have been happy with someone of my same gender and I have made a commitment to you that I will try to keep until we are both dead, whether or not I still love you at that point–I made this commitment that means I gave up other shit I might have liked better,” then it has value because of that sacrifice.

Do you see what I’m saying?

I think, for many people, marriage is not just a sign of their commitment to their partner, but also a sign of them turning their back on other possibilities.  And that turning their back seems like a noble sacrifice.

But if we understand straight marriage in this way, I think we can start to understand the opposition to gay marriage. 

Why is gay marriage a threat to straight marriage?

One, because it suggests that you don’t have to sacrifice major parts of yourself in order to be married.  Not to get sidetracked but can’t you see how the “marriage as great sacrifice” meme gets played out every time some jackass says, “Gays can get married.  They can marry women just like the rest of us.”?  In other words, since marriage is not first and foremost about love and caring for the person you’re with, but instead about sacrifice, why can’t gay people just make great sacrifice, too?  But if gay people can marry who they want without having to sacrifice great parts of themselves, it suggests that no one has to do that.  Marry who you want; make arrangements that suit you.

But two, and I believe that two, though it goes hand in hand with one, is more crucial for understanding the secular opposition to gay marriage, two is that, if people can marry who they want in arrangements that please them, I believe it makes straight people who thought that marriage was about sacrifice feel incredibly stupid.  Here they were making choices that were designed to show how much they were willing to offer up to marriage, even if it meant that they’d be vaguely unhappy most of their lives, when all along they could have chosen to marry who they wanted and worked out an arrangement that pleased them.

And people will tolerate a lot, but they don’t tolerate feeling like they’ve been made fools of.  And what would be more foolish than to marry in order to show your willingness to sacrifice the things that made you happy when you could have married because you are delighted in the person you’re marrying?