The Long Shadow

Fade to Black

Lately I’ve been going back and watching movies from the 80s with an eye to overlooked gems that I’d somehow managed to miss all these years.

A lot of Gen X and Gen Y folks look back on the 80s as a Silver Age–a George Lucas remake of the Golden Age that was the 1950s. Millennials are more likely to regard 80s culture as problematic. They still allowed jokes at homosexuals’ expense in movies back then, don’t ya know?

What pops out at you once the veneer of nostalgia wears off is how subversive 80s Hollywood already was. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be surprising. Despite Star Wars taking pop culture by storm and reaffirming the traditions of the pulps, the studios were still beholden to the 70s hippie influx.

The two 80s films I’ve watched most recently bring up a fascinating aspect of Hollywood’s campaign to propagandize moviegoers. The first is Fade to Black, a slasher flick from 1980, and Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy released two years later.

Fade to Black is a schlock horror film that’s way better than it has any right to be. It nabbed Vernon Zimmerman a Saturn Award nomination, but it would have ended up as Best of the Worst fodder if not for its lead actor’s performance.

In case you haven’t seen it, The King of Comedy is Martin Scorsese’s character study/caper film about an aspiring comic played by Robert De Niro who kidnaps a fictionalized version of Johnny Carson played by Jerry Lewis.

Both movies share a striking similarity. Their protagonists are both socially awkward fans of famous entertainers whose fantasies spiral out of control and lead them to commit serious crimes.

In The King of Comedy, an A list comedian gets kidnapped. In Fade to Black, a scummy producer gets murdered, and an aspiring actress is kidnapped.

At first I found Hollywood’s portrayal of movie fans as potentially violent nerds puzzling. Then I remembered that Hollywood hates its own audience. Yes, even in the more innocent 80s, film makers regarded moviegoers with fear and contempt.

Dennis Christopher’s Eric Binford is the portrait of an omega male. He lives in his shrewish mother’s attic, works a dead-end job, and has no social life. There’s nothing to recommend him except for his encyclopedic knowledge of movie trivia. Today he’d be moderating /r/movies.

De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin lives in his mother’s basement. He has no visible source of income, his only friend is a crazed female stalker, and he has a raging case of oneitis for a former cheerleader from high school. His delusions of grandeur approach the level of psychotic breaks.

Why did Zimmerman and Scorsese portray their fans this way? This was the insight that fascinated me. Both directors were showing us how they–and the rest of Hollywood–see their audience.

And they’ve been telling us since at least the 1980s. The poz casts a long shadow.

To the shameless pimps in Hollywood, we are weak, pathetic, unattractive losers. But they’re painfully aware that they depend on us to maintain their lavish lifestyle, and they hate us for it. They also fear that one day, we’ll realize they hate us and pull the plug on their nonstop party.

Another question presents itself. If Hollywood is afraid we’ll wake up to the fact that they hate us, why make movies revealing their hatred?

Why do open borders proponents proudly declare that they want to turn the whole country into California? Why do intersectionalists openly fantasize about killing straight, white, Christian men?

Towering, diabolical pride is a defining feature of the Left. Like the serial killer who gets a rush from sending clues to the police, the death cultists get off on explaining their dastardly schemes to their intended victims.

It’s not like they have much of a disincentive. A defining feature of Conservatism has been its puzzling refusal to take the Left’s admissions of its goals seriously.

What about you, dear reader? Now that you know Hollywood detests you as an ineffectual, oblivious nebbish, are you still inclined to pay for their elaborately produced insults?

As a member of Hollywood’s IATSE union recently advised:

Make the money dry up.

Stop going to the movie theaters.

Stop using the products they pimp.

Stop paying to be entertained. 

Now, being an entertainer who respects and cherishes his audience, I would edit the last line to read, “Stop paying to be insulted.” If you want to pay honest creators interested only in providing you with a fun time, more power to you.

On a related note, the crowdfunder for the imminent sequel to my mech adventure Combat Frame XSeed has less than two days left.

Don’t miss your chance to get the book before its official launch and claim sweet perks like exclusive trading cards, signed books, and short story commissions. Back Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40 now!

Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40

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