Disney Movies: Experts at Scarring Children for Life

Someone asked me if I was excited about the new Dumbo movie.  I had to restrain myself from responding with one or more of the following:

“I would rather replace every strip of bacon I eat with a similarly sized strip of duct tape that was used to pick hairs up from a crime scene that occurred on a bus station bathroom floor.”

“I would rather be locked in a room with Adam Levine (who I prefer to refer to as “Gonorrhea Jesse Pinkman”) and forced to listen to him wax philosophical about his ab routine for three days straight.”

“I would rather go back in time and replace every Love Boat cast member with a Kardashian/Jenner.  Kylie is the new Gopher!”

But, oh no!  You can’t be honest in those situations!  People get all, “Geez!  Sorry I asked!”

You know, people claim to want honesty above all else, but I can tell you from experience, the last thing most people want from you is honesty.  What people really want is for you to agree with them.

And you know what I don’t agree with?

Subjecting myself to Dumbo for a second time in my life.

Yeah, I saw it when I was five years old, and that was frankly more than enough to emotionally scar me for life.  The only way you could make me watch the re-make is if you were to put me in a straitjacket and hold my eyes open a la A Clockwork Orange.  Even then, I would just try to use The Force to choke myself unconscious.

Don’t act like I’m the only adult who still tries to use The Force.  I attempt it at least a few times a week when presented with “unpleasant situations” in public.  It hasn’t worked yet, but I swear last week a guy in front of me in the Walgreens line started to loosen his top collar button to get some air when he asked for a raincheck on a sale item during rush hour.  Had he turned around at that moment, he would have seen me doing this:

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He continued breathing air despite my righteous efforts of justice, happy as a raincheck-clam to torture all of the people he was holding up in line.  I could deal with it if it were some poor little old lady in a muu-muu and knee-highs, but this guy walked outside in his fancy golf outfit and suede driving moccasins and climbed into his S-Class Mercedes, raincheck in-hand for two canisters of almonds.

I pictured him sitting at a table later that night at Long John Silver’s, complaining that the seafood “just simply wasn’t up to snuff”.  THEN GO TO A REAL SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, JOHN “BUDDY” REGINALD RUTHERFORD-WINCHESTER III.  You clearly have the money and are just playing mind games with the rest of us!  You can pay full price for almonds, you rich prick!

In case you’re wondering, The Force also doesn’t work on making the tires of an S-Class Mercedes explode and rain down from the sky in hot tar ashes onto the tops of someone’s suede driving moccasins.  I place equal blame for that one on: (a) my rejection letter from Jedi school, and (b) quality German engineering.

Back to the Dumbo thing.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then first of all, sorry, and second, you know I was an anxious worry-wort of a child.  A nervous wreck.  A real Sensitive Sally.  I didn’t really require supplemental things to worry about.

So imagine my surprise, sitting in front of a television screen, kindergarten-dangly-legs-happy to see “the cute elephant movie”, when Dumbo appears on the screen, gets mercilessly tormented by all the other circus animals, his mother defends him, and then she gets taken away from him and locked up in a cage, leaving Dumbo to fend for himself in a harsh, cruel world.

Hey you know what I shouldn’t have had to worry about when I was a kid?  My mother being taken away from me and locked up, leaving me alone to traverse a cruel world.  I don’t care if it works out in the end – little kids shouldn’t have to worry about those things.  Yes, sometimes it happens, mothers get locked up, kids get taken away, but worrying about it in advance will do absolutely nothing beneficial for you as a kid.

Same with Bambi.  Kids shouldn’t have to worry about their mothers getting shot by hunters.  How about we just let them cross that bridge when it happens and address it at that time, because odds are pretty damn good that it’s not going to happen in the first place?  In the meantime you’re just terrifying children for no good reason.

If you want to teach kids about things like life and death, forego the Disney films and get them a hamster, and then never, ever, ever, ever, ever let them actually hold the hamster, because having to watch a child hold a hamster is the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever experienced.

You know what?  No hamsters.  Get them a fish with a locking lid on the tank, put barbed wire around the outside of the tank, and keep the tank in a locked room that the kid can never get into.

Children around small pets is just too much for me.  I can’t take it.

“Look how cute Bryson/Greyson/Flotsam is holding the baby chick!”

GET THAT CHICK AWAY FROM THAT KID RIGHT THIS SECOND. I KNOW HE’S SQUEEZING IT.

So, no.  I’m not seeing the new Dumbo movie.

The Bad Corey

I used to have a special gift for finding the biggest project in the room.  The insufferable, destructive ass hat.  The one that was equal parts narcissist, emotional trainwreck, unemployable, and leather pants.

Any time a guy would walk into a party backwards, still peeing on the front porch, zip up and drop a cigarette from his mouth onto the carpet, and grind it out with the heel of his boot while yelling, “It’s not my fault you were dumb enough to put white carpet in here!” my ass hat spidey-sense would go off and the little hairs on the back of my neck would stand at attention.

Then some random girl would walk up to him, throw her drink in his face for some unrelated reason and storm out the door, and I would think, “Well, this is obviously the guy for me.”

Had I known back then that I could cut out the middle-man known as “Misplaced Hope”, I would have just walked straight up to any of these types of guys and said, “So where do I fill out an application to worship you, pay all your bills, have you steal money from me and then cheat on me with one or more of my friends?  I am accustomed to disappointment from every man I’ve ever known and, on a subconscious level that I won’t uncover for many years, your brand is as comfortable and familiar to me as a mother’s perfume is to her child.  Maybe I can fix the past by fixing YOU!”

Like so many girls who sprang forth into adolescence headfirst down a hole of despair and emotional depravity, it all started with The Bad Corey.

This may come as a big surprise to you (except not at all because hello), but in the late 80s I was all the way into The Coreys.

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That would be Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, in case you’re not familiar, and if you’re not familiar, I don’t even know where to start with you.  Maybe somebody is offering Remedial Corey classes at your local night school.  I highly suggest you bone up on this information, because it will be on the test.

Calculators are only permitted for the “Box Office” portion of The Coreys Test, where you will have to figure out how much money the “Meatballs” movie franchise lost when they cast Corey Feldman in “Meatballs 4″, a classic sequel to a sequel to a sequel, as the “hottest water-skiing instructor in town.”

I don’t know how that conversation went around the producers’ table, but I assume it started and ended with, “Let’s do this thing!  Oh god kill me now please please kill me what has my life become.” <sound of Drano being chugged>

It’s not one of the better Corey movies.  All Corey movies are graded on a curve, by the way.  It’s not fair to grade them against “other movies”, or what some people refer to as “good movies”.  It’s only fair to grade Corey movies against other Corey movies.

Were you your best Corey in this film today?

Could you have Corey-ed it up some more?

What did I learn about Corey in this movie that I didn’t already know?

I tell you what, though, and I seriously, seriously am not even remotely kidding here.  Corey Feldman should have won the goddamned Oscar for his performance as “Teddy”, the abused kid with the burned-off ear in “Stand By Me”.

When he calmly informs the junk man, who’s insulting his father for being crazy, “My father stormed the beach at Normandy,” before eventually exploding into threats and tears as the boys drag him away from the junkyard, it GUTS me.  Give it a re-watch and see if you can make it through the emotional complexity of that really terribly abused kid actually defending his abusive father without wanting to just die inside.

Yes, of course I read his autobiography, “Corey-ography”, so knowing how badly Corey Feldman was abused in real life as a kid, that scene makes me want to curl into a ball on his behalf.  That may have just been a scene in a movie, but that abused kid in that scene was very, very real.  That’s a hell of a big ask for a kid on a movie set, and I can only imagine how tapping into whatever he had to tap into to pull off that scene must have torn him to shreds.  He was just a kid, for god’s sake.  That would have hurled most adults into a 72-hour hold.

Hey dramatic departure!  Let’s lighten it up a bit, huh?

You didn’t really have a choice in the matter when it came to loving Coreys in the 80s – they were everywhere.  You would never ask a twelve year old girl if she was into The Coreys.  You just asked her which one.

Now, you would think with all my gushing over Corey Feldman in “Stand By Me”, that would mean that my Corey of choice was Corey Feldman, but you’d be wrong.  Despite being the long-haired Corey, the bad attitude Corey, and the damaged Corey, there was someone far, far, far more damaged.

Someone who seemed to be a shiny, jangly, pretty boy, who later turned out to be a bottomless pit of screaming, soul-ripping darkness.

Corey Haim, for his pretty boy face and the adorable smile that made America fall in love with him in movies like “Lucas” and “The Lost Boys”, would surprisingly end up becoming The Bad Corey.

I always liked cute Corey, sweet Corey, Corey who just wanted to take Heather Graham out on a nice date in “License to Drive”.  I liked him just fine.  But the moment The Bad Corey publicly emerged?  Goodbye to Sandra Dee.

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Tell me about it, stud.

I remember the moment it went from a “like” of Corey Haim to a “love”.  It was in the old movie theater down the street from my house, watching “Dream a Little Dream”, and my formerly sweet-faced, blonde highlighted Corey Haim, the one with the cute smile where his lip kinda curled up at the corner like Elvis (and don’t even get me started on Elvis), the Corey with the clean jeans and high-tops, appeared onscreen before me, looking like this:

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Smoking cigarettes?  Check.  Hair dyed an unnatural color?  Check.  Ludicrous clothing and accesssories?  Check.  Foul-mouthed?  Oh god.  Check.  The pasty, lifeless complexion of a person who is clearly on drugs?  (angel harp music) Check.

My Corey?

My Corey had blossomed into The Bad Corey.

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I got chiiiiiiiiiiiills, they’re multiplyin’. And I’m loooooooooooosing control-olll.  ‘Cause the power, you’re supplyin’, it’s electri-OH MY GOD LET ME SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF.

What was that?  LET ME SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF?

You know that’s the one, right?  That line?  That’s the one that leads so many women down that road.  “Fixing the broken guy” road.  “Giving him a reason to live” road.  “Being the one who makes him see that the love and devotion of a woman will make him stop destroying himself” road.

The alternate name for this road is, “You will spend a lot of time and money in therapy after this guy has ruined your life.  You cannot fix a broken past by breaking your future.”

I don’t know if I can adequately express to you just how much I do not recommend this road, especially when “Nice Guy Who Doesn’t Snort Prescription Diet Pills Because His Coke Dealer is in Lock-Up” roads are also nearby, and won’t cause the kind of wear-and-tear on you that will leave you stranded on the side of life’s highway with an empty wallet and a vaguely itchy crotch.

I’m not going to tell you these roads are always easy to find, sometimes you just have to get lucky, but as my therapist told me in not so many words many years ago, they’re much easier to find if you stop driving your car in circles around Sodom and Gomorrah with a bullhorn out the window shouting, “Free girlfriend, money, psychiatrist, and laundry service here!  Standards nonexistent!”

And I won’t even charge you a co-pay for that bit of counseling, sister.

A Dumpster-Possum in Dick-Pants: We Revisit “Dirty Dancing”

I watched Dirty Dancing last week for, I don’t know, the 580th time in my life?  I’ve written many “hot takes” on it over the years, so I didn’t expect to have any new takes on it this time around, but what do you know?  A new one presented itself, and here it is:

Johnny Castle is the ultimate pick-up artist, and should be killed with a rock.

Now, if you know anything about modern pick-up artistry, it’s that you should be really mean to the girl and she will then go hog-wild for you.  It’s called “negging”, meaning that you say negative and mean things to the girl and bludgeon her self-esteem until she feels like such a lowly loser that she’s willing to lower her standards to sleep with a goddamned lowly loser like you.  It’s a really mature way to conduct your life, and Johnny Castle is apparently an expert at it.

I was nearly halfway through this movie when I realized that Johnny hadn’t said a single kind word to Baby since the moment they met.  Not one!  Also, within moments of their first meeting, he rubs his very adult wiener on her teenage body under the guise of “dancing”.  Without asking.  So there’s that.  Does she walk away from the experience thinking he’s a gross pervert?  Nope!  She stumbles away, drunk on his boundless, vagabond wiener and craving for more, further proving my theory that older men like young women because young women are so stupid.

Thereafter, things that Baby then does to impress Johnny (who is NEVER nice to her) include, but are not limited to:

(a) Lying to her own father so she can borrow an exorbitant amount of money in 1960s dollars to pay for Johnny’s friend Penny’s back-alley abortion.  For this favor, Johnny repays Baby by insulting her, acting like a passive-aggressive dick while swigging a beer and looking in the opposite direction, and then incredulously telling Penny that she should take the money anyway.  He’s a real king of the “no-win situation”, which is a classic narcissist move.  Oh, you wish there were some way to pay for this abortion, but there isn’t one.  Oh, there IS one?  Oh, it’s not in the form of payment I was hoping for, so fuck you, teenage girl who’s only trying to help!  Oh, Penny, why aren’t you taking this money that I just insulted the very notion of?  Bitches be crazy!  (Note, he is the only person who is acting crazy.)

(b) Bails his ass out filling in for Penny by learning how to do a complicated mambo routine on a moment’s notice for the sole purpose of him being able to keep his standing gig at the Sheldrake Hotel performing the mambo once a year.  How much money could this possibly pay to make it worth the hassle?  It’s a 2 minute dance routine that happens once a year!  What is it?  Ten bucks?  While training for this dance routine, Johnny acts like a total dick 100% of the time to Baby.  A total dick.  He rolls his eyes, he huffs, he literally yells at her, day after day.  He only starts kinda-sorta being nice to her while she’s changing in the backseat of the car and he’s trying to spy on her nudeness with the rearview mirror.  And after completing her dance assignment, does he say, “You’re amazing” or “You’re the best”?  Nope!  He says, “You did real good.”  While being a peeping tom.  Oh, be still my heart!  Baby stands to gain zero from volunteering for this mambo assignment by the way, besides the possibility of gaining a super virulent form of herpes.  They should change the name of this movie to Unsanitary Dancing.

(c) Risking her relationship with her father in order to save Penny’s life after the abortion goes wrong (surprise plot device!).  While it appears that Johnny is grateful that Baby went and retrieved her father in the middle of the night to save Penny, he ultimately repays her for the favor by putting his very adult wiener into her teenage body.  Because nothing says, “Thanks for saving my friend’s life, teenage girl!” like making hot, sweet unprotected love to her on a dusty cot.  I don’t care if she made the first move.  She’s a teenager and he’s a grown man for god’s sake!  Later, he gives her a compliment by telling her that her real name “Frances” is a “real grown-up name”.  I know when I am lying in bed in a post-coital state, what I really want to hear are condescending observations about my birth name.  I also assume that by pointing out that her real name is “real grown-up”, this means she’s “aged out” for him.  Bring on the Tiffanys!

(d) Admits to everyone at the hotel that she let Johnny give her the hot beef injection, in order to provide him with an alibi for Mo Pressman’s wallet going missing, thereby wrecking everything for her and her family, but keeping Johnny out of jail (for the time being).  I’m pretty sure jail is an inevitability in life for Johnny, what with all of the uninvited wiener-rubbing on teenage girls combined with his sporadic-at-best employment. Baby has basically just hit the snooze button on his eventual incarceration, at the expense of her relationship with her family.

Then Johnny leaves like, “LATER!”

At the end of the movie, he comes back and says a couple of nice things about her – in public, even!  Then he immediately undoes this kindness by rubbing his wiener on her some more, but this time in front of her mother and father, because what girl doesn’t want her parents to see that?  And I tell you what, the folks LOVE it.  Because every parent wants to see the human equivalent of a dumpster-possum in dick-pants grind all over their intelligent, Seven Sisters college- and Peace Corps-bound teenage daughter.  You name one parent who doesn’t want that.  One!  Go ahead.  I’m waiting.