#3. The Shining: Jack Nicholson Doesn't Care About Indian People
What You Think You're Watching
A horror film about a frustrated writer who loses his marbles while working at an isolated hotel in Colorado. Said writer tries to kill his family as he cackles a catchphrase from a popular American talk show.
The caretaker's wife and son come to represent Native Americans, and murderous Jack Torrance is whitey.
According to some theorists, Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film The Shining is brimming with messages about violence against Native Americans. Right from the beginning, the manager of the Overlook Hotel lets us know, yeah, the hotel was totally built over the massacred bodies of indigenous people. In fact, we're told that builders actually had to fight off Indians while it was being constructed in 1907, despite the fact that the likelihood of anyone having to battle Indians in Colorado in 1907 would have been about as high as the likelihood of having to fight off Sasquatch.
Unless there was some sort of territorial spat with a nearby casino.
So there's that. But then as you watch the movie, you can't help but notice that the entire place is decorated with a Native American motif, including a Navajo wall hanging that has a decapitated bison head right next to it. And Jack Nicholson's character has a fun time repeatedly throwing a ball at the hanging, just in case you didn't get the hint that he's there to symbolically fuck Indians over.
"Fuck you, indigenous peoples!"
But maybe that's just a coincidence. That stuff was probably just there in the hotel they shot the movie in. But we're not done.
In the first half of the film, when Torrance is still relatively free of Hotel Ghost Syndrome, both his wife and son dress in a series of outfits that all prominently feature patriotic shades of red and blue.
But once Torance starts going loco, his wardrobe becomes red and blue ...
When they remake it, Torrance will dress up as a cavalryman and his wife will catch smallpox.
... while his wife's suddenly morphs into more earthy colors, with the exception of her screaming-yellow TEEPEE JACKET:
The wife and child, who entered as Americans, have been transformed by the hotel's epic vengeance issues into victims. Meanwhile, crazified Torrance wanders into a (ghost) party, where he randomly repeats the words "white man's burden" to the bartender before going into the red-and-white striped bathroom ...
... and making racist comments with the former (ghost) caretaker. After that, it doesn't take long until Torrance is running after his family with an ax and murdering the movie's only nonwhite character:
His family, having learned a valuable lesson about violence and clothing-based patriotism, escapes. Meanwhile, according to the film's final scene, Torrance is living on in his hotel ball. Forever.
Oh, and one more patriotic touch for the psychotic Torrance. Note the date:
#2. The Dark Knight: George W. Bush is the Batman
What You Think You're Watching
Christopher Nolan's super-dark sequel to Batman Begins. This time Batman teams up with Gotham lawmen, including district attorney Harvey Dent, to fight his new nemesis, the Joker.
Batman's actions during the film mirror the actions of President Bush after 9/11.
Back in 2008, when The Dark Knight was released, America was still on the tail end of the Bush presidency. So it wasn't hard for a few people to see a superhero parable of our own commander in chief in the story. The first clue is Batman's adversary, the Joker. While most comic-based villains are given to grandiose plans involving firing lasers at the moon, the Joker blows up civilian buildings ...
... tricks his minions into suicide missions and even threatens a suicide bombing himself. The guy even uses a cell phone-operated IED.
We're just getting started.
To combat this terrorism, the Batman kidnaps a crime lord using a procedure that strongly resembles extraordinary rendition, in which suspected terrorists are abducted and transported from one nation to another in a not-quite-legal way. Bruce Wayne develops a "government contract" that uses sonar images from civilians' cell phones to fight crime -- HELLO wiretapping privileges granted by the PATRIOT ACT.
And then there's the whole observation that Wayne is perceived as a perpetual party boy screwup who kind of inherited, and then squandered, everything he's got.
And even if you're not buying the Bruce Wayne = George Bush bit, one writer made a pretty compelling argument that the Dark Knight is actually Dick Cheney. Consider this quote Cheney made immediately after 9/11:
"We also have to work through, sort of, the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful."
Sounds pretty Batmanny if you ask us.
Bat signals fuck with his pace-maker, though.
#1. Drag Me to Hell: Eating Disorders Are Not Awesome
What You Think You're Watching
A horror movie about a young, ambitious woman cursed by an old gypsy lady. The curse, apparently, is all about getting the young lady (Christine) into Hell, but not before she gets to endure levels of torture previously experienced only by Bruce Campbell.
This guy has all the fun.
Oh, Christine is cursed, all right. Cursed with a fat ass! Just kidding; she's got an eating disorder.
At first glance, the plot of the 2009 horror film Drag Me to Hell seems straightforward. The pretty blonde protagonist tries to impress her boss by refusing to grant a bank loan extension to an ethnic stereotype. Ethnic stereotype curses the girl with a goat-legged demon called a Lamia, which haunts her for three days before pulling her down into the netherworld's eternal embrace, as ethnic stereotypes are apt to do.
But some people see a whole other layer to this story. Christine bakes and brings food to others, drinking coffee and water while other characters eat lunch.
She lies about her eating habits (telling her boyfriend that she is lactose-intolerant and then eating ice cream without getting sick). The movie also informs us several times that Christine used to weigh a lot more: There's a picture of her as an overweight child next to a sign reading "Pork Queen ..."
... and a woman tells Christine that she can tell just by looking at her that she used to be fat.
The shoulders give her away.
See where this is going? If not, then note that almost all of Christine's demon-curse problems involve either eating, stuff being forced down her throat or vomiting. Various hell-creatures throw up on her ...
... an old lady twice attempts to eat her face ...
... a possessed scarf tries to force its way down her throat ...
... and a piece of cake starts oozing bodily fluids when she finally tries to eat something.
The main villain, Mrs. Ganush, has horribly damaged teeth and nails which Christine is constantly seeing visions of. Hair loss and teeth and nail damage are all symptoms of eating disorders, bulimia in particular. And, uh, this happens:
Watch carefully, and you'll notice that the movie treats Christine's demon problems like they aren't actually real. When she suffers a violent nosebleed that sends blood spurting all over her workplace, her co-workers don't scream "DID YOU PUNCTURE A NOSE ARTERY?" but act like it's no big deal. In a scene at a funeral, a corpse comes to life and sprays embalming fluid all over her ... only for us to cut to the next shot, showing Christine standing up, perfectly clean, while the other guests react to a goddamn corpse coming to life like it's a mildly interesting daily occurrence.
Which might suggest the whole demon/gypsy curse scenario is either a series hallucination brought on by extreme hunger or a dramatized representation of what is happening to Christine on a nondemonic level. Sort of like how authors often used vampirism as a metaphor for drug addiction back in the pre-sparkly days.
Although we sure could go for some heroin right about now.
Read more by C. Coville at bloodslides.livejournal.com.
Pick up our new book because it doesn't have hidden subtext. Hidden subtext is for pussies.
And get yourself educated on other instances of misunderstanding, in 6 Famous Songs That Don't Mean What You Think and 6 Books Everyone (Including Your English Teacher) Got Wrong.
And stop by Linkstorm to discover the hidden subtext of the Internet. (It's just more dongs.)
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