A Tangent about Movies (From “Politics and Other Words”)
In the summer of 1987, between my 7th and 8th grade, Sajan, Justin and I were all together in Pennsylvania at my grandmother’s house, with no school or summercamp. We spent most of that summer watching movies. Every movie ever made, it seemed, was available on a videotape, and we could watch it on our teevee. We could watch them over and over and learn all the words.
That’s no moon, it’s a space-station.
We are the knights who say… ni!
We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass!
I remember your gom-jabbar, now you remember mine. I can kill with a word.
Videotapes brought the whole world to our house: the whole world was as easy to consume as a can of Coke. There were movies set in the ancient past or in far away worlds. There were even movies where people took off their clothes and had sex. I longed for more waking hours to watch all the movies that summer.
Sajan’s favorite movie was Scarface, which told the story of Tony Montana, a young Cuban who arrives to a place called Freedomtown, which is very crowded and not very free. Tony and his best friend Manny meet a devil named Lopez, who offers them a way out of Freedomtown if they kill a communist for Lopez. Tony and Manny kill the communist Rebenga. They are free men and begin working for Lopez, killing one person after another, and learning to sell cocaine to make lots of money. They learn the commandments: “Never underestimate the other guy’s greed” and “Don’t get high on your own supply.”
Tony and Manny make friends with Sosa, and kill Lopez, who was their boss. Bernstein, the cop, offers to “clean up” the murder of their boss, and they kill Bernstein, too. Tony takes possession of Lopez’s business and Lopez’s blondie, Elvira. Tony is now a Kingpin.
Kingpins are part of the economy. Tony’s bankers harrass him. The police demand bigger bribes. He is arrested and the lawyer and the judges take more of his money. Tony goes to Colombia to see his friend Sosa. Like in Freedomtown, he is told that he needs to kill a communist to be free. Tony flies to New York with his friends Chi Chi and Alberto to kill a Colombian journalist who will speak at the United Nations and expose the Sosa cartel. They are supposed to blow up the journalist’s car, which would also kill the man’s wife and children. Tony says no: it is against the rules. Tony kills Alberto before he can blow up the car. Now Sosa is very mad.
Tony is scared and confused and goes to see his mother who hates him. He goes to find his sister, Gina, because she still loves him. He finds his best friend Manny at his sister’s house and kills Manny. Gina cries and now she hates him too. He returns to his mansion which is crawling with men who hate him and want to kill him. He shoots at them with an M16, announcing “Say Hello to My Little Friend!”
They shoot him but he cannot die. He will not die. Tony is unstoppable. Until he stops. Killed by a shot to the back. His body falls into a fountain. The World is Yours.
My favorite movie was Dune. A young nobleman, Paul, moves to another world, Arrakis. It is an inhospitable place like Texas or Saudi Arabia, a desert that contains the spice that makes space travel possible. He who controls the spice, controls the Universe. The emperor has given Arrakis to Paul’s family but they know that it is a trap. Paul meets the natives, the Fremen, and learns their ways. He consumes the spice and grows in wisdom. Soon the trap is sprung and Paul’s father, Duke Leto, is killed. Dr. Yuey sneaks Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica, off to the desert. Paul takes the name Muad’dib and teaches the Fremen the use of experimental sound weapons called “weirding modules.” He marries Chani and is plagued by prophetic dreams. Muad’dib learns to ride the sandworms and becomes the leader of an elite army who use the sound weapons. He drinks the water of life, which no man had done before, and announces that the sleeper has awakened. Muad’dib and the Fremen choke the flow of spice and provoke an imperial invasion. The imperial forces are no match for desert power. Paul’s fey sister Alia taunts the Emperor as the Fremen army draws closer. Paul arrives at the Emperor’s vessel and has a knife-duel with Sting, who wields the Emperor’s blade. Paul kills Sting and cracks his corpse into two with a sound. It rains on Arrakis. For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!
Sajan watched Scarface over and over and I watched Dune over and over. Justin didn’t like either of these movies, so if we were with him we watched other movies like Goonies or Ghostbusters. His favorite movie was Transformers.