What Is It?
(An essay concerning the subtext of the film by the same title)
by Crispin Hellion Glover
Is this culture content? Is it happy? Are the smiles broadcast by this culture’s media the smiles that reflect the collective mind? Does the self-professed compassion of the media for the unfortunate seem sincere?
Is this culture a Judeo-Christian culture? Is forgiveness a quality of Christian ethos? Didn’t Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine high school pose with a caption that stated, “Stay alive, stay different, stay crazy”? Didn’t they target Christians? Weren’t they accused of being “Nazis”? Wasn’t one of them Jewish? Wasn’t one of them an honor student? If these fellows were staying “crazy” and staying “different,” and thinking on their own, were they perhaps manifesting a counter-cultural ideal?
What else in this culture were the Columbine killers attacking? Aren’t “jocks,” whom they killed, generally considered common “good guys” by our culture? Don’t jocks represent pro-cultural values? Do those who hold values that counter the culture see jocks as boorish, vapid, brute, conceited and condescending, who willfully insult and violate those who refuse to gang with the masses?
Were Harris and Klebold reacting to the media itself? Did they give their own lives and take others to make a point about the media at large? Can it be true that the media-at-large is so neurotic that it is unable to truthfully describe the Columbine event? Is it true that a videotape they produced just before the killings is now being withheld so the public can not determine their own thoughts about Harris’ and Klebold’s statements?
In Civilization and Its Discontents, did Sigmund Freud define a neurotic as an individual holding thoughts that clash with those held by the prevailing culture, an individual who subverts those clashing thoughts to the subconscious that later manifest in the form of anxiety and unnecessary behavior? If this is so, what does one consider a culture whose prevailing ideas express hypocrisy, sham and double-standard? Does this somehow define a neurotic culture?
Does Steven Spielberg hold the same values I wish upon myself? Does the mind of this grinning, bespectacled, baseball-capped man entirely reflect this culture?
Is it true that in his waning years, Orson Welles asked Steven Spielberg for a small amount of money with which he could make a final film? Is it true Steven Spielberg refused? Is it true that Steven Spielberg bought a sled used in Citizen Kane for an extremely large sum of money?
Do Steven Spielberg’s passions burn? Do passions burn in the man now imprisoned who wished to anally rape Steven Spielberg? Do our cultural mouthpieces confidently inform us that the wish to anally rape Steven Spielberg is a bad thought? Could anal rape of Steven Spielberg be simply the manifestation of a cultural mandate?
Do you believe Steven Spielberg is an ideal guide and influence for our culture? Do Steven Spielberg’s films question our culture? What do Steven Spielberg’s films question? Does Steven Spielberg focus much of his fantasy life on young people? Did he portray children wallowing in sewers filled with fecal matter in Schindler’s List? Did he use children to finger paint an adult in Hook? Does he collect the illustrations of Norman Rockwell, such as the one showing a young boy in his underwear examined by a doctor? Are the inclinations of Steven Spielberg above suspicion by the media-fed culture? Was Steven Spielberg very friendly with Michael Jackson? Wasn’t Michael Jackson supposed to play Peter Pan in Steven Spielberg’s version of the story? Now that Michael Jackson is no longer held in favor by the mass media, does Spielberg associate with him? Do Michael Jackson and Steven Spielberg share similar opinions about the sexuality of young boys?
Did Joseph Goebbels popularize certain ideals to the mass culture? Does Steven Spielberg attempt to do the same thing? Is celebrity more special than actual truth in art?
When you join in a conversation with strangers, do you openly discuss any idea whatsoever without fear of conflict? Or do you restrain yourself from discussing certain things for fear of offending people and then becoming an outcast? Are there laws that deem certain forms of thought as bad and wrong? Is what is now termed “hate” a form of thought?
Does our culture consider it acceptable to have a minstrel represent a black person on film? Does our culture consider it acceptable to have a person of average intelligence represent a retarded person on film? Why is one thing questionable, and one thing acceptable? Did Adolf Hitler entertain any good thoughts? Was Shirley Temple sexy as a young girl?
What if you wish to express these ideas? Can people sue you for expressing ideas, particularly if they’re blamed for inspiring behavior considered antithetical to cultural norms?
Would the cultural mainstream ever silence or suppress Steven Spielberg? Has the United States government given the immensely wealthy Steven Spielberg millions of dollars to fund a media project that reflects his religious heritage, and his cultural beliefs? Does The Talmud speak of the superiority of the Jews and the inferiority of other cultures and beliefs? Does Steven Spielberg reflect this religious imperative? Is Steve Spielberg neurotic? Is this belief hidden and suppressed?
If one discovers that everything one has been taught to be good is actually false, what then? At what point is one neurotic?
Did Vincent Van Gogh, Diane Arbus and Rainer Werner Fassbinder die for the sins of their culture? Did Joseph Goebbels?
Are we fed massive cultural propaganda? Are we infused with the belief that we act as we wish and do what we want? Are we not simply believing what cultural propaganda suggests us to think?
Do you like MTV? Do you like Steven Spielberg? Do you like post-punk rock? Do you like trip hop? Do you like rap? Do you define yourself according to the music you listen to? Do you consider yourself a true lover of music because you are in a rock band, or because your boyfriend is in a rock band? Do you like tattoos? Do you like body piercing? Do you believe that love, kindness, compassion, recycling and equality will save this culture from all its woes? Do you? Do you?
Is it considered “career suicide” to question Steven Spielberg if one is involved in the entertainment business? If one is not involved in the entertainment business is it considered a social suicide to question Steven Spielberg? If these things are so, what does that point to? Does this mean freedom of expression is actually curtailed in our culture by certain social pressures? Is calling someone a “fascist” in American culture today the counterpart to saying someone was a “communist” during the Joseph McCarthy era of the 1950s?
Does our culture congratulate itself for taking interest in the lack of original ideas personified by the name of Steven Spielberg? Do his films take chances or take risks in order to amplify, change or challenge the cultural though process? Does Steven Spielberg take risks, or does he simulate the idea of taking risks? What risk was involved in making Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List, or adopting a black child? Was there any risk at all? Would Steven Spielberg have adopted that same child in the Deep South of the 1950s where there would have been risk of being called a “nigger lover”? Were the adoption of a black child and the subject matter of his movies actually business decisions for which he knew he would be congratulated?
When Steven Spielberg clutched his Academy Award for Schindler’s List, saying it’s for the “six million,” was he speaking of a quantity of people killed, or the quantity of dollars poured into his bank account?
Did Steven Spielberg truly help the culture understand Stanley Kubrick’s ideas at an Academy Awards eulogy? Or did he accuse Kubrick’s films of being “hopeful” to make them seem as if they sell the same ideas as Steven Spielberg’s movies? Was A Clockwork Orange about hope? Was Barry Lyndon about hope? Was Dr. Strangelove about hope? Was Lolita about hope? Was Full Metal Jacket about hope? Was The Killing about hope?
Was Steven Spielberg’s company sued by an African-American woman who claimed that Amistad was based on her writing? Was this African-American woman suddenly happy with Steven Spielberg after he deposited a lot of money into her bank account?
Does the amount of money taken in by people determine happiness in this culture? Is the earth an unlimited resource, or is there a definitive quantity for people to exploit for gross amounts of money? When a capitalist invokes the word “hope,” does he speak about the continued escalation of his earning power, without being stopped? Could this hope be an illusion?
Are the ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctic melting and shearing off? Could negative population growth possibly help solve this problem? Isn’t one child per two people negative population growth? Would Steven Spielberg ever support the idea of negative population growth within the medium? Have the goals of Freemasonry, as encapsulated by the back half of the dollar bill, succeeded? Has a megastate of greed been created?
Did DreamWorks, the megacorporate entity co-owned by Steven Spielberg, consider paving over the last remaining wetland in Southern California to create a studio? Does Steven Spielberg feel comfortable emasculating the natural? Is climbing the Alps, or is riding the Matterhorn rollercoaster in Disneyland, more attractive to Steven Spielberg? Is the theme park mentality of our culture, which is made to feel “right” and “moral” by the propagandizing movies of Steven Spielberg, helping to destroy individual thought processes and emasculate what remains of the earth?
Is it possible that the Columbine shootings would have not occurred if Steven Spielberg had never wafted his putrid stench upon our culture, a culture he helped homogenize and propagandize?
Would the culture benefit from Steven Spielberg’s murder, or would it be lessened by making him a martyr? Or would people then begin to realize their lives had become less banal and more interesting due to his departure?
Because I think it is possible a beautiful piece of non-lingual music could well be written by an angry victim once Steven Spielberg becomes a corpse. It could be that this angry victim of banal and ruinous propaganda will have written an anthem signaling a new era, a new thought process, a new music, and a new culture that is desperately needed in the coming days, and forevermore.
The one question lingering before this new utopian culture may very well be: