I have a problem.
By Greg McGee, September 22, 2017
I’m sitting here trying to come to grips with the implications that were delved into in the recent movie “Mother!” starring Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence, among others.
This is the creepiest movie I can remember seeing in decades. Toward the end, my lips began to curl away from my teeth with distaste and disgust. Later that night, as I lay in bed trying to digest it… even writing these words takes me right back to the movie and makes me disgusted again and you know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen it.
Then, I found myself thinking about the real horrors that face us on planet Earth in September, 2017, and it woke me the-fuck up like a sudden solar flare, and I leaped out of bed shouting “no, no, no!” — much as Jennifer did throughout most of the movie — and I ran in the other room to escape the thought.
It still lingers.
As an aside, this is the opposite effect that the Hollywood “system” of left wing liberal writers, directors and producers wants to occur after going to see a horror movie. If right wing neo-Nazis and white supremacists ran Hollywood studios, it would be exactly the same, so this isn’t really a political statement. Movies made by studio system are supposed to do ONE THING and one thing only: make lots and lots of money.
For this reason, historically, it hasn’t been a good idea to make movies that actually make people sick. Yet, as “on its ear” as the world has become of late, this has flipped, and it seems that the more repulsed and sickened a movie makes a person feel, the more successful it is. I mean, when you’ve slashed people up and dismembered humans in every manner conceivable, what’s left? What else? More slashing and dismembering. Squared! Cubed! Multiplied by infinity! An overwhelming, relentless onslaught of slashing and dismembering!
This is what zombie movies are, and of course they’re not new. But zombies let you off the hook in an arcane way, because the zombies aren’t really people even if they did used to be your sister or your kid. If you don’t kill them they will only spread the death, and blah blah blah. I’ve been schooled by even 5 year olds on the zombie rules, which have been etched on their cute little minds as they play “Plants vs. Zombies” on an iPhone.
But, I digress, as I sometimes do. This not what “Mother!” is about. For starters, instead of zombies, you just have real people. All too real. And all too mean. Unexplainably nasty. Curiously cruel. Habitually heartless. This is beginning to sound like a country western song, which I may write later, but for now I’ll go with my story.
What was the most chilling and horrifying thing about this movie is that there is never any way OUT offered for Jennifer. The Pinto parked out front with the failing battery? Nope. The cellphone with 2% battery? Nyaaaa. 911? Nope. Phone ripped right off the wall.
In fact, the viewer is never really sure where Jennifer or anybody that appears has come from or where they go to. It’s similar to a stage play, where all sorts of time can be warped and locations anywhere can be suddenly jumped to, simply by having actors walk off the stage, and come back later on in front of a new backdrop or different lighting, with some unexpected twist, maybe delivered as a rubber knife penetrating the hero’s ribs.
In “Mother!” none of these options are offered or tried. Jennifer is just there, innocent and pure of thought. Bad things started happening to her. Things get progressively worse. She fights against the bad things happening with, to be corny, “every fiber of her being.” But it is hopeless. She is finally overwhelmed, and she, her baby, all the bad people, everything, everyone is destroyed.
Well, almost everyone. But I won’t ruin the movie. Or the sequel, which, well it’s all too obvious what the sequel is going to be but that’s way outside the scope of this little essay.
This feeling of being trapped and just having no choice but to experience pain and suffering – it’s actually worse than death. What happens after we die remains a mystery at this date and probably forever, no matter how tenaciously one clings to whatever theological or scientific cloth might give them comfort. But going through pain and suffering while still alive, right here on Earth? Well, that’s horror. It’s a lot worse than an imagined hell.
This brought into mind another picture I saw on CNN recently, which further revolted me. It was in the day room of a nursing home in Florida. There were a number of old women sitting around in wheel chairs, patiently staring at the camera. There was water from the floods of a hurricane in the room. It was up past their waists. They’d been sitting in the nasty, polluted flood water like this for 17 hours or something. Imagine this. You’re sitting in a wheelchair, with water past your waist, unable to walk, trapped, in your own piss and shit, watching the flood water inch up your body. Wondering if it’s going to get to your mouth. Or over your head. But unable to do anything to get away from it because your legs don’t work.
This is a horror movie. But it’s not a movie, its real life. Real life, these days, is becoming much more horrifying than anything even the most cynical scriptwriter in Sin City can conjure up. And that’s why jumped out of bed.
Then, I had another thought. It was President Trump sitting there in front of the world’s cameras receiving condolences from the King of Jordan for all the horror the U.S was facing from the hurricanes. And the Trumpster says, almost proudly in his inimitable way. “It’s really extraordinary. I think it’s, well it’s the biggest disaster in history, I believe. Never anything like it. Terrible. Terrible.” With the little hands doing the thing… you know.
This, from a man who, almost daily, claims that there is no such thing as “global warming” or “climate change.” Who is quietly dismantling the EPA, the NOAA, NASA, whatever government program might further prove otherwise. Who’s head of the EPA which he appointed now has to travel with armed guards because he receives so many death threats.
Then I thought about the other lunatic running another country called North Korea, Kim Jong Un, and how he has an entire country of 22 million people believing that he is actually GOD, with a capital G. The omnipotent being, the creator of the world. Just like his father was. And his father before him. Don’t quibble with me about the oxymoron of everlasting omnipotence vs. childish paranoia that this brings up. You’re right. There isn’t any logic here. It’s insanity, all the way down. Like the mud under the fist Hindu turtle.
Kim gleefully starves the entire country, stealing everything, sacrificing everything to build his own nuclear firecrackers so he, too can blow up other countries, especially his worst enemy, etched on his cute little mind since childhood: the U.S.A.
Here’s the thing about firecrackers. Any kid knows this. It’s fun to go to the fireworks stand and pick out all your rockets and poppers and sparklers and cherry bombs and the like. But what if, when you got them home, your Daddy told you to put them in the closet and NEVER USE THEM. ? How would you feel? And what would you do, the second Daddy left the house?
I’m not entirely sure either OUR psychopath, Trump, or North Korea’s psychopath, Kim, know the cardinal rule about Nuclear weapons: they are not made to use, they are only made to scare.
There’s a reason that the U.S. is the only country on Earth who has ever actually used nuclear weapons in war: when we did it, nobody else had them. But now, the rules are different. They were established by John Foster Dulles, and they’re called “mutual assured destruction.” (Note: the acronym for this is MAD. You think that’s a coincidence?) It’s just as insane as it sounds, but it is the policy of all the nations on Earth that now have nuclear weapons. Click the link if this is unfamiliar to you. What is freaking everybody out nowadays is that the lunatics IN the nuclear club, who are in the pact, that have agreed to the secret rule that you’re not actually supposed to use these stupid bombs to justify making and maintaining the bombs, these lunatics are looking at these new players, Kim, Trump, Iran, and they’re worried. They’re wondering, “Are these guys crazier than us? Would they actually…”
Then, the song “Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee,” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, played on the radio and I actually understood the song for the first time. What could be worse than running for your life with no food, no shelter, no hope of rescue? It makes me shudder because now, I actually realize that I’m not immune to this happening. In fact, its highly likely to happen in my lifetime.
The next day, as I was buying a closet full of canned goods and bottled water to stock a survival cabinet and give to the Red Cross, the clerk and I got into a conversation. She laughed and said she just doesn’t watch the news. If she’s going to die, well so be it. Just get it over with. Ha ha ha! She’ll be laughing as the bomb drops on her head. I had to remind her that, unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t be that fast, or that absolute. Nobody’s going to NUKE Austin Texas. I mean, Willie Nelson lives here and that would be wrong. No, it will be a slow moving, unavoidable horror that can’t be escaped.
She just laughed.
I meet a lot of people every day as I Uber them around the city in the wee hours of the mornings, so I can attest with some authority that this blasé grocery clerk is representative of the prevailing attitude of run-of-the-mill people who are not activists marching in the streets or protesting. Most of the country is living in sort of a zombiefied state of denial, which leads to hysterical laughter or the numbness of complete submission, i.e., “the walking dead.”
I used to feel relatively safe in America. I felt that it was unlikely that I would have my life ruined by rising water, 150 mph winds, or ICBMs raining down from the sky or massive armies arriving on our shores to slaughter as many people as they can before they are, themselves slaughtered.
What made me jump out of bed was the real, visceral, FEAR that this actually could happen to ME! And, that I would have absolutely no way to stop it, escape it or end it. I couldn’t even die fast enough to avoid the horror. I’d be forced to stay alive and just be overwhelmed by it in real living color.
What happens when the trucks stop delivering food to the local supermarket? Walmart’s shelves are bare? The power goes out? There’s no water, no food, no gas, no rescue?
It’s happening right now, in scores of towns across America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Why do I feel so complacent and safe?
And then, I recalled the title to Hillary’s book, “What Happened.” Thud.
What happened to me, what my problem is, what made me jump out of bed is that for the first time since I was about 11, as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded, I feel the horror of being TRAPPED and helpless to stop what is happening. Back then, it just made my face break out in acne and I had the second worse acne face in our high school. Of course there were the nightmares of being burned alive in a nuclear holocaust that kept me awake at night. I remember vividly begging my parents, crying pitifully, “Please, please, can we dig a fallout shelter today? I’ll help!”
They never did, and I’ve never forgiven them for it. Like it would have done any good….
So here I am in 2017. Daddy is dead and mom is 84 and can’t lift a shovel. So even the fallout shelter isn’t an option. I feel like the idiots in charge of our country and many other countries are stepping on the accelerator as they steer civilization toward complete annihilation. The problem, of course, is that there are separate nations, which breed nationalism, but I’m not going to preach because John Lennon said it best.
I don’t feel safe anymore. And I really, really hate feeling this way.
Yet, I’m not giving up. Far from it. It’s up to me to figure out how I can survive. I don’t feel capable of doing it because I myself am a weak, old man. The weaker I am the worse it will be, and in the worst case scenario, the longer it is likely to take to die.
It’s time to shake off the listless depression brought on by The Trump Era.
Get stronger. Get prepared. Pay attention. Find ways to help.
That’s all I’ve got.
Life’s a reeeel “Mother!”