*Tightly presses hand towel to my face. Empties my lungs in a muffled scream* OK. Let’s talk about the movies that saw 2020 coming.
You don’t need me to recount the events of the past year. We are literally still trapped within 2020’s talking points. So let’s look back at the shows and movies that proved especially prescient this year (and I’m not including The Simpsons. We are all well aware that The Simpsons have already covered all this).
John Carpenter was really on to something in his 1982 remake of The Thing. Somehow he managed to capture the isolation and paranoia that arises when a continuously mutating biological threat invades your home base.
Whether you view it politically or virologically, The Thing encompasses that fear of not knowing where the people closest to you stand. Are they infected? Whether by an insidious ideology or an actual biological agent, how can you tell who is the real threat? The parallels to this masterpiece of horror hit a little too close to home today.
Andy Griffith plays a charismatic drifter who manages to gain a passionate following through the media. This even involves his most passionate supporters burning mattresses after a company pulls ads from the rising star’s radio show. Cue footage of when everybody was trashing their Keurigs and Nikes and shouting “Get woke, go broke” into their iPhones.
Griffith’s megalomaniacal pitch man gains political influence when he is brought in to drum up support for a presidential hopeful. His star shines so bright that he quickly burns out, with his sphere of influence vanishing. All that’s left is a misguided man throwing a petulant fit in an empty room.
Perhaps you can relate this to some prominent figure.
Before earning the Best Picture Oscar for Parasite, writer/director Bong Joon Ho gave us The Host. As an elevated creature feature, The Host gives us a populace losing faith in its government’s response to a potential outbreak, teargas-soaked protests against police oppression, and class politics. It really is the most socially relevant film you’ll find centered on a sea monster. And Tarantino really loved it, so that’s high praise.
Unaffected Americans won’t seriously consider a nationwide epidemic until Tom Hanks becomes infected. We can be gross like that. This entry started out as a grim joke, but how far is it from the truth?
This was not the case for most of the year. Somehow we had avoided sentient A.I. taking control of the stock market or anything else that might remind you of Kubrick’s space epic.
But then all those monoliths started appearing in the desert. I mean, it’s probably just a viral marketing campaign for Doritos, but I can’t say we won’t start seeing starbabies flying around everywhere in January.
This Parisian zombie flick focuses on a lone protagonist trying to stay alive (and maintain his sanity) while isolated in a fortified apartment building. It’s a survival story where the hero finds himself losing all meaning to his life beyond mere instinct.
He captures water on the roof in whatever bowls and empty vases he can find. He distracts himself with the books and gadgets collected from other apartments. He alternates between exercising indoors and getting drunk. The film really serves as a lesson in how to socially distance in a world that’s out to get you.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Who Pooped the Bed?”
Any other year it would have been the biggest news story in the world. During a libel hearing in London, Johnny Depp attributed the final breaking point in his marriage to Amber Heard to one event: the discovery of an errant turd in their bed.
Yep, Edward Scissorhands stood up in court and tried to litigate a poop he discovered. I think someone even tossed out the name “Amber Turd.” Other acceptable headlines include Craptain Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and 21 Dump Sheets. Really, if the world wasn’t on fire at the time, this would have gotten wall-to-wall coverage.
For fans of It’s Always Sunny, this should remind you of the episode where the gang plays detective to discover how feces made its way onto Frank and Charlie’s shared mattress. It really drives home the philosophy that life imitates art. Except only in the most dumb fashion imaginable.
That’s probably a good one to end on. The holidays are always a good time to reflect on the things you’re thankful for. I hope you and your loved ones have made it through 2020 in good health. I hope the new year brings the promise of something better. And I hope you never wake up to a mysterious crap.
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