Friday, October 22, 2010

The Fish with a Human Face

We so enjoy the experience when Dr. This or Dr. That clears his throat authoritatively, pats multiple diplomas lovingly and announces that life on other planets almost certainly won't resemble us. These, by the way, are the same folks whose egos and education teeter unsteadily, jeopardized by unspoken fears of instant irrelevancy one day if the science wrapped around UFOs becomes apparent.

But it's still Halloween month, UFOs or not-UFOs are showing up all across the skies, darned nearly smiling for the cameras and nobody knows for sure what's going on. At least today I can spotlight a fifties fright film that WASN'T responsible for causing UFO panic in the streets, or making legitimate reports appear fringe sci-fi.

And if the title of this entry led you to believe this is about mermaids, well, sorry to disappoint you. Not exactly a mermaid here. Nevertheless. . .

His aquatically disturbing appearance fascinated theater audiences everywhere, scared teenage girls into their boyfriends' willing arms and undoubtedly, in the preliminary tradition of a future shark named "Jaws," kept a few people from the beach and precipitated water-based hoaxes aplenty. His name? Who needs a name when christened "The Creature From the Black Lagoon?" How can anybody forget your monster designation when you return in a sequel entitled, "The Revenge of the Creature?" How tired can you become of being THE creature by the time producers attempt a surgical conversion to landlubber status for you, as they churn out "The Creature Walks Among Us?"

Scary, yes, but The Creature spawned an attribute missing from current-day digital monster recipes: Pathos. He evoked pity as well as fear, this fishy miscreant whose killings ranked only secondary to the invasion of his watery space by humans intent upon capture, domination and, ultimately, humiliation bent upon surgically forcing him to transform into something he could never be: Us. How could we possibly tame the beast when we are the beast?

True, when all the water dripped off, the cameras stopped rolling and zippers unzipped, there were only men in rubbery monster costumes who portrayed Universal International Pictures' scaly throwback darling of the deep. But until then, lenses -- even 3-D lenses on one thrilling occasion -- painted a picture of horror balanced equitably with a dash of pity.

There was a time less cluttered, you may recall, when movie makers lovingly knew how to create memorable monsters with character, avoiding, for a while at least, vacuous cookie-cutter format slashers possessive of neither heart nor soul.

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO AND OTHER FAULTS IN THE CRUST: During my four reluctant (but highly productive) military years -- that means, essentially, that the draft pursued me and I enlisted -- long ago, one thing keeping me going was an appreciation of freedom of speech in the U.S. Oh yes, speech constraint during one's military time is a valid consideration, when national security is involved. But in daily civilian life, unless one libels or slanders somebody or something, say whatever you like. The First Amendment, as society has noted time and again, particularly serves to protect unpopular speech.

Too bad National Public Radio doesn't get it. I really don't give a flip about Juan Williams, but his statements on Fox-TV should not have resulted in a loss of his job (bulletin -- just hired by Fox at two million a year). You know what? I feel uncomfortable sitting next to people in Muslim garb, too. NO, I wasn't raised that way -- the 9/11 event and follow-up incidents such as the Fort Hood massacre tipped the scales because, hmm, whadoyaknow, terrorist acts routinely have radical Muslims behind them. Unfortunately, those of the Muslim faith don't come equipped like "E.T." with red or green lights glowing in their chest cavities so we can tell who is whom.

Yet, I'm not without compassion. Maybe I'd be willing to travel to the Middle East and form women's diving and synchronized swimming teams for radical Muslim women wearing burkas. Imagine that image on TV? There's nothing like time travel back through the centuries.

I think the Williams thing surfaced especially because he appeared on Fox ("the enemy"). Strange, too, that everybody's fave benefactor George Soros just gave a million bucks to public radio to encourage journalism or something or another. Hmm.

We look around and find, here and there, firings of people in media who express personal views. I've heard that Facebook is discouraging anti-gay comments, doubtless because of recent tragic gay teen suicides. However, again, the First Amendment exists to protect unpopular comments. Me, I'm 110 percent for gay people serving openly in the military, but if somebody wants to condemn the thought in strong terms publicly, go for it. It's your right.

Should NPR be de-funded of government contributions? Maybe. Why shouldn't they stand on their own two feet like commercial networks must? The thing is, we want ALL views of an issue to be heard and protected as free speech, and the less government control in this area the better. The FCC? Representative of what? And Juan Williams -- I believe he just received a crippling overdose of the poison embraced by radicals in media, government and education. It's name is political correctness, it ain't pretty and it's been in our neighborhoods much too long.