Friday, June 09, 2006

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON!


FIRST, A SIDE NOTE...

I have to say how impressed I was reading a recent issue of U.S. News And World Report, specifically Volume 134, #20, June 9, 2003. You know, the one with the school of Tuna on the cover. THE ONE I HAD SENT TO ALL YOUR HOUSES. This issue included not one, but two articles about us that managed to reveal exactly what we want the hairless bipeds to know, while totally concealing all related sensitive data, IN ONE OF THE MOST WIDELY-READ MAGAZINES IN THE COUNTRY.

UNLIKELY FRIENDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST


Let’s start with the short piece called "Baghdad’s Baptizers," written by Kevin Whitelaw, starting on page 32. I’ll get to the other piece in the next edition of the Notes… This is exactly the kind of thing I want to keep seeing in the major news organs, ladies. The article addresses the precarious survival of an embattled Middle Eastern religious group called the Sabaean Mandeans, making do in the Arab world and trying to, I guess, keep its collective head below water. The clear intent of the piece is to whip up anti-Arab sentiment by painting a sad picture of this poor, beleaguered minority who, the author hints, are PRACTICALLY CHRISTIANS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Never mind that stuff. What I want you to notice and emulate is the way the author prevents Naked Ape readers from knowing whether these are just another put-upon fringe group or piscatorial operatives. The snippets of information on their culture sound halfway like us and halfway like the Naked Apes. As you read you can see that every item suggesting that these are operatives is counterbalanced by an item suggesting they’re not:

>> The item about how you can leave, but never join or rejoin their group, is essentially the opposite of our approach, in spite of everything H. P. Lovecraft says. But that could be disinformation, right?

>> The concealing clothes say "operative" to me. But who in the Mideast wears skimpy outfits?

>> The very fact that this hardcore group of river- soakers lives in the middle of an immense desert says "Naked Ape" to me all the way. Most fish pretty much avoid the desert, obviously.

>> BUT the Mandeans hang out by no ordinary rivers – their home territories are the Tigris and Euphrates, aka The Cradle Of Civilization AND, lest we forget, the first place a Fish Person ever set foot on dry land. (Leading to certain untoward events that resound to this day.)

>> It says here most of the Sabaeans are goldsmiths by trade, which of course says "fish people" all the way. Even Lovecraft knew that much about us, and he was hardly a fish at all. But since they don’t show any of the finished product in the article, it’s an open question whether the work they do is the creation of fish, apes, or something in between.

Well, I won’t belabor the point. Read for yourself and see. Now that you have such a prime example of misleading news writing in your hands, let’s see which of you can start producing more of the same. The goal here is always to get the information out to operatives while keeping the landscum in the dark. Have at it.


CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON The Creature From The Black Lagoon

OK, here’s where we get into the worst nightmares of your North American Cabal Leader. There is very little that scares me – I live in the Detroit River, are you kidding me? -- but the three Gill Man movies, starting with this one released in 1954, are truly horrifying. This is a movie you can think of as a tragedy of errors – a mutual misunderstanding that gets uglier than you would ever have thought possible. The filmmakers start at the shallow end of horror, and with each successive film they draw us in deeper, until we are in waaaaaaaay over our heads.

The plot summary goes like this: An expedition to the Amazon Basin leads to the discovery of a supposed throwback to the Devonian era, called the Gill Man by the scientific-type guys on the tour boat. The rest of the story revolves around the team’s attempts to capture and study him. Meanwhile, the Gill Man is trying to capture and study THEM.

>> In the usual Fifties sci-fi way, the scientists immediately conclude a bunch of crazy stuff; for example, they think the Gill Man is the only member of his species and has been living alone in the lagoon since Devonian times. You might think this bizarre thinking is only the stuff of B-movie convention, but seriously, in my experience this is pretty typical of human scientific theorizing. They’re all a bunch of nutjobs if you ask me.

>> Only the slipshod organizational skills of said nutjobs allow this lone Fish Person to prevail at last over them. Look at the progression of the story: a paleontologist finds a remarkable Devonian (?) fossil, drops everything to fly to the States, shows photos of the find to other scientists who decide there is a bundle in the venture, and the next day they are flying back to start a full-scale dig. The boss man says, without consulting a soul, that there is no way the Board of Directors would refuse the enormous sum of money and loss of manpower it would require to undertake this operation. The next thing we know, the heroes are out there with whatever they were able to slap together overnight, and one look at the boat they hired to travel up the Amazon should give you a pretty good idea of how unprepared they are.

>> Careless as the humans are, the fact remains that this operative, the Gill Man, is for some reason not with his Pod, and he’s facing them all alone. The scientific nutjobs are packing pesticides, spearguns, heavy netting, diving suits and dynamite. And the people handling them are as dumb as a row of hammers – listen to them talk! What it all means to me is that somebody’s going to get hurt.

>> The red herring: the supposed romantic interest the Gill Man has in the female lead, a pretty girl in a white one-piece bathing suit.

>> The reality behind the red herring: in his position, any of us would have made the same mistake the Gill Man did. He had no Pod Leader to guide him and, considering the year this movie was released, he may not have been a trained operative at all. And here’s this lone woman out in the water, signalling in every possible way that she’s open for contact. He was clearly trying to get her to one of his Pod Leaders for debriefing.

>> ALWAYS REMEMBER that most humans have lost touch with their aquatic traditions and don’t even think of themselves as aquatic beings. We, on the other hand, are mythological beings to them. No matter what you see them doing, THEY ARE NOT BEING FRIENDLY. They do not even believe we exist UNTIL THEY ARE ALREADY INDOCTRINATED. You new recruits can help explain this to the ones who were born into fish/ape hybrid families.

>> Richard Carlson has a line in this film that is unsettlingly prescient, considering the stage we had reached the year this movie was released: "We’ve just begun to learn about the water and its secrets," he says. It was something like 6 months from Creature’s release date that the first New York City formal contact was made. It’s as if the director, Jack Arnold, were welcoming us ashore.

>> Let me add a note here about the excellent acting that went into the portrayal of the Gill Man, our martyred operative. He was played by Ben Chapman on dry land and by Ricou Browning underwater, which under all the normal rules of B-moviemaking should have been a horrible mistake. In this case it was a perfect decision; because of it we can really see the primary handicap faced by our operative. In the water he is confident, graceful, commanding, cunning; on land he is struggling just to take his next step without falling over. In all 3 of these movies we see the Gill Man make great sacrifices to complete his task without hurting the Naked Ape he is trying to communicate with. THIS IS A LESSON I WANT ALL OF YOU TO BEAR FIRMLY IN MIND.

>> On the other hand, the Operative does not hesitate to mess up any human standing between him and his female contact. That is NOT good role modeling, and I recommend against it, unless you want a bad review from your Pod Leader.

>> The operative acquits himself excellently in the end. Shot several times, imprisoned, bugsprayed and badly burned, he does not abandon his task but keeps trying to bring the female contact together with his Pod Leader until he simply cannot go on. At that point he manages to die in such a way that there is nothing left for the scientists to autopsy.

I hope this movie means as much to you as it does to me. It is SO hard to watch it without getting all sniffly.

3 Comments:

Blogger Askinstoo said...

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2:53 PM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

one of my favorite items about 'Creature" -
a professor would jump into unknown waters - diving head first.

4:43 PM  

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