Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sandlot: An Interpretive Analysis

In 1993, David Evans wrote and directed the movie called Sandlot, where Denis Leary hooks up with a midwest single mom a couple years before he got the job as the CEO of GloboTech. Way before he was incorporating AI munitions integrated circuits into militant toys(and tricking us into thinking that's actually a thing), he was attempting to form an awkward relationship with Scotty Smalls as he tries to adjust to a new neighborhood. Smalls goes about his adjustment process by doing the exact opposite of what a person would do to fit in. Luckily, a rag-tag group of baseball playing kids takes pity on him in, their group leader Benny even gives him a new hat and a real baseball glove to replace his fake one(What mom buys their kid that glove? Why did it look like it was made out of plastic?Where do you even find one?). A couple 90's montages later, Smalls isn't killing anyone anymore and he has hilarious misadventures with the gang, because in the summer of 1962 shit just went down that way. It's a very heartwarming movie about friendship, molesting 16 year old lifeguards, and a town where Scotty Smalls is the only person with visible parents.

    Unfortunately, I'm not going to go into detail about the rest of it, because if you've watched Sandlot then you know the story, don't play that game. I'm really here to talk about David Evans, who used the power of allegory with and iron fist, creating an elaborate metaphor for the Cold War. This story is ripe with symbolism that I'm going to attempt to clarify, and even if it's all bullshit by the end, it'll make perfect sense.

1)Mr. Mertle and the Beast: The Soviet Union
The alleged story of Mr. Mertle places him as former junkyard owner that has since cut ties with the rest of society after a conflict with authority. Tired of burglars and thieves exploiting the system (aka the bourgeoisie), Mr. Mertle raises the Beast, a 350-pound English mastiff, to counter the nightly raids. The Beast at this time in the junkyard is the force of the Communist revolution under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. The authorities (Western Nations) worked to contain the Beast, in order to protect the community(prevent spread of Communism). So Mr. Mertle erects a massive fence(Berlin Wall/Iron Curtain) to contain the Beast within the territories of the backyard(Soviet Union). All of Mr. Mertle's property is showing the effects of Stalin's rule, his home and backyard sporting a dilapidated, neglected mess.
However, the Beast is now a symbol of the Soviet Union's extremely powerful industry, military, and technology. Despite the disrepair, the Beast was a force to be reckoned with, claiming anything that fell within it's territory. And if you lost anything of value to it, then no negotiation can get it back for you, and it's best to consider it lost.

2) The Sandlot: The United States of America
Smalls is introduced to the local kids by Benny Rodriguez(All US Presidents) with a diverse group of kids, all playing the nation's pastime, baseball. Everyone plays to their strengths, constantly improving by pitting themselves against one another, not limited by scores or innings (laissez faire capitalism). Benny usually decides what the group will do, but will always listen to the desires the group(strong republican leaders consenting to public opinion). Whenever a ball is needed, money is pulled together from everyone in order to keep the game going (taxes).

3) The Biggest Pickle of All Time:Loss of American dominance
This is referring to the ball signed by Babe Ruth being hit over into the Beast's territory, which represents the USSR's victories in Vietnam, Cuba, and the Space Race. Benny and the gang become desperate to retrieve it, resorting to all sorts of methods in order to get it back. Benny is the inspiring voice of confidence throughout the subsequent failed attempts (Kennedy's support of the Apollo Program).

4)Bertram:Illuminati influence in US affairs
A moderately talented member of the group, involved without being noticeable, and important without being necessary. His disappearance taking place after JFK's death, with all of his friends achieving their dreams, a selfless form of payment Bertram requests for his services. James Earl Jones(Soviet Union), a blind old man in a sea of rust, the guy who almost beat Ruth(America), the unapologetic mass of gluttony that tells Benny(Ronald Regan) to buy PF Flyers(US Arms) and outrun the Beast(Soviet Arms), because it's much easier to take whats yours by force. The Beast still technically gets the Ball(Nukes), and James Earl Jones keeps the fence(Berlin Wall) down, The Beast mellows out and dies without doing anything cool. Benny gets the spotlight. Smalls becomes voice of baseball(Start of Feminist Movement in the 60's)

5)Squints: NASA and CIA
         A snarky, competitive shitface that has it out for James Earl Jones and The Beast, and he is also convinced that simply talking to them will not work. His ideas frequently put the group in danger, and whenever he's lookout he swears everything is cool, just seconds before everything gets fucked. Whenever the shit hits the fan and it's partially his fault, he panics and runs for help. He is obsessed with Wendy Peffercorn (The Moon), and fake drowns himself to get an opportunity to kiss her(Fake moon landing). I would also like to note that when Wendy is tending to Squints, Bertram is one of the first few to say he looks dead(Illuminati influence over Fake Moon Landing Cover Up). Squints does marry Wendy in the end, having an obscene amount of children (NASA's Project Gemini, a series of flights that put the US ahead of the Soviet Union in the Space Race)

Bonus: Hambino: Metrecal Dieting
        Hamilton "The Great Hambino" Porter is a metaphor for the American sentiment regarding Metrecal, a brand of diet foods that became extraordinarily popular in the mid 60's. Porter goes through some very interesting character development that really reflects the mental and physical anguish caused by early liquid protein diet products. When playing baseball with the guys, he was capable, but obviously mediocre and very out of shape. His transition into wrestling in the late 60's is a display of rising public awareness of the health risks these diets caused. The Great Hambino's career and life ended in August 1977, the year Slim Fast hits the market. As his already lamentable athletic ability fades, Hamilton will slam back shake after shake in his L.A. studio apartment until his heart explodes.

The point of this post? There's gonna be a lot of times in your life when people try to convince you that using symbolism/allegory is deep, complicated, and the sign of a skilled writer. Those people are full of absolute shit, they wanna use what little writing skills they have over you to make you feel stupid. I like to write, but I fucking hate writers that use what they know to argue in favor of their own superiority.  It's extremely simple to find weird connections and point out arbitrary facts, and this Sandlot-Cold War comparison essay is my way of demonstrating that it's not nearly as difficult or impressive as your snobby friends tell you. Conspiracy theorists and doomsayers are always so harshly criticized, but in the literary world their same ideas would be called “Kafkaesque” and brilliant.

Fucking bastards.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Perfect Teeth: The Ultimate Continuity Error

For those of you that are fans of the show Breaking Bad(I know I fucking am), you're familiar with the history and habits of Jesse Pinkman: Former meth user, cigarette smoker, and someone who is frequently in situations where hygiene is not a realistic or primary concern.
"I better floss, just in case I get covered in shit and sleep in an RV tonight"
While his character is not prone to smiling, if you watch the show enough you will notice the man has absolutely flawless teeth. Your dentist does not have teeth like Jesse Pinkman's teeth, people who floss everyday and line their teeth with peroxide treatments don't get to smile like that. No gum damage, no tooth decay, not even some god damn yellow tint.

Very rarely will most tv shows or movies even bother to digitally alter teeth to make them look worse, and constantly seeing these downtrodden, under-dog type characters sporting an absolutely perfect set of teeth always pisses me right the fuck off. Especially when I'm supposed to believe that Aaron Paul has been around the block when it comes to using meth and living with the constant hassle of being one of the best cooks the Cartel has access to. I'm not irritated because the man has nice teeth, I'm angry because they don't even mention the fact that not only is his mouth is completely immune to his character's lifestyle, it's the exact opposite of how your teeth and gums should look when you've done some the hard living that Jesse Pinkman's done.

Even if famous people make a living portraying the lifestyles of people much lower on the social ladder, they will always show you their superiority in their smile.

For the record, I will always be a huge Breaking Bad fan, but every time I see Cap'n Cook's teeth I feel the blood vessels in my head resisting the urge to burst.