"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 30 March 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CCXXI



This month, San Francisco

residents hoping to focus

lingering resentment against

"gentrification" found a voice

in BlowTheDotOutYourAss.com, a

campaign to plaster select

neighborhoods with a bunch of

stickers that affix a .com

suffix to stupid domains:







Already a heady mix of liquor

and tech-industry paychecks,

San Francisco was ripe for an

e-commerce backlash. And after

egging a launch party, the

inspiration grew, with

plasterboards and newspaper

kiosks appropriated to deliver

the message that the revolution

may be neither televised nor

on the Internet, but at least radicals

will still be able to put up stickers

with funny slogans. At best, it was

participatory nihilism — sort of

the equivalent of announcing, "I am

not Spartacus.com" — but for

added recursiveness, the aspiring

culture-jammers created a Web site

of photos of their stickers. The danger,

or more likely the hope, for campaigns

like this is that its tools will be

co-opted by the forces it targets.

An eBay representative spoke of

executives laughing themselves

"silly-dot-com," while Wired News dubbed

the project "dot-commentary,"

and Salon designated

the targets as the "dot-conomy."

By Tuesday, Wired News reported

that BlowTheDotOutYourAss.com

had already been contacted by

potential advertisers, and there

was one final disturbing

development. Mixed in with

the Web surfers disappointed

by the fact that HairyDrunken


didn't actually exist was an

enterprising webmaster who

registered the domain BeatOff

PicturesGalore.com on Friday.

Sometimes life even imitates

guerilla art, as the revolution

culminated with a screamingly

ironic update on 26 March:

The site itself was driven offline

by too many Web surfers gawking

at their handiwork. Monday-night

visitors were redirected to Laughing

Squid.net — but, unfortunately,

it was a bad URL that only returned

the message, "Sorry but our tentacles

were unable to locate that page."

And by Tuesday night, BlowThe

DotOutYourAss.com had vanished

altogether. Or maybe it's

just blowin' in the wind....



American Beauty's Best Picture

win at this year's Academy

Awards marks the second year in

a row the Academy of Motion

Picture Arts and Sciences has

chosen a comedy for the top slot

(the first was 1998's

Shakespeare in Love) as well as

giving those films awards for

their screenplays and lead

actors (Spacey this year,

Paltrow last). Thus, the lie is

given to the claim that the

Academy overlooks those cadets

who strive to show us the funny.

That claim, often accompanied by

the argument that comedy needs a

separate Oscar category, usually

follows the so-called snubs of

popular comedians who demand an

Oscar for going two full hours

on screen without making a dick

joke. But looking back over the

'90s, we can make a list of

nominees and winners that

include Forrest Gump, Life is

Beautiful, Pulp Fiction, Jerry

Maguire, As Good as It Gets, My

Cousin Vinny, The Truman Show,

Bulworth, and several films by

Almodóvar and Woody

Allen. And we might add, they

contain some great dick jokes.

This year alone brought us Being

John Malkovich, Sweet and Low

Down, and Election. It's not

that the Academy has changed;

rather, the level of comedy in

America has finally improved.

Historically, it's true,

Chaplin, Lubitsch, and Keaton

(Buster, not Diane), had to

settle for those awkward special

Oscars. But then, so did

Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, and

Scorsese. Meanwhile, Oscar did

right by Laurel & Hardy, Mel

Brooks, Preston Sturges, Billy

Wilder, Mike Nichols, and Woody

Allen. No, when it comes to

funny, the Academy doesn't

appear to be dropping the bar

for the slew of TV comics who

currently dominate movies. Oscar

has stuck to the standard set by

The Apartment, Annie Hall, and The

Graduate. Those who see a bias

might take a look at what won

Benigni his Best Actor award.

Instead of simply cheering a

quick turn in a low budg indie

or catching a disease of the

week for instant street cred,

study what comics are supposed

to do for a living — make

people laugh. And writing a good

dick joke wouldn't hurt.



After Mission to Mars, bad

science fiction movies seem

sufficiently menacing all by

themselves, but particularly

disturbing accusations hover

like an eerie luminous green

cloud over Battlefield: Earth,

a big-screen adaption of the

book by Scientology founder L.

Ron Hubbard. FactNet, a

nonprofit organization known for

interventions with recovering

Scientologists, has alleged that

the film may contain "third or

forth generation" subliminal

programming, which,

unfortunately, is "so well

hidden it would take the best

experts in the field in top

national intelligence agencies

to even find it." Citing a

warning about an insider with

access to "some eastern bloc

government research," FactNet

urged its readers to contact the

local media — particularly movie

critics — as well as the

director of the CIA if the

film's distributors didn't

respond to their telephone

campaign for an investigation.

Since the end of the Cold War,

we've assumed that those east

bloc countries were lucky to get

an electric light bulb, let

alone digital technology, to

function properly, but still,

the prospect of Kirstie Alley

and Mimi Rogers bombarding us

with ambient "eat popcorn"

messages should be enough to put

all right-thinking people in

witch-hunt mode. It remains to

be seen whether FactNet will

reach its goal — getting the

film's master print examined by

CIA-level government employees

— but it's difficult to sign

on with any gadfly that actually

uses the phrase "super-secret

technology." While we applaud

FactNet for going the extra mile

— republishing bad reader

reviews of Hubbard's book from

Amazon.com — the subliminal

programming charges will

probably only divert attention

from more legitimate-sounding

concerns about whether

cult-recruiting materials will

be included with Trendmaster's

line of Battlefield: Earth toys.

But maybe we're just distracted

by the very real machinations

involving EarthLink founder (and

Scientologist) Sky Dayton. For

unknown reasons, using some

glossy rhetoric about Internet

empowerment, Dayton's company

paid millions of dollars in a

sinister scheme to broadcast the

hamster dance into homes across

the continent. Run, America

— no one is safe.

courtesy of the Sucksters