for 22 November 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
see! i KNEW you were a gay man. pretty good job of playing the bitter, jaded girl quipping one-liners with such aplomb....but let's face it...straight people simply aren't that funny. i mean, we can't fault them for trying. breeders have always tried to copy our style cause otherwise they'd be left with watching reruns of Roseanne for the rest of their natural lives. but, i swear to GOD, if another straight man comes into my gym i'm gonna SCREAM! how's a guy supposed "relax" in the steam room? ooops, gotta run...i gotta get ready to go out and find my new "future-ex"
p.s. the hair is booming with the gay bangs...maybe some highlights?
I must join your gym immediately. I bet it's ringing with laughter around the clock.
Humorlessness isn't what bothers me about straight people. I don't like their shoes, and those huge overweight dogs they always have. They're always lugging them to the park and shoving peanut butter dog biscuits down their throats. And they don't drink enough water straight people that is, not their dogs. They're all dehydrated and smelly, and they talk about boring crap from the paper all the time, in these awful half-dead tones like they just wish they were dead.
Anyway, you go chase all those other fish in the sea with your big harpoon...or with your little harpoon, whichever the case may be.
Since I discovered your crack-addled and oftentimes irreverent "column", I've been attached to my computer, firmly. Oh! The laughs! The tears! The jeering! The mimes! Squirrels, drug abuse, depravity, wanton homoeroticism! The shady goings-on in dark alleyways, Joey with his maniacal grin and a suitcase full of coathangers, ah, the dental equipment and slack-jawed sycophants!
But then, tucked away at the end of the article, is that happy little link to previous Fillers. Lately I've noticed a propensity for associating with the "virtual friend" Fillers. Quite frankly, I'm beginning to suspect a conspiracy. I've pored over the contents time and time again, looking for subtle hints, the bend of a wrist, the position of the word bubbles. Perhaps the repetition of the virtual friends' lines approximates the Cantor Set, or encodes Israeli military commands. It is all for naught. And then, I wonder if this is the intent, leading me further into the subconsciously suggestive text and images. I fear that I'm becoming either gay or mechanical, all because of you.
Oh no! You've uncovered my secret plot to populate the earth with gay robots!
You took your name from a Samurai PizzaCats character, didn't you? And today's filler sucked... Harold isn't nearly as sexxy as Polly... and I am now subscribing to alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.cartoons in the vain, hope of seeing some Polly pictorial layouts.
sigh, if only I WERE a suppressed gay man, things would be so much easier
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to dream up a name like "Polly Esther." You sit with a dictionary for about ten minutes and boom, there it is. In my case, it was midnight at the Suck offices, early December 1995. I had just written my first Suck piece ever, a rabid attack of a book called Net Chick a guide to the web, for hip chicks, get it? I was tired. I needed a pseudonym. Blam.
I'm not sure who these Samurai Pizza Cats are, but they sound about as fresh and exciting as a five year old's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed birthday party.
Which is to say, they sound very fresh and exciting!
Ill-informed but creative,
Hi Polly...er Harold?
There's gonna be a lot of really mad straight men who spent their time proposing marriage to you now! Either that or they'll find their hidden effette side, and redouble their efforts! Now, the only question is: your friend Steve, are we to understand that he's actually a militant lesbian? I'll be patiently waiting for the next 'Ms. Flinchy' episode!
Now move over...You're hogging the closet!
Yes, Steve is a militant lesbian. In fact, he's a member of one of the larger lesbian militia groups in the country. And yes, all those "straight" men who proposed to me are mad, but they were pretty much nuts to begin with.
Did David, the oldest brother on "Eight is Enough", ever try his hand at stand-up comedy? If he ever did,I suspect it sounded a lot like this letter.
Eyes darting nervously about the room...
This whole column is about how Ramis has no revolutionary socialist street credibility? Is the assumption here that coming of age in the Sixties and working in Hollywood automatically puts you in the worker's vanguard?
No Rich, you big fascista, the only point is that Ramis dismisses social protest and satire (by implication) as immature. But he won't follow through on his own "wacky redemption" philosophy, his supposedly mature POV, when real redemption is required in an Analyze This. It feels like he's rationalizing an I Don't Want To Get Involved attitude as somehow enlightened.
Bert V. Debs, Esq.
Nice piece. I've always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Ramis since hearing him (as Egon Spengler, the uber-nerd of Ghostbusters) utter the immortal words, "I feel like the floor of a taxicab."
I'm surprised you didn't mention Ramis' turn as the deus ex machina in As Good As It Gets. In a film populated almost exclusively by misfits, he's the saintly (if bloated) doctor brought in by Jack Nicholson to save Helen Hunt's kid. Of course, there's no way Hunt can afford him; it's up to Nicholson and his big bucks to keep the Rent-a-Savior from moseying on to greener pastures. Was I the only person in the world who found this scene to be spiritually unsatisfying? Did you see the look of thinly veiled disgust on Ramis' face when Hunt tells him she couldn't afford his fancy tests? How's that for an articulation of the "I'm not broken, you're broken, show me the money" Boomer ethos?
Your Gentle Reader,
I have a soft spot for Ramis, too. The guy is undeniably funny, and it's only his dismissal of social protest as childish that got me going. The implication that every American satirist from Twain to Bill Hicks really needs to grow up seemed kind of defensive on his part.
Ghostbusters always pissed me off, mainly because I didn't think it was helpful to make the EPA a scapegoat. I never thought about it beyond that (it's only a stupid movie, after all). Thanks for some context.
Yeah, not that I care what Ramis' politics are, but how right wing paranoiac do you have to be to see the EPA during the Reagan years as out of control?
Thanks for writing,
One of the disagreeable things in Ramis is the Christian-proofing scene. In Ghostbusters, we have Ernie Hudson, apropos of nothing, delivering that weird line about how "I like Jesus' style." it's supposed to solace the audience worried about the occult content of the film, making it Christian-proof. And he does it again in Bedazzled, with the jailhouse scene in which the fellow prisoner could it be Jesus? starts going on about how heaven and hell are within you (Really? Then why is Satan spending so much time and treasure fishing for souls in this movie? Even Little Nicky, with its tossed-off line about "the balance of good and evil" had its cosmology more worked out). Anyway, you've done a fine overview of Ramis' career; plus, for the purposes of the article you had to go back and rewatch Stripes, which I couldn't have done even to see that scene of Murray teasing P. J. Soles with a spatula. Good work.
Richard von Busack
Thanks, Richard. Hmmm, token gestures to the Xtian right and Ernie Hudson's character as token black employee Ghostbusters is more Reaganesque than I thought!
If you want to understand the roots of Harold Ramis' oeuvre, his philosophy if you will, how under a veneer of rebellion he basically believes in cooperation, participation, responsibility, and deference to authority, you have to understand one fundamental fact:
Nope, Mike, he's a Chicagoan. So I'm still confused. I think he's a typical baby boomer who feels that any systematic, go along to get along, status quo move set to a rock and roll song is proof the '60s will never die.
And why is it when I ran my American Century 2.0 piece I got similar letters complaining that one of our distinguished citizens was supposedly a Canadian? Canada has Howie Mandel to brag about can't you leave us something?
Wow. That was great. Just GREAT. Thanks so much for your thoughts in this essay, they're very moving, fascinating, & upsetting.
Well, gee David, no need to get upset about Ramis when you think how many Pauley Shore movies got made!
The differences between you and Harold Ramis are as follows:
He doesn't publish works with blatant, multiple punctuation errors.
I'm sure there are plenty more. I just stopped giving a shit about 20 seconds ago.
Hmmm. Unfunny, unsuccessful, illiterate ... Chris, there's might be an open governor's seat in Texas pretty soon. Can I use you as a reference?
As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. Social critics sound a lot more convincing when they aren't obviously projecting their unresolved parental issues onto a larger canvas. It may be unfair to expect Ramis to present the complete picture he simply represents (very well at times, especially as you note in Groundhog Day) one end of the polarity. It's up to each of us to draw from the artists and thinkers around us in determining what civic life/personal growth ratio works best in our respective lives.
Strangely enough, I always thought Ramis (at least in his "Officer Friendly" and "Moe Green" characters) was the edgiest of the SCTVers. Then again, it's no feat for an American to be edgier than a bunch of (mostly) Canadians.
Quite true, quite true, Andy. Canadians, like most woodland creatures, are a simple, friendly breed. But they can be dangerous when caught in those nasty leg snap traps so watch out!
Ramis in his SCTV days was a little more sarcastic and rude, probably the influence of the National Lampoon (he had been working on their radio show) and guys like Michael O'Donoghue and Doug Kenney. A lot of comedy then had more attitude, if not much more to say, than you get now. I don't think Ramis is a bad guy. It's just that he doesn't think anyone is that bad, either.
excellent analysis of harold ramis & many show business types like him they may seem to raise hell and march outside the castle walls
but they don't want to tear the Castle The Image Of Repression Down Harold and his types simply want to be on the inside
Yeah, agreed, a lot of comedians today come across like they've got something to say Dennis Miller, Bill Maher, David Letterman but they're hardly working the same side of the street as Pryor or Roseanne. That's what is so interesting to me about Bill Murray. He's trying to get away from that.
you forget that most inspirational of 80's films: Back to the Future, directed by Ramis's dialectical opposite, Robert Zemeckis. Here we learn the monumental value of standing up for yourself...what does it bring but good fortune, better waistlines, and prettier women? It is a small leap to the logic of Forrest Gump...Add the Ramis formula with that of Zemeckis, and you have enveloped most any form of seriocomic entertainment available today. Whether screwball, slacker, smartass, simpleton, or nerd, one can still, through the benefice of America, achieve. fyi.
... "dialectical" ... "enveloped" ... "seriocomic entertainment" ... "benefice" ...
Fess up, Schrope -- are you some kinda grad student? Are you throwing a lot of book learnin' and two dollar words at us? We're not intimidated one bit, pal. Suck.com can throw down with the best. To wit: Contextual precepts ... Pirandelian irony (beat that one!) ... ipso facto ... obfuscate ... all of which goes to prove that the best way to get ahead in America is to learn English.
Re Zemeckis: I always liked the idea that he was kidding with that last ten minutes of Back to the Future; that the super success '80s family that Michael J. Fox returns to is in fact just as creepy as the one he left.
Bertolemew Brechtgenstein, Phd (pin headed dope)