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THE decision by eBay to discontinue its trade in Holocaust memorabilia brought to an end a particularly offensive and peculiar episode in the annals of collections and souvenir-hunting.
And while it is undoubtedly one of the most despicable examples, there is no shortage of tasteless, gauche and tacky souvenirs out there, if you know here to look…
(Warning: one picture below portrays a lynching. It is shocking.)
BETWEEN January 1968 to Spring 1971, Ralph Ginzburg (October 28, 1929 – July 6, 2006) published Avant Garde magazine.
Before that he had achieved fame and notoriety with Eros, a magazine for the sexually curious. He had previously published 100 Years of Lynchings, The Housewife’s Handbook on Selective Promiscuity and…
His 1958 book An Unhurried View of Erotica, a collection of risque material plucked from many of the world’s leading libraries, sold more than 125,000 copies in hardback and over 200,000 in print.
ANORAK’s history of controversial children’s books: sex, drugs, sambo’s gay lover and anti-authoritarianism in the classroom.
The Little Red Schoolbook
In 1971 the proprietor of Stage 1 publishers was found guilty of having in his possession obscene books for publication for gain. Richard Handyside was fined £25 on each summons and ordered to pay £110 costs.
The obscene publications were copies of The Little Red Schoolbook written by two Danish schoolteachers, Søren Hansen and Jesper Jensen – and then rewritten by a group of British adults and schoolchildren, including a young Hilary Benn. It urged young readers to question authority and challenge social conventions, and described adults as ‘paper tigers’. Pupils were encouraged to disrupt lessons that they found boring.
The book was widely regarded as an invitation to anarchy, and it was banned in Italy and France. An abridged version was eventually passed for publication in the UK, but it had by this time achieved considerable notoriety. Ironically, the main area of contention was not the political message, but the section giving basic sex education and advice – particularly concerning masturbation – most of which would be on the school curriculum these days. This was of course the convenient pretext chosen the DPP in order to suppress a book that they regarded as socially subversive.
An extraordinary documentary can be heard here.
Enid Blyton is by no means the only venerable authoress to find her books falling out of favour as popular opinion changes over the decades, as Richmal Crompton will have known only too well.
She remains the most high-profile example, however, thanks to her ‘Gollywog’ series, which related the adventures of Golly, Woggy and Nigger, who liked nothing better than to stride along, in Blyton’s own words, ‘arm-in-arm, singing merrily their favourite song – which, as you may guess, was “Ten Little Nigger Boys”.’ These books are not currently available in most children’s libraries
More famous are her Noddy books, in which they feature once again. In one particularly pointed incident, Noddy is attacked by golliwogs, who steal his car and leave him stranded.
Luckily the Toyland police were very efficient, and always at hand.
Not all gollies are bad, though. In Golly Town we find a Mr Golly, who is one of Noddy’s best friends. He owns Toyland’s garage, looks after Noddy’s car, and is an all-round bloody good bloke, as this picture proves…
The Tale of Little Black Sambo
Another former staple of junior school libraries that fell out of favour (though it remains popular in Japan). In 1996, Fred Marcellino produced a set of new pictures, renamed the characters, and republished it under the title The Story of Little Babaji.
One could be charitable and say that Hergé’s most controversial Tintin adventure merely represented the condescending views of Belgian (and British) society at the time.
Post-war, they seemed anachronistic and offensive, portraying as they did a nation of stupid, lazy, infantile savages in need of a clever white master. The book quickly fell out of favour (and out of print).
The Brave Cowboy
A similar trick was pulled with Joan Walsh Anglund’s charming best-seller, in which scary ‘Indians’ were removed and replaced by white bankrobbers and other ne’er-do-wells.
Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin
This otherwise unremarkable tale relates the everyday life of five-year-old Jenn, who lives with her dad and his boyfriend.
In 1986 it was reported that the book was in the library of a school run by the Labour-controlled Inner London Education Authority, and this was a major factor in the Tory government passing Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which prohibited the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. The full, bizarre story can be found here…
And Tango Makes Three
This modern-day ‘Jenny’, based on a true story about two ‘gay’ penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo has the distinction of having had the most had the most ban requests in the USA in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. In 2009 it came second.
‘It’s regrettable that some parents believe reading a true story about two male penguins hatching an egg will damage their children’s moral development,’ said co-author Justin Richardson. ‘They are entitled to express their beliefs, but not to inflict them on others.’
I VERY happily grew up with Sir Roger Moore in the role of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, and thus maintain a deep well of affection and nostalgia for his seven films…even if some Bond fans do not
Moore’s epoch as Agent 007 isn’t usually considered the most creatively fertile time in the franchise’s history, in part because the Bond films of the day pursued “hot” movie trends instead of initiating them, as had been the case in the 1960s.
To wit, the Bond movies of the Moore era attempted to jump on the bandwagon of Blaxploitation cinema (Live and Let Die ), martial arts/Kung-Fu films (The Man with the Golden Gun ), and even the Star Wars craze (Moonraker ).
Despite the fact that Bond films of this time period seem desperate to pinpoint some – any — pop culture relevance, the Roger Moore efforts nonetheless boast some surprising character moments that could have been ripped straight from the novels…and Fleming’s literary descriptions of the character.
For instance, at least two films of the Roger Moore era (The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only) make explicit mention of the character’s tragic history — namely his dead wife, Tracy — a background that the last Connery film, Diamonds are Forever (1971) totally ignored.
Although it is undeniable that some James Bond films of the Roger Moore indeed tread heavily into unfortunate slapstick comedy (see: the pigeon doing a double-take at a gondola-turned-hovercraft in Moonraker), the actor’s finest moments in the famous role arrive not when he is called upon to play scenes broadly or cheekily, but rather when he is tasked with expressing Bond’s humanity.
Some of these “human” moments are small, even throwaway ones, but each one reminds the audience that 007 is not just a superhuman quipster in a white-dinner jacket. He’s still a man who bleeds, sweats, and struggles.
In chronological order then, here are five character moments from the James Bond Era of Roger Moore:
From The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Bond talks to agent Triple XXX (Barbara Bach) about the fact that he murdered her lover.
The Spy Who Loved Me sees British and Russian intelligence join up to solve the mystery of several missing nuclear submarines. Britain’s finest, Bond, and Russia’s – XXX — join forces, and trace the missing subs back to a man named Stromberg (Curt Jurgen).
In a scene set in Sardinia, where Stromberg is headquartered, XXX confronts Bond about the fact that he may have murdered her lover three weeks earlier, on an unconnected assignment.
Bond turns away from XXX (and the audience), before he answers her accusation. Finally, he tells her that it’s hard to know who you kill when you’re racing on skis at 40 miles an hour…but yes, he did kill her lover. At this point, she informs Bond that after their mission is done, she will murder him.
This scene reminds the audience both of the constant danger in Bond’s profession, and its emotional toll upon him. Moore doesn’t rush the scene, or play it lightly. Instead, he takes his time with Bond’s response, giving us time to wonder how Bond will answer. It’s a balancing act for 007, because if he tells XXX the truth, their mission together will be imperiled. But he also feels he owes her the truth…so he gives it to her.
Bond’s sense of duty and moral code is on display in this scene, and Moore gets that aspect of the character absolutely right.
The longer that Bond is in the business of killing people, the more bodies will pile up, and the more angry spouses or family members he will be forced to confront. From this scene, we understand very clearly how Bond’s profession separates him from other people, even from other people in the spy business.
From Moonraker (1979): A rattled Bond — nearly pulped in a sabotage training centrifuge — pushes away Dr. Holly Goodhead (Loise Chiles) as she tries to help him.
This is an almost throwaway moment, but it occurs early in the 1979 film. Bond is visiting the complex of industrialist Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), and Drax has secretly ordered that “some harm” come to him on a tour of the facility.
Dr. Holly Goodhead – secretly a CIA agent — convinces Bond to try out a training centrifuge, but then steps away, unwittingly leaving the villainous henchman Chang (Toshira Suga) to sabotage the machinery, and nearly kill Bond.
An apologetic Goodhead returns after Bond has disabled the deadly machine, and worriedly asks 007 what happened.
Instead of answering, he staggers out of the centrifuge, pushes her aside roughly, and is clearly pissed.
He doesn’t want to talk.
He doesn’t want to relate.
He’s angry, and this moment reveals that Moore’s Bond isn’t always suave or slick, or on the make. This is one of the few times in the Moore films that we see Bond genuinely ruffled, and knocked off-kilter.
In this moment, audiences see a hurt and angry Bond, one who momentarily rejects civility and who hasn’t yet restored his façade of charm.
It’s a telling — if brief — moment for the character. The ever-present mask of composure falls away.
From Moonraker (1979): Bond saves 100,000 people from nerve gas…without quipping.
At the end of Moonraker, Bond and Goodhead board a space shuttle, Moonraker 5, and attempt to destroy three globes in Earth orbit.
If these globes re-enter the atmosphere, they’ll spew toxic nerve gas across whole continents. Bond destroys two without breaking a sweat, but can’t draw a bead on the third and final canister. He must switch to “manual” control to target it when things get rough.
Meanwhile, both the globe and the shuttle are making bumpy re-entry…
Now, on first blush, this moment might seem like a retread of Star Wars’ finale, with Luke Skywalker switching to manual control to lob two proton torpedoes into the Death Star vent.
But — wholly unexpectedly — this moment proves to the most suspenseful and tense of the entire film, which too often trends towards slapstick humor.
Moore has been accused of playing the 007 character “lightly,” but here he plays the character as hyper-focused and severe. Bond often carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he has never undertaken that task as literally as he does in Moonraker (1979), with whole populations imperiled. He has one shot to save the world, so he better make the most of it…
There are no quips, no smiles, and no trademark charm.
Instead, we get an extreme close-up of a tense man in action. Just lots of sweat and those piercing, laser-sharp blue eyes…
From For Your Eyes Only (1981): James Bond kicks a car off a cliff
For Your Eyes Only is far and away Roger Moore’s best Bond film, a grounded, action-packed follow-up to the outer space extravaganza of Moonraker. The film features many great action scenes, particularly the final mountain climbing set-piece, which endures as another masterpiece of escalating suspense.
But in terms of character moments, Moore gets a great one in this movie.
Near the end of For Your Eyes Only, he fights a merciless assassin, Locque (Michael Gothard). Locque has been killing agents and Bond’s allies throughout the whole film, and now Bond finally has him cornered, his car perched on the edge of a rocky cliff.
In his car, Locque panics at his precarious predicament, but things get worse when Bond approaches, and tosses him a keepsake: the “Dove” pin Locque left behind at several crime scenes.
Bond returns the pin to Locque….and then kicks the fucker’s car off the cliff.
Again, there’s nothing light or jokey about this moment. Bond is judge, jury and executioner, and he dispatches Locque with blunt, brutal finality. There are times for compassion and times for humor…and this isn’t one of them. Instead, Bond wordlessly metes out justice. He does so in one fluid movement.
This is the very moment, perhaps, when many Bond fans realized how ill-served Roger Moore had been by some of the Bond scripts. He was capable of being as tough, but rarely had the opportunity to flex that muscle. He shows here that he can capture Bond’s grace, and killer instinct…with perfect economy.
From Octopussy (1983): Bond explains to Octopussy (Maud Adams) how he treated her father.
In Octopussy, Bond travels to India and meets the mysterious smuggler called Octopussy on her private island. She asks him a question about an old case, and there’s every chance their meeting could go fatally wrong. Specifically, Octopussy asks if Bond remembers Major Dexter Smythe.
Bond does remember.
Turns out he was a British agent turned thief who Bond was tasked with bringing into custody. But instead of merely arresting the criminal, Bond gave the man twelve hours to get his affairs in order. Rather than be publicly disgraced, the major took his own life.
Octopussy is his daughter, and she is grateful that Bond gave Smythe time to consider his fate, and avoid public disgrace for his family.
Once more, we are confronted with Bond’s code of ethics. He may be licensed to kill and serve Her Majesty’s Secret Service but he’s not a monster, and when he goes into the field, he interprets orders, rather than simply obeying them. As I wrote above, there are times for compassion, and this story reveals such a time.
Again, Moore is particularly good in this scene because Bond is in a bind. Lie to avoid consequences? Or tell the truth and face them?
He picks the latter, and earns Octopussy’s respect for his honesty (as well as historical behavior). The message is that this Bond is a man of honor.
These days, the Bond films are serious, emotional affairs about a wounded warrior, and that’s all to the good. It’s easy to look back at the Bond films of the 1970s and decry them as being silly or inconsequential by comparison.
Many aspects of the films do fit that bill, but Sir Roger Moore was the 007 for my generation, and — in moments like the ones I enumerated above – I’m glad he was on the job.
IT’S the job of advertising to capitalize on human insecurities, primarily focusing on easy targets surrounding our desire to fit in and look good. This is the Achilles ‘Heel of our psyche, chinks in the armor of rational thinking. If an advertiser attacks these zones, it’s an assured victory – especially in the world of beauty and fitness products.
“You know why she’s wearing the sweatshirt, don’t you.”
I HESITATED using the word “worst” since many of these are novelty songs, which are intentionally strange or humorous rather than attempting to be a genuinely serious musical composition. However, that doesn’t erase the fact that they, like all the songs in this list, are simply unlistenable, intolerable, and unbearable. These songs are so bad you will be tempted to escape and click your “back” button. But I encourage you to see it through – press on, and see what sort of stuff you’re made of.
BARACK Obama makes reading the autocue look pretty easy. After all, reading and aloud is something you learn to do when you’re a toddler. If you can make a living out of it, more power to you. But you are at the mercy of technology and grammar. A misplaced comma can lead to difficulties, as we will see in these examples:
Dana was murdered – she’s off tonight
And you know what you are – all of you:
Especially you, sicko:
And here’s how you do it:
SOBS and moans filled the air from Plymouth to Plymouth Rock, from York to New York, from Wales to New South Wales, from Surrey to Salford. Even a few people in the city of Manchester could be heard above the general laughter. So many questions were raised by Manchester United’s performance in Greece this week that we’ll restrict ourselves to just one. Is it the reds’ worst defeat of the modern era?
Here are 11 others that give it a run for its money…
December 1972: Crystal Palace 5-0 Manchester United
Don Rogers ‘did a Pele’; United did something unpleasant in their shorts. But it was Palace themselves who were relegated, and the Red Devils lived to be relegated another day.
April 1974: Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City
That day came at the next available opportunity: the following season, to be precise. Contrary to popular myth, former United legend Denis Law’s back-heeled goal for City didn’t actually send United down –other results meant they would have been relegated anyway. But it became an enduring emblem of the club’s post-Busby demise. United fans invaded the pitch – another symbol of the Red Army at the time.
May 1976: Manchester United 0-1 Southampton
The late Bobby Stokes caused a major FA Cup upset – and won a car – by scoring the Wembley winner for second division Saints, thus depriving United of their first serious silverware of the Seventies.
September 1989: Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United
Chants of ‘Ferguson out’ at the match are often attributed to cheeky City fans, on the grounds that United’s supporters had all left the stadium by then…
The Maine Road Massacre was one of a series of results in the early stages of the season that led the United faithful to lose patience with their as yet unsuccessful manager Alex Ferguson, and prompted the infamous ‘tara’ banner.
September 1990: Liverpool 4-0 Manchester United
Liverpool were reigning champions when they crushed United at Anfield in this early season fixture, and looked likely to continue their dominance. United, by contrast, looked as far from being champions as ever. As it turned out, Liverpool didn’t win the league and haven’t done so since. United, on the other hand, were just three years away from a period of unprecedented success.
January 1992: Manchester United
New Year’s Day brought a result which suggested that United’s 26-year wait for the championship would continue for another season. And so it proved, as Leeds United overhauled their lead in the final season of the old First Division. The Premier League began later that year, and over the next two decades United would make the competition their own.
November 1994: Barcelona 4-0 Manchester United
Group A of the Champions League turned into a nightmare as Romario and Stoichkov tormented United. Keeper Gary Walsh, who remembers being unrecognised by United fans on a coach at the airport afterwards. The result had significant consequences, as United were ultimately eliminated after finishing in third place on goal difference.
May 2002: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal clinch the title at Old Trafford with a goal by Silvain Wiltord (remember him?) back in the days when Arsène Wenger didn’t regard fourth place as a trophy.
March 2009 Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool
Losing to their hated rivals is as bad as it gets for United, but this defeat in the run-in proved to be just a blip, and Fergie’s boys went on to clinch their 18th title – thereby finally equaling Liverpool’s tally.
May 2011: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United
The score-line is convincing, yet it doesn’t convey the gulf in class between the two sides on this warm evening at the magnificent new Wembley stadium. Barcelona dominated this Champions League final, and established themselves as the undisputed kings of Europe.
October 2011: Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
The ‘noisy neighbours’ put United firmly n their place with this stunning display at Old Trafford, and the goals tasted extra sweet when they went on to pip them to the title on goal difference in the last seconds of the season. And here are the reactions of a man from the south of England and one from Manchester…
FAR be it from me to stifle creativity – an author should be able to title their work as he or she likes. However, there is a limit to my tolerance. Sometimes, the title is so terrible that it simply must go; creativity be damned. Here’s a handful of vintage reads which suffer from just such an affliction.
12 Chinks and Woman by James Hadley Chase (1941)
I understand people weren’t as sensitive to racial issues back then, but this is ridiculous. The novel’s title was later changed to The Doll’s Bad News; a wise move, but you can’t undo this level of epic racism. This from the author who gave us these other great titles: The Marijuana Mob (1950), There’s a Hippie on the Highway (1970) and Goldfish Have No Hiding Place (1974).
TO UGANDA, where the local Red Pepper newspaper leads with:
“EXPOSED! Uganda’s Top 300 Honos Names”
Congratulations to those who made the list, and commiserations to those who did not, could be premature because Uganda is a beacon of intolerance and bigotry. The paper adds:
“In salutation to the new law, today we unleash Uganda’s top homos and their sympathisers.”
IN the 1950s and 1960s, Mead Johnson’s Metrecal promised to get you into shape. What that shape was, we people of the future can only guess at – and we guess it was a human form jackknifed over a toilet.
Mead Johnson spotted Sustagen, a composite blend of mix of skimmed milk powder, soybean flour, vitamins, minerals, corn oil, minerals and vitamins spooned into hospital patients not up to eating solids. Pressing ‘Go’ on the random-name-generating computer, produced Metrecal, the weight-reducing miracle. It looked like baby powder. It tasted like baby sick. But – buy – it sure cured your appetite.
Take a drink and get slim. But do stick to the 900 calories of Metrecal a day.
This advert for the vile goop is from 1965:
The keen-to-be-slim could chow down on Metrecal milkshakes, Metrecal cookies, Metrecal clam chowder (New England style) and Metrecal tuna and noodles. Remember, so long as you kept to 900 calories a day, you’d be thinning. And nothing was better at building the new you than the liquid lunches, dinners and breakfasts.
HERE are a few vintage phallic instances (either real or inferred) which have gained a bit of notoriety over the years. Read on – your inner idiot will thank you.
1. THE RIFLEMAN’S LOG
This Rifleman comic book has experienced a certain degree of notoriety for what can only be described as a horrifically uncomfortable cover. How is it possible that the subtext went unnoticed before printing? Looking through old magazines, comic books, etc. it’s easy to stumble onto accidental phallic imagery. Perhaps it’s because they weren’t as jaded as we are these days, always finding the tawdry in the innocent. Or maybe published adverts and illustrations generally weren’t as polished, edited and re-edited as they are today. Who knows? Yet, the phallic nature of this one seems so extreme, it couldn’t possibly have been missed by even the most obtrusively naive,… right?
2. THREEPIO’S UNIT
This Star Wars trading card has also received some well-earned notoriety. It appears that C-3PO is sporting a golden metallic erection of impressive proportions. The robot was supposed to be a “protocol droid”, but this picture has one wondering if C-3PO had other useful functions not fit for a family movie. According to the official Star Wars site:
It appears that the extra appendage is not the work of an artist, but rather a trick of timing and light…. At the exact instant the photo was snapped, a piece fell off the Threepio costume and just happened to line up in such a way as to suggest a bawdy image.
According to Snopes, whether this was intentional or not remains undetermined.
3. SEARS CATALOG PROTRUSION
This unfortunate event occurred in the 1975 Sears Fall/Winter catalog. Extending below the boxer shorts emerges what appears to be a glimpse of this model’s manhood. A lot of squinting, enlarging, and Photoshop exploration has occurred over the years trying to get this mysterious object into focus. Can it truly be what we think it is? Or is it simply a smudge? We may never really know.
This phallic incident even inspired a novelty song “The Man on Page 602” by Zoot Fenster, released not long after the catalog was published.
“The picture’s got me out of sorts, because I don’t understand,
Are they advertising boxer shorts, or are they trying to sell the man?”
4. THREE’S COMPANY SCROTAL EXPOSURE
God knows, shorts certainly lived up to their name in the 1970s. So, you can hardly fault John Ritter for what took place in episode 161 of Three’s Company. In this now infamous sitcom episode, he takes a seat on a bed and in the process reveals portions of his junk for the camera. If you blink you miss it, and it’s not exactly in high definition either…. But, make no mistake, Ritter’s naughty bits are definitely there. The incident yielded one of my favorite quotes of all time. When asked by The New York Observer whether they should edit the scene for future broadcasts, Ritter responded:
“I’ve requested that Nickelodeon air both versions, edited and unedited, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”
5. POPSICLE OF SHAME
I present to you this highly troubling Evel Knievel Popsicle ad. It hasn’t garnered any notoriety yet, but it’s high time it did. Spread the word.
RECENTLY, you may have seen the terrible depiction of Kurt Cobain in statue form, in Aberdeen (the American one, not the Scottish one). The statue, below, features Cobain looking like a wino busker, crying.
Actually crying. Because Kurt was so sensitive. Maaaaaaaan.
Of course, most people’s memories of Kurt where a little more fun and energetic, rather than the maudlin monstrosity that is roundly being mocked by the whole internet.
Of course, Kurt Cobain isn’t the only famous person to get a statue of themselves. Crucially, he’s not the only famous person to have a UTTERLY DREADFUL statue cluttering up the world.
Benny Hill wanted his women to be more naive than he was, women who would look up to him. He also said it was fellatio he wanted, or masturbation. “But Bob, I get a thrill when they’re kneeling there, between my knees and they’re looking up at me. And I want them to call me Mr Hill, not Benny. ‘Is that all right for you , Mr Hill?’ That’s lovely, that is, I really like that,” I asked him why and he said, “well, it’s respectful.” – Bob Monkhouse (from Mark Lewisohn’s Benny Hill biography – ‘Funny, Peculiar’).
ON the morning of 19th April 1992, which was Easter Sunday morning that year, and just two hours after he had been speaking to a television producer about the possibility of yet another come-back, 75 year-old Frankie Howerd collapsed and died of heart failure.
Benny Hill, who was seven years younger than Howerd, was quoted in the press as being “very upset” and was reported as saying, “We were great, great friends”. Indeed they had been friends but he hadn’t given a quote about his fellow comedian, he hadn’t been asked for one – he couldn’t have been – because he was already dead.
A PRIME reason for heavy metal’s success is that it is a culture unto itself. Fads come and go, but a culture has staying power. It comes with its own dress code, etiquette and idolatry. A small but important part of that culture is the album cover – the visual representation of the music, the heart of the heavy metal universe. If you’re a metal band, it’s imperative you get this facet right. So, let’s tour through some metal covers from the 1980s, a time when heavy metal was king, and learn from their successes and failures.
LESSON 1: THE 6 REQUIREMENTS
IN 1976, David Bowie was at Victoria station. A rockstar catching a train might be an extraordinary event, but something else caught the eye of the NME. Bowie was now working as the Thin White Duke.
ON this day in photos: February 23, 1945: US raises flag raised over Iwo Jima.
Joe Rosenthal took the wonderful picture as the U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raised the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi.
This picture won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945.
WITH J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII in the pipeline comes the news that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher will reprise their iconic roles in the George Lucas franchise for the first time in over thirty years, since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
What impacts have time and ageing had upon courageous Empire-busting rebels Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia?
THE trouble with American situation comedies in the 1970s and 1980s was that you never knew what you were going to get when you tuned in: was it going to be light-hearted entertainment or tales from the darkside? There was nothing worse than sitting on the couch, ready for 30 minutes of laughs, and instead being served a smorgasbord of human suffering.
In their lust for an Emmy, sitcom writers got it into their heads that there just had to be “special episodes”. With these stories, the comedy came to a screeching halt in favor of some of the most brutal narratives imaginable. What made it so nefarious is that these shows generally were fun and silly…. then they turned on a dime, delivering terrifying accounts of sodomy and molestation. You never knew what you were going to get, so you were unprepared for the nightmare unfolding before you.
I’ll begin with the most infamous example of them all….
1. Diff’rent Strokes
“The Bicycle Man” Parts 1 and 2 (1983)
Season 5, Episodes 16 and 17
A BIG (helping) hand please for the fall guys…
A month of extreme weather and Winter Olympics has brought the downfall of members of the public…
EVERY now and then, Hollywood comes up with a good concept, and then competing studios rush to ruthlessly exploit it. Remember the summer of 1998, and dueling asteroid pictures Armageddon and Deep Impact?
Or 1988, the year of the “body switch” movie like Big, Vice Versa and 18 Again?
DAILY Mail writers don’t have children, they have material. Among the coterie of wearisome women columnists that pour out self-parody in prose for the Daily Mail’s malevolent Mekon boss, Paul Dacre, Shona Sibary is the worst offender. While Liz Jones mines her own mental illness for copy, Sibary exploits her four children repeatedly and shamelessly, embarrassing them in print and online even more frequently than Samantha Brick mentions her horny-handed hairy scary of a husband.
HAVE you been wasting precious hours of your day wondering where A Flock of Seagulls got their name? Well, wonder no more. Before your very eyes are the etymologies of 1980s pop-synth and post-punk bands, illuminated for posterity. No more shall mankind contemplate the origin of Kajagoogoo. Mystery solved.
Named after a gang of children that Geldof had read about in Woody Guthrie’s autobiography, Bound for Glory.
Trevor Horn imagined a futuristic computer creating a synthetic band “The Buggles”, a corruption of The Beatles
Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Dexedrine, a brand of dextroamphetamine – the original ADHD medication, and a once popular recreational stimulant.
Any excuse to hear this. (Cue the school disco frenzy.)
Named after the villain in Barbarella, Dr. Durand Durand
Fine Young Cannibals
From the 1960 film All the Fine Young Cannibals starring Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood.
A Flock of Seagulls
Taken from the lyrics to “Toiler on the Sea” by The Stranglers
We ventured overland
Fought with the aliens
The young ones used their hands
Pointed the way to a flock
A flock of seagulls!
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
A random headline from the New Yorker magazine (the “Frankie” in question referred to Frank Sinatra)
A fictional band mentioned in Anthony Burgess’s novel, A Clockwork Orange.
Named after the board game. The heavy metal umlauts were added for effect.
Inspired by the band XTC and Australian jam makers IXL, they decided on a foreshortened version of “inaccessible”.
Jesus and Mary Chain
Allegedly from a breakfast cereal package which advertised that you could send off for a free Jesus and Mary chain.
A slight variation on a baby’s first sounds: gaga googoo
42 as in the answer to the meaning of life in the Douglas Adams book The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy
Love and Rockets
After the Jaime and Mario Hernandez alternative comic books
Homage to Madness a song by reggae artist Prince Buster.
Ready to the the Rude Boy dance that anyone could do (again, any excuse):
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
They wanted a name that in no way would confuse them as a punk band. I think they succeeded.
Named after the Platters song The Great Pretender.
Public Image, Ltd.
After the Muriel Spark novel The Public Image
A homage to the Italian Marxist writer and political theorist Antonio Gramsci. The correct spelling in Italian to refer to “Political Writings” would have produced “Scritti Politici, but was changed to sound like the Little Richard song Tutti Frutti.
From the David Bowie song “The Jean Genie”
“Hes so simple minded he can’t drive his module,
He bites on the neon and sleeps in the capsule”
The band’s name originally was “Red”, but when the singer had to repeatedly clarify their name as “Red, simply Red”, it seemed to stick.
A combination of the nickname of MC5′s Fred “Sonic” Smith with “Youth” from reggae artist Big Youth.
The name refers to many hangings at Spandau Prison where the victims would twitch and jump (a macabre ballet) at the end of a rope.
A facetious tribute to The Velvet Underground’s oft-derided 1973 album Squeeze.
Tears for Fears
Inspired by “primal therapy”, developed by American psychologist Arthur Janov, who had John Lennon as a patient in 1970.
From the Thompson and Thompson characters from The Adventures of TinTin
Named after a Vulcan Elder on Star Trek
Originally, Huang Chung which they claimed translated to “perfect pitch” and the sound a guitar makes. The spelling was changed from “Huang” to “Wang” simply to make it easier to pronounce.
… and there you have it. You’re welcome.
“ESCAPE (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes is great and it should be in every movie.”
But can the song make everything it touches better? Let’s see:
Pina Colada 1: The Lion King
The Silence Of The Lambs