austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

At the A&P we watch our p's & q's

Also last weekend we watched a spectacularly bad movie, Foodfight!. We didn't go to the theaters for this, or pay any money. Somebody's been running it as a 24/7 livestream, endlessly repeating, for it turns out over a year now. If I hadn't found them while rereading some castigating of this awful, awful movie at thedissolve.com and the AV Club's ``My World Of Flops'' columns we'd have never let it drift across our lives.

The movie's premise is that after hours at the supermarket the mascots of various products come to life and have their little city going on, and, what do you know but there's a conspiracy to replace all the various normal store products with Brand X products, after which the world will be conquered. This may sound like a stupid idea, but do consider that the general in charge of the evil Brand X product army, is --- and I do not choose these words recklessly --- some kind of Nazi pickle.

Does this sound stupid? Of course it does, and it's not because I haven't presented context. If I presented context you would realize that it is much stupider than that. This is not just a bad movie; it achieves that wonderful state of fractal stupidity, a buckshot-spray of stupid ideas each of which, on examination, is a new buckshot-spray of stupid ideas. One extremely minor case in point: Our Hero I Guess, Dex Dogtective (mascot for the breakfast cereal Cinnamon Sleaze, as best I can make out a billboard that I think shows him) hopes to foil Brand X's evil plan by going to the computer and sending an e-mail revealing the danger Brand X poses. The e-mail is carried into the computer by IBM's famous cartoon icon, this wireframe-humanoid figure that I guess exists or something? And when you're done pondering the question, has IBM even got a cartoon mascot, or ever had any kind of mascot, there's the question: who is he e-mailing, and what could he possibly have written to achieve his goal? ``I am a cartoon dog that represents Cinnamon Sleaze cereal, and the world will be conquered by Brand X unless you take it out of your store overnight, also I am not crazy''? If I ever teach a rhetoric course I will award an A+ to anyone who can compose a letter Dex Dogtective might have sent to get someone else to do what he wants.

I mention the cartoon mascots. The gimmick of this film is it would be obscenely overloaded with mascots for all kinds of products. It's got a bunch of them, but, for the most part, they don't matter. I think only Charlie the Tuna and Mrs Butterworth even get any lines, and Mister Clean wanders by a bunch to get stuff spilled on him. It's weird that the movie makers would have gone to the bother of getting all these characters together and instead used their own, dumb, original characters.

And, oh, what characters. I mention the Nazi pickle and it isn't me being snarky or reductive. The design and iconography for the villains are trying mightily to make you think of the Nazis, in a story so dopey that at one point Dex Dogtective, which is the kind of name created by people who've heard of puns but never seen one themselves, declares to another that they're fighting for the right of people to eat doughnuts. Again, fractal stupidity, and striving for offensiveness: the Brand X Nazi pickles talk about the way they're bringing purity to the world by eliminating all the cartoon mascots, here called icons or ``ikes''. They're trying to inspire with this a thought along the lines of, ``hey, wasn't Roger Rabbit on to something great and natural by calling cartoons `toons'? Well, we couldn't do that'', and they're not very good at that either.

Plot points aside there's stuff in the characterizations to bother people. As I make it out the groups of people who have the biggest grounds to be offended are:

  1. People who are ethnically Chinese.
  2. People who are female.
  3. People who are black.
  4. People who are male.
  5. People who are Jewish.
  6. People who eat.
  7. People who buy things.

It's a really spectacular feast of incompetence, the kind of bad that people create filks for. I'm kind of sorry to have spent time watching this, or letting it eat away at my brain, but also kind of glad to have seen such spectacular awfulness.

Trivia: A crate of baby peas was presented to France's Louis XIV at Versailles in 1660. His liking of them set off a half-century baby-pea mania. Source: The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: The General : David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry, Kenneth Bilby.

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