Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Friday, January 28, 2005

Fight the Cliches By Embracing Them

A pair of cliches have irritated me beyond reason lately. I don’t know why. Both are common in movie and tv promotions.

The first one is the dreaded “America’s loss of innocence” or “time of innocence” crap. “It was 1962, before America lost its innocence...” (The death of John Kennedy is almost always the cutoff.)

Yeah! An innocent time! A time of redlined neighborhoods, Jim Crow laws, and William S. Burroughs! A time when the US actively toppled governments in Iran, Guatemala, and South Vietnam, installing friendly dictators! Sure, they tortured and murdered and we put ‘em there, but by God, they weren’t communists!

Yes, truly a time of innocence and joy.

For Christ’s sake. Teevee writers, get your heads out of your asses. It was a time of innocence for you personally, because you were children. Don’t write that nonsense large onto the country. Read a history book, dammit!

If I ever create a movie/teevee show/whatever, I’m going to employ this cliche with glee and malice. For I, I will make it rock.

Y’see, I was born in 1973. Thus, for me, America’s “time of innocence” would be the late seventies-early eighties.

Roll with it: It was 1983, before America lost her innocence. Ronald Reagan presided over a recession, and America still struggled with the fallout of both Vietnam and Watergate. The “Star Wars” trilogy ended and the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed large. It was a time before America fell from grace...*


The other cliche I’ve been chewing on lately is the narrative crutch of every bad cop show and promo: the lame-assed use of the "meaning" of the name of LA. “Los Angeles. The city of angels. You won’t find many angels here. [insert rest of faux tough-guy narraration]”

Veins throb in my temples whenever I hear it. (The “Philadelphia = City of Brotherly Love” reference is just as bad, but used less.)

But the introduction could be adapted well to other cities, where, yes, it would rock:

“Des Moines. The city of some monks. We’re a few monks short, these days.”

“Cleveland. Land of Cleves. You won’t find many cleves here, though. I don’t know what a ‘cleve’ is.”

“Seattle. City of attles by the sea. Attles are dangerous creatures. I should know. One killed my partner. I’m out for revenge.”

*You know somebody’s gonna try this in conjunction with September 11, 2001. It was when America lost her innocence... No, douchebag, that was when three thousand people were murdered by a bunch of religious zealot scum. Shut your cakehole before I punch you in the throat, you ill-informed tool.

Come to think of it, was America ever “innocent?” How about other countries? Was Ghana ever “innocent?” How about Syria? What’s the cutoff?

I have my own theory. I think a country loses its innocence when it discovers sex. “Tee hee...Thailand just found out where babies come from!”


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