Harold Bishop has a posse

The Rae St Institute > Blog archive > Shh, I'm trying to hear the dialogue

This is the first of many delayed stories, partly because I'm sick, but mostly because I'm working my arse off in the weeks before uni due to the fact that I have the lust for cash of a full-blown money grubbing cnut to move house fairly soon, etc, plus less time once uni's back, and all that.
The location: a small cinema+beverage venue, last weekend.
The situation: a room containing four people sits back to watch some B-grade soft-porn from 1972 (and heckle it).
The (initial) players: Myself, The Colonel, A woman I didn't really know, and The Man Who Knows Too Much about Synthesizers.
About 30 minutes into the film we've all had a good solid laugh at it -- the fact that they seemed to be using the same set over and over, just shooting from different angles -- the elevator music -- assorted funny as fuck entirely inappropriate comments that would shock your mother... a nice little vibe.

And then, Big Brother style, an "Intruder" is inserted into our content little milieu.

First words, after about 20 seconds of fuming and staring at everyone..
"Shh... can you keep it down? I'm trying to hear the Ed Wood dialogue."
A couple of mildly amused murmurs from all of us... said without a hint of sarcasm, maybe he's just playing it deadpan.

Trying to hear the Ed Wood dialogue?

Yep, and I'm trying to make sure I hear every note of that speed-addled monkey playing the accordion.. clearly. And write it down, too, because it's important.

So the vibe continues, nobody makes anything of it.

Myself and The Colonel, anchored firmly to the back row, drinking beers, laughing like hell (as was everyone else in the room).. exchanging comments about the film with the two people in the row in front, are then scolded directly by the visitor.
Are you going to talk through the whole thing? I paid money to see this.
"Maybe we will."

It is at this point that The Colonel's investigative team tabled their report, and he informed me that we were quite obviously in the presence of Ed Wood himself.

"That's Ed. Come to see his own film."

Suffice it to say, telling two gentlemen in the early stages of a fully-fledged Fear and Loathing style weekend to be quiet - if you actually want them to be quiet - is just about your worst possible course of action.

The two in the row in front quietened down a bit, but didn't stop laughing when we passed comment.

All was ok, Ed was still fuming, but just huffing and puffing.. until the woman in the row in front left the room.

Being now a room with all boys - and as we learnt later, Ed being somewhat of a sleazy fucker ladies' man - that meant in Ed's book that it was all on (seeing as he didn't have to appear to be a gentleman anymore). He started yelling. Full volume.

HZ: "Well, to be frank, if you're going to come and see something that's basically B-grade softcore porn, written by a well-known shlock-master, and take it seriously, I pity you."


Col: "Could be fun."

And then the Organiser-Of-Event told Ed to be quiet, seeing as the film was nearly over.

After the film the fun really began. Screaming and yelling, "this isn't your loungeroom!" "don't you have ANY idea how to behave in a cinema?!" etc etc etc. Cutting us off mid-sentence to scream that we were arrogant. Another one of those cases where people telling you what's wrong with you, or what's wrong with society, are actually providing you with a crystal case in point of what's wrong with them.

Then while The Colonel and I pondered what the fuck had just happened, he stormed out to the bar and started yelling and screaming to all and sundry about us.

By the time we got out there he was being yelled at by bar staff, event organisers, and while they were telling him how he'd destroyed the atmosphere of the night's screening (which until he arrived had been identical to previous nights), he kept farting out the absurd assumption that their yelling at him meant they agreed with him.
Organiser: "The only problem in that cinema was YOUR behaviour. Every other night has been nice and chilled out. Screaming at people like that is completely un-called for.. Being that loud just makes you look like a fool."

Ed: "[to us]Hear that? [to organiser]So you agree with me then!"

Organiser: "I'm talking about YOU. You were the only problem in that cinema."


The Colonel and I pondered whether a fight was actually going to happen.

Organisers and bar staff pondered whether throwing him out was more trouble than keeping him in.

He kept complaining. I offered to give him the money he'd paid for the screening on condition he didn't come into the second one. He of course just screamed abuse back.

Then the woman from the previous screening arrived back, with a (female) friend in tow.

This left The Colonel and I to our beer, likewise Organisers to their beers, and the Bar Staff urge-to-kill level was quite palpably dropping rapidly.

See, their entry threw Ed off course, like a greyhound distracted by a REAL rabbit just outside the rails.. everyone (except for Ed + his two new targets) drank beers and chilled out while Ed ranted at them in his most implausible Deranged-Fuckstick-Who-Is-So-Damn-Suave impression.

This also meant that the second screening was much much quieter. Everyone still passed comment on the film, but there being more women in the room than previously, Ed couldn't bring himself to act as deranged as he actually was.

Thanks Ed, you're a fucking entertainer.

This event left The Colonel and I in a, well, somewhat jovial mood that triggered a cascade of events limited to (but not actually including):
  1. Saying "Shh! I'm trying to hear the dialogue" to each other and anyone nearby for the next three days
  2. Ending up at some party in Brunswick full of people who know people I know but don't actually know me
  3. Some kind of drug-fuelled blood-soaked orgy of sex and violence provoked by the mayhem-inducing smut we saw (including attempting to launch ballistic missiles at Brian Harradine, destroying Hillsong using some kind of electromagnetic seismic event inducer, massacring kittens, etc)
  4. Stealing a minibus
  5. Invading Andorra
Seriously, though.. I mean people can talk about the high art/low art thing, and how the distinction in theory "shouldn't" exist anymore. But it does. Whether it's an ironic thing.. that the only way you can validly 'enjoy' pornography is if you're laughing at it, or just simply that it's so badly made that it's not even remotely arousing, and the laughter is genuine rather than, as someone tried to tell me the other day, just an 'excuse' for watching it, a nervous reaction - sitting somewhere on the divide/nexus between Plato's conception of laughter and Aristotle's.
Up until the middle of the eighteenth century, an Aristotelian conception governed theories of laughter. Not that Aristotle had much to say on the subject. It may be that the medieval rumour that Aristotle had written a now lost book on comedy is true: but judging from the little that Aristotle has to say on the subject of comedy in the rest of his work, it does not seem likely to have been a very substantial work. Aristotle shares with Plato the idea that laughter is derision, or the expression of superiority. Aristotle saw laughter as proceeding from `the joy we have in observing the fact that we cannot be hurt by the evil at which we are indignant'. Insofar as we tend to laugh at the lowly and the undignified (what is ugly without being offensive, as Aristotle says, in an interesting prefiguring of aesthetic language), laughter should be kept within bounds, since laughing too much at what is ridiculous or unbecoming starts to put your own dignity on the line. Aristotle is here in concord with Plato, who recommended the banning of depictions of gods or heroes doubled up in laughter on the grounds that it was unbecoming and conducive to disrespect for the divine.

From http://www.bbk.ac.uk/english/skc/artlaugh.htm
The difference between the two was that Aristotle saw laughter as a useful tool for promoting social correction (ie laugh at people who fuck up, and maybe they won't fuck up again), whereas Plato saw laughter as something to be frowned upon (hyuck hyuck..) as it offended the dignity of others.

Of course it's tempting to stick to my initial analysis, and describe the 'intruder' as a man living with no confidence, running purely on insecurity. Screaming that he's enforcing some "grand social order" or the greater good, when all he really wants is to impose his will on people, and to get some acknowledgement that he actually exists.

But maybe as a filmmaker I was laughing in the Aristotlean sense (bad filmmaking is to be laughed at in the hope it isn't repeated) whereas Ed entered the room with a purely Platonic concept of laughter. And thus the conflict.

Then again maybe the guy was just a dickhead.

1 Comment - [post a comment]

This could be fun... - colonel, Thursday, July 21, 2005, 10:09 AM
Sometimes life deals up certain moments that make one think of both baseball bats and electric drills; but never both at the same time.