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April 06, 1980 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-06
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Page 8-Sunday, April 6, 1980-The Michigan Daily





(Continued from Page 3)
arousing criticism from them. and
making Reagan look like a martyr. "If
George had said, 'Look, this has gone
far enough, let's all debate,' then I
think we'd have been 10 points
better at the polls," says Richard
Goodman, Bush's media advisor.
Three days later, Bush suffered a
crushing defeat. Polls showed him run-
ning even with Reagan, but the final
tally gave the former California gover-
nor a 2-1 victor'y. The Bush machine
had stalled.
Another consideration is that Bush
always runs on momentum-the
cheerleader-but he rarely addresses
specifically the issues. Goodman ad-
mits the public felt Bush was am-
biguous in speeches. "George Bush was
that new face people were hungering
for. We had a great advantage in the
lack of perceptions of him, really,
which meant we could present a fresh
perception that would be considered
new and different," Goodman says.
During a critical strategy session af-
ter the Iowa victory, the Bush camp
met to decide whether to keep the same
formula, or come out and be more
specific on the economy and foreign
policy. "We didn't put an issue base un-
der the momentum like we should have.
There's a false perception out there
that George Bush doesn't talk about
issues," said James Baker III, Bush's
campaign manager.
The potential switch in strategy
seemed sound enough, for now that the
media had made Bush its golden boy,
the former CIA chief would have to with-
stand more scrutiny than he had ever
confronted. If he presented himself as
the 1980 version of a wishy-washy no
one-knows-where-he-stands-man (re-
member the 1976 Jimmy Carter), the
media could bludgeon him to sub-

UT IN POLITICS, rarely does a
candidate tinker with a winning
strategy. Bush kept talking
a ut momentum, and rejected the
idea of being more open about the
issues. What the New Hampshire
hurricane demonstrated is that the
public, once eager for a fresh new face,
had found out more about him and saw
him as he really was, empty and
shallow. They so desperately wanted to
support Bush, but realized he was ac-
ting liberal to the liberals, moderate to
the moderates, and conservative to the
conservatives. No one knew where he
really stood.
And once the only thing he had going
for him-momentum-had vanished in
New England, there was nothing else.
After Iowa, Reagan still had his har-
dcore supporters firmly behind him.
After the early primaries, Kennedy still
had the support of the longtime liberal
constituency, the poor, and the unions.
But so much of Bush's appeal relied on
continued winnability. One loss in new
Hampshire uncovered his weakness,
destroyed his myth. "Wien you look
behind George Bush's campaign, there
was nothing there. He was a hollow
shell," says Dick Bennett, a pollster for
Rep. John Anderson.
Both Carter's and Bush's campaigns
have been victimized by a charge made
by observers of primary strategies: As
long as an unknown candidate looks and
sounds good; the naive public will see
only the surface and vote for him. But
Bush's New Hampshire defeat and
other setbacks disproved this notion.
The public apparently wants a
politician who addresses specific
issues; thus, the emergence of John
Anderson, a man whom the public can
trust because it perceives him as
willing to discuss the issues openly.
Following the string of whippings
Reagan dealt the former ambassador,
the Bush organization finally decided to
make a drastic move: Elimination of

the public's perception that Bush
avoids the issues. After a speech before
the Council of Foreign Relations in
Chicago, the candidate entered a small
room to talk to the press for a few
minutes. Polls had just come out the
day before that showed Bush lagging a
distant third behind Anderson 'and
Reagan in the battle for the Illinois
primary. The anxious press eagerly
awaited a response from the candidate
to the most recent bad news.-But Bush
refused to answer any questions about
the campaign's politics. From now on,
he would only talk about specific issues
and policies. Any questions about his
race strategy would be referred to
other members of his staff. The press
was stunned. After all, here before
them was the man who made the word
'momentum' such a key part of the
political dictionary. This switch in
strategy was a refreshing addition to
the campaign, but it came too late. By
now, Bush was a washed-up com-

modify. He could still win or do well in
some of the remaining primaries, but
the Reagan momentum looks un-
On that night two months ago in Iowa,
it was the Bush momentum which
looked unbeatable. The television
camera lights were everywhere. With
a broad smile, Bush thanked his troops
and told them it was time to conquer the
next state. He looked like a winner. On
the day he changed his strategy in
Chicago, he appeared tired and
desperate. The press which had once
swelled to two busloads had dwindled
rapidly. The hopes and expectations of
January had turned into the reality of
March. George Bush looked like a loser.
What happened in those two months
is not only another strange develop-
ment in a strange political year, but it
reflects an underlying fallacy in a
strategy that worked four years ago.
Politicians cannot run only on momen-
tum, they must offer the public firm
goals and ideas as well.


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(Continued from Page 7)
them, and selling the babies to lesbian
couples on a black-market adoption
WITH THE FIGHT for filth in full
spendor, the movie can get down
to its real story-namely, seeing how
many silly/disgusting activities can be
crammed into a 90-minute film. We see
Divine's hippie son screwing his date
while he cuts off a live chicken's head;
policemen being slaughtered and eaten
(Waters reportedly used fresh cow in-
nards for the grisly sequence); a
masturbation scene with the extraor-
dinarily repulsive Channing the butler;
and Divine, capturing her rivals, the
Marbles, giving them a hasty tar-and-
feathering, and murdering them after a
mock trial in which she tells an inter-
viewer that she just lo-o-oves the taste
of blood-especially "freshly-killed
blood." The movie is capped by its
celebrated finale: Divine (in an un-
faked scene) devouring: dog feces,'
staring into the camera with a
grotesque grin on her face, as "How
Much Is That Doggie In The Window?"
pipes in the background with naughty
If this sounds like a revolting spec-
tacle, it is, and it's meant to be. The
movie is a feature-length Hustler
Magazine cartoon, post-de Sade por-
nography in which sexual stimulation,
takes a back-seat to violence and
repulsion. Even the humor has a mean-
spirited wallop, as in a scene where
Divine almost mows down some hit-
chhikers and a wide-angle lens smears
her nasty, crooked-toothed smile all-
over the screen. (There is, though, one
cute bit about a man who likes to expose
himsel!with an enormous sausage tied
to his dong.)

Yet what's ultimately most ugly
about Pink Flamingos is that the per-
formers' haughty exhibitionism
becomes as loathsome as any of their
activities. The disgusting scenes are so
graphically realistic that the line bet-
ween onscreen and offscreen behavior
is effectively dissolved. That's why
Divine can call herself "Divine" in the
movie; she's playing herself, perhaps
not literally, but projecting her fan-
tasies onto the screen as surely as .the
writer-director projects his. You can't
tell yourself that it's only a movie, but
you can't help asking yourself, Why
would anyone want to go out and make
a movie like this?
The movie's imagination is essen-
tially prepubescent-a joyous
celebration of bodily functions. Except
that the jokey tone and innocent
"playfulness" are a hoax, since these
aren't kids locked into their anal stage
(like the child-artist in Chris Miller's
immortal National Lampoon story
"The Toilet Papers") but real live
grown-ups, who know perfectly well
how their little performances are likely
to effect viewers. That the whole
business is tied to a limp satire of "bad
taste" convinces some people that
there's a message about society in all
that scatological craziness. But Pink
Flamingos is really a freak show for
curiosity-seekers, and Divine, the
queen freak, delivers even more than
you expect (or want)? She really is the
filthiest person alive. The movie makes
some people cheer, others clasp their
hands to their stomachs and dash to the
bathroom. About all it really guaran-
tees, though, is that you won't be
bored. I guess some people get bored
real easily.



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(Continued from Page 6)
worse than their smaller, less expen-
sive, four-color cousins. They include
the Warren magazines (Creepy, Eerie,
Vampirella, and 1994), Heavy Metal
and other imitators, the Marvel
magazines (Howard the Duck, Tomb of
Dracula and The Hulk), and others.
These "adult" comic books usually
contain what four-color comics do not:
violence and sex. But they also contain
what regular comics have in abundan-
ce: poor writing. Although the artwork
for the adult comics has been generally
good, the prose has been terrible. In
fact, the comic book's current sorry
state can be justifiably blamed on the
writers in particular, whose abilities
seem confined to tapping out a few,
flowery descriptive words for conver-
sation scenes and snatches of "clever"
dialogue to accompany the customary
fight sequences.
This has not always been the case.
Good comic book writers used to be
much more plentiful: Steve Gerber
of Defenders and Man-Thing; Steve
Englehart of Captain America; Len
Wein of Swamp-Thing; and Denny
O'Neil of Batman and Green Lantern.
To understand the depths to which
comic book writers have plummeted,
take a look at a recent issue of one of the
aforementioned larg format
magazines, Howard the Duck No. 4.
This comic tells theadventures of an
English-speaking duck from a "parallel
universe," who is now stranded on ear-
th. Through the escapades of this alien

duck, who wears people-clothes, smokes
people-cigars, and feels people-
physical passions, the writer airs his
comical, and often sarcastic, view of
our existence. But much of the duck's
novelty has worn off; the social com-
mentary provided through his sarcastic
view of life has given way to a straight
"humor" magazine.
Comic books today are not all bad.
There have been a few instances of
recent comics that are worthy of being
compared to some of the best in the
field. The Micronauts (based on the
toys of the same name) by writer Bill,
Mantlo and artist Michael Golden, has
achieved what seemed to be an
awesome task: transforming toys into
characters with real backgrounds and
personalities into an enjoyable free-
wheeling, space-opera series.
Unfortunately, comic books of this
quality are all too rare these days. Most
of today's comics are poor examples of
the art. But then, how seriously can one
really accept comic books as true art?
This is a question that troubles any
serious collector or fan at-one time or
The future of comic books' status in
the culture world is unclear. The
market for child-oriented comics is still
strong, and it is possible that the gib-
berish that pervades those will soon
take over even all the magazine-format
comics..Unless adult comics change
soon, those struggling to preserve their
artistic appeal will disappear


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Why the Bi
fire burned

Elisa Isaacson

RJ Smith

Associate editor Adrienne Lyons

Assessing The
Hulk's intellectuality,
Supplement to The Michigan Daily

The filthiest
movie alive

Cover by RJ SMITH

Ann Arbor, Michigan--Sunday, April 6, 1980, ,

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