Friday, October 14, 1983
The Michigan Dail
Viva 'Harold and Maude': A2 cult classic
By David Spak
One of the things I will forever associate with
Ann Arbor and the University is the cult film
Harold and Maude. Every Friday and Satur-
day at midnight for the past four years now
State Street Theaters has presented he melan-
choly delight to students and other Ann Ar-
borites in the mood to feel just about every
emotion one can feel.
The Harold and Maude cult Is celebrating its
fourth birthday this weekend, a testimony to
how good a "simple" love story can be.
I'VE BEEN fortunate enough to have been
part of the cult for more than three of those four
years. My first encounter with 19-year-old
Harold (Bud Cort) dangling from a rope came
soon - I don't recall exactly how soon - after
my arrival on the banks of the Huron. I was
hoofed watching Harold "kill" himself in
every conceivable screwball manner-be it by
shooting, burning, or hari kari.
All the while, he began his relationship with
Maude (Ruth Gordon), a soon-to-be-80-year-old
woman. Maude appears at first to be nothing
but an eccentric, flighty funeral goer.
But as the movie winds its way through the
melodies and ballads of Cat Stevens and Harold
and Maude's relationship flowers, it becomes
clear she is something more. She becomes
Harold's - and the audience's - philosopher-
It's Maude's message that has made the film
the Ann Arbor classic that it is. Nowhere is that
message stronger or clearer than after Harold
tells her of his suicides:
REACH OUT and grab life, she urges.
"Gimme an 'L' . . . Gimme an 'I' ... Gimme
a 'V' ... Gimme an 'E'. L.I.V.E. Live,"
Maude exhorts. "Otherwise, you have nothing
to talk about in the lockerroom."
For the first time, Harold begins to sing and
love with his messenger's help. She brings
Harold the gift of song by giving him a banjo.
She shows him how to live by, among other
things, transplanting a dying tree from the city
to the forest. And she brings him the gift of love
by, well, loving him.
While the audience is laughing, singing, and
crying pronounced changes overcome both
Harold and Maude. We meet Harold the boy
and watch him physically become Harold the
man. We meet Maude the nutty old lady and
watch her physically become Maude the lovely
NO, THE ending is not depressing. That
might be a first reaction, but it misses Maude's
central message: be yourself, take a chance,
live, live, and live some more.
Harold's morbid suicides are meant to
highlight and accent the point, not drown it.
The ending it meant to do the same. If it were
meant to be anything different, Harold and
Maude would not have lasted four weeks as a
midnight cult film, let alone four years.
It is testimony to that message and to the
spirit of the people who watch Harold and
of Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine. Casablan-
ca is a triumph of good over evil, the heroes do
what it right. It has withstood the test of time.
Yet though I can watch Casablanbca almost as
often as Harold and Maude, I've picked outall
the "meanings" I can - none of Maude's type
of wisdom or thought is evident, or means to be.
Each time I see Harold and Maude I pick out
some new nuggets of gold.
ON ANOTHER LEVEL stands the infamous
Rocky Horror Picture Show. Rocky horror has
become a cult classic more for the audience
( "people" might be a less-than-accurate way
of describing them) than for the film itself.
Rocky Horror is the quintessential audience
participation event. The audience becpmes the
show. A passive spectator needs an umbrella
and more to survive. This might be what
Maude was referring to when she urged Harold
to live, but something tells me different.
Pick any other cult film you want, say a
Woody Allen masterpiece, but given a choice,
you can figure out where this child will play.
Right along with the rest of the different daisies
blooming in their seats every weekend.
Maybe I just have an attraction to hearses.
Or maybe I have an optimistic attraction t
Spak is a Daily Opinion page editor.
y Y Ai
I A i
Maude weekend after weekend that the owners
of State theaters have kept the movie on for so
long - longer than any raunchy triple X skin
flick or raucous comedy such as Animal House.
The message and the spirit haven't faded one
bit, at least not in me, not after seeing it at least
OTHER CULT films have their own
mystiques, some similar to Harold and Maude,
some off on tangents, some are even much bet-
ter movies. But Harold and Maude is the one to
which I'll return.
Certainly, Casablanca is a better film. It tugs
on many of the same emotions as Harold and
Maude, but through characters who are a lot
less deceptive, save for the possible exception
.-f _ __ i
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCIV-No. 33
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Gays need r
UNIVERSITY administrators should
end campus gay advocates' lob-
bying efforts by asking the regents to
change University bylaws to protect
gays from discrimination.
Wednesday, University President
Harold Shapiro finally announced he
would make a statement regarding the
University's stance on the issue by Oct.
Members of the Lesbian and Gay
Rights on Campus organization
(LaGROC) have been lobbying for 10
months to persuade administrators
that some form of protection against
gay discrimination is needed. LaGROC
members would like the University to
amend the regents' bylaws to include a
clause condemning gay
discrimination. But University of-
ficials privately have been leaning
toward issuing a presidential policy
statement, which is not as strong as a
Although the university's affir-
mative action director, Virginia Nor-
dby, claims that she and Shapiro have
been "working steadily" on the
statement, it is obvious that the issue
has been brushed aside for several
Shapiro should wrap up this dispute
this month by asking the regents to
adopt a change in their bylaws. A
bylaw change is the only way to have
any real impact on discrimination, and
even then no one should expect
Currently the regents' bylaws con-
demn discrimination on the basis of
sex and race. Yet even with this
protection women and minority groups
face a great deal of discrimination. But
at least they have something to stand
on when fighting discrimination. At
least they have something strong to
point to when they fall victim to overt
racism. At least the University has
made the strongest statement possible
against these forms of discrimination.
And if gays are to make any progress
in fighting discrimination against
them, they will need similar support.
Anything less than a bylaw change will
probably leave them without the
strength to effectively fight
E k dMw. .I a A l hI3TIrr
d)AMES WATT-O?? THE RJlU
T'S REALLY NoT So
Much NFFRENT FROM
WHAT I'VE BEEN WO
Calif. - They are the grass-
roots rebels of thercomputer age.
Fed up with glaring flaws in
programs, hundreds of computer
'users groups' across the nation
are finding their own solutions to
which the information giants
themselves seem unable or un-
willing to devise.
*IN WASHINGTON, D.C., mem-
bers of the Capitol PC Users
Group began noticing bugs in a
program called "dBase II."
They organized a project to
document these errors, andsoon
listed 27 mistakes in their
newsletter. Because groups ex-
change newsletters, thousands of
IBM owners across the United
States knew of those bugs more
than four months before Ashton-
Tate, the program's manufac-
turer, got around to telling its
customers of the defects.
*John School, an Apple Com-
puter owner, was misled by an
advertisement and bought a sof-
tware program called "FIG
FACTORY" that turned out to
require expensive special equip-
ment. He warned other Apple
owners through his user group
newsletter. Group efforts to get
Apple to return his money have
failed, but fewer Apple owners
are now making School's
"Owners of the Kaypro II por-
table computer in Santa Cruz,
Calif., had trouble linking their
word-processing program to
their printers, so they organized
a users group. The group not only
pressured the two companies in-
= mvl to amc l rpnl,a .fnnfhl am
have fewer than 100 members,
some are quite large, up to 2,000
strong. Their networks often
surpass computer manufacturers
and retail stores in providing the
information computer owners
need to operate effectively.
"The person who belongs to a
users group, at the end of 10 mon-
ths, will have 10 times more
knowledge than the guy who sits-
at home and reads the manual by
hirself," claims Karen Zin-
smeister, services manager for
International Apple Core (IAC),
which is by far the most effective
example of this self-help ap-
IAC PUBLISHED A glossy
monthly magazine, "Apple Or-
chard," which includes technical
notes from Apple, listing bugs in
their equipment and telling how
to fix them.
Consumers, accustomed to
plugging in a toaster and seeing it
work, have discovered that com-
puters are a different breed.
Flaws in software are common,
The' future of
By Frank Clancy
not necessarily because com-
panies are negligent, but because
of the extraordinary complexity
of their goods. As an industry
adage goes, "There's no such
thing as bug-free software-only
This is especially true of the
more complicated programs.
Michael Belling, marketing
director at Stoneware, Inc.,
which manufactures software,
says, "Many companies think
their reponsibility ends when
they ship the product. In reality,
that's where it begins."
YET SOFTWARE companies
provide wildly varying levels of
service. Some offer customers a
toll-free telephone number,
others charge $40 an hour to an-
swer questions. To discourage
illegal copying, many companies
respond only to registered
owners, or require users to go to
their dealer for help.
At the local level, service may
be even worse. As IAC's Ain-
smeister explains, computer
dealers make money selling
products, not servicing software.
Beyond the bug proble mthere
is the fact that software changes
rapidly-one recently released
software package has appeared
in four versions in less than six'
months. Software, says Robert
Glidden, co-chairman of Perfect'
Software, Ind., "is a living
product. The research and
development continues as long as
the product is on the market."
In their instruction manuals,
software makers commonly'
claim they have no responsibility
for any defects in their product.
This is partially a bluff, admits
Perfect's Glidden. He predicts
that software and computer
manufacturers will offer more
extensive warranties as the in-
But at the moment, such
assurances are seldom available.
And because the industry is so
new, consumers have no
established legal remedies for'
software problems, or regulatory:
agencies to rely on. So users
groups, rather than the law or the
industry itself, keep the com#_
If software companies do no(
quite fear the groups, most
respect their power. "This"
business right now is built on.
word of mouth," says Belling.
"Every one guy who has a"
problem tells a hundred."
Clancy wrote this article for
the Pacific news Service.
by Beska UrE*ai I