The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - November 5, 1992 - Page 3
A pimply plot boiler
Soak tha' police
The adventures of a Soaker totin' maniac
by Michael John Wilson
British writer/director Bruce
Robinson appears to have sold out to
Hollywood with his new thriller "Jen-
nifer 8" opening tomorrow, but on
video we can still savor his brilliant
and inventive earlier films.
"How to Get Ahead in Advertis-
ing" (1989) was the second teaming
of Robinson and actor Richard E.
Grant, after their collaboration on
"Withnail and I"(1987). Neither film
a talking pimple. Bagley is so ob-
sessed with a new campaign for
pimple cream that he starts to grow a
massive boil himself, a zit that hap-
pens to speak for Bagley's darker
Robinson's script milks the comic
potential out of every scene, from the
first moment the boil speaks, to
Bagley's descent into insanity. His
biting look at the living-hell business
of advertising is equally hilarious -
probably the best on film. From his
ingratiating presentations to clients,
to his agony at the creative process,
Grant's Bagley is the quintessential
ambitious young ad exec.
It's Grant's manic performance
that carries the film. He plays every
extreme of Bagley's character -
from a naked lunatic who speaks
with his zits to a slick businessman
ready to take over the world - with
an absolutely psychotic energy. Grant
was equally impressive in small roles
in "L.A. Story" and "The Player"; in
"Hudson Hawk," as the evil villain
looking for 'world domination,' he
was the only decent part of the whole
movie. Look for him in "Brain
Stoker's Dracula" next week.
is a great one; whereas the unrelent-
ing pessimism in "Whithnail" be-
comes monotonous, "How to Get
Ahead" hasn't a hint of subtlety. But
the plot in "How to Get Ahead" is so
refreshingly outrageous thatitdoesn't
Grant plays Bagley, a stressed-
out advertising executive with, well,
In "How to Get Ahead," he's not
just "over the top"; he's so far re-
moved from reality that we don't
know how to react. It's an amazing
show. Robinson does go a bit too far
in his demonization of advertising;
still, it's attractive to blame all our
problems on TV ads. With our post-
cold-war cinematic shortage of vil-
lains and conspiracies, deranged ad
execs like Bagley fill the gap just
Super Soakers were on sale at Toys
'R Us the other week, so my friend
Guillermo and I decided to pick up a
couple, before some reactionary made
them illegal for twisted political gains.
Out in the parking lot, we quickly
loaded our new pretend semi-automat-
ics with water from a two-liter pop
bottle. The SS-30 turned out to be the
real buy at $7.97, since the 50-foot
model doesn't actually shoot much far-
ther, making the size of the water reser-
voirs the only significant difference.
Somehow, Guillermo managed to
bust off the first shot. Blinded, I went
down, but luckily, I found myself semi-
sheltered by a parked Taurus, and even
more luckily, I realized I was still hold-
ing the half-empty Pepsi bottle, which
I lobbed in Guillermo's general direc-
tion. He cried out and I peered over the
car's hood, hoping for a severe fore-
head wound. Instead, I saw that my
grenade had only shattered one of the
cheap windows of his K-car, the win-
dow I'd cleverly left half-rolled-down.
Feverishly, I pumped my gun and
squirted the still-stunned Guillenno in
the chest. He staggered back into the
shopping cart corral, and I soaked him
again, this time in the face. With a
furious, hysterical grunt, hekicked one
of the carts toward me, but. I managed
to dodge it. Unfortunately, the cart
rolled into the path of an oncoming
station wagon; which swerved and
smashed into the store manager's
Within minutes, a squad car was on
the scene, responding to reports of a
pair of maniacs engaged in a firefight.
I'd run out of water rather quickly,
and was bludgeoning Guillenno with
the handle ofmy soaker. He noticed the
"Damn," I swore. "We're meat un-
less we can reload. Where's the nearest
Moments later, we were speeding
toward Carpenter Road in a carjacked
As if she needed more press
Mazda; in the dark and the confusion,
we'd managed to convince the driver
that we had real guns. Guillermo was
bleeding from aminor leg wound -"a
warning shot," one of the pigs had
"Fuck tha' police," he cried, shoot-
Continued from page 1
Playboy on a monthly basis (Sandra
Bernhard's steamy spread in the Oc-
tober issue comes to mind).
But there's still the matter of the
text that Madonna writes between
photos of her cavorting with Big
Daddy Kane, Naomi Campbell, and
Isabella Rossellini (Let's pretend the
Vanilla Ice pix are just a bad dream)
to deal with. "Dita" has thoughtfully
provided us with some very carnal
copy to spice up the proceedings.
These interjections range from silly
to downright ridiculous. Madonna's
fictitious (?) accounts of sexual trysts
with young Hispanic boys and obese
men read like a post-mod Penthouse
Let's just say that Anais Nin, she
Next up is the video for the song
"Erotica," which is really just "Sex"
(the book) come to glorious, sepia-
toned life, and set to a sultry
soundtrack. It's more than obvious
that they were both being shot at the
same time, but only the video cap-
tures the erotic jolt the book prom-
The theme of the video is extremes,
as it glides effortlessly between Ma-
donna as an innocent child-like fig-
ure, frolicking in grass, to scenes of
her in various stages of S & M, in-
volving both men and women. "Dita"
acts as a mediator between the two,
flashing a gold tooth with an appre-
The S & M scenes have a sense of
erotic tension, a sinister sexiness that
pervades the screen. Madonnais(will-
ingly) hog-tied (shades of New Year's
with Sean?), gagged and disciplined.
Throughout these scenes, her tongue
is reaching, probing, her mouth open,
inviting, waiting, for you, to justify
my love ... (whoops, got a little car-
ried away there).
As a concept, however, both the
video and book are brilliant. Over the
years, Madonna has bared herself (or
her various guises) to us in every
other way. Now she's taken us inside
her MIND, into her sexual psyche,
and what we're to believe are the
things that she dreams, what she thinks
aboutwhile she's masturbating.That's
far more intriguing (as well as sexier)
than any photograph or video image.
And there lies the rub. By doing all
of this baring of her mind, body, and
maybe even soul, is Madonna ex-
ploiting herself, offering her body as
an object to be manipulated to fit our
own personal desires? And by pre-
senting herself in that way, is she just
perpetuating the kinds of female per-
ceptions that women have been trying
years to rise above?
The truth of the matter is that
Madonna's body is her most profit-
able commodity. More so than any
talents she possesses, it's her physical
image that brings home the bacon.
How people choose to use that image
is up to them. So it's hard to argue that
she's exploiting herself anymore than
say, Marky Mark in Calvin Klein un-
As for her responsibility to other
women, check this - if she doesn't
claim that responsibility, then she
doesn't have any. Who's to say what
she "should" be doing for other
women? I liken it to my feelings on
rapper Ice Cube doing commercials
for St. Ides malt liquor: while I may
hate it, and feel that it's irresponsible
in light of the grip these companies
have on so many African-Americans,
why should I expect him to shoulder
such responsibilities? If he and Ma-
donna choose to utilize their positions
for means other than raising con-
sciousness, so be it. Besides, the last
people in the world we need to be
looking to for any kind of guidance
So once we get pass the P.C. quo-
tient of Maddy's latest artistic ven-
tures, we're left with lots of flesh, but
very little passion or real fire.
It feels like she'sj ust going through
the motions, faking the orgasm for
her lover, which in this case, is us, the
consumers and her fans. She does it
because that's what we want her to
do. And no matter how much this is
supposed to be her fantasies that are in
her control, it's being done for us.
And like a lover that takes you even
when they're not in the mood, it can
be interpreted in two different ways
- you can wonder if they enjoyed it,
analyze the whole thing to death, and
ruin the illusion they have so kindly
provided. Or you can just get into it,
get off on it, andnot ask any questions
later. More than likely, you don't want
to know the real answer anyway.
ing back at the squad car, hoton our tail.
"Hey, I think they're slowing down.
Maybe their windshield wiper's broke."
"Cool," I said, as we roared into the
Meijer's parking lot, toward the mono-
lithic 24-hour one-stop shopping-cen-
In seconds, we were inside. The
customers screamed and ran as soon as
they caught a glimpse of us.
"Quick, to the condiment aisle," I
shouted, nearly bowling over a high
school skate punk, who'd begun to cry.
The first cop to round the corner
was sprayed with a stream of mustard.
Screaming, he fell back, butnot in time
to warn his partner, who was soon
gurgling on a mouthfulof Cheez-Whiz.
Within minutes, the store had been
evacuated and the parking lot was
swarming with Ann Arbor's finest.
Guillermnohad attempted to take a little
boy hostage, but I'd wrestled the gun
away from him and told the kid to take
"What the hell, man? We're not
"But the cops, they'll be all over us
any minute now-"
I pistol-whipped him with his own
Soaker before he could continue.
"Pull yourself together. Just think
Butch and Sundance. Think Thelma
and Louise. Think blaze of glory."
Guillenno smiled a frighteningly
"You're right, man," he hissed
through clenched teeth. "Damn the
Fortunately, when the battering razn
smashed through the store's front win-
dows, it somehow set off the indoor
sprinkler system. In the ensuing chaos,
we managed to escape and hail a cab.
"I don't understand what all the fuss
was about," Guillermo mused, as he
tied off his leg with a piece of his shirt
"I mean, they were squirt guns."
"Yeah," I agreed. "I mean, I could
see if we'd been shooting people with
real guns. Or with ammonia or some-
thing. But come on. Water dries."
The bullet still lodged in Guillermo's
leg was obviously making him feel a
bit more indignant.
"Yeah, what the hell!" he shouted.
"If everybody in the world who owned
a real gun had a Super Soaker instead,
well ... the world would just be a much
"Urn, yeah," I agreed, watching as
the cabbie nervously eyed us in his
rearview mirror. "Listen, man, you ve
gotta take it easy-"
But before I could stop him, he was
hanging out the cab's side window,
howling and soaking random students
for no good reason at all ...
But hey, who am I kidding? None
of this really happened. You all know
that. The above was just a sickfantasy.
Well, OK: We really did buy Super
Soakers, and we soaked each other in'
the parking lot, and then we cruised
around looking for people to soak, until
this carload of teenagers with a mega-
phone pulled up next to us at a red light
and made the mistake of inviting us to
But if we had soaked some author-
ity figures along the way, it would've'
been a lot of fun. In fact, I fully advo-
cate it. Ice-T can kowtow to his record
company all he wants. Me, I'm'bout to
bust some squirts off. I'm 'bout to piss
some cops off ...
Let's forget about Madonna's sta-
tus as the great American marketeer
and examine the product she's sell-
ing, her latest album, "Erotica."
For one thing, it would take a
whole lotta work for Madonna to put
out a bad album, she has surrounded
herself with an incredible supply of
talent that practically insures double
platinum, and a bit of decent music to
boot. This time out, much credit must
be given to famed producer/remixer
Shep Pettibone, whose deft knob-
twiddling kickstarts the disc.
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