8 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, January 13, 1994
How the th
I think it was Thomas Aquinas who said, "Fame,
wealth, influence - all of these you may scatter upon the
wind of the ages. But leave to me that tattered little corner
of hope, that ragged earthly vestment of divinity, that
lonely crucible of meaning - my blankie." Also known
simply as blan-
A USTIN R ATNERkets or woobies
nounced as in
blankie is not
just some rem-
childhood; despite the common conception, blankies and
woobies are used everywhere and at all stages of life. Only
now are we beginning to understand the social importance
of the woobie in its various forms.
Psychologists often describe objects of childhood af-
fection as transitional objects. Dr. Floyd Bamberger of the
University of Miami defines a transitional object as "any-
thing that by virtue of its association to some other and
now inaccessible source of pleasure or security comes to
represent that original source and offer consequent relief
eory of wooF
to the bearer. Most such objects are ultimately surrogates
for the womb. Just add the typical '-ie' ending to produce
'wombie' and we see the etymology of woobie.
"I should emphasize, anything can serve as a woobie.
My own was for some time my grandmother's glass eye.
'Where's my eye?' she would say. Ha, that was hilarious."
Bamberger's brilliant insight opens infinite doors for
the art of woobie-interpretation. Let us take the most
unlikely object and see if we cannot determine its function
as a woobie; how about Quebec, for instance. Many will
argue that Quebec possesses neither the saliva reek nor the
frayed edges of an actual woobie. Furthermore it does not
have the '-ie' ending. Nevertheless, Quebec is one great
woobie for the descendants of the French colonials, men
who were separated from their native France, and were
forced to 'woobify' a piece of North America in its place,
sleeping with Quebec against their ear, sucking on it,
taking it to school and consequently being harshly ridi-
culed by the older boys.
But let us not think that woobies are the province solely
of un-macho wimps like the French. Ernest Hemingway
was said to have actually appropriated the smaller and
more docile F. Scott Fitzgerald for a woobie. This rela-
ies is reshaping America
tionship ended when Hemingway accidentally left be saying to everyone, "Everyone, give us the woobies"?
Fitzgerald at a bus stop, which produced many tears and Such a policy is, I think, misguided for several reasons.
much carrying on from Hemingway until his father gave First, who are we to say, "Everyone, give us the woobies"?
him T. S. Eliot, which quieted the burly writer. Still, And even if we did say it, how could everyone hear us?
Hemingway was never quite as satisfied with Eliot, who Second, is it really unhealthy to have a woobie? Remem-
was given to unravelling, showed dirt and was difficult to ber that a woobie is a transitionalobject. It is a healthy part
clean - not to mention being uncomfortable to sleep on. of growth, a vehicle of change, a shuttle for the cathexes.
Fitzgerald and Eliot were not the only famous people Itis true that some ofus can neverrelinquishourcherished
to be woobified. Woobification, and the concomitant woobies; we go to the grave clutching them to our breasts
addition of '-ie' to the name, in some cases has created as Hemingway did with T. S. Eliot, Eliot's face pinned
fame. If not for their woobification, Wood Allen, Blond against Hemingway's armpit. Mostly we move on though;
and Warren Beatt would today be unknowns. one day we put T. S. Eliot in a closet and leave him there.
College life is a virtual cornucopia of woobies. The That raises another question: is it okay to woobify
fraternity system is among other things a woobie, and other human beings? When woobification involves being
much more obviously so than Quebec, for it has the '-ie' dragged around, slept on and chewed on and, in unfortu-
ending and the saliva reek. As substitutes for old friends nate cases, badly mutilated, can we really justify
from home, fraternities enact the general collegiate fall woobifying human beings? No, that is where woobification
from intrinsically valuable experience to the sterility of an stops and violence begins. Then it is truly time to say,
all-woobie landscape. "Look here, give me the woobie."
So given the prevalence of woobies, what should we Austin Ratner has a Phd. in Woobie-theory, is a
do about them? In the academy award winning film, "Mr. woobie, holds the world record in woobies and is
Mom" Michael Keaton says to his movie son, "Kenny, currently conducting illegal research in woobie
give me the woobie." Should we be doing that? Should we warfare in violation of the Geneva convention.
Films of 1993 don't fall down
Continued from page 1
for that elusive Oscar that frankly he
has never, until now, deserved.
"List"'s jarring, painfully emotional
feel represents an aberration from the
typical, fast-paced panache that we've
grown accustomed to from the auteur
that refused to grow up. The perfor-
mances are superlative across the
board, highlighted by the venerable
Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern.
Everyone's favorite Gandhi had a
rousing 1993. After supporting roles
in the super-fun comedy "Dave" and
later in the sleeper-drama "Searching
for Bobby Fischer," Kingsley proved
himself the heir apparent to the ulti-
mate character-actor guru Gene Hack-
The last of the "Fab Five" films is
"The Fugitive." Harrison Ford once
again made Cary Grant proud as the
me-against-them vigilante out to pro-
tect his own ass. But it was the super-
cool performance from Mr. Ma-
chismo, Tommy Lee Jones, that
helped put this wild thriller in the
same caliber as such timeless won-
ders as "The French Connection" and
"Serpico." Jones' stunningly natural
marshall humanizes the film so that
the viewer inevitably finds himself at
a loss as for who to cheer for. Wow.
A substantial crop of sub-Oscar,
but still quite hip pictures also found
their way onto the silver screen this
year. "A Perfect World," "Carlito's
Way," "The Nightmare Before Christ-
mas," "In The Line of Fire,"
"Groundhog's Day" and "Wayne's
World 2" deserve some recognition,
though none stands out much more
than any other."Menace II Society"
Harrison Ford once
again made Cary Grant
proud as the me-
out to protect his own
held its own both at the box office and
in the American consciousness be-
fore shriveling away mid-way through
the summer. Legendary Hong Kong
filmmaker John Woo had a semi-
memorable American debut with
"Hard Target." But that starred Van
Damme and I'd be remiss in my du-
ties to give it an unequivocal thumbs
Not every thumbs-up-er received
the notoriety it deserved, however.
"Sommersby," with Jodie Foster and
Richard Gere, may have been a hit
with the fortysomething crowd, but
younger audiences were indifferent.
Their mistake. Based on "The Return
of Martin Guerre" and powered by
two bravissimo performances from
its headliners, the film may go unrec-
ognized by the Oscar committee de-
spite being by far the most mesmeriz-
ing romance from the first half of the
"Mad Dog and Glory" and "This
Boy's Life" lend credencetotheaxiom
that no DeNiro film will ever be a
commercial success no matter how
good it is. "Flesh and Bone" unearthed
that Texas Cowboy/Sam Shepard side
in the few hundred people who actu-
ally saw it. "Dazed and Confused,"
winner of the prestigious award for
best double-chambered bong in anon-
starring role, was quite interesting
despite having been released about a
decade before it could be truly be
appreciated. Finally, the hands-down
choice for best film that no one ever
even heard of was the clever Peter
Gallagher effort "Watch It" about a
pack of thirtysomethings still living
like frat rats.
If 1993 had one downfall, though,
it was its general lack of quality for-
eign films. "The Piano" was fairly
miserable. Holly and Harvey did their
best, but anyone who liked anything
about this Palme d'Or winner other
than the soundtrack is pAibably lying
because they're too pretentious to have
their own opinion. Ditto for "Espe-
cially for Sunday" and "Farewell My
Concubine." "Like WaterForChoco-
Michael Douglas is confronted by gang memebers in "Falling Down," one of the most underrated films of the year.
late" was sexy as the Dickens, but its
poignancy seemed to get lost beneath
all the quirkiness. Only the delight-
fully light "Strictly Ballroom" and
the super-low budget "El Mariachi"
stuck out as winners in an otherwise
muddled cesspool of foreign medioc-
rity. Made for a meager $7,000,
"Mariachi" was the run-away winner
for largest profit margin of the year.
The now legendary b-flick made a
whopping $200,000 in its first week-
end in limited release.
Of course there's room for dis-
agreement. "Heaven and Earth,"
"Shadowlands," "Wrestling Ernest
Hemingway" and "In The Name Of
The Father" didn't hit most multi-
plexes until '94, so their exclusion
has to be taken with a grain of salt. But
anyway you roll the projector, be-
tween Emma, Robert, Michael,
Harrison and Steven, 1993 won't be
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