Throwback Thursdays: The Perfect Sh*t Storm

[caption id=”attachment_1356” align=”aligncenter” width=”500” caption=”Insert feces where appropriate.”]Insert feces where appropriate.[/caption]

A lifetime of media consumption rarely makes up for the years wasted in front of a screen—for every episode of Freaks and Geeks, _we had to sit through Punky Brewster_, and for every John Ritter there’s a Dane Cook waiting to riff on the profundity of hamburgers and bees. But sometimes the karmic slot machine flashes cherries and rewards us with a perfect shit storm. By “perfect shit storm” I mean a perfect storm of shit, filling our eyes and ears, courtesy of any given celebrity who reaches that beautiful point in their career when the Yes-Men are in abundance, everyone is still getting paid, and childhood fantasies are finally given a chance to manifest. Of course these childhood fantasies soon become poisoned by money and power, and what emerges usually resembles those hairy lumps of fetal tissue found floating in tea-colored jars on a shelf in the Mutter Museum, next to the Elephant Man’s skeleton and Zippy the Pinhead’s teeth. Supported by fawning agents, sycophantic managers, and bottom-line producers desperate to announce their next project, these hairy lumps of fetal tissue somehow find their way into production, mix with bad scripts and bad acting, and thus we get the perfect shit storm.

Which brings us to a very special Throwback Thursdays column because it marks our debut of Jean-Claude Van Damme, the first 80’s action hero with the confidence to combine ass-kicking and Siegfried and Roy:

[caption id=”attachment_1361” align=”aligncenter” width=”500” caption=”Just focus on the kittens.”]Um...what?[/caption]

Van Damme did not make better movies than Schwarzenegger, Stallone, or even Norris, but he did make better terrible movies than all of them put together, and that’s why we’re here. Because terrible is fun to watch. We all know terrible when we see it, yet terrible is not awful. Terrible is the opposite of awful. Awful wears the countenance of quality. Awful is where the direction is crisp, the actors weep convincingly, and we are left with something that looks fantastic but can’t keep our attention, like a lobotomized runway model.[1] Nicole Kidman makes awful movies. Van Damme does not.

So our first perfect shit storm brings us to 1989’s Kickboxer, starring Van Damme and…who cares. It’s Van Damme. There are no supporting actors in a Van Damme flick. Only Asian stuntmen waiting to get kicked in the face. Kickboxer’_s _ perfect shit storm combines a terrible song, a terrible unitard, and a terrible everything else, resulting in this:
[flv:/wp-content/video/vandamme.flv /wp-content/video/vandamme.jpg 570 428]
What does that clip tells us? First, Van Damme’s childhood fantasy must have involved a starring role in some song-and-dance number. Second, Van Damme is a cultural prognosticator. _Kickboxer _without the dance is irrelevant, one of those two-buck bargain DVD’s begging to be rescued from the bin at Blockbuster. _Kickboxer _with the dance is preserved in cultural amber, and becomes worthy of our time. Well, sort of.

Remember when Corey Feldman was all about Michael Jackson?

Neither did I, until I re-watched _Dream a Little Dream _last month. Then it all came crashing back. We thought Alfonso Ribeiro was MJ’s doppelganger, but we were wrong. It was Corey Feldman.
[flv:/wp-content/video/feldman.flv /wp-content/video/feldman.jpg 570 428]

What does that clip tell us? Nothing. But it sets the standard by which we may judge future perfect shit storms, because watching Feldman imitate MJ intercut with an amused and increasingly aroused Meredith Salenger while Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship croons his cover of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” is so transcendently bad I became nauseated. Granted, I was sipping Bubbies pickle juice at the time but so what.

Our last perfect shit storm features Steve Seagal. Yes, this Steven Seagal:

[caption id=”attachment_1357” align=”alignnone” width=”500” caption=”Image taken from Seagal's 1989 "Happy Chanukah!" card.”]Image taken from Seagal[/caption]

Of course I’m more interested in this Steven Seagal:

[caption id=”attachment_1358” align=”aligncenter” width=”500” caption=”A bard here dwelt, more fat than bard beseems.”]A bard here dwelt, more fat than bard beseems.[/caption]

When not breaking the arms of Rastafarian drug-dealers, Seagal is a blues musician. His debut album Songs From the Crystal Cave _gave us this video, and with it, a perfect shit storm:
[flv:/wp-content/video/segal.flv /wp-content/video/segal.jpg 570 428]
The voice, the knowing grin, the quasi-spirituality, the ponytail that refuses to go away…now if only someone would put his music to JCVD’s dance number. Is it possible to have a _super
perfect shit storm?



*


[1] Part of this paragraph is taken from my short essay “In Defense of Terrible Films,” which received almost no readership because it’s from a blog on my website, and I entered the blogging game very late, and Neil Gaiman has a much better author website than I.


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