Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What do "Dr. Strangelove" and "Reservoir Dogs" have in common? A lot!

(caution: Spoilers for both movies ahead! Watch the two movies for a double feature or separately, then you can read the below. NO spoilers for "The Great Dictator")
This fateful Election Day Eve, I watched Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" and Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb)" back to back. I had never seen the first, but I had seen the latter many times. You always hear about Charlie Chaplin being the greatest performer of comic cinema history - he's one of those performers you hear that about until you're sick of hearing it. Yet watching him literally float across the screen, you get what all the hype was about. Much like Stanley Kubrick's directing.
Now that the axe has fallen (on democracy's neck), I was thinking what would be a great pairing with "Dr. Strangelove" and for some reason I came up with "Reservoir Dogs". What do they have in common?
(Did I mention there are spoilers here? There are spoilers.)
Both feature an apocalyptic calamity brought on by a few reckless, violent and insane alpha men. One calamity is global, the other personal, but the scenarios follow a similar path. And there are parallels here with the characters, too:

The Architect Of War

General Turgidson / Joe

The boss. It's his war. He plots the strategy and directs his troops to battle, strangely gathering bravery from the notion that he's not going to be on the front lines. This being the movies, that doesn't save him...either of them.

...and his Enforcer

President Muffley / Nice Guy Eddie

President Muffley (Peter Sellars) makes a big noise about Turgidson's shocking disregard for human life, if only because he doesn't want to be seen as "the greatest mass murderer in history". But he acts reactively to Turgidson's demands and the situation of the rogue nuclear attack - Turgidson's wishes become his orders. At least Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), for his bluster and awful wardrobe, doesn't forget to admit "Daddy" is the boss. President Muffley doesn't go there, but it's clear - it's Muffley's War Room, but it's Turgidson's war.

...and his Ruthless But Loyal Executioner

Major Kong / Mr. White

They ARE the front line. Skilled, efficient, stone hearted killers. Still, they got nothin' but love their team: King Kong (Slim Pickens) loves his crew on the doomed bomber, and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) loves his posse, especially Mr. Orange. Yes, he fights with everyone, but he makes up, at least long enough to torture the unfortunate Officer Nash. Or at least until with Joe (Lawrence Harvey), he can't.

So with this posse, what could possibly go wrong?! Enter...

The Agent Of Chaos

General Ripper / Mr. Blonde

Pissed off, crazy outlaws with nothing to live for or lose. Balls over brains. And they're in exactly the wrong place at the right time. General Ripper (Sterling Hayden) defies the US government, sealing off his base from the outside world and launching a nuclear attack on Russia on his own, all over fear of "commies" and a vague threat to his "precious bodily fluids". Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) upends the diamond wholesalers' heist by shooting unarmed employees, and kidnaps a cop so he can torture him to death, basically because "they set off the alarm". But they both really did it because they can. And everything goes right to hell.

The Two Faced Liar

Ambassador de Sadesky / Mr. Orange

When is being a two faced rat a good thing? It isn't, so you try to find truth in your loyalty inside. Ambassador de Sadesky (Pete Bull) is just a proud Russian patriot, and Officer Noondyke (Tim Roth) is just a cop handling a real bad situation.

The Failed Voice Of Reason

Captain Mandrake / Mr. Pink
They tried to warn them. Captain Mandrake spends his screen time trying to reason with General Ripper, and then with Sergeant Bat Guano (Keenan Wynn); Mr. Pink fights (literally) to keep Mr. White on the game plan, plaintively bellowing "We're supposed to be professionals!!!" But if you think herding cats is hard, try herding unhinged killers having a bad day.

He Who Stands To Gain From This

Dr. Strangelove / Whoever would buy stolen diamonds from these guys

Seriously, who the fuck would do that? Even the Agents Of Chaos aren't that nuts.

You get two career choices

There has been a lot of hysteria - some of which I feel is founded just fine - about AI. I consider it an unholy** trinity of robotics, AI and the Internet Of Things which combined, will take away your job. Yes, yours too. And when half to as much as 80% of the WORLD is out of work, that can cause problems. Like, you know, HOMES for everyone.

SO what job should you, young reader, pursue?

Basically, there will be two -
  • STEMM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math AND Medicine) and
  • Creative (Ranges from the entertainment industry to art to fine cuisine to graphic design to multimedia production).
Why do we still need that last one? Why should you pursue that last one, which I guarantee will not be as lucrative as the first?!
STEMM is about the power of your mind. Creative is about the power of your heart and soul**.
STEMM takes the value and meaning out of your life. Creative puts it back.
STEMM will enforce the rules and status quo. Creative breaks them.

Do you like drawing, playing music, writing fiction or doing stuff in front of an audience more than hacking, algorithms and gadgets? Then sorry, the STEMM money may be tempting but you should really be doing Creative.

There's good news: when clients don't pay, you can get money in crowdsourcing. You can get it for a project or even a monthly salary.
And there is a gray area, to be fair. Both have one similarity: ABI - Always. Be. Inventing. The ability to think inventively will be the one skill to be reckoned with (and paid handsomely) from now on.
Product Designers. Creative technologists. People who engineer and hack creative software. Theatrical, film and video technicians. These are just some people who dance in the demilitarized zone between STEMM and Creative. You may be brilliant enough to find a gray area yourself. Make your own career!

** As an atheist, I have to use words like these for their psychological value. We can define "unholy" as "Against the common good and human standards of decency", and "soul" as "A sentient creature's need to feel emotions and achieve self-actualization".