Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The XXX Olympics!

Q: Why is television called a medium?

A: Because it's neither rare nor well-done.


This weekend, as a result of reading various other blogs, I discovered the teleplay The Year of the Sex Olympics. When it started, I thought it would just be a fun romp and I'd do a “I watched it so you don't have to” post. Those are always fun.

Having actually watched it, however, I'm going to suggest it as a Good and Important Thing. I'd discussed it with Danno earlier and we decided that anything that examines the medium (using the medium) is the kind of thing we want on the site.

If you'd like to watch the entire program, you can do so here. What I'll be doing on this post is use the version that's cut into sections, so we can look at each one and discuss them as they come. This review will be filled with spoilers, after the cut, so I'm putting that link up first. If you're planning on watching this at work, be aware that there's a bare breast (roughly 17 minutes in), and two bloody sequences. As this is in black-and-white, those don't really have the same impact they would have when it was originally broadcast in color.

So, with the caveats out of the way, let's do this thing.

More...




We start off with some pretty dull love-making. This is "Sport Sex" and people are making out for points.

This is when we meet our two producers, Nat and Laser, and Misch, the announcer. We're also thrown head-long into the language of this play, which is sci-fi in its own right. “He sicks me,” says Misch. It takes about five minutes to adjust your head to how these folks speak and it makes L33T look like Shakespeare.

What we also learn is that “high-drives” don't age the same way “low-drives” do. “Are you mad-head?” Laser asks. We're looking at the elite of society and they're studying the reactions of everyone else, their audience. The show they are putting together is for the benefit of people less than themselves.

Now, you're probably wondering why everyone looks so shiny and weird. Apparently, they were painted gold and other colors. We've lost this information due to the BBC's fascinating tape-preservation techniques (e.g.: taping over stuff), so just take my word for it.

During all this, Nat gets a call on his wrist-phone from Deanie, an old girlfriend. They were “picked” and had a kid nine years ago and the kid's in hospital. Deanie is worried, but Nat is making a show! He's busy. Later, Deanie.

Coordinator Ugo Priest shows up and wants to know “The hell?” He and Nat go for a little walk and enjoy a couple “brighteners”, which look like push-pops with baby-nipples. They discuss why they do what they do.

“I remember. I remember. That's my vice.”

“Vice? That's an old-days word.”

Coordinator uses a lot of “old-days” words. This conversation not only explains why the “sex olympics” is on air (Watch; don't do) but also demonstrates the stunted language of the new society. He has access to words that Nat and his generation don't. Because he's able to use those words, he's able to have thoughts that the others are unable to form. This will be important later.

Also, notice how coordinator stands to one side while Nat's on the phone. Don't you do that when someone's on their cell?



If watching people having sex is supposed to diminish your own sex-drive, then watching people have a food fight should turn you off your meal. That's the idea, at least.

Again, the language is stunted and weird. You have to run a constant translation in your head and this makes it tiring. Nat and Deanie talk about their kid and tests and if their kid has “low-drive”.

Deanie introduces Nat to her current boyfriend, Kin. Kin asks Nat to tell him why to do what he's doing. “Tell me why to do it!” he demands. Kin is not satisfied in his work and wants to make real art. He wants tension. Poor thing.

Kin “makes” pictures. Now, notice how Deanie describes that process: she says he “makes” them, but pantomimes drawing or painting. However, she does not have the words to say what he's doing.

A brief interlude while Nat and Misch dick around with rear-projection. Nothing is real. Everything is part of a larger, stimulus device that keeps us placated.

Placated. That's an “old-times” word.

Misch tries to talk about where society is headed, but she's dumber than a bag of wet mice and can't have a real conversation.

Kin shows up with his awful, awful drawings. Misch hates them as “They shudder me.” Nat thinks they're awesomesauce and can't stop gawking. “Something you remember, but you never seen.”

Nat might not know art, but he knows what he likes.

As much as Nat is fascinated by the pictures, he refuses to help Kin show them to a wider audience. He blames Misch's reaction to them, but you know he's just applying some medical-grade CYA to this.



Nat talks about it a little with Deanie while they're waiting to pick up their kid from hospital.

Oh, this kid. God bless. Keten is a sensitive type who likes to listen. Nat and Deanie are worried that she's “low-drive” and will be ejected from their society. You know that Deanie actually cares about the kid, but...Nat...Nat's a crappy dad, I just want to say. He's just concerned with how well his kid does and if it goes on his record or not. It's hard to care about him after seeing how he treats his daughter.

However, Nat is bothered by the whole thing and can't pay attention to “art-sex” while Misch is watching it. He's not paying attention to her or the show that's been produced to keep the masses in line. Misch is seeping in Kardashian envy when Kin's drawings suddenly appear on the screen.

This is bad news. Kin's upset the natural order of keeping everything “cool”. He's made people “hurt”, made them feel something. Coordinator talks to Nat about Kin and how stupid he is. Nat knows that he can't describe what he'd seen, but Coordinator still has words for what happened.

Nat's still thinking about those pictures, though. He can think about them, but can't find the words for what he saw or felt. Coordinator tells him that “before apathy control, it was a real maybe time.” It's one of the few honest conversations in this production and it's very, very sad. Coordinator wants the world to be calm and cozy and he comes from a generation that found one solution.

“The world is having a rest.”

You get the feeling, watching this moment, that Coordinator saw some pretty dark and horrible things. This is a guy that probably saw war and starvation and just wants to keep everyone safe from that horrible experience.

But, Cooridinator also realizes that people need to laugh. That's what's going to keep the masses at bay.



This has got to be the most boring, un-funny, and forced attempt at comedy I've ever seen. Also, there's a Groucho and Harpo Marx characters in this bit. Who remembers them? This does not work.

Gods, this sequence goes on for too long.

So, we're back at the Sex Olympics and another show. Misch is upset that Nat is dealing with Deanie at all. “You sick and shudder me,” she says.

Nat does spend a little time talking about what's funny and what's not. Apparently, in the future, funny is schadenfreude and little else.

You've got crappy friends, Nat.

Coordinator shows up and says that funny is “fruit-skin”. It's the old banana-peel gag. You laugh because it's not you suffering. Someone tell the guys at “America's Funniest Home Videos” what the secret is.

Oh look! There's that kook, Kin! He wants to show everyone his terrible pictures. It looks like Nat is willing to let this happen, as he has a little tussle with Laser in the control-room.

Oh, Kin, you suck.

Kin falls to his death.

OK. 8:00 in and this is where I had to stop and walk around the house a bit. This is really awful. Kin doesn't just fall to his death and that's that; there's a shot of his body, blood surrounding his head like some kind of ghoulish rose. This guy exploded when he hit the ground and there's blood all over his mouth and nose, like it was knocked out of him when he hit.

This part actually bothered me, as I've seen what happens to a body when it falls from a great height. Depending on how it hits, there will be an explosion of blood from the mouth and nose. Granted, when you hit like that, your eyes aren't where they're supposed to be at the end of the journey. This part brought back some terrible memories and I'm very, very grateful that I watched this in black-and-white. I don't know how I would react to seeing it in color. This, quite frankly, shudders me.

And to hell with that audience. They laugh at it. They laugh. I can't see them as humans anymore.

Congratulations. You just found the fruit-skin.

This is when Coordinator and everyone else decide that they've hit a breakthrough. That's Kin's great contribution to society. He showed that shock--glad it not me--relief is how they make a boffo show.

God bless Nat,--and I say that in a very Southern way--says that a good show would be putting people in an island with no help would be great. Way to go, Nat. Signing your own death certificate must be fun.



Now we're moving. Nat and Deanie say they're ready to go to an island and do a show. The “Live Life Show”. Nat and Deanie are idiots.

And, as idiots, Nat and Deanie are going to take their kid. Yeah, that should go well.

Misch is upset that Nat has chosen to do this rather than stay with her. Nat has no respect for Misch, because she's a horrible person.

Laser is put in charge of producing the show, even though he's already said it's a crap gig.

Keten, being a child, knows this is a terrible idea, but wants to be included because she'd get to spend some quality time with her folks. ”Quality time” is an easy definition for "a horrible existence where everyone is miserable". What does she know? She's a kid.

The cabin on the island is a horrible place. Laser has provided some instructions, sound only, on a little MP3 player.

Please, for the love of god, someone sample these and make a dance track. It will somehow make everything that is to come more bearable.

Nat and Deanie have no idea how to survive in this environment. This will come to no good end.

I'd also like to take a moment here and talk about how the latrine is never discussed in this teleplay. Tits? Sure. Blood? No problem. How people get rid of waste when they're used to indoor plumbing? Not mentioned at all. Look, people get constipated when they're camping, so I'm pretty sure that this little family is going to encounter some issues in their new environs. I'm not willing to get monomaniacal about this, but it is a concern.



Yay! A new character! Grels and Betty also live on the island and Grels is just Mr. Know-it-all. Oh, he knows how to catch and kill sheep or rabbits or crabs and he's going to save us all. Yay!

Back to the control-room and Laser reveals why he put Grels on the island. “It's a show; something's gotta happen.”

Duh duh duuuuhn....

Nat and Grels go to catch crabs. Hardy har.

They get back to the cabin and Keten's hurt her arm. Deanie, not being the most knowledgeable mom, has done the best she can in this situation. There are no instructions on the MP3 player that say how to deal with this.

Grels suggests building a bar to block the door. He says this is for everyone's protection. Grels knows all about protection and why people should be afraid.

In anger, Nat smashes the only camera he knows about.



Shit gets real.

Grels tells Keten a story about the caves on the shore and the tides. She loves it, but she's also got a fever and major infection setting in on her arm. She's a kid with a brain that's getting cooked, so I guess she's easy to amuse.

Oh, and back at the control-room. Now we know a bit more about Grels and he's a PSYCHO MURDERER. That ought to up the ratings. Now, we have DANGER. Now, we have no regaurd for the safety of our players. Laser is a douche.

The audience laughs.

Keten cries out in the night and Nat, finally acting like a dad, goes to comfort her. He tells her a story, but it's lame because he can't do it. He has no imagination. He resorts to telling Keten that he likes her.

This, for me, is a tragic scene. Nat wants to tell Keten that he loves her, but he doesn't have the words. He just says, “I like you,” over and over again. “I like you,” he says. “I like you.”

Because, if he says it enough, maybe he'll be able to express that he loves her.

“Sadness, worry, pain, fright,” Laser says. “As long as it not happenin' to them.”

Brian Cox makes this line super-creepy by rubbing his bottom teeth. This has just become torture-porn.

Keten is not doing well. Her arm is swelling with infection and the fever is getting worse. Grels is being a creepy asshole and camping on the front step.

Oh, and Grels' woman, Betty, is dead. “Maybe she fell down the rocks.” Yeah, maybe you killed her, asshole. Maybe you should leave.

In the control-room, there's now an audience of high-drives. They want to know how this goes.

Deanie is upset that they can't ask for help. She blames Nat for smashing the one camera they know about.



“Old days, I think they called that despair. Right, Coordinator? ...You see? The danger force of these bad feelings? We seen fear and anger, worry and pain and so on...Soon, I think, one called grief.”

This is the most evil line I have ever heard in a film. Ever.

Keten dies.

Nat tries to understand his daughter through her favorite doll. “I gotta look at this a lot.”

Laser has a little speech here. He talks about how watching people feeling things tells the audience that having those feelings are bad. “Watch, and don't do.” Remember, this entire production is supposed to keep the “low-drives” placated. It's supposed to cool them and keep them from attaching emotion to things that are real.

The audience laughs.

Nat and Deanie bury the child, according to the recorded instructions that have been given to them. “Bury any dead thing in a hole one meter deep. Put it in, fill the hole, and press earth down. No more to be done.”

Please, someone, make a dance remix of those instructions. Please, give me some joy out of it.

Nat knows that there is more to be done and puts up a crude headstone. He and Deanie observe the grave.

They are distracted by noise. Deanie runs to the cabin. The one with a bar for the door.

No, don't.

Once inside, the door is shut and barred. Nat runs to the cabin, trying to break down the door to resuce Deanie. Her death is slow and painful.

The audience laughs.

Nat breaks down the door with an ax.

The audience laughs.

Nat rushes into the cabin, ax swinging, and reduces Grels to a bloody pulp.

He cradles Deanie's body and cries out in anguish.

The audience laughs.

The control-room laughs.

The audience laughs.

Laser laughs and receives back-slaps from the other people in the control-room.

He bows. He grins. He laughs.

The audience laughs.

“He's alive!” Coordinator shouts! “He's alive! It's realer than that! He's alive!”

Roll credits. Queue the music.

This is the year of the Sex Olympics. Sex Olympics here....”


1 comments:

Danno Baker said...

So the future is all about PAISLEY and body bedazzling?

 
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