Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Lunatic is a Minority of One

Fact #1: Watching "Nineteen Eight Four" would have been disturbing and difficult at any point in the 33 years since it came out.

Fact #2: Watching "Nineteen Eight Four" in a post-January 20th country was completely terrifying with far too many similarities to the shifting media landscape raining down alternative facts on us every day for the past 11+ weeks.

But since the Byrd Theater was showing it as part of a nationwide 90-theater movement to protest the idiot-in-chief and his proposed cuts to cultural programs like the National Endowment for the Arts and the Byrd had decided that it would be a benefit for our local NPR station, WCVE.

With a fellow screaming liberal in tow, we headed to Carytown (where he promptly locked his keys in his car, but that was a problem for later) to see a film he hadn't seen since 1984 and one I'd never seen, although both of us had read the book eons ago.

A character who rewrites history for mass consumption - instead of saying chocolate rations are being cut from 30% to 25%, he couches it as an increase from 20 to 25%, thereby ensuring the news will be received more happily - that's some scary stuff right there when you're talking about using that method on more significant issues than chocolate.

Tonight's screening was also a tribute to its star, the late John Hurt, but I didn't know until the film began that Richard Burton was in it, too. I'd call that a fine representation of major British acting talent right there.

Because I tend toward the squeamish, the torture scenes were mostly impossible for me to watch, but even hearing his agony without seeing it was still incredibly difficult.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

And because I can't help myself, when he says "I love you" at the end, I chose to believe he meant the woman he'd been caught with and not the state that had brainwashed him. I have to think that way.

After a heavy reminder of the bleakness of what happens when a leader demands complete obedience, demonizes foreigners as enemies and makes up nonsense and calls them facts, we were subdued, starving and committed even further to the Resistance.

With just minutes to spare before the kitchen closed, Can Can took us in, fed and Loire-wined us - the bartender all the while providing his corny take on the restaurant business, alcoholism and the key role of dishwashers  - with a plat du jour of beef brisket, beer-cooked cabbage and rainbow carrots  for him and onion soup gratine and crispy Brussels sprouts for me.

When the organ-based server pointed at the ceiling and questioned the music I was enjoying, the bartender was on point, immediately dubbing it, "Booker T. and the MGs meets the Munsters" and noting a similarity to Booker T's "Green Onions," a soul classic.

By the time we finished, the staff was sweeping, wiping and putting away, a sure sign they wanted us to leave. All we asked was for a butter knife to aid in unlocking the car without a key and they were kind enough to oblige. I now know how easy popping a lock can be.

The good news is Big Brother obviously couldn't track me through my non-existent cell phone. That said, I'd be among the first charged if we had thought police and among the last willing to silence my opinions.

Choosing between freedom and happiness is not an option.


  1. There's a previous "1984" released in 1956. Edmond O'Brien is cast as Winston. I saw it in the early 1960's late one night on TV. Naturally it was in B&W. I was a little kid. Winston & Julia's love was totally destroyed. Too powerful in a way. After that I could never watch another version. cw

  2. Yep, destroyed in this one, too. Pretty awful to watch. Now I know.