June 01, 2004

Chairman Mao Meets “Patch Adams,”

Chairman Mao Meets “Patch Adams,” or “The Great Leap Backward”

As you must know, dear reader, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have been overwhelmed with responses to our new Official Advice Column. Manifold men and women world-wide have sent us e-mails requesting our sage counsel. Soon, then, we shall return to our e-mail-bag and have a go at further queries. But we received notice about something so curious that we felt compelled to devote today’s post to a discussion of it instead.

Recently, a correspondent from our London (UK) office sent us information regarding a fascinating political movement that seems to be sweeping the international community. This, dear reader, is the Maoist Internationalist Movement, or MIM for short. Apparently based in Los Angeles (CA), MIM describes itself on its website as:

the collection of existing or emerging Maoist Internationalist parties in the English-speaking imperialist countries and their English-speaking internal semi-colonies, as well as the existing or emerging Maoist Internationalist parties in Belgium, France and Quebec and the existing or emerging Spanish-speaking Maoist Internationalist parties of Aztlan, Puerto Rico and other territories of the U.$. [sic] Empire.

We know what you are thinking, dear reader: You’ve already lost us—somewhere around “English-speaking.” So let us spell out MIM’s mission a bit more lucidly.

The reasonable comrades who make up MIM are the type of folk who believe that the USSR went tragically off-course after the death of Stalin and that the People’s Republic of China went downhill after Mao Zedong expired. At these points, posits MIM, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic became—horror of horrors!—capitalist states, thereby eschewing the noble goals of Communism. Khrushchev, that humanitarian bastard!

Further, MIM “encourages people with communist intentions to study and apply Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, which we believe has proved the most effective path towards communism.” Gee: In this context, “effective” is surely a loaded word. The rational characters who make up MIM thus long for the halcyon days of Stalin and Mao. They prefer the glory years of hardcore killing and starvation to the namby-pamby sellout known as perestroika.

Ah, yes: The salad days of Communism—when everything and almost every person seemed blood red. What a happy period! In order to direct the world toward a Maoist utopia, our friends at MIM aim “to seize power through armed struggle.”

Fair enough, you are probably saying to yourself. But why hasn’t MIM stormed the gates of the evil capitalist oppressors, and installed its charming brand of Maoist totalitarianism?

Well, it appears as if MIM is working rather slowly toward its revolutionary aims. Currently, the good people at MIM are busy organizing meetings and spreading propaganda through their delightful newspaper. What they lack in the firepower department, however, they certainly make up for with their compelling political commentary.

For instance, the wise exegetes of MIM aver that “it’s not fair to compare Maoism with Jesus Christ in the abstract. Maybe Mao did not obey the 10 Commandments. But his followers have a better practice than the Christians when it comes to ending oppression.” Maybe Chairman Mao didn’t live up to the Ten Commandments?!? We have a sneaking suspicion that he failed to comply with that thorny “Thou Shalt Not Kill” commandment.

Other than that trifling criticism, we’re quite sure that this line of reasoning pans out. After all, Christian teaching was greatly responsible for the abolition of slavery, whereas the epigones of Mao have been busy butchering their countrymen—and, MIM would hasten to add, writing a Maoist newspaper. Advantage Maoists!

As the website of MIM makes clear, dear reader, the group is not a rag-tag assortment of authoritarian highbrows who spend their time sorting out the doctrinal disputes between “Kim Il Sungists,” “Crypto-Trotskyists,” and “Hoxhaites.” Au contraire: The cheery adherents to the Maoist Internationalist Movement are spreading the word about the impending proletarian revolution through such reasonable avenues as movie reviews.

As MIM’s website shows, its members are forestalling the rise of a Communist dictatorship by penning clever film reviews that assess how much the movies in question conform to orthodox Maoism. It’s kind of like Deng Xiaoping meets “Ishtar.” So step aside, Ebert and Roper: The comrades at MIM are hunting through such cinematic masterpieces as “Lara Croft Tomb Raider” to find their political utility.

Orthodox Maoist film criticism: It does sound like fun, doesn’t it? Sadly, however, our comrades at MIM compose reviews with enough irritating thematic and stylistic tics to make their entire filmic enterprise faintly ridiculous.

Take, for example, the Maoist Internationalist Movement’s disquisition on “South Pacific.” The review begins thus:

This film musical won the 1958 Academy Award for Best Sound. While all Rogers & Hammerstein productions involve class, nation and gender, they were never revolutionary and seem quite dated now.

Ah, yes: “South Pacific” is hopelessly passé, but Maoism is strikingly au courant. MIM continues:

On the other hand, given how much of the world has not changed since 1958, the message is still mildly progressive. Although the context is World War II between the united [sic] $tates [sic] and Japan in the South Pacific, the main content of the film is the romantic relations of Amerikkkan [sic] soldiers from Arkansas and Kansas with the local people of different race [sic] and culture than [sic] their own.

Here we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” detect one of the aesthetic irritants we mentioned above. To be sure, changing the “S” in United States to a “$” is a stroke of genius—and well worth repeating ad nauseam on MIM’s site. But, if our charming Maoists refer to “Amerikkka,” why don’t they go all out and allude to “Arkkkansas” and “Kkkansas”? In short, why the selective stuttering?

The erudite review concludes with a rousing finale: “The trade-off [with ‘South Pacific’] is that audiences may criticize the dictatorship of the proletariat if all films are socialist realist films. Of course, it’s also better if the audience does learn to maneuver through political subtleties and not always rely on stark contrasts directed by the vanguard party.”

So…you liked it? Two starved and emaciated thumbs up?

MIM’s movie reviews also have a tendency to stray from the topic at hand. Such is clearly the case in regard to its discussion of “Terminator III: The Rise of the Machines.” In the course of their disquisition, the Leonard Maltins of MIM dilate on the absurdity of maintaining that “the humyn [sic] is not ‘perfectible’”:

”Not perfectible”—tell that to the Terminator who can calculate in an instant the probability of a humyn’s [sic] actually carrying out a suicide threat, 17% he says in one moment with a man who has a gun to his head.

Okay, Terminator: Humans—or is that “humyns”?—are not perfectible. That was easy.

The reviewers continue: “Such notions about the future do not come from no where [sic].” Indeed: They hail from the land of bad Maoist grammar. “Obviously, someone with a few machine guns or missiles if s/he could travel back in time would seem like the Terminator in the year 0 [sic], 1000 or even 1850. The conservatives and various escapists are in denial about the broad trend of history.”

Touché, touché: Good point, well argued. May we suggest, however, that you put down Mao’s “Little Red Book” for a minute and pick up an historical time-line? For, before we entirely disabuse ourselves of Burke, could you at least disabuse yourselves of the idea that there was a “year 0”?

Alas, MIM’s reviews of “Charlie’s Angles: Full Throttle” and “Patch Adams” prove equally replete with digressions. It’s much like Rex Reed halting his discussion of “Regarding Henry” to focus his attention on his bowel movements.

For instance, our Maoist friends discuss the sequel to the “Charlie’s Angels” film with such sentences as “The Angels have to save the FBI’s list of people in protective custody, not exactly a calamity for humanity if it gets out and not an organization MIM would be helping regardless.” Thanks for the heads-up, guys. So we suppose the next installment in what would be the “Charlie’s Angels” trilogy will not be starring Cameron Diaz andMIM? For shame.

For unadulterated purblindness, however, nothing tops MIM’s discussion of the filmic marvel known (or should we say “kkknown”?) as “Patch Adams.” It appears as if the jocular gang at MIM found some politically valuable elements in this clunker, and thus, unbeknownst to many, Joel Siegel was actually not the only person in the U.$. who enjoyed this aesthetic calamity.

About the film the MIMsters write: “Some of Patch’s criticisms of how medicine is structured agree with the proletarian perspective of medicine.” In addition, we hasten to add, the movie sucks.

But the last paragraph of said review must be composed of the two most ridiculous sentences in the history of the English language. Including Joan Collins’ novels. It reads:

In order to make the unfocused ideas of Patch Adams a reality, what is needed is a revolution to change the systems of inequality in Amerika [sic] and around the world. While Patch Adams’ free clinic is a progressive start, we need a revolution to transform the entire system.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” entirely agree: This dilapidated Robin Williams vehicle won’t lead us to the impending Communist mutiny. May we humbly suggest that “Howard the Duck” just might?

Posted at June 1, 2004 12:01 PM | TrackBack