The Juvenile Jungle

"J. Edgar Hoover ranked 'the juvenile jungle' right up there with communism as a threat to American freedom."
- Thomas Doherty, Teenagers & Teenpics

The collapse of the studio system in the 1950s and ‘60s has been discussed under many rubrics. One of those rubrics is the rise of youth culture. Exploitation producers like Samuel Katzman and Roger Corman paved the way by making movies that were marketed exclusively towards kids. As films like Rock Around the Clock and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein became surprise hits, the studios followed suit. Suddenly, middle class baby boomer kids, who had Mom and Dad’s allowance to spend, became the prime movie-going audience. The entire cinema industry was revitalized based on the energy of youth, fueled by the simultaneous emergence of Rock ‘N Roll. The initial string of Exploitation “teenpics” influenced the studios to make films like Rebel without a Cause, but they also influenced the emerging European and Asian New Wave filmmakers who shifted the international art cinema’s attention from bourgeois adults to troubled adolescents.

The Week In: Tactical Solicitation -- Echelon Formation

Most people are familiar with the high numbers of working women in Saigon. That is, ladies interested in a certain kind of dalliance (and I'm not talking about the font family buster!) But on recent evening I was strolling the streets of Saigon with a Hawaiian associate, fending off the usual advances when I witnessed something rather incredible. Two motor-bike riding (or wielding) hookers. Now this would have been impressive enough, but following our polite refusals, these girls didn't just motor away. No, instead they did something quite remarkable. Let me invite the reader to examine my hand-drawn account of the scene as it unfolded below.


Editorial: I Will Follow Him, Follow Him Wherever He May Go

Cosmodrome would like to take this chance to fully endorse G. Clooney's recently announced war on Gawker, and to announce our intentions of fully supporting his endeavor with whatever means we may have at our disposal. Gawker, quite frankly, makes us all throw up just a little bit in our mouths, and while we don't mention any names in our grand declaration, our enemies will soon know who they are.

Just when you thought you couldn't admit to enjoying anything without a wholly ironic or post-ironic-apathetic disclaimer attached (oh my, New York is just too much!), we have come to your aid. And now we have GC on our side. So let it not stop at phoney celeb sightings, let the punishment rain down on Gawker from all angles. We're with you, George. Stay tuned to the Drome.

IMDB Will Eat Itself!

Image hosting by PhotobucketIn the world of celebrity, homogeneity has become the norm. And the only Norm we here at Cosmodrome are into is that fat one that sits at the bar and orders beers from Ted Danson.

But with all the Li’ls, Simpsons, Hiltons and Carters (except you, Vince) it’s getting tough to remember who really matters and who just hit it with a blogger.

Even that bastion of Film Forum fact, the Internet Movie Database, has become corrupted – turning into a source of confusion, not a means to relieve it.

Consider if you will: IMDB will eat itself. I’m sure some of you may recall the internet conceptual art phenomenon sparked by two lonely dudes somewhere in a dorm room called Google Will Eat Itself. The creators of the website

Devaluation of the Dollar - March 28, 2006

A friend of mine who shall remain nameless (name begins with D and ends with AN SMITH - that narrows it down to about two million) recently expressed to me that he wasn't so fond of the 1970s when it comes to rock n' roll. With several exceptions (namely Bowie), he felt that the decade was pretty much a wasteland. And so the myth goes: while the '60s were radical, the '80s were fun, the '90s remind us of our childhood, and the '00s have witnessed the merger of pop, hip hop, and electronica into one glorious genre of production virtuosity... the '70s, well, there were indulgent solos and there was disco.

Not true.

Kicking Ass...In Space!

The White House is considering weapons in its space policy through the Air Force, and will probably incorporate the long-standing view of Air Force: the United States should have space superiority. The 2001 Rumsfeld Report discusses, in light of missile defense, options for weapons in space. The United States Air Force’s Lance Ward has said: “We must establish space superiority: freedom to attack, freedom from attack.” In October 2002, Paul Wolfowitz asserted that space is the “ultimate high ground.” The domination of space is part of the Air Force’s strategic doctrine. Now non-state actors play a role in space, such as commercial satellites, but, formally, every satellite launched comes from some state, but some lack oversight. The Rumsfeld Report exaggerates near-term threats in stressing that, unless we do something, we risk a space “Pearl Harbor.”

Bourgeois Talk

Larry McMurtry, crotchety old man who wrote Brokeback Mountain and wore jeans to the Academy Awards, has written in depth about the inability of cinema to depict intellectuals and intelligence on-screen. This outlook makes a lot of sense when you consider the common belief that the film medium is inherently made up of visuals and action. As a result, you get intellectuals writing "down," as McMurtry has with Brokeback's inarticulate cowboys and also with films like The Last Picture Show, or as smart actors have, as Marlon Brando was famous for in Streetcar and On the Waterfront. There is something cinematic about inarticulation: characters expressing themselves with their bodies, grunting like cavemen and speaking with their eyes.

And though films with excessive dialogue have always been looked down upon as too "theatrical," especially when they're based on plays, there is a tradition of movies that have cinematically captured intellectualism - the charm, the banter, the power of ideas, the dilemma of the vanguard.

The Week In: Debauchery -- Boy Meets Vegas

As the old/cliched/major advertising campaign saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Well, Cosmodrome readers, that ain't so this weekend as I head to the city of sin for massive amounts of debauchery and chaos. Here are some specs:

1) I, mwang, have never been to the city. I'm a casual poker player and have been to two casinos in my life, each time limiting myself to an allowance of $100. And I didn't enter each establishment until at least 3am each time. The first casino I went to was two years ago in Palm Springs. And I may have been on ecstasy at the time. So I lost my $100 and called it a night. The second time, Atlantic City, I found myself drinking heavily at some bar when my friend suggested that we take a quick bus to the Jersey shore. This was at 1am. We reached an incredibly depressing casino around 3:30 EST and left after six hours of staring at cards and trying to sober up, while playing hold 'em with a bunch of senior citizens and drunks who couldn't help but bet their rent money.

The Week In: Military Aviation -- The Tomcat Retires, or, The Ayatollah's Need For Speed

The touch of Hollywood changes lives! Forever!

Even jets are aware of this. It’s likely people who don’t know anything about airplanes could still successfully ID an F-14 Tomcat, because, yes, Hollywood has laid upon it its golden finger. That was done via someone called Tom Cruise and something called Top Gun.

Last week, the F-14 was officially retired from US active duty. The two squadrons that flew the jet will be switching over to the F/A-18, a plane that apparently does almost everything the F-14 does (take off from aircraft carriers, shoot down other planes/missiles from a long, long distance, and attack targets on the ground [a role the F-14 wasn’t intended to assume, but for which it was successfully modified]) at something like 1/10th the operating cost. And if there’s one thing the US military industrial complex (bigup DDE) is good at, well, it’s being fiscally efficient. Right? So the Tomcat is done. Sort of.

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