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posted by Mickey on 9/26/03

THE ARCHITECT. Hello, Von Hangman

VON HANGMAN.Who are you?

THE ARCHITECT. I am the Architect. I created the 80s Degrees of Separation series. I've been waiting for you. You have many questions, and although you may think there is no essential difference between the time into which I have plunged you and the time you inhabit in what you call your "real life" that cannot be bridged by wearing a mullet and spandex, you remain irrevocably, in some respects, a person living in 2003.  Thus I expect you, and every single reader that may have surfed their way to this site, to recognise that this post is an echo of the scene at the conclusion of "The Matrix Reloaded," a film I chose, obviously, because of your strong physical resemblance to Keanu Reeves. Concordantly, while your first question may be irrelevant, you may or may not realize it is also the most pertinent.

VON HANGMAN. Why didn't you include "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" in the series?

THE ARCHITECT.  What, and have two movies in the series with a Cyndi Lauper track playing over the credits?  Please. Now let me ask you a question.  What did you think about "Risky Business"?

VON HANGMAN.  I can deal with "Risky Business" in a few paragraphs. In the last post, about “Cocktail” I mentioned that Tom Cruise played a young Capitalist Prince. In “Risky Business” he plays exactly the same part, only to a factor of 10. “Risky Business” is a movie all about Capitalism. As the movie unfolds, it could be seen as being a critique of Capitalism, since the central analogy that pulls the whole film along in its wake is: “Do you want to see a free market? Listen, I'll show you what a free market is. PROSTITUTION is a free market.” At the end of the movie, in case anyone has been too thickheaded to have noticed, the metaphor is made perfectly explicit. While the other graduates of the high school business program explain the profits they made with their various Mickey Mouse business ventures, Tom Cruise's character announces in a voiceover, ”My name is Joel Goodson. I deal in human fulfilment. I grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night. Time of your life, huh kid?”

So the movie is a critique of Capitalism? Well, I have already given you the extent of the critique. It doesn't go any deeper than that. And prostitution is presented as such a positive little corner of free enterprise that no one could possibly have any serious objection to the practice, if it was run along these lines. There is no degradation. There are no narcotics. The women are hot. The guys are regular meathead guys with some extra cash. In fact, the whole thing is so much in the American grain, that while the johns are waiting around to have their good time with a call girl, they play catch on Joel's front lawn. That is how wholesome prostitution can be, if it is done right. If Mr Hooper on “Sesame Street” had gone into business as a pimp, he couldn't have come up with more of an apple pie brothel.

THE ARCHITECT. Is that all there is to the movie?

VON HANGMAN. Of course not. But that is the nutshell. I'll put up a link for people where people who want to read more about Risky Business and either already speak Spanish or are willing to learn it. That is my little tribute to Penelope Cruz, who, as the world knows, is Tom Cruise's beloved.

THE ARCHITECT. And speaking of Tom Cruise …

VON HANGMAN. Oh yes. The underpants scene. I am glad you reminded me. There are two moments in 80s cinema with a Bob Seger soundtrack that are, or ought to be, completely central to any understanding of what movies were like in that decade. One, of course, is Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear to “That Old Time Rock and Roll” in “Risky Business”. I would be pretty happy never to hear that song again for the whole rest of my life. But the young Cruise is buff and the scene does capture something about the good part of being a teenager with exploding hormones.

THE ARCHITECT. And the other scene?

VON HANGMAN. Rocky Dennis in “Mask” and his even more explosive body chemistry while the soundtrack plays “(If I Ever Get Out of Here) I'm Going to Kathmandu.” In some ways the way in which the scene unfolds is similar to Joel in his underwear, but the Kathmandu song is also a dirge, when placed in the context of Rocky's impending death.

THE ARCHITECT. Quite right. Interesting. That was quicker than the others.

[The responses of multiple Von Hangmen appear on the monitors: "Others? What
others? How many? Answer me!"]

THE ARCHITECT. You need not think you are the first person to have written about 80s movies on the internet. I prefer counting from the emergence of one integral anomaly to the emergence of the next, in which case you have only been doing what a lot of writers at this very site have already done.

[The urls of every post ever put up on put up on WhateverDude about 80s movies swim over the monitors in streaming green hieroglyphs.]

THE ARCHITECT. The first 80s degrees of separation I designed was quite naturally perfect, it was a work of art, flawless, sublime. It went from "Back to the Future" to "St Elmo's Fire" and was a triumph, only compromised by the fact that Patrick Swayze represented not one, but five of the links. Thus I redesigned it based on the site's ability to accurately reflect the varying grotesqueries of popular culture. However, I was again frustrated by failure. I have since come to understand that the answer eluded me because it required a lesser mind, or perhaps a mind less bound by the parameters of perfection. Thus, the answer was stumbled upon by another, a New Yorker, but one who grew up and still thought of herself as being a girl from New Jersey. If I am the father of the 80s degree of separation series, she would undoubtedly be its mother.


THE ARCHITECT.  Of course.  Don't interrupt. As I was saying, she stumbled upon a solution that was reasonably elegant.  It was not perfect.  Matthew Broderick only plays a very small part in "She's Having a Baby." A purist might question his credentials to form a link in the chain.  And yet, he is there, on the celluloid, or the VCR tape, and, more to the point, on the IMDB. Similarly, the Tom Cruise factor might have been handled better. You are aware , of course, that the series might have gone straight from Tom Cruise's appearance in "The Outsiders," to, well, here, rather than using the longer route of linking through Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue into "The Karate Kid," "Cocktail", and only then to "Risky Business." Nevertheless, Jen's solution functioned, and we did arrive, in Jen's own
good time, and mine, at "Risky Business."

VON HANGMAN.  This is all about Joey Pantoliano.

THE ARCHITECT.  So close. And yet so irrelevant. I am going to put up a link to the first post in this series.  The Goonies. Ignore the risible timeframe in which Jen expected to complete the series.

VON HANGMAN.  A fortnight!

THE ARCHITECT.  I said IGNORE the timeframe. What else do you notice about
the post? Before you go on, I must tell you that dependent on your answer is the fate of Whatever-Dude. You are here because W-D is about to be destroyed. Its every post deleted, its entire existence eradicated.

VON HANGMAN. Bullshit.

[The responses of the other Von Hangmen appear on the monitors: "Bullshit!"]

THE ARCHITECT. Denial is the most predictable of all human responses. But,
rest assured, I have destroyed websites before and I have become exceedingly efficient at it. Now I will give you three chances to explain the 80s degrees of separation conundrum, and I will give you these two clues only. Firstly, the function of the One is now to return to the source. Secondly, the problem is choice.

VON HANGMAN. Um, return to the source. That must mean Jen's original post. What about it? I loved it. I hadn't seen the film, but I still thought it was was one of the best posts ever put up on this site. Let me think this though. What are you after? What was Jen after? Joe Pantoliano? Joe Pantoliano? Listen, am I on the right track here. All of the actors we have used to link us through the series have stars that burn less brightly now than in the 1980s. Who have we got? Corey Feldman, Whatshisname from “The Lost Boys” and “Footloose”, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue. They all burnt like supernovas in the 1980s, and like supernovas they expended all their energy, burnt out, became dark matter. But, obviously, that isn't true about Tom Cruise, and it isn't true about Joe Pantoliano either. He is a character actor, not a star, but he has been remarkably successful. In fact, in its own odd way, his star burns more brightly now than in did when Jen started the series off.

THE ARCHITECT. I take it all back. You are a fool. Think! You have two chances left.

VON HANGMAN. Choice. Markets. Return to the source. I am close. I can feel that I am close. Is it that the theme of the “Risky Business” is prefigured in “The Goonies” because, just like the Goonies are on a quest for treasure, so Joel Goodson in “Risky Business” is involved in a quest for treasure, only he is using orthodox Capitalism? It is about money. Is it about money?

One rock to find them..

THE ARCHITECT. It is about money, but you are way off. I am typing on the keyboard now, DELETE ALL FILES. Now, where is that shift key?

VON HANGMAN. You are going to take the site down if I don't get this right?

THE ARCHITECT. With considerable pleasure.

VON HANGMAN. If the penny doesn't drop.

THE ARCHITECT. What did you say?

VON HANGMAN. I said, if the penny doesn't drop. Hang on. Hang on. Hang on. Hang on. Hold it. What if I said I am going to take that penny, or rather take back that dime. This one, this one right here. This was my dream, my wish. And it didn't come true. So I'm taking it back. I'm taking them all back.

THE ARCHITECT [Blanching. Too quickly]. It is interesting reading your reactions. Your predecessors were by design based on a similar predication, a contingent affirmation that was meant to create a profound attachment to a lot of 80s movies, but not necessarily the most obscure one out of the lot. While the others experienced this in a very general way, your experience is far more specific. In other words, I perceive you have watched “The Goonies” pretty recently. Apropos, that was a direct quotation from, I believe, Mouth.

[Images of the Goonies under the wishing well appear on the monitors]

VON HANGMAN. Yesterday. I thought I owed it to Jen. I had never seen it before, but I watched it three times.

THE ARCHITECT. Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the anomaly revealed as both
beginning, and end.

Holy Mackenzie!

VON HANGMAN. Now, if this was “The Matrix Reloaded” there would be some lame choice involving two doors, right? But there aren't any doors in this version, are there? All that gobbledigook about returning to the source and the problem being about choice, that was to prepare me to make a decision about whether or not to ride up Troy's bucket.

THE ARCHITECT. Hope, it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.

VON HANGMAN: Don't you realize? The next time you see sky, it'll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it'll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what's right for them. Because it's their time. Their time. Up there. Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket. Goonies never say die!

[Von Hangman hangs Shaolin robes over Troy's Bucket]

VON HANGMAN: If I were you, I would hope that we don't meet again.

[Disappears into fountain]

THE ARCHITECT: If I were you, I would hope you get some email feedback to
this post.


Farewell, 80s Degrees of Separation.

The Full Ten Degrees!

The Goonies!

The Lost Boys


She's Having a Baby

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Dirty Dancing

The Outsiders

The Karate Kid


Risky Business

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