Monday, February 20, 2017

Holiday Flix: Wild in the Streets

A tale as old as time- Celebrity becomes President.  Oh how rich our Fiction is!  Today's Film is Wild in the Streets, a 1968 Parable that completes complete Moral.  Oops.  This one tells the tale of a Pop Singer who becomes so famous that they are able to influence Politics.  What insanity!  This one goes farther than you might expect as the Singer gains more and more power throughout the Film.  If you don't know the Film, you will probably not see his end game coming!  It was Directed by Barry Shear, a name you'd recognize if you kept coming in and out of a Coma while MeTV was on.  Basically, he did a ton of TV Shows and TV Movies.  Back in the '50s and '60s, if you were famous and had a Show- be you Eddie Fischer, Dina Shore or Donna Reed- he probably Directed an Episode of it for you.  The Cast is chock full of random names and Character Actors that I'll try to cover throughout.  For instance, Richard Pryor is in this.  Since you're probably too busy parting to read much today, let's just dive right in...
After a Montage of Parents being bad, our Hero turns 18 and goes off on his own.
When he turns out to be a big Pop Singer under a new name, his Mom- Shelley Winter- is happy.
The Singer is approached by a Congressman- Hal Holbrook!- to support him, which he does.  However, he goes farther than the Congressman even wanted!
He pushes for the idea that the Voting Age should be 14.  No, really.

Incidentally, this was 3 Years before Nixon lowered the Voting Age to 18.  Close.
You know that our Singer is popular.  How?  Well, he can make footage from Monterey Pop appear!
He gets his Girlfriend in the Senate and she immediately pushes for the Age lowering.  Do they know that it would actually take a Constitutional Amendment (like it did 3 years later)?
To aid their cause, they put LSD in the water of their fellow Senators.  Our Heroes.

Allegedly, the Mayor of Chicago guarded against this for the DNC that Year.  Wild.
With the change somehow in place (despite the real change to 18 taking 3 years to be ratified), the Singer becomes President!

He proceeds to do fun stuff like opt out of our Treaties, stop dealing with anything outside of the U.S. and...
...forcibly-drugging anyone over 30 with LSD to 'make them more chill.'  No, really.

After more of that, the Film ends with the tease of 10 years planning to rise up.  Thus began The Purge, I guess.  The End.
It starts out innocent enough, but sure gets dark by the end!  Wild seems to have a certain heart to it and the hilariously-dated nature of it is pretty charming at first.  With random narration right out of Rocky & Bullwinkle, it has whimsy.  As the Film progresses, however, we see that our Lead is a bit of a crazy person.  He surrounds himself with sycophants and just does whatever he wants whenever he wants to.  Get invited to support a Candidate- upend him and make it all about YOUR message instead.  That's clearly why he PAID you to be there.  The whole thing feels like it is supposed to be ironic or judgemental, but never quite commits.  It is only in the last 10 minutes that the logic of his idea is put into question when a young kid calls him 'old' for being 24.  That is some comeuppance, I guess, but he's still THE PRESIDENT.  I kept waiting for a turn as it got worse and worse, but it never came.  This was apparently NOT meant as an attack on Hippies or their Culture.  This is just something that accidentally did the opposite of what its Message was.  Speaking of opposites, try to forget the Film's random diversion involving the Singer hitting a kid with his Car (which has no follow through at all)....
Considering that this was last released alongside Gas-s-s-s, you know what to expect.  Even so, this gets weirdly-dark and critical of...its own side.

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