This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Director Ed Wood Jr. Had No Talent And Was Racist



I must come clean. When I first came across his movies, I thought they were brilliant or at least very fun to watch. I was wrong.

Ed Wood Jr. was a hack. He was a scam artist with a video camera. What fools people otherwise is the adage that some movies are so bad, they are good. His movies are like watching a car wreck, yet no one gets physically hurt. You can't turn your eyes away. You don't know know why, but you can't.

I think I figured it out. Take any stupid entertainment show, and you'll see that the schtick usually revolves around hurting or making fun of others; The lowest common denominator, so to speak. The Beverly Hillbillies made fun of Southern rednecks. Now one may ask where does All in the Family fit into this. That was surely a good show. Well, that's easy. It made fun of bigots. It's ok to make fun of people who deserve it, like Archie Bunker. You may ask well didn't Hogan's Heroes make fun of Nazis? So isn't that ok? No. If you do it once say like The Stooges or Chaplin did, then that's good. Make a weekly show basically downplaying genocide, and it's a no-no. Well, then what about Seinfeld? That made fun of the Me Generation. You see, it's all about the consumer. Good entertainment is marketed to thinking people with integrity. Bad entertainment is about making bucks while laughing at those who pay for it.

Those who like Ed Wood Jr. are deluded. I was one of them. Not anymore.

In a movie called Jail Bait, Ed Wood Jr. put in a few minutes of an old-school, black face, vaudeville act. He did this well after it was so-called acceptable to do so. There was an Amos and Andy television show, and there is debate whether that one was racist. Its radio roots certainly were. But at least it gave work to African-American actors. I haven't really looked into it, but I think there were some normal roles in that show not making fun of African-Americans. It wasn't white dudes making fun of blacks. Maybe it was somewhat akin to the Beverly Hillbillies. Though ultimately I think the tv version of Amos and Andy was bad news precisely because of its origin. Kind of like I never got a good feeling watching Hogan's Heroes.

The movie Jail Bait is in the public domain. The scene in question can be viewed after the sixteen minute mark.




When I saw this, I was disgusted and in shock. I looked around for any entries explaining wtf was up with this. There's not much out there. Thee's one blog which explains who the act was but nothing more than that.

I only found one source which comes close to solving this mess.

Ed Wood, mad genius: a critical study of the films By Rob Craig



I read elsewhere that indeed the scene had been replaced in some versions with a stripper type act. Either way, it's now clear to me that Wood was going after the dumb man's pocketbook.

Now check this out. I found an article written in Reason Magazine titled The Outsiders; How D.W. Griffith Paved the Way for Ed Wood by Jesse Walker. Jesse actually did a decent job reviewing D.W. Griffith, imho. I didn't exactly get his premise how Griffith had paved the way for Ed Wood. If anyone can explain, please do. What I did notice is the author has no awareness that Jail Bait contained a racist segment. Maybe he started out thinking he'd do a piece on Griffith and felt he needed a bit more to turn it into a schtick. Maybe there was a rerun of an Ed Wood movie on while he pondered how he would be able to come up with a couple hundred extra words for his deadline. This is a head scratcher. No matter how he came up with this premise to tie the two together, he missed the big story.
Wood's fans frequently describe his movies as "so bad, they're good"; the Wood enthusiast's usual defense of his passion is that the director may be inept, but at least he never made a movie that's boring. But Wood did make boring movies—titles like Jail Bait and Necromania that only hardcore fans of cult cinema seek out and even fewer finish. Something clearly separates such unwatchable flicks from his two most famous pictures, both of which have devoted followings and enjoy regular revival screenings. I submit that it's the same thing that separates the liveliest moments of Intolerance and Orphans of the Storm from Griffith's more plodding pictures, like the indescribably dull biopic Abraham Lincoln; the same thing that separates the sentimental sections of The Birth of a Nation from the wilder, more paranoid parts. Wood's most famous films have more going for them than mere ineptitude; they do not violate film grammar so much as they create a private grammar of their own. They are outsider art. Like a Howard Finster painting—or a D.W. Griffith movie—each feels like a window into one man's eccentric mind.
It would have been a good article if he had noticed the racist nature of Jail Bait. Even without that, this article might have survived, if he had said the two eccentric minds had a knack for knowing how to provide well what their target audience would like to see. He missed on both counts. Thus he failed.

NBC used to be at the bottom of the ratings. Then at some point they figured out how to be patient with quality shows not doing that well. I can think of a few that didn't come out fast from the starting gate but later became fan favourites, like Cheers and St. Elsewhere. I don't remember Taxi doing too well ar first for ABC but then it eventually caught on because it was so well made. Now it's a whole new ballgame with television. There are simply way more channels now. It used to be a lot easier to study it sociologically, when there were only the big three networks to parse. The onset of reality shows was perhaps the death blow.



I've a few more videos to share. These are public domain with no copyrights and can be found at archive.org. The first is the wild dream sequence from Glen or Glenda, Woods' best film. It's more evidence that Woods was simply out to make a buck. The second video is one ye should all watch when you get the chance. It's not political. It wasn't necessarily a deep film. It won't change your life. But it was well-written and acted. It was pure entertainment and starred one of the greatest actors of all time, Edward G. Robinson. Though I just downplayed its intellectual significance, I do think Scarlet Street is thought provoking and will make you think about major themes such as greed, morality, feelings of being trapped, and much more. This is classic film-noir, perhaps the best of all time. I won't give away the ending, but one question you may want to ponder is whether the film broke the Hays Code demanding that no criminal act may go unpunished.


Risque fetish scenes added to Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda
Posted by StingRay Films: Public Domain film: Producer George Weiss re-released "Glen or Glenda" (1953) adding these racy and fetishistic clips to Wood's bizarre dream sequence to sell more tickets. That is, by adding some hetero sex-appeal to this nutty treatise on tranvestites. I edited this down somewhat - it ends suddenly as I can only do 5 minute mpeg files.

This odd bondage, whipping, sexual assault footage was from an unfinished Weiss project (probably a burlesque film) directed by W. Merle Connell -- who specialized in cheesy exploitation and striptease films. Could there be an Irving Klaw influence here? In New York around 1953 Klaw was just getting started making his fetish film-loops with Bettie Page and other models. Anyone else have more info about this?




Scarlet Street (1945) directed by Fritz Lang

15 comments:

donkeytale said...

Wood is to filmmaking what bloggers are to literature and journalism.

I enjoyed the scene with the two women tussling on the sofa.

I must confessed, it moved a little.

Ed Wood to future generations of blogging pundits:

"just keep on writing. Even if your story gets worse, you'll get better"

donkeytale said...

"Ron Artest may seem like an odd choice for a series about sanity. After all, "sane" is just about the last word many would use to describe the Los Angeles Lakers forward whose career has been marred by controversy after self-imposed controversy. From brawling with fans to boozing at halftime to requesting time off to pursue a rap career, Artest has long established himself as one of basketball's more bizarre figures.

So, it was perfectly in line with his oddball persona when, moments after the Lakers secured their second consecutive championship in June, Artest thanked his psychiatrist for helping him to calm down. Few people saw significance in the remark apart from its obvious viral potential.

But in the months that followed, it became clear that this was not another instance of the forward providing amusing YouTube fodder. Artest's comments were made in earnest; therapy had allowed him to confront lifelong issues, and the newly-anointed champion had decided to battle the stigma of mental illness among inner-city youths -- a stigma that had long prevented him from seeking the help he needed.

Artest has teamed up with Rep. Grace F. Napolitano to promote the Mental Health in Schools Act and plans to auction off his only championship ring to raise money and awareness for the cause. As Artest recently told middle school students in East L.A., "When you think about mental health, you don't have to be afraid."

Ron Artest's decision to advocate for mental health speaks to the power of redemption. Six years ago, Artest was considered the NBA's resident thug, a talent few teams considered worth the risk. But he has turned it all around. Today, he is fighting to help people who are struggling the way he did for so long. Yes, it's crazy, but Ron Artest is finally sane."

from THIS WEEK IN SANITY

socrates said...

A link to that copy and paste would have been nice. You're slipping. The article is called The Year In Sanity by Maxwell Strachan.

socrates said...

Maybe I'm slipping too. The full title is The Year in Sanity: Ron Artest The often unstable NBA player has decided to battle the stigma of mental health among inner-city youth.

socrates said...

There may be some truth to your analogy of Ed Wood Jr. to bloggers. But the key one would pertain to those who use blogging to make a buck and standards schmandards.

A better analogy of bloggers to real journalists would be recreational athletes to professional ones.

Granted Ed Wood had rudimentary, directing skills. I haven't researched his credentials. I'm not reallys that bothered to confirm or deny whether he was a complete novice or approaching an internmediate level. He definitely couldn't write. He definitely didn't care how shoddy the end product looked, as long as it could get dumbasses into the seats.

I'm not saying everyone who enjoys Ed Wood pictures are dummies.

He didn't even come up with that bondage scene. You must have skimmed over or missed the quote from StingRay Films.

I liked Glen or Glenda. I liked watching Lugosi play God or benevolent scientists. Pull the strings or whatever he said was classic comedy. For sure.

But the blackface bit left a bad taste in my mouth. It's kind of like finding out Kramer was racist. It destroyed a lot of the champagne fizzle left for Seinfeld.

Maybe I'll link to this entry with Field Negro. It seems that I've uncovered another obscure story. [/kissing my own hand, making love to the mirror]

Yeah, I liked that blonde on the couch. That's why I screenshot her.

Dude, if you haven't watched Scarlet Street before, you must. Edward G. Robinson might sound familiar to you. He was in a movie called Soylent Green.

socrates said...

I just left the following post on this Field Negro entry.

I believe Social-Psychology, Social Theory, and History explain everything.

I'm not trying to spam yet still give myself a plug with an entry ye might find interesting.

Director Ed Wood Jr. Had No Talent And Was Racist

I'm not a hit and run poster, but I apologise in advance if I'm unable to follow any potentail respeonses. This blog is too popular for me to keep up with it. Kudos to Field Negro for becoming a blogging success.

I recently got into old flicks. Too bad it's near impossible to watch any with diversity.

Sidney Poitier definitely deserves a lot of credit for breaking down stupid, race barriers. That dude had major skills. A lot of his pictures dealt with racism, but nonetheless, one could see he was as good as any whitey. I'm white, so I'm allowed to use the phrase whitey.

It's beyond crazy that all this dumbass ideology has survived. Our individual lives are but a drop in the bucket for the Earth's history. Yet, anyone can look at the Twentieth Century and see women didn't have the vote, Hollywood was censored with a closed shop, along with thousands of other examples of why this existence is mind boggling from a sociological perspective. What a nutty world we find ourselves in.

donkeytale said...

I see from the thread that Field Negro has adopted my "KKK" schtick:

"Yes, and Broden is a very good friend of Beckkk and Alveda King. Go figure. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt; maybe he meant it all figuratively.
Maybe."

I guess I should've obtained a copyright.

In other news, Doberman Pinche has discovered that Portugal's Prime Minister goes by the pseudonym "Jose Socrates."

RIOTOUS!

And I note that Shaq looks at home in a Celtic uni. Wonder if that old skkkool team will have what it takes this year?

Me, I'm pulling for OKC to dethrone the Lakers on behalf of small town America.

GO PACKERS!

socrates said...

I like Field Negro. He kind of reminds me of DFQ minus the cybersleuthing schtick.

I see he has had to put on comment moderation also. Nasty people simply always take advantage of unmoderated blogs.

I don't get people like Laura. What exactly was she trying to prove by putting up that crazy Roseanne quote? Does she actually believe the Nazis were created by evil Joooos?

I think people like her get kicks out of trying to make others feel bad. If she was mentally fit, she'd leave me alone.

I feel dirty posting at that website. My biggest disappointment was in doberman pinche. I thought she was nice and rational, but she's as much of a conformist as anyone.

I think her schtick has been in saying as little as possible. Laura used to be like that too. Once they started belting out ideas, their facade of being regular guys crashed. I mean regular guys in regards to sanity in this case, not being public figures.

donkeytale said...

The Field Negro has always had comment moderation on, which is why I only posted there a few times a few years ago. Its kind of hard to get into a flow when you can't let it flow in real time.

He's an excellent read though, very humourous and generally right on point.

His arguments with another curmudgeon, Gilroy, back in the day, were highlarious. FN ouldn't relate to Gilroy's white jazzman schtick, or wtf.

Then they met at a MLW meet-up and patched up their differences. God, I love the whiteysphere!

But I havent a clue as to why?

You are the only blog where I tolerate being moderated. Just sayin.

And yeah, I see a lot of similarities between Field Negro and DFQ2...Lets see....there's uh, basketball?

[:o)

As for Laura, it turns out she was "joking" about her affection for Roseanne, who she considers mentally unstable.

OK. Thats what we said, weren't it?

She's just jealous of your clearly superiour intellect and ability to relate to brothers, like FN.

Plus, I ithink she secretly enjoys our "rapping" in her threads.

I think the Rangers got spanked by the Giants tonite, but not exactly sure. I only saw one brief blog entry about 11-4.

Out.

socrates said...

I somewhat remember reading that exchange between Gilroy and FN.

It's definitely tough to understand how people like us can maintain an internet addiction. The quality of schtick chatter has fallen so far down. DKos, MLW, even Booman used to have some interesting shenanigans. I'm talking epic battles.

It's said they don't make movies like they used to. It's the same with the internet. I just told Bob on a previous thread I believe we have witnessed the end of the internet, kind of a take on the end of history nonsense some dork put out a few years ago.

But I think it applies to the net. Just look at Lord Bryon and Fakeleft talking about other blogs and tv personalities. Their problem is they sound too serious about it.

Stu Piddy then chimed in that there's no difference between Beck and Maddow. That's preposterous.

Laura's brain doesn't work properly. Or she has trouble keeping her sadism to the side. She acts like she used to get beat on as a child.

I do realise this is pretty stupid of me to do some armchair psychoanalysis on some hag who never has anything nice to say. I think she does like Roseanne. I think she missed the outrageousness of the quote she cited. I don't think she even read it.

Or maybe you're correct that in her own weird way she likes when your schtock is combined with my schteck. But she's just too nasty to admit it. Like a Frank Burns of blogging. She's going to begrudge people to the last day she ever hits the keyboard.

As for basketball, I got into it when we were at MLW, the year KG was out. I think that was when we were at it.

I think sports are toast too to go with the internet.

It's like that tune Bhomenian Rhapsody, nothing really matters anymore. Blahg, blogh, hey wait a sec, those terms look Irish or gaelic. Maybe we can be like Sid Caesar and make up a fake language. I used to like that dude Norm Crosby. He was funny with the words. I was born too late. I would have been better off being in your age bracket. I got a whiff of drugs, sex, and rock and roll, but then it was Reagan Revolution time, as in everyone out of the pool, it's closing time. The end.


You're not really being moderated. It's more to keep two specific riff raffters out of the building.

socrates said...

damn, should have spelled it bohemian. There were probably a bunch of typos and whatnot in that last one. I'm afraid to take a closer look. Sometimes I don't proofread, and it backfires.

socrates said...

Just to show I don't delete every troll post and have only really put the kibbosh on two specific trolls, I allowed one today onto the Theresa Duncan thread.

I also admit I censored yourself, but it wasn't really about the content at that point. I felt it wasn't healthy for us to communicate at the time and thought a break would do us both good. I thought you'd go away forever. You didn't, and neither of us are taunting the other anymore, so perhaps we are back to where we were before the brouhaha.

socrates said...

It'd be nice to be able to turn comment moderation off allowing folks to communicate in real time. Yet, I don't think that's a big deal for a small place like this. It probably hurts Field Negro, but we don't know what kind of crap he's had to put up with. Nasty trolls can be bad for business, imho. They can turn off good people from participating. DFQ might have coined that phrase. I never saw that one until DFQ described major Flaw as a turn off troll.

donkeytale said...

No biggy....I view this more as your personal blog as opposed to a community blog. Same with Field Negro. Some of the tension may have resulted from my front paging blurring the lines in my mind.

Plus, I like to add a few chides and sour mash onto the creamed potatoes, but mainly just to stoke the entertainment values.

Too bad there isn't a way for the readers to see the comments, such as Bob's, as they are added to old threads....or is there a way?

I'm wondering if this move to BOS might just rejuvenate Shaq, who basically didn't do squat with wither PHX or CLE?

He seemed like he was done these last two years but perhaps he was just a bad fit. I can see the Celts running the set offense thru him down low, allowing Garnett to play more away from the basket (and prolonging his career via less banging underneath). Rondo or Pierce feed Shaq down low then cut to the hoop with the other one plus Allen spotting up for the open three when the defense collapses inside.

socrates said...

I just noticed Field Negro allowing a lot of nasty posts. Maybe he thinks it shows how much racism there still is. But it could be one person just trolling a website. It could have more to do with mental illness that outright racism.

I can't read his board or at least the comments. It's too much.

I see you have stolen my wake the fock up everybody schtick. That's ok. At least you explained before how that type of theft is more noble an act than it appears at first.

I think I actually stole that from Robin Williams, but at least I paraphrased it from originally being Good Morning Vietnam!

Blogspot does kind of feel like a pizza for one. Too bad there isn't a middle ground kind of blog not full of lunatics or nasty cliques.

I see LauraJohn mentioned the Hays Code in one of her recent posts. MeThinks you're right she's been reading this blog. I didn't try to verify it, but I bet she has never mentioned the Hays Code before until after reading about it here. There oughta be a law against schtick theft. [/Sassa Frassa]

Like on your Roseanne diary. Now that I think about it, Laurajohn did seem to be conceding there's a crazy Joooos did it element tied in with satanic panic as is Roseanne.

Unfortunately, this person just can't act normal at least once in a while and partake in cheesy interaction like other regular guys. Why not just admit we make some good points once in a while rather than act the bitter grape part every single day. I guess she's the girl who kicked us in the shin, but it turned out to be a sign of affection. She's warped.

I think she put on a groovy exterior for a long time. But then once she started blogging, put up her blogroll, got in bed with FSZ so to speak, too many warts is all I'm saying. She's nuts. Her defense is that no, I am the one who is nuts. It gets very tiring. That is a boring blog. I can't read fairleft. I can't read most of them without either vomiting a little in my mouth or getting very sleepy.

Hey, goopd suggestion about being let in on whether older comments were added. I'll do it. There is a blogger application. It isn't the greatest, but it will do what you request.

Shaq's 39. This is the end of the road for him. He wants to go out looking like a good pip and a real swell guy. The Celtics have a unique history. Shaq understands that if the C's win the title with his help, his legacy also grows. He'll be added to a list that includes Bill Walton and Kevin McHale. The Celtics have always been about team ball. Some sports organisations are truly better than most others. The Celtics had some bad luck after the Bird years with a negative climax called Rick Pitino, but right now they are back in a good place. They might win it all this year. Not just saying.

Dude, I've an idea for a new entry. I think you'll like it. It'll combine old-school boxing with an expose on another well-known fake from Hollywood.