The Actual Beast

Last evening I heard on the evening “news” that a drive-in cinema in Henagar wasn’t going to project a Disney re-do because one of the characters in the cinema is homosexual.

At the time this was another bit of Alibam not-news.

But then this morning I read an article [Link] in LifeHacker about this. And I was vaguely amused.

Let me start by mentioning that Henagar is one of the great cities of Alibam. It is almost in either Jawjah or Tennesse in the upper nawth-east corner of Alibam. It has a population of about 2.5K people. This part of the state is mountains so no industry or large organizations and the people who live there are rather like mountain people have been depicted in videos since the movie about Alvin York.

That would seem to explain what the owner of the motorcar cinema meant by her statement that 

“If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.”

since mountain people have all sorts of unusual religionist ideas. In this case thinking that the deity or his supposed offspring are pookas (to stay with the cinema metaphor.)

I should mention that many people in Alibam avoid saying what they really think or feel because they fear starting a feud or being beaten horribly by anyone who thinks or feels otherwise. In a place where one could speak one’s mind, the proper statement would have been something of the order of

“A lot of people hereabout are insecure and dislike homosexuals and just about anyone who isn’t like them and genetically similar (kinfolk) so if we show this movie no one will come and we will loose a whole bunch of money for no good reason.”

I won’t dwell on the nature of why this message wasn’t used since further discussion isn’t going to dissipate the reader’s already substantial disbelief.

Now let me address a couple of other points. First, a motorcar cinema today? Yes, exactly. Bear in mind that this is a small, impoverished mountain community. Land is cheap but buildings are dear. And the population is low so there isn’t much in the way of cable or internet. On in-door cinema. 

Not so say that there aren’t lots of places like Henagar in Alibam that aren’t in the mountains. There are people not more than five miles (yes, we still use Imperial units in Alibam) from Greater Metropolitan Arab, an Alibam metropolis of about 9K peoples who have neither indoor plumbing nor a heating system that doesn’t burn wood. And Greater Metropolitan Arab doesn’t have a motorcar cinema, nor an in-door cinema. But we do have Digital Switched Line. And cable television.

Second, let me take up the matter of movies. Disney movies are a good model of movies in general. Cartoon characters. Magic. Everyday people singing in public. Totally unrealistic stories. 

And that’s why I don’t go to see Disney (or much of any) movies. I have seen an earlier version of the movie in question. This alteration does not make the story any better or worse. It wasn’t real then and it wasn’t real now. 

But happily a lot of people in Alibam don’t and can’t understand that. Much less act rationally about it.

I can say that I have enjoyed two Disney Movies. One as Davy Crockett. It wasn’t a cartoon. And even as a child I realized it was a crock of inaccurate stercus and reveled in my rationality.

I also enjoyed The Black Hole. Not for the title; for the odoriferous inaccuracies. At least the part I got to see. I saw this at a now non-existent theater in Huntsville when I has in grad schule and was asked (demanded indignantly) by management to leave because my laughter and floor rolling was disturbing the other customers and the grease on the floor. I doubt that I was really disturbing anyone else, more likely the opposite but I can see how sopping up the sticky yuck on the floor would require them to spend money on cleaning the floor. And this was one of the nicer in-door cinemas in town. It even had a separate smoking section. The smoking section was in the middle of the rest of the seating but a waist high fence kept the smoke in (and the non-smokers out.)

I am asked why I live in Alibam. Several reasons. First of all, I grew up here. And although it is impossible to be believed by anyone who hasn’t, it’s better now than when I was a child. Second of all, it’s green. I have been lots of other places, mostly courtesy of the Yankee Army of Occupation sending me places I didn’t need to go to but they required me to go there. And after a week or so coming back to the green was a fulfillment.

The third reason is “In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” To translate that, anyone in Alibam who is rational and/or educated in something useful – that is, a nerd – is one-eyed. And you don’t get to be king, mostly because no one who is rational and/or educated would want to be king in this place, but you do get a whole lot better job than those who aren’t rational or educated.

What I understand is that when most of the people have a (useful) education, that education is NOT an advantage. By useful, I am not talking about quoting Descartes or Proust; I’m talking about doing instead of talking. (Incidentally, those folks who can quote Descartes or Proust, or even Patrick Henry, are more likely to get beaten horribly. If you know – really know – the calculus then the folks who do the beating run from you in terror as if you were the Attack Rabbit (more cinema vein.) And you get paid pretty good and can enjoy the good parts of Alibam.

Enough. If you ever get to Henagar take your kids to the motorcar cinema. It doesn’t matter what movie is being projected. What counts is that they experience a motorcar cinema for much the same reason the service station fellow in the Nevada desert wished for rain.