Monthly Archives: November 2009

I Want This

Red Nightmare is a short propaganda film about Jerry, a man who takes living in the United States for granted (he even lied about his wife’s parents coming to town so that he wouldn’t have to go to a union meeting!!1!!one!!!). Dragnet superstar (and Red-hater extraordinaire) Jack Webb has decided to teach Jerry a lesson, and so Webb decided to give Jerry a Red nightmare (just like the title!). Jerry wakes up in an alternate reality where the U.S. is run by Commies. There is no such thing as church, the State comes and takes his daughter off to a Commie work farm, and (what finally pushes Jerry over the edge) the Reds have even claimed that they invented the telephone. Bastards!  Watch this film in its entirety here, if only for the beginning (the Commie training camp) and the end (when Jerry loses it).

When Mr. Ken Conaway showed this to my high school history class, I became fascinated by anti-communist propaganda from the 1950s and 1960s.  I immediately decided to start collecting anti-communist propaganda. I’ve bought a few movies (including shorts and instructional films) from the era, and a number of my monster movies feature creatures who represent clear warnings about the dangers of communism (I’m looking at you Them! and The Blob). Alas, that’s about it, mostly due to the TA salary the past six years.

That said, when I do start my collection in earnest, I want my first item to be a board game called “Victory Over Communism.” Listen to this description from

“Players are given cards containing questions and answers about communism. Every correct answer gets a player a Slave Country card, which frees that country from Communism. Every wrong answer brings the players one year closer to 1973, the year the rules quote as when the Communists will meet their goal of world domination.”

The questions the players have to answer are far from unbiased. Here are a couple from the playing cards (with answers):


QUESTION: Is the “cold” war a real war?  ANSWER: Yes, the “cold” war is a very real war. It has enslaved more people than any “hot” war in history.

QUESTION: How much less per bushel did the United States government sell wheat to our enemy, the Communists, than to the baker who bakes your bread here in America? ANSWER: The enemy, the Communists, bought wheat from the United States for 62 cents less per bushel than your baker pays for it right here in America.

QUESTION: What would have happened to anyone who suggested sending food or military goods to Nazi Germany during World War II?  ANSWER: Anyone who suggested sending food or other goods to an enemy would have been tried for “treason” or carted off to a mental institution.

Here are a few more images:

Commie_Game_Cards_EnslavedII Commie_GameII

I can’t find this anywhere online for sale, but someday I’ll track it down and I will rescue the enslaved Communist countries, Jack Webb-style! BAM!

New Tricks?

I hate to be “that guy” and rip on a movie that I’ve haven’t seen before. So I won’t.

The movie I won’t tear into is Old Dogs, the latest winner from the dynamic comedy duo of Robin Williams (RV, License to Wed) and John Travolta (Lucky Numbers, Wild Hogs). In case you’ve been fortunate enough to miss the god-awful previews, here they are.

I’m not going to attack a movie that is essentially a giant steaming cliche, with writing that’s so tired that they actually write out the characters’ descriptions to save time like it’s some sort of a Sweet Valley High book (Jessica is a wild child, Elizabeth is studious!). For reals:

Dan Williams

Charlie Travolta

It’s like watching a preview for a Tim Allen movie – all that’s missing is a botox joke. Just to be sure, let’s run down the list:

√ Shot to the nuts (and you’re to blame)

√ Supporting actors who are funnier (Seth Green, Justin Long, zombie Bernie Mac…)

√ Fainting at the sight of kids (See!? He’s not ready to be a father!)

√ Prescriptions with unlikely side-effects consumed through a totally believable plot device?

√ When animals attack

√√ Second nut shot (“Football in the groin!”)

_ A heartfelt lesson? Only one way to find out!

Oh, but if you are feeling like watching this piece of crap, you may not want to check out this article (especially the last paragraph). BAM!

Speak American!

Many things bother me about attitudes toward immigration. I understand, at least to some extent, concerns people have about unemployment, cultural identity, and the change–I don’t agree with it, but I can at least understand where they’re coming from. But the one thing I will never get are those people who freak the frick out when it comes to language.

The latest example that I’ve seen was in this Los Angeles Times article that discusses the Homeland Security plan to create a “tough pathway” for undocumented workers to gain legal status. Shockingly, there are people opposed to this plan, citing economic concerns (surprise) and the fear that this is merely code for “blanket amnesty.” Because, you know, every gun control measure is going to lead to firearms being banned, every pro-choice decision is going to lead to mandatory abortions, and the possibility of undocumented immigrants achieving amnesty will lead to automatic citizenship for everyone in the whole entire world (and also the V’s and moon martians). Whatever.

Honestly, that didn’t even throw me off too badly–these are far from original talking points. But what did throw me off was when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained that “the ‘tough pathway’ to legal status would require illegal immigrants to register, pay a fine, pass a criminal background check, pay all taxes and learn English.”

Register? Makes sense? A fine? Yeah, whatever. Pass a criminal background check? Sure. But the English thing really trips me up.

The so-called “English-only” legislation has a wonderful, xenophobic history in the United States, but the movement really took hold in the 1980s and 1990s when legislation was passed in a number of states decreeing that English was the official language. Granted, of those states passing the legislation, most did not have a large Spanish-speaking population (or any other linguistic minority). In fact, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia passed laws making English the official language, and each of those states had a Latino/a population of less than one percent. Wow, what a victory. Way to go. In history we’ll put that right in between me fighting off those invisible dinosaurs and John Chaney of Columbus, Ohio, finding that penny. Score!

It continued through the 1990s, most notably with California’s Proposition 227, which mandated that all students in public schools must be taught only in English (essentially setting Latino/a students back rather than teaching bilingual classes until those students learned English on their own). Even today, it still rears its nasty head every once in a while when people want to drum up support in a midterm election (often accompanied by some flag-burning amendment). You can drape English-only laws in the language of patriotism, but this type of legislation is only enforcing the idea that the Spanish language (and bilingualism in general) are markers of being nonWhite and excluding those populations from having a voice in today’s society.

Two thoughts on why this casual mention of requiring English is ridiculous. First, the state laws are basically symbolic, designed to intimidate a minority population into feeling uneasy, unwelcome, and far outside the power structure. Hegemonically, it’s genius, but it’s ultimately short-sighted. Ask California Republicans how their nativist legislation panned out in the 1990s.

Secondly, it’s stupid. Sorry to be trite, but it is incredibly stupid and I can’t think of another word offhand. It’s stupid. Look back at some of the drastic lingual action taken in the past:

• Sauerkraut makers re-named their product “liberty cabbage during World War I. Stupid.

• In Australia, during World War I, the countritinent re-named 69 of its towns because they had German names. Stupid.

• Calling french fries “Freedom Fries” because France didn’t want to go to war against Iraq. Weapons-grade stupid.

This is no different. Years from now, we’ll all think it’s stupid (kind of like fashion from the 90s or popped collars). Look, English is just one language in the vast marketplace of languages. It’s not sacred or special just because we speak it. It happens to be one of the languages that widely recognized and spoken, and I’m sure a number of immigrants are going to learn English on their own in order to compete economically with other U.S. residents. It might be strongly advised, but it shouldn’t be required. And even if it was, how does that work? Do these individuals have to speak in English at all times? Or only when they’re out in public? What happens if they don’t? Absolutely ridiculous.

Oh, and if we’re going to have English-only laws, then all citizens should have to pass English tests, and if they fail then those individuals will be kicked out of the country.



Hmmmm….Maybe this English-Only idea isn’t so bad after all…