Steven Seagal and Sullivan's Travels Moments
Over the course of my life and career I’ve had what I like to call Sullivan’s Travels moments after Preston Sturges’ classic comedy about a pompous, pretentious director of popularly love trifles like So Long, Sarong, Hey Hey in The Hayloft and Ants in Your Pants of 1939 who longs to make Serious, Important Film about The Way We Live. The titular hero learns the really hard way that he can serve humanity better by making trifles that let the oppressed masses forget their troubles for a brief idyll rather than solemn message movies that only remind us of our never-ending woes.
Like Sullivan, I’ve tried to create Serious, Important art about the Way We Live, although it says something about my strange sense of seriousness and importance that many of them involve grown-ass adults in clown make-up being sprayed with off-brand soda.
In my own half-assed, shambling way, I’ve chased truth and beauty and meaning. I've been a spiritual seeker. I’ve intermittently achieved transcendence in my writing. I’ve found God and meaning in LSD and a Trey Anastasio solo in the sacred hippie hills of Bethel Woods. I’ve flown in a helicopter in Brazil with the woman who directed Children of a Lesser God. I wrote my childhood hero’s coffee table book. I’ve slept in Robert Evans’ guest room. I have thundered about the dignity of Juggalo nation in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial on the most important day in Juggalo history.
I’ve cos-played Hunter S. Thompson in Phish lots, Juggalo Gatherings and the 2016 Republican National Convention, which, showing my trademark shrewd judgment, I felt I had to attend and cover because there was no chance that the American people would ever do anything as insane and inexplicable and tragically colorful as nominating a lunatic like Donald Trump President ever again.
I’ve introduced concepts and phrases into the cultural vernacular and rubbed elbows with Oscar winners and best-selling authors and people who've shaped and molded our culture. It’s a good thing that I’ve always aspired to do more than just write film reviews, because I apparently became unemployable in that field two and a half years ago.
With this website in particular I’ve tried to be as open and honest and candid about my emotions , particularly my life-long battles with Depression and Mental Illness. But I also know that what I do best, and what has made my career has been writing about bad movies and garbage culture in an entertaining fashion.
At this point you might be asking, "Gee, Nathan, you sure do talk about all of the stuff you did in the "Pre-failure" stage of your career. What's up with that?" Let's just say this site is mostly about entertaining people but also about rebuilding my shattered self-esteem. It serves at least two masters.
Sometimes I write about garbage culture in a way that elucidates its overlooked, secret virtues but to be perfectly honest, a lot of the time I write about garbage entertainment because it’s fun.
There have been times in my past when I found being the bad movie/shitty book guy limiting, just as Sullivan longed to make more than silly comedies, but not anymore. I embrace that part of my career. I luxuriate in it.
Reading The Way of the Shadow Wolves, Steven Seagal’s insanely racist anti-Obama, anti-Mexican, Alt-Right conspiracy novel, I felt a surge of exhilaration, that beautiful, beautiful feeling that, like a Shadow Wolf, I was living in perfect harmony with nature and doing what God wants me to do. I had a Sullivan's Travels moment.
For the Shadow Wolves, that’s bring down Ayatollah Obama’s planned Muslimgeddon. For me, that’s write about terrible movies and unbelievably self-indulgent, badly written show-business books and ridiculous people like Steven Seagal.
There’s something beautiful about that. I may not be doing something terribly important, or serious, but I’m reading books and watching movies seemingly no one else will and then writing about them in a way that brings people some amusement and escape from their days. Sullivan did his part to get society through the Great Depression. I'm trying to do the same for the Great Trumpression.
I am proud to bring the literary equivalent of Hay Hay in the Hayloft to you. I’m proud that my legacy will be Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, Foodfight!, Easy Rider: the Ride Back, and, yes, The Way of the Shadow Wolves as much as it is The Big Rewind, You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me and 7 Days in Ohio.
That’s what was so tough about The A.V Club cancelling My World of Flops. It’d be like Sullivan being told that not only was he not going to get to make any serious movies, but he was no longer considered capable of making silly fluff either.
Thankfully I was able to rescue My World of Flops from the big online graveyard and while I’m still going to continue to try to write something that means something, to paraphrase the Pharcyde lyric, I’m overjoyed that you still to seem to enjoy my foolishness, or at least do a wonderful job of appearing to tolerate it.
Support Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place, and Nathan Rabin’s curious life path over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace