Pop Culture Stuff Everyone Seems to Misunderstand

Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful tonight” always leaves a strange taste in mounth. It’s regarded as a super-romantic song but some of the lyrics make me think about the musings of an alcoholic. I’m sure I read it somewhere before, but cannot find it at this time, only references to Clapton writing it for Pattie Boyd while waiting for her to get ready for a party.

And then she asks me “Do you feel all right?”
And I say, “Yes, I feel wonderful tonight”

It’s time to go home now and I’ve got an aching head
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light
I say, "My darling, you were wonderful tonight
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight"

I’ve always understood he was going through heroin withdrawal. But I don’t have a cite.

Is this a serious argument you are actually making, rather than a terrible attempt at humour?

You’re not the only one. I always hear your quoted verse in a drunken schtupor voice.

When you look through binoculars, you see a single image in a round frame, much like you would see when looking through a telescope. You don’t see this, that’s not how the human eye works.

This is just shorthand for “this is what the character sees through binoculars.”

I read an interview with Eric where he talked about that song specifically. It was definitely not a romantic song, though it often gets misinterpreted that way. They were going out and Patty was taking FOREVER to get ready. When he says you look wonderful tonight, there is more than a little sarcasm. Lovely tune anyway though.

I’ve complained about this for years.

A variation is the “fly’e eye view”, seen in the original version of The Fly after his head is revealed.

Marvel comics did this with the character Psyclop:

(the episode was written by Harlan Ellison, who came up with and named Psyclop)

Don’t forget the introductory verse, which isn’t always performed but it’s in Judy Collins’ wonderful version:

Cathedral bells were tolling, and our hearts rang on.
Was this the thrill of Paris, or the April dawn?
Who knows if we shall meet again,
But when the morning chimes ring sweet again…

(Many songs from the Great American Songbook have little-known introductory verses. And if you ask me, they really missed an opportunity by not associating this with Steve and Peggy in Captain America: The First Avenger. Though they made up for it with “It’s Been A Long, Long Time” in Endgame.)

It was used in a public service advertisement here, about how children watch and imitate their (alcohol abusing) parents:

Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watchin’ you

Not really pop culture, but the media sometimes solemnly intone that their job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The original use was to mock the self-important newspapers:

‘Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward. They ain’t annything it don’t turn its hand to fr’m explainin’ th’ docthrine iv thransubstantiation to composin’ saleratus biskit.’

Finley Peter Dunne, “Newspaper Publicity” in “Observations by Mr. Dooley” (1902)

It’s not humor. The term was defined many years ago by James Blish. Here’s the definition from The Turkey City Lexicon:

Which means that you can make up any “meaning” you want. Then Manson was right: “Helter Skelter” is about revolution because he said it was. It’s certainly more interesting that the intention of the song, but that doesn’t make it relevant to anyone but Charles Manson.

Yes, there are readers who don’t enjoy symbolism. To them, a bunch of dense symbolism is going to be turn off, and more subtle symbolism is going to be ignored. And that’s okay. If a person likes a book, but misses all the symbolism the author intentionally included, he’s not “liking the book wrong,” and it’s perfectly okay for him to describe his reaction to the book without referencing any symbolism at all.

There are other people who really like symbolism, and enjoy really digging deeply into a text to find that sort of stuff. Sometimes these readers will dig up some meaning in a book that the author didn’t intend to put there. That’s also okay. They, also, are not “liking the book wrong.”

Well, you may know it, but it’s clear you don’t understand it. I’ve given several examples (and can give many more) and you haven’t tried to refute them other than say it’s “obviously inappropriate.”

The list of idiocies in Alien is long. It’s not just one or two characters being stupid. It’s the entire setup, which does not hold up to the slightest scrutiny. Nothing in the movie is organically part of the characters and any human motivation. The scenario is constructed solely to make the audience jump and not think about it.

Which is exactly what I’m talking about. The story is of poor quality because it was constructed without any regard to logic.

You’re attacking a straw man and misreading my words. I didn’t say you had to be a writer in order to understand a work. I merely asked if you were a writer to confirm something I’ve noticed. A writer is more likely to spot things like an idiot plot (and you clearly haven’t spotted the idiocies in Alien) because they have to consider it when they’re writing.

Scott has made more movies, but he’s had misfires. Every creator does. Alien is a misfire. There are just too many plot holes.

As for it being popular, popularity and quality are independent variables. Twilight was immensely popular.

Alien was popular because people like scary movies.

[quote=“RealityChuck, post:452, topic:940564”]

But, you really believe that only SF writers are familiar with the term “idiot plot”? It’s a pretty widely known concept (many people are familiar with it from Roger Ebert’s use of the term).

As usual, There’s A Trope For That:

What does Blish coining it have to do with your allegation that only SF writers are capable of understanding it? That’s absurd.

Given that all idiot plots originate with writers, but are often pointed out by non-story-writing critics, this is patently false.

I’d argue that nobody acts with intelligence when first faced with a situation they’ve never prepared for, but usually by the end of the movie, at least one person learned enough to combat the disaster. It’s a steep learning curve when an alien psychopath is on the loose.

From what I recall of Alien, the stupid decisions made by the crew were understandable, considering how unprepared they were for that type of situation.

They bring back Kane after he’s been attacked by an alien breeder. Ripley didn’t want to let them aboard, citing quarantine protocol. Ash overrides her decision. The rest of the crew thinks he’s doing it out of mercy, but he had his own agenda.

When Ash tries to pull the creature off Kane’s face, it bleeds acid that eats through the floor and presents a hazard to the ship’s hull. That turned out to be a stupid decision, but they had no indication that kind of danger would result. They were trying to rescue their comrade.

They find the dead creature, and Kane appears to be OK. They had been contemplating putting him back in the freezer before he revived. They should have done so anyway, but they had been through a traumatic experience and wanted to get back to their regular lives. Besides, Ash, the secret robot, kept silent about Kane’s condition, because he had orders to bring alien lifeforms back and the crew was considered expendable.

A new creature tears out of Kane’s body and escapes. This blows their minds. They’re understandably shocked, and Ash prevents them from killing it. It gets away and they have no reason to think it would grow to such a massive size in such a short time. They learn of this new development when it kills Brett and hauls him away.

After heated discussion, the crew can only draw on their own experiences in controlling large wild animals. None of them have had training to do this. They don’t want to risk damaging the hull with projectile weapons. They’re showing caution. Their next best weapon is a flame thrower. They don’t realize the creature is more intelligent than a wild animal. How could they? It’s only a few hours old. There goes Dallas.

They discover the truth about Ash and how he’s been secretly aiding the alien. A fight ensues, they take out Ash after he taunts them. They realize they’ve been fucked from the word Go. They had been engaging in a lengthy boring mission and all the sudden their world has fallen apart and they decide they have to abandon ship. Was that stupid? They decided discretion is the better part of valor, and nothing they’ve done has been effective. Besides, they’re now down to three. Parker and Lambert are ambushed as they’re hurriedly loading supplies into the escape pod as Ripley prepares to launch. Were they stupid for hurrying? Parker wanted to incinerate the Alien, but Lambert was frozen in panic like a deer stuck in the headlights. He tried to save her but paid for it. Was he stupid for trying to rescue his friend? He had just lost his other crew members and couldn’t live with himself if he abandoned Lambert.

I’m not sure where their actions could be considered idiotic. Were the victims of Mt Vesuvius idiotic? The smartest thing for them was not to live there in the first place.

Or to his cult followers. Or to people who are interested in Charles Manson and the Family as a historical subject. If you ask Charles Manson to explain “Helter Skelter,” the point isn’t to understand “Helter Skelter,” the point is to understand Charles Manson. And broadly, that’s the purpose of any discussion of art - if I ask you your opinion about Alien, it’s not to gain insight into the movie Alien, it’s to gain insight into RealityChuck.

By the time I got back to the thread, your criticisms of the film had already been effectively shredded by several other posters, and I felt bad about piling on. I also noticed that you studiously avoided engaging in anyone else pointing out the flaws in your criticism, so it didn’t seem worth the effort.

Beyond that, I don’t really care that you didn’t like Alien. Not everyone likes every movie. I only mentioned the Alien tangent because I was struck by the contrast between you lecturing me for being “condescending” because I said I’d read some bad fiction - not even mentioning any book or author by name - and you shitting all over one of the canon works of cinematic science fiction.

I noted that too. Books can’t be bad, but movies can?

And yet the vast majority of people who have seen it and thought about it and written about it disagree with you. Is it because they’re all idiots? Is it because (and again I’m not talking about the casual viewers, I’m talking about professional reviewers) are lying when they claim to have scrutinized the movie?

Or is it possible that your view is fantastically idiosyncratic, and that other folks come at the movie with thoughtful disagreement, and that your claims might not bear up under the slightest scrutiny?

cite cite cite cite

Maybe RealityChuck confused Prometheus with Alien?