numb3r_5ev3n: Jerry Cornelius (Default)
Last week, I re-examined X Files, and the unintentionally toxic effect that I believe it had on pop culture - a hypothesis which was reinforced by the soft reboot miniseries from last year, and will most likely be reinforced again when the new season begins.

I've already posted at length about the impact that The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai had on my life, here and here. But while those posts touched on the history of my involvement with it, and became an examination of the story's more problematic aspects, there is a side to it that I haven't addressed yet - my perception of it as a part of my growth as a fan.

When I was sixteen and seeing the film for the first time, I was very attracted to the random, offbeat humor that permeated the whole film. I was, at that point, in the orbit of several people who professed to be "Subgeniuses," one of them being a math teacher at my High School, and I was participating in the antics of a loose collective of social misfits who engaged in acts of Dadaist and absurdist humor (to give you an idea: we saw the description of Chaotic Neutral in the AD&D 2nd Edition Player's Handbook and were like "this is us.")

So when our computer science teacher gave me a bootleg VHS copy of The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai: Across The 8th Dimension, it was right up my alley. I immediately went out and showed it to as many of my friends as would take the time to watch it with me.

But underneath it all, there was an idea that we were "signal jamming" something very sinister and malignant in nature. As this was the early 1990s, the pop culture conspiracy theory engine was just getting warmed up. One of my friends at the time (who, somewhat ironically, ended up working for the US Government in the defense industry) confessed to us that he was the agent of a Extraterrestrial force which was working to safeguard humanity against "The Other Side." "The Other Side" was a rigid, hierarchical, mechanized intelligence of fascistic order, which could only be defeated by random, chaotic white noise.

It was a narrative borrowed directly from John C Lilly's writings, and the conspiracy theories about "Influencing Machines." We glommed onto this narrative, because it gave us an excuse to behave in the "LOL, WE'RE SO RANDOM" manner in which we already had been up to that point, and feel like we were saving the world. It also gave me a ready-made explanation for my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, since I was diagnosed with the primarily obsessional, or "Pure O" type. No, I wasn't mentally ill - I was the focus of a concentrated attack from sinister, sentient machines. Because we were onto them.

And when my best friend snapped and suddenly went weird and hostile, and was controlling. and physically and sexually and psychologically abusive towards her then-girlfriend, it gave me a ready-made explanation for that, too. The Solid State. Influencing Machines. Project Stargate. We were a threat, so we were being neutralized. It was damnably effective. They didn't even have to kill us for it to work.

And Buckaroo Banzai worked its way into this mythos. We really believed that Hanoi Xan (the original Big Bad of the Buckaroo Banzai mythos above and beyond John Lithgow's character, who was referenced in the Across The 8th Dimension script and the novelization, and the fanfic we had access to at the time) was a real, evil force and behind it all. I even linked Nostradamus's prophesy of The Third Antichrist to Xan.

The fandom itself encouraged this. Writer Earl Mac Rauch, who wrote the original screenplay, has always insisted that Buckaroo Banzai is a real person and that the stories written about him are "docudramas, based on real events."

We were a bunch of crazy kids whose grip on reality was already tenuous at best, and it fed right into what we were already caught up in.

Because I didn't get my hands on the Buckaroo Banzai novelization until much later, we had this idea of Xan as a paramilitary Colonel Kurtz-like figure with psychic powers; the obvious resemblance to Fu Manchu, and the racist/problematic Yellow Peril connotations didn't even occur to us at the time.

I didn't even learn until recently that Earl Mac Rauch had borrowed Xan from another author, H Ashton-Wolfe. Hanoi Xan first appeared in his 1918  novel Warped In The Making - Crimes Of Love And Hate - which again, was professed by the author to have been based on true events.

The "loose collective of social misfits" dissolved as we tried to put as much distance between ourselves and my crazy, abusive ex-best friend as possible. We graduated. We drifted apart, and into other circles. We went to college and got jobs. We integrated into "normal adult life." One of our previous associates is now a conservative Evangelical. Another, as I mentioned before, now works in the defense industry.

Years later, I tried showing Buckaroo Banzai to a new group of friends, and the random, offbeat jokes in the film just fell flat. They all just watched in silence. I could feel a part of myself wither and die as I saw it as if for the first time through their eyes. I believe one of them even asked me, "So why is this your favorite movie, again?"

I've recovered since then, obviously. 

I look at things now and see how the polarities have shifted: Neo Nazis and the "Alt -Right" have appropriated the chaotic "white noise" of symbol jamming and culture jamming, claiming to be harmless memesters. Merry pranksters poking fun at ("triggering") too-serious liberals, all while churning out dangerously toxic symbols of hate, violence, and genocidal oppression towards their usual targets: Jews, women, Muslims, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and the Black community.

I remember what Buckaroo Banzai and the other absurdist heroes of our shared mythos meant to us once upon a time, and wonder if there is a way we can fight fire with fire.

When I heard that Kevin Smith was going to reboot Buckaroo Banzai into a new series for Amazon, I was cautiously optimistic. The initiative fell through because MGM didn't ask permission from Earl Mac Rauch, the original writer and creator of the Banzai universe (never mind what he claims to the contrary, and the fact that the Big Bad was borrowed from an earlier work) and "Mac" has always maintained that he still holds the rights to any new material. A legal battle has ensued between Earl Mac Rauch and MGM, and who knows if a sequel, or a new series, will ever see the light of day.
numb3r_5ev3n: jc and needlegun (needlegun)
 One of the reason I keep returning to the same fandoms over and over is that my interaction/consumption/fanfic creation around said fandom is like a snapshot of where I was, mentally and emotionally speaking, at that point in my life when they first became important to me - especially before I started blogging.

I used to journal in spirals, but the ones from my late teens/early twenties are mostly either in storage, or lost or gone. And I've gotten to a point in my life when I realize that stuff from my "memory palace" (as it is called in the Silence Of The Lambs/Hannibal mythos) is also getting lost or missing or altered.

Also, it was helping me get through stuff. There were periods of terrible loss in my late teens and early twenties in which I was never able to get back even a semblance of the well-being I had before, ever. I would have the epiphany of, "you know you're still allowed to exist in the way you wanted to, right?" and then I never would. 

There are mental snapshots and impressions of the way things were before everything went to hell. Sometimes, I see an edge or an outline of what might have been had things been allowed to proceed in the way I had wanted them to. Part of the problem of being in a co-dependent relationship with a person with borderline personality disorder is that they get to define who you are - and the moment you try and grow or change out of that role, you've suddenly mutated into this frightening thing they don't know, or have become a horrible, evil impostor - someone who is a fair-game target for any vengeance they feel like taking.

And I think back upon my old Buckaroo Banzai fic, for example, and realize how much of that was influenced by the narrative of being someone on the receiving end of that kind of blowout. Because I was, IRL.

So much of it was because I'd been happy for the first time in my life - for the first time in my life - and then I wasn't, again. My childhood was a haze of confusion, humiliation, rage and depression. So when the perfect situation seemingly popped up, and then it all went south, it was like the Universe making a correction. "Oh, excuse me - you weren't supposed to have that. We're taking that back. See here, in the contract? It says right here that you're supposed to be an emotionally isolated, obsessive compulsive rage monster living a life of quiet desperation and self-loathing. So sorry for the mix-up! My bad."

And I still have mental snapshots of the longest period of happiness in my entire life - which I managed to capture, along with the eventual collapse, in my fic at the time.

And I keep going back to those fandoms because I can feel even those snapshots starting to fade.

And I know it probably seems selfish and regressive. "Why do you spend so much time dwelling in the past? Why don't you make new friends and new good memories?" Well, partially because I kept getting pulled back into the same types of cycles with the same types of people for nearly fifteen years after that. I'm in a good place *now*, with good people *now*, but it took twenty years or so. Also, because stuff happened last summer to cause me to re examine a lot of those events and see them in a new light. And because I need a template, a basis for comparison of what "happiness" feels like opposed to the depression that I'm used to. And for most of the other reasons you don't go up to a mentally ill person and go "Why don't you just xxxx?! See, all better!~~~ :D:D:D:D"

But the thing was, I needed to find out how to find my way back on my own, without getting back into the cycle of co-dependency. And my life has been full of people trying to force me into the other half of their co-dependent binary system (or one of several nodes to feed upon.)

It's gotten to the point when I can generally recognize if someone is genuinely interested in me as a person, or as just a bolster for their own ego, playing a role in their own film that they have running in the back of their imaginations - or as a resource that they can drain dry, and string along until I've recovered enough to be useful to them again.

I didn't really mean to go into all of this. I meant to talk about fandom. And how it's gotten me through so much.

numb3r_5ev3n: Jerry Cornelius (Default)
Reposting because this didn't crosspost for some reason:

The bronchitis is gone, thankfully, but I have still had sinus issues off and on. There were a few weeks that it seemed like everything was going to be okay, and then I relapsed again last week. This seems to coincide with the times when there is rain or a "cold snap" (i.e. the temperature dips below 90.) I think it is probably allergy-related. I attended a wedding in Austin, TX last Saturday, four hours from where I live.

I carpooled with three other people, and may have passed my ick along to one of them. It was overcast and rainy nearly the whole time - but my sinuses cleared the moment that the sun came out and the temperature rose again.

This happened at the wedding. Several people got a picture of it. Here's mine.

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

In other news, I'm still listening to David Bowie pretty much nonstop. I still can't believe he's really gone. I never finished my multi-post unpacking of my 22-year Buckaroo Banzai fandom. It would be easier to just write the fic, but there has been one thing that I posted to Tumblr last month:

As much as I love The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, I have a couple of bones to pick with the narrative. I’ve been attempting to unpack some of it over at my livejournal, but for some reason I feel like this goes here. I’ll probably end up crossposting this over there as well. I’m going to be linking like crazy to TV Tropes for examples, so, if you end up clicking and falling into a nine hour TV Tropes hole, I apologize in advance.

So, Buckaroo’s original love interest Peggy was fridged in a narrative that was touched upon in the film, but was further explored as a part of the backstory in the novelization of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension. We meet the down-on-her-luck Penny Priddy, who displays hidden depths as the story as the story progresses. The novel rather anvilliciously implies that Penny is actually a mindwiped Peggy; an arc that was explored to its logical conclusion in both the circa-1986-87 fanzine-only fanfic The Penny Paradox, by Leni Sommer and Peggy Spaulding, and Ernest Cline’s fan sequel script for Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League. The film Across The Eighth Dimension sidesteps this part of the plot altogether. The novel places the responsibility for Peggy’s death (and her new existence as “Penny”) at the door of problematic Fu Manchu expy Hanoi Xan, Buckaroo’s original and ultimate archenemy.

When it was just Peggy being fridged and maybe unfridged just the one time, it was a reflection on how creepily fixated Xan was on controlling Buckaroo’s love life and personal relationships. One is reminded of this scene with the Joker and Lex Luthor from DC comics, below, in regards to Xan’s obsession with B. Banzai in general:


But the Buckaroo Banzai comics which came out circa 2006-2007 went and fridged Penny/Peggy again, turning it into something more like the Cartwright Curse. Which is a shame, considering how much detail was spent on Penny’s characterization in the novel (I know most of you didn’t read the novel, but whatever) and considering how much this kind of thing happens in popular media franchises in general. It also kind of sucks in the face of the erasure of the canon female characters from the film Buckaroo Banzai: Across The Eighth Dimension (Pecos, Big Norse, etc.)

The comics seem to suggest that Xan has a cloning operation where he just keeps churning out identical, expendable Penny/Peggy clones.

The Penny Paradox suggests that Peggy and Penny were actually twin sisters separated at a young age and adopted out to different parents, but that Penny’s actual fate is unknown - though she was presumably removed from the equation a long time ago by Xan.

The thing is, I hate this. I hate the idea of Penny just being a sad sack victim of Xan’s mechanations, and a plot device so Buckaroo has to deal with man!pain.

In the unauthorized extrapolation of The Penny Paradox that I was working on (since there was no actual film sequel, the Paradox WAS my fanon sequel for the longest time, and I can’t unsee it) the idea I was running with is that there’s a narrative we don’t know about, where Penny became this badass who sacrificed herself to save the world. Clues alluding to her heroic story would be found by scattered members of Team Banzai, (the likes of which, when assembled, could have provided fodder for a symphonic metal rock opera by the likes of Nightwish or even Dethklok.) She now exists as a guiding spirit, a vengeful angel not unlike Taarna the Taarakian.

I dunno, this is probably just a lot of Bailey’s-soaked ranting, but I really want to write this now.

numb3r_5ev3n: Jerry Cornelius (Default)
Oh Tommy.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I need to start taking this over to scans_daily.

OMG fic.

Jun. 13th, 2010 12:37 am
numb3r_5ev3n: Jerry Cornelius (Default)
TITLE: Time Of the Assassins
GENRE: Buckaroo Banzai/X Files
RATING:R for Violence
AUTHOR: [ profile] numb3r_5ev3n
SYNOPSIS: In which Lo Pep comes to a realization about some of the people he used to work with.
DISCLAIMER: I think Fox owns everything here. No, not that Fox. Or that one. You know the one I mean.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I've been trying to write Watchmen/Moorcock fic and Hellraiser fic for the past three weeks. This is what's come out instead. Takes place in the Penny Paradox universe (an awesome Buckaroo Banzai fanfic written in 1986/1987 by Leni R. Sommer and Peggy Spaulding – see, I got my start writing fanfic of fanfic) and transpires post-the Buckaroo Banzai/X Files fic that I first attempted in 2003, and that I may just drag out and re-write now that the bug has bitten me again.

Dedicated to Jami Wilsen, who liked the way I wrote Lo Pep back in the day, and always wanted to see more.

His first assailant finally catches up with him in Singapore. It's Gary Omega, AKA Gary The Greek. )


numb3r_5ev3n: Jerry Cornelius (Default)

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