CliffP is My Cultural Uncle Ernie

A few weeks ago Friend of Pipeline CliffP noted that he felt culturally raped because he knew who The Situation was, even though he had made no concerted effort to obtain that knowledge. I failed to note the irony of me learning who The Situation was only because CliffP happened to make that statement while we were watching a bare-chested doofus be interviewed on TV. Of course, it was The Situation. Had CliffP not mentioned it I might today still be blissfully unaware of what The Situation looks like. I can’t say I was culturally raped, but I was at least culturally felt-up…because of CliffP. I immediately went into a shame spiral and didn’t confront him over this painful event.

Then last week we were watching TV again and the musical Tommy was on. I’m a fan of the Who, although I hadn’t seen the movie Tommy. And let me tell you, I really wish I could still make that claim. Tommy sucked so bad I’ve decided I can’t really share any of it with you. I can tell you, however, that pinball machines were definitely harmed during the filming of Tommy. Which is sort of ironic, that the movie that celebrates the pinball machine more than any other would in fact be the source of the single greatest pinball machine genocide ever committed to film.

(A sidenote: The Pinball Wizard pinball machine, featuring Elton John in platform boots and lots of mirrors, was my machine of choice from, I don’t know, 1976 to 1978 or so. My grandparents had one in the bar they ran in Paxico, KS. I owned that machine; I would always get a replay, never tilt at all, but I was blissfully ignorant of its origins.)

Now, you have to understand that CliffP controls the TV remote, and he is a master of the form. But on this night, Tommy lingered on the screen, and CliffP’s prior trenchant observation about cultural rape came to the forefront of my mind. The more Tommy I saw, the less I liked Tommy the movie, Tommy the album, Pete Townshend, for writing it, and definitely Roger Daltrey, who I never much cared for anyway, for being Tommy. I didn’t have to see Tommy, ever. Why was CliffP doing this to me?

Now, sure, maybe I was asking for it. When it first was on the screen I sort of perked up and said, “Hey, is that Tommy?!” But then things went too far, too fast, and before I knew it I wanted Tommy to end before more damage was done to my feelings about The Who. Did I explicitly say “no”? Not exactly. Maybe he got the idea that this was a consensual viewing; oh, I’m sure that’s exactly what he would say. I thought I gave off signals that I really wasn’t into it, but I couldn’t really testify to that in a court of law or administrative proceeding. It was late, things were a little foggy…you’ve heard this story before. People are partying, having a good time, and sure, maybe it’s fun to talk about The Who, but then things go too far you end up watching Tommy. When that happens lives, and pinball machines, can be destroyed.

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9 Responses to CliffP is My Cultural Uncle Ernie

  1. MrFares says:

    It wasn’t that bad… I saw it at the tender age of 16, before I had listened to the album the whole way through (on KSHE 95 some Sunday at Midnite) and I can still listen to it today without always using the movie for reference.
    Did you know they made a crappy movie out of Quadrophenia? Sgt. Pepper? The Wall (I said it)?, or Trapped in the Closet?

  2. pipelineblog says:

    No argument from me on The Wall. I doubt I could get through that today. The only redeeming quality I can find in Tommy is that it was originally aired with speakers set up in the corners of the theaters to have “quintophonic” sound, including speakers behind the screen that projected sound from where the singer was on the screen. That’s pretty cool, particularly for 1975.

    Also, in fairness, I only actually saw about 20 minutes of Tommy, and missed most of the excellent cameos. But the images of Daltrey and those burning pinball machines soured me on it forever.

  3. Becky O says:

    When I saw The Wall in high school, it changed me. When I watched about 20 minutes of it recently, I changed the channel.

    Do you want to know what has held up? Heathers. Watched it recently, every bit as awesome.

  4. pipelineblog says:

    That’s a great line about the Wall, Becky. I also have fond memories of that movie from high school and early college, but it’s hard to discern if the fondness then was for the movie itself or just the idea of being old enough to go to a midnight movie.

    I agree that Heathers holds up well. A lot better than Winona Ryder and Christian Slater…

  5. Clint says:

    Kings of Steel, Kwik Shop, discuss

  6. Nathan D says:

    First off, I have seen more than 20 minutes of Tommy, and let me just say: you are lucky to have seen only that much.

    Second, to compare the movie Tommy and the movie The Wall is a travesty of taste – say what you will about how watchable The Wall is when you aren’t 16, but it’s many orders of magnitude better on any reasonable scale of measurement than Tommy (the movie).

  7. Doug Hennessee says:

    Very true, and I want to be clear: The Wall may not be my thing now, but it’s no Tommy. Catchphrase alert! “It’s no Tommy.”

  8. Doug Hennessee says:

    Kings of Steel from the Oakland, Topeka Kwik Shop circa 1982 to 1984 is probably my #2 all-time pinball machine; it’s a close battle with the Gilligan’s Island machine from the Town & Country, Emporia, KS, circa 1989/1990. As you can see, in my world pinball machines have a strong connection to time and place. That’s what it really means to be a pinball wizard, Tommy! It’s not about “desciples” or “foxy chicks”…that’s what Dig Dug was about.

  9. Cliff P says:

    I’m sorry, i’m so sorry. Can we still be friends?

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