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.