Friday, May 12, 2006

A Stray Thought While Surfing

You may have seen Paul Schrader's film Auto Focus, about the double life led by now-infamous Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane. There's a key scene in the film where sex-obsessed Crane (Greg Kinnear) and partner-in-swing John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe) are watching a videotape of one of their orgies. Crane is puzzled by a body part: there's a hand on his ass, but he can't figure out whose hand it is. (It's kind of like the famous extra hand in da Vinci's Last Supper. Kind of.) Carpenter looks at the screen for a moment, turns to Crane, and says, amusedly, "That's my hand, Bob." Though Carpenter thinks nothing of it—it was an orgy, after all—Crane freaks out a little at the homoerotic implications; if I remember rightly, this scene in fact marks the beginning of the eventual split with "Carpie" that (according to the film) led to Crane's grisly death in an Arizona motel room.

Anyway, a while back I had the pleasure of watching Auto Focus with a good friend who, like me, is a Mystery Science Theater 3000 devotee. When you're a Mystery Science Theater 3000 devotee, strange things often happen in your head while you're watching the average film. A strange thing happened in our heads as we watched that scene. Suddenly, we had a new standard to which anything creepy, disturbing, or unsettling could be compared: It's like Willem Dafoe's hand on your ass. Ever since, at any odd moment, when we run across something creepy, disturbing, or unsettling, we've found ourselves thinking and saying things like

It's something of a private language, but it works for us.

Anyway, this is just to explain why the other day, when I surfed across this screengrab of Mara Liasson at Think Progress, the first thought I had was

Willem Dafoe's hand strikes again.
Looking at the picture again, though, I find myself wondering why this alien puppet creature seems so familiar . . . . Oh, yeah:

This made me laugh so hard I almost had a latte mishap. I remember the Willem Dafoe hand on ass scene clearly, and I remember being very disturbed by it - the deadpan, matter of fact delivery of something completely wacked. Thanks for the reminder!
I plan on using that line for perhaps the rest of my natural life. Outstanding!
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