How Cartooning Created World Peace
A Short Film Idea by Metavalent
The idea: A Hollywood production company is hired to build sets that look like Americanized re-development zones in over-stereotyped Middle Eastern villages. Bad actors [as in “poorly skilled” as we can tell from their gait, over-gesticulation, etc] cast as Western tourists, filter down the street to congregate around various Evil Western Brand Name shops. Atop a sandy hill in the distance, we find stereotypical Islamist fundamentalists, gazing through night-vision goggles in the middle of the day, and nearly salivating with anticipation at the prospect of inflicting havoc on the happy scene. One of the Islamists is sent to reconnoiter the area, and he does so in quasi-Inspector Clouseau style; finally retrieving a newspaper from a vending machine. Back at their plotting perch, our villains open the paper and find a cartoon of Muhammad breaking bread with Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, and Confucius. “It’s an outrage!” one cries! “You insult our prophet in cartoon!? I bomb myself, you foolish infidels!” The stereotyped Islamist starts digging in the sand. “That’s it! That’s it! Our prophet shall not be insulted!” Digging frantically. “I know we stored them right here in the closet somewhere! Allah Akhbar!” By now, we do not know if we’re seeing a poorly crafted and very poor-taste skit, a very lame amateur animation, or some other chintzy cheesy bit, grossly failing to be even the slightest bit funny. Or it could be something even worse. Yet, gripped by a morbid curiosity, we stare on for just a few more minutes.
Now, as our villain wraps his fingers into the fabric of a mass-produced flak jacket and pulls it from the sand, we see that it resembles the type that policemen wear and catch just a glimpse of the “Warmart” brand tag [resembles Walmart, of course] as we survey this vest, we find it is conveniently pre-packaged with C4 bricks fastened to the fabric, and now the enraged terrorist rips open one of the pockets and pulls out a rats nest of wires. Each wire is tipped with a blasting cap – the music and pace accelerate in classic action movie style, rapidly building a sense of tension and urgency as our ideologue subject begins feverishly inserting caps into the individual C4 bricks. BY NOW, our audience should be glued to the screen, solely due to gratuitous use of all the best-proven techniques of sight and sound for riveting eyeballs to an action sequence. All the while, our villain is mumbling a mishmash of ethnic epithets, insults against various Islamic sects whom he blames for allowing “this” all to happen, curses against various phantom enemies, and blessings upon himself and friends. In unison, he and his comrades chant one final “Allah Akhbar!” and the fully-armed terrorist races down a sandy hill, toward the village, down the street, and into to the obvious Starbucks-ish shop.
Our villain does a double take at the pastries and we see a flash of realization of how beautifully delicious they appear to him. Then, just as quickly, we cut back to the hilltop from where we see the entire city block explode with an exaggerated force dozens of times stronger than reasonably expected from such a bomb. As the highly over-produced, beatific, way-too-fiery explosion billows, expands, and peaks, we begin to fade into the cloud and discern various debris falling, cup holders, stir sticks, key chains, sugar-in-the-raw wrappers, cell phones, blackberries, and all manner of tchotchkes stereotypical of Western culture, but interlaced with equally stereotypical Eastern cultural tchotchkes, luck charms, coins, and items typical of Middle Eastern small children’s personal treasures collections. This explosion is the central statement of the piece and will require some research to get it authentic and convincing, as the cloud of icons and debris, dust, wood-splinters, and concrete chunks should look like a soup consisting a ten year old child’s “shoe box” collection from each of many cultures, Western and Eastern, combined with commercial and cultural knick-knacks and religious jewelry typical of the two primary culture’s marketplaces – Judeo-Christian and Islamic – which had previously mingled on the now blown-up set.
The debris rain falls in a slow dance, synchronized to a surrealistic cacophony of sound; an ebb and flow of classical, fundamentalist Islamic music, contemporary rap, Islamic pop music, country western. The dust, grit, and tchotchke soup cloud becomes a world unto itself and a presentation palette for its contents. No blood, no body parts. The cloud’s ebb and flow cycle begins as a tremendously fiery and over-produced explosion, but the destructive shades and color tones fade to become a backdrop such that, for a short while, we forget that we are seeing an explosion and it looks more like a depiction of the daydreaming imagination of a child, dreaming of the content his or her tiny world treasures box. This palette fades again to become more television-commercial in appearance, now displaying the assortment of East and West marketplace bits-n-pieces, like commercials where we see a pristine rain of fresh-food ingredients across the screen; and the four ingredients – explosion, childhood, commercial trappings, religious tchotchkes – overlap and intermingle until we gradually fade outward toward the realization that we were, in fact, zoomed in way too close to the settling debris cloud. Through the fog of the dissipating cloud, we now begin to see cleaning crews sauntering toward the scene at a lackadaisical, everyday pace. No emergency vehicles, no sirens, no flashing lights, but as we begin to hear the din of clanking and clunking we’d expect to hear from a common janitor’s closet, we now begin to see that the sauntering figures are overtly stereotyped Latino cleaning people, sweeping and cleaning, while stereotyped Caucasian construction workers rebuild the sets just as they were before.
A rebuild sequence begins slowly, but gradually accelerates, finally reaching a time-lapse photographic frenzy, perhaps accompanied by some kind of slapstick or sitcom soundtrack (keystone cops, three stooges, seinfeld, friends, something like that). The rebuilding scenes should be smattered with glimpses of common workplace banter and camaraderie – this is an exceedingly NORMAL scene. To indicate the end of this cleanup and rebuild sequence, the scene blurs and music segues to a modern commercial jingle type soundtrack, and an image comes into focus of a plump, 50-ish year old Latina woman wiping the last smudges off of the glass of a glistening new storefront window. This five second punctuation-mark of an image – the window cleaning woman – should resemble a television commercial that ends with a “tinkle and and a twinkle” of pristinely clean glass and our proud, smiling, minimum wage cleaning woman endorsing the Warmart-branded cleaning product in hand. As the camera slowly pans outward into a wider and wider view, we find ourselves viewing the original scene, bad actors over-gesturing, etc., and we find ourselves where we began.
The screen snaps to black with flat clicking sound, the lights come up just a little too bright and we realize we’ve been watching a film in a conference room full of media executives that all resemble clones of Jack Valenti (but with just enough variation to be barely differentiable from one another) and military leaders that resemble clones of Donald Rumsfeld in like fashion. The presenter, a Valenti clone, sports a super expensive pin-striped suit adorned with super cheap stick-on name tag of the variety typical at business gatherings. The label reads “Orange” and with his chest-thrust out in over-stereotyped hubris he proclaims, “And THAT, gentlemen [there are obviously no ladies present, except, as our presenter scans the room visually groping for adulation, we catch a glimpse of a scantily clad woman dancing in a video on one of the military leaders mission-critical Blackberry devices] is how the strategic Multimedia Unified Research, Development, and Entertainment Regions can be developed and implemented to result in a win-win situation for everyone. Some have called it “the pinnacle of reality-programmed militainment,” and that seems accurate to us. The franchising of M.U.R.D.E.R will finally enable Hollywood to selectively rid itself of the increasing number of lost souls and bumbling fools who think they can become actors, writers, directors, but instead increasingly infect our restaurants in the form of inattentive and idiotic waiters and waitresses, while the terrorists do us that service in the process of self-selecting for their own elimination. We’ve seen that the cartoons work every time. It’s simply amazing. We already have the first year of daily cartoons in the works – customized for specific offense on particular holy days, of course.”
Near the back of the room, two Warmart-branded cigar-wielding executives, one a Valenti clone and one a Rumsfeld clone, toast one another; the military one in stock militaristic tone, “Brilliant, Agent Orange!” followed by the Hollywood guy infused with smarmy marketing mania, “Abso-LUTE-ly brilliant!”