Saturday, January 11, 2014

Yes, God Bless America—but sometimes things can hit a little too close to home


I hate my neighbors.  The constant cacophony of stupidity that pours from their apartment is soul-crushing.

It doesn’t matter how politely I ask them to practice some common courtesy. They’re incapable of comprehending that their actions affect other people.

They have a complete lack of consideration for anyone else, and an overly developed sense of entitlement.

They have no decency, no concern, no shame. They do not care that I suffer from migraines and insomnia.

They do not care that I have to go to work. Or that I want to kill them.  I know it’s not normal that I want to kill them.  But I also know that I am no longer normal.

god-bless-americaOkay, those were not my words—but they might as well have been, as people who read this blog must know by now.  Earlier today I watched “God Bless America”, a very black dramedy written & directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite—and it’s not like I had some great epiphany or anything, but here I am, sitting on my couch hours later & I can’t stop thinking about that film.

It opens with a fiftysomething man (Joel Murray, brother of Bill Murray) in bed, staring at the ceiling while listening to his neighbors loud noises from the apartment next door.  Those are his thoughts up there, and he fantasizes about going over there with a shotgun and inflicting some serious damage.   (Brother, I feel your pain!)  

Instead he gets up and turns on his tv, flipping through channel after channel of reality show dreck: the Kardashians, the Real Housewives of Wherever (hurling obscene things at one another), and a trio of judges laughing at a chubby, talentless contestant on American Idol.  He’s tired… and disgusted.

The following morning after arriving at work, Frank has this wonderful exchange with his coworker:

Soon after, he’s fired.  “Frank why did you access Karen’s personnel file?”  “Well, when she was out sick, I wanted to send her some flowers.  I needed her address for the delivery.”  His boss tells him  “She considered it an invasion of privacy and we have to let you go.”  While on his way home, Frank calls his ex-wife to talk to his 8 year old daughter, but she won’t come to the phone; she’s in the throes of a fit because her mother bought her a Blackberry and the kid wanted an iphone.  Can it get any worse?

His doctor calls him:  bad news Frank, you have an inoperable brain tumor. 


Later that night, he decides to put himself out of his misery.  And then he sees it:  a teenage girl screaming at her parents (for buying her the wrong car) on MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16”.   Frank puts the gun down.  Oh he still plans to kill himself… but he’s going to kill that obnoxious teen on MTV first.

I don’t want to give away the rest of this (violent but well scripted) movie, let’s just say he meets a psychotic named Roxy who believes in his cause.  “Let’s kill the country music fans!  The people who give each other high fives!  People who say they’re stoked!” 

Frank tells her no, he doesn’t want to shoot someone simply because they do unlikeable things; he just wants to kill the mean ones.  

I was surprised by how much I identified with this character (but the last thing I want to do is shoot anybody, honestly).  Yes I’m disgusted with most of the reality crap on tv today, and garbage like TMZ & Howard Stern turn my stomach too.  But let’s face facts, this kind of exploitation has always been around in some shape or form, and always will be. 

(Still, I confess to feeling a small degree of satisfaction when those religious nuts with their neon colored “GOD HATES FAGS” signs run for cover from Frank’s gunfire!)

Anyway, I suppose one can always turn off their radio or tv or website.  Too bad you can’t do the same with your neighbors.


  1. Sorry to hear your neighbours are no more thoughtful than before, Doug - is there no further action you take to resolve this (firearms aside)?

    Looks like a top film!

  2. Andrew, I think you'd enjoy this movie--not for the gunfire, it's just a very smart film. In fact, the lead character had a way with words that reminded me of you. As for my own noisome neighbors, I'm afraid not much has changed, they're just a pair of jerks. (No need for bloodshed though, I'm just learning to adjust) :)

  3. I watched the film - as you say, it skewers much of the vacuity of modern society (literally!) and has that unhinged glee in depictions of the hateful getting their just desserts. I really enjoyed it - top rec, comrade!

  4. Wow, did i say that? Haha--thanks Andrew, you certainly summed up this pitcher a lot better than I did! Well said, sir & thanks :)

  5. Maybe now that my Twin Peaks Marathon has ended, I'll watch this!

  6. Iikka, i think it'd be right up your alley; you can see how the rest of us chumps live :)

  7. I like the tagline for this movie..."Taking out the jerk at a time." And I cannot believe I've never of it. It must be a small independent film. I think there are a lot of people in America that feel this way...and yes, exploitation has been around in one form or another, but not to *this* extent...because now we have the Internet and social media promoting these losers. But I will confess that I've listened to/watched Howard Stern's interviews with celebs--he did a wonderful one with Paul McCartney a few months ago to promote his new album, and asked questions that any Beatles would have asked (and didn't ask anything dirty.)

    Anyways, Doug, I sincerely hope the situation improves with the neighbors or that they move. Thanks for bringing this movie to our attention.

  8. Thanks for the thoughtful response Pam--and yes you're right, this was a small independent film I ran across while reading about Bobcat Goldthwaite, I've always been a fan of his work. As for this kind of stuff always being around, I was thinking back on the exploitative "crime" magazines of the 50s and 60s, the Globe, Star & Enquirer of the 70s & 80s... but people will always eat this crap up, maybe it's part of our wiring. Well that is interesting to read about Howard Stern & Paul McCartney (I gotta try and check that out) and thank you for the kind thoughts about my neighbors. It's the price I pay for apartment living, but it doesn't make it right. Hope all is good with you Pam :)


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