Monday, March 22, 2010

40 Days of Lent: Day Thirty Four

What I Can't Watch

When I was a younger man, I prided myself on being able to watch or read most anything. Part of it was the punk ethos, part of it came from liking horror movies, part of it was perhaps my version of machismo, an Aesthete's Macho: there's nothing I can't watch.

However, when I was in my early twenties, I discovered something I just couldn't look at. It was at the Chestnut Cabaret in Philadelphia at a Butthole Surfers show. Films were projected onstage behind the band while they played. As this was during the Reagan years, it was inevitable that one of the films would be a loop of mushroom cloud footage. On stage right, however, I saw what I could not watch and was surprised by my inability to look as I was at the content.

What I couldn't bring myself to watch were medical films of penis surgery.

It was so bad that I had to lift my left hand and block that part of the stage from view. Every once in a while I would move my hand to see if the film had ended, but nope, still going on. I recall at one moment moving my hand and seeing the gloved hands peeling the skin back as if it was a banana. [Shudder]

Something about that show seemed to coincide with losing my taste for the horror genre. I don't think the two are connected, apart from the fact that one of the reasons I rarely watch horror films or read horror novels is that I feel vulnerable now in a way I didn't then. No matter how obnoxious they are, I feel bad for the victims when they are suffer.

Incidentally, this posting has nothing to do with the healthcare bill passing last night.


wpbooks said...

I saw that film at many a BHS show and all I can tell you is it's much better on mushrooms!

the hanged man said...

Shrooms! I knew something was missing from my Butthole Surfer experience.

Seriously though - I really don't think I could have handled that movie on shrooms...