Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 24/10/97

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Joe Queenan is God

On Tuesday evening, I paid out $15 to attend a forum at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art. Lest this strike you as a rather un-Guslike thing to do, let me hasten to add that I was doing so to hear the American writer Joe Queenan, the author of If You're Talking To Me Your Career Must Be In Trouble, The Unkindest Cut : How a Hatchet-Man Critic Made His Own $7,000 Movie and Put It All on His Credit Card and Imperial Caddy : The Rise of Dan Quayle in America and the Decline and Fall of Practically Everything Else, and also more than likely the funniest man alive.

Joe turned out to be spectacular (more on that below), but the rest of the panel assembled with him to discuss the topic 'The Best And Worst Films That Shaped Our Lives' were, quite frankly, total crap. We got unfunny and overlong reminiscences of people's childhoods, more about Peter Castaldi's sex life than even he needs to know, and a heap of people conducting stupid arguments about topics no-one gives a shit about. Castaldi was just ghastly, Margaret Pomeranz whined about how she never got long enough to interview anyone at Cannes (diddums), Jane someone from the AFTRS had the nerve to attack Joe and The Age's Adrian Martin decided that there was no point in the cult of bad films, so he can just fuck right off too.

The only thing that can be said in the panel's favour is that they matched the calibre of the audience, who all seemed to have been let out of an asylum for the day. One idiot got up and ran through a five-minute diatribe on objectivity, to which Joe succintly responded: "With all due respect, you're fried." One marketing type tried to defend the marketing of movies as an essential part of their quality before being howled down by the masses. Another person claimed to be a big fan of the film 'Bloodsucking Freaks' (famously promoted with the tagline 'This film contains scenes of a gross and disgusting nature and will offend'). Some of the random comments scrawled by myself and Spanky in my notes from the occasion include:

Fortunately, though, there was Joe. It's a bit hard to convey the quality of his performance in a summary, because all his stuff hangs together so well. From his opening comment -- "I want to thank everybody for everything they did, wherever they are" -- he held the audience, and no-one gave a fuck about Castaldi and the rest of them.

It's some measure of my respect for Queenan that he even insulted my favourite group and I still like him. Explaining how most movies touch on primal fears deep within us, he said: "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert expresses that fear that even if you go to Alice Springs, you're not going to escape from that ABBA soundtrack."

Other random Queenan comments I enjoyed:

The overall difference between Queenan and the fuck-knuckles he was forced to appear with was quite neatly captured in a remark he made about The Beast, the crap octopi mini-series written by Peter Benchley, who also wrote Jaws. Pointing out that his son Gordon was not at all scared by the series, Queenan drew a simple conclusion: "Don't send a squid to do a shark's job."

Anyway, to give you the exposure to Queenan you deserve, Gusworld has now completed Eat It Raw: The Joe Queenan Directory, the most comprehensive Net-based listing of Joe's work. What are you still doing here?

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