During a recent jog, while listening to more AC/DC–which upon further inspection, it’s notable to mention that literally every AC/DC song is about having sexy with ladies, getting drunk and hanging out with sexy ladies who are about to have sex with you, having sex with very large ladies, having sex with a lady for the entirety of a night, or the fights that you are going to win which, in turn, are going to allow you unencumbered access to the ladies with which you will be sexing after your enemies are bruised, battered, and perhaps left at the bottom of a river—anyway, after more of that, my imagination machine was swirling around the various imagery that I pin ball around for the 2nd act reversal of this story.
You see, the second act reversal is that point in the ¾ mark of the film where everything is at its absolute worst. Most of your friends are dead, the villain has your girlfriend, and not only that, the black magic elixir given to her my his necromancer has made her love him, and betray you. Your village has been razed, your old professors are pulling out your philosophy papers from junior year and pointing out all your flawed logic, and all of a sudden you have a surprise case of adult acne.
When things can’t ever get any worse, and the hero has no options, but that one last, desperate crrrrrrrrazy idea that very likely utilizes his own personalized, but hitherto undervalued talents (which we have thoroughly indicated in Act I), which (s)he sets into motion, perhaps at great personal sacrifice, and surely at an awful risk, which the hero then pulls off in what is often a big set piece of action and expensive FX, turning the tables 180 degrees, and transition triumphantly into Act III.
Listening to power metal naturally leads straight to the act two reversal because it’s triumphant, and most importantly defiant. When I was a kid, before I had a Sega Master System or knew who Sonic the Hedgehog was, I had this great toy of THE THING, as in Ben Grimm from the Fantastic Four. Although I was a Batman kid hardcore, the majority of my affinity was otherwise for the Marvel stars because they were people, you could be them, but I’m off topic again. The toy was a ten inch hollow rubber doll with his arms raised up triumphantly in huge, hydrant-colored stone fists. The point of the toy was, that he came with a snap-together cement textured plastic kind of box/cage. The thing is Ben didn’t fit into the cage unless you folding him down into it. After you folded him, you would plug this hose and bulb into a hatch into his back, that fit into a notch that ran out of the cage, which you then feverishly pumped in childish anticipation for the air pressure to cause him to
Violently! Rend himself free of his restraints, the cage walls flying, his stone knuckles akimbo as if to say,
“WHAT’S UP NOW BITCHES?! YOU DONE MESSED WITH THE WRONG ROCK FACE!”
The novelty of this game definitely wouldn’t last you an entire afternoon, but it could be repeated with more satisfied consistency than you might expect.
That toy really embodies, for me, the dynamic of the powerful return, the hero who by trial and tribulation has forgotten the essence of himself, but by the same token, suddenly rediscovers it, now multiplied.
This is why Superman loses his powers in Superman II, only to pull a metaphysical switcheroo on Luthor/Hackman, picking the surprised villain up by the scruff of his trenchcoat, you nearly expect him to say “how do you like me now, punk?”
This is why Spiderman has ethical quandaries, and ditches the suit, only to realize he can only stand being a cheap punk 10% of the time, before New York’s bad pun-o-meter runs desperately low, and he has to get back on the job.
This is why Kermit the Frog gets amnesia in MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, only to be unceremoniously brought back to his senses via a well placed karate chop by Miss Piggy (as it turns out, basically anything in the Muppet-verse can be solved by a piggy chop), whereupon he rallies the troops to save their hit Broadway show at the last minute by bring in “ALL THE FROGS AND BEARS AND CHICKENS AND THINGS!”
This is why Luke is tempted by the dark side.
This is why heroes have alter egos, jealous partners, and more-complicated-than normal issues with closet space.
I was thinking about all of this, and one of the theories I have about what it means to be I the 20th century is a reluctant transition back to a culture of community over purified culture of the individual that has been so deified for the last fifty to sixty some years.
The hero’s journey is one that is cultivated by, and tailored for the baby boom generation. “It’s me, give it to me.” But we’re lapsing out of the time when what the boomers say matters, and one of the paradigms that I see shifting, almost invisibly, is that the single, one man on his own with a rifle style hero, is beginning to become de-emphasized in preference to the team, the family, community, or really any kind of corporation, in the broad sense.
I’m putting the cart before the horse in explaining this, because what I keep getting hit with is the imagery of my dude character Frankie’s friends, the other stoner metal dudes that surround him, and suddenly they gained a major leap’s worth of clarity. What if they were really fucking smart, and interesting, like the people I know rather than being card board (btw, you should always make yourself think this way, but everybody can lapse, particularly when you’re working things out in broad strokes). What if they were kind of, the BIG BANG THEORY guys, but instead of committing wanton acts of engineering they build thirty foot bongs, listen to Mastadon and Iron Maiden, and compete in Robot Wars?
This occurred to me because weeks ago, meeting with my friend Mike, he had articulated better than I had a very small thought I was rolling around that when when Frankie goes into the world of Engines of Victory, when the spell or whatever really transports him, he’s like straight up in it. It’s like a completely real medieval world, with totally tangible Excalibur/Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones style folks in it, and to a certain extent, he’s trapped in there, and can’t really effect the real world.
This would allow for his crazy friends to at first not believe this shit at all, then finally realized what’s going on, and turn the corner to having to find a way to actually save him. This also serves double duty by threading his social victory into victory inside the game. His friends will only help him once they understand his plight, and whatever politics he has with them would have to resolve before everything falls into place. This direction creates a lot of options.
So I have a late Act II series of images where Frankie’s crew has just realized that he really is a ghost in the machine, and there are certain things they need to do to save him, in the real world. This would lead to the larger part of the group pressuring one of them to taking them to see his scary/shady/redneck cousin, which—this whole series of events inspired directly by the lyrics of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap”—wherein they kind of commit to a level of serious, dangerous business that is until now beyond their purvey. This makes me think of how in the great, unknown film RIVER’S EDGE, Big John accidentally teams up with Feck, played to perfection by Dennis Hopper, a pot dispensing, crippled ex-biker hiding in suburban Oregon because he had killed his old lady decades earlier. The movie starts with Big John having killed the girl he was hanging out with, and hence the entire film, but once Feck is kind of unleashed upon the outside world, there’s this unhinged sense that the cork will not go back in the bottle.
Alright, next time I think we need some more outlining, and everyone keep their subconscious open for my Darth Vader character.