Life’s a Big Hot Mess: Call Me, Beep ‘The Devil’s Rejects’

Posted in Blog, Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies, What's Streaming? by - March 19, 2020
Life’s a Big Hot Mess: Call Me, Beep ‘The Devil’s Rejects’

Day 3

I woke up and felt good today, albeit more than a little tired. Today it hit me more than the past couple of days that sleep is presently an unaffordable commodity in the time of COVID-19. Sleeping? In this economy? I passed out at some point after 1:30am, and was jarred awake by the alarm I set for 7:30 each morning in an attempt to set a routine. My goal for this evening: in bed before 11, preferably earlier if I can help it.

However, I wish to stress that I woke up and felt good today. Hallelujah! I woke up, felt good and then immediately started analyzing said feeling, because of course I did. I’m hard wired to over think everything, which is a blessing and hell of a curse. My conclusion is that there are two reasons for this morning’s euphoria. The first is that I sincerely believe there’s a therapeutic quality to doing this each and every morning. Same as yesterday, I woke up, went for a twenty-minute walk, sat down and started writing.

The darkest period in my life took place in my late adolescence/early adulthood. I’ve struggled for a number of years now with various forms of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. I’ve done a hell of a lot of work to try and quell that to best of my ability. Writing, weirdly, has been one of the more helpful coping mechanisms. When I started therapy, I compulsively journaled; documented every stray, catastrophized though, as if scribbling it into a hastily scrawled chart would excise it from my being. My writing isn’t good, but it’s raw (aside: we can all agree that it is tremendously self-deprecating).

At the very least, writing this pseudo-dairy every morning gives me the sense that I will accomplish something before noon every day. This leads me to hypothesis number two: maybe I felt better today because I actually got some work done on my thesis yesterday! The last component I have left of my degree is the writing and completion of a major research project.

I’m trying desperately to stay off social media channels, but in my brief forays into said wastelands to promote these pieces each morning, I can see that there seems to be a very real sentiment regarding productivity floating around. The general consensus seems to be, and I must point out here that I wholeheartedly agree with it, that you mustn’t feel bad about a decayed level of productivity. This is an irregular time. COVID-19 has affected everything, literally everything! Right now, we’re all guinea pigs in innumerable sociological experiments, one of which is ostensibly testing the hypothesis that we can all simply work from home. It’s that easy!

It’s not. What this is personally illuminating in my own sociological experiment is that I do not wish to work from home—ever. I’m trying to get by by channeling the long dormant inner athlete in myself. This is a game. I am going to win. My thesis is going to rip so hard boys. I’m trying to tough out some tough minutes at this point, because I want to. Swimmer logic dictates that there are not four reps remaining, but rather three more till one more. This logic is illogical, please do not follow it.

I realized yesterday evening that, thus far, these viewing experiences have tended towards the more intellectual. Thus, I tried to force myself to watch something that might be considered more effectual or escapist. Thus, Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. I don’t think I’m doing this right.

I have friends that are definitely card-carrying members of Zombie’s fervent cult following, and thus, I am very aware of that side of the binary that surrounds his cinema. I am also friends with those who think his stuff is pointless nonsense. Me, I like that it’s mostly pointless nonsense.

Without doing any research on The Devil’s Rejects, I’m willing to believe that someone, somewhere, has written a long-winded think piece explaining why this is actually a metaphor for illiberal American international intervention during the Bush administration. The Devil’s Rejects are actually a metaphor for Islamic fundamentalists you see, and Sherriff Wydell is the cussin’ cowboy manifesting Toby Keith’s “Beer for My Horses” in real life. Which would set up Rob Zombie as a “both sides, actually” guy…you know what, story checks out.

The thing I like about Zombie is that I view his films from an immense degree of separation. The fleet of references Zombie employs are so divorced from their original intent, and so devoid of meaning, that they accidently become meaningful. The Devil’s Rejects exists because Rob Zombie really wanted to remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is invoked in everything from the ranch that’s adorned with human paraphernalia as decoration, to re-enacting someone being hit by a semi.

I don’t think Zombie understands Texas Chainsaw, but he understands watching Texas Chainsaw over and over again. I’m willing to guess that his relationship with the source material is literally as something he watched on repeated. Thus, what he crafts isn’t deep, or meaningful in any way. But it is a manifestation of what watching exploitation cinema on repeat likely feels like. It disturbs (and believe me, there are disturbing moments in this film) until it numbs.

More in the line of actual escapist entertainment has been the decision to work my way through Kim Possible again, the greatest piece of media from my youth. It goes great in twenty-minute chunks that I can throw on in the background while cooking, eating and cleaning. I have nothing to say about this, other than Kim Possible can do anything. How the hell am I supposed to get excited about Marvel films when I’ve already seen the greatest superhero in the history of media?

On the topic of Marvel films, Kim Possible is familiar. Each episode involves Kim, Ron, and the naked mole rat foiling some Bond villain’s attempt at world domination. Familiarity, more than anything, is what people like about Marvel films. Much has been said about how they’re all the same, but that’s probably their greatest strength. Serialization is comforting in the sense that it has a routine—it has order. If this diary becomes serialized, then I’m winning. The deviations are the set-backs right now.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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