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Apocalypse cow: Red-haired heifer predicts end of world


 
Like a modern day Lazarus, disgraced evangelist and ex-con Jim Bakker has risen from the dead. The Howdy Doody from hell has a new base of operations in the Ozarks. It’s called Morningside and is a smaller version of his gaudy, ill-fated, Christian theme park Heritage USA. Morningside’s not far from Branson, where the rotten egg smell of meth labs mingles with the Old Spice and lavender scent of sexagenarians lining up for “Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show.” The oleaginous huckster’s proximity to hillbilly Vegas is perfect - kind of like finding crab lice in a commune.

Morningside has a TV studio that airs a handful of programs, most of which feature Bakker and his new wife Lori. Now Lori ain’t no Tammy Faye by a long shot but they both share the same startled expression in their eyes - a wide-eyed, caught in the headlights look, that comes from years of staring at a husband who looks like a demented sock puppet.

The Jim Bakker Show has its own hard hitting investigative journalist named Zach Drew. As you can see in the video below, Zach is a pretty excitable guy. When he lands a major scoop, like cows with mystical hairdos, he practically wets himself. You got to admire his enthusiasm even as you wonder what’s crawled up the reporter’s bunghole to make him so damned giddy.

Anyway, here’s some “Breaking News!” from The Jim Bakker Show that somehow managed to fly under the radar of all of the major news outlets. It’s the mystery of the red-haired heifer - what Jim Bakker calls “a supernatural event.” I’m a bit bewildered as to why the heifer’s markings (it looks like the number 7) qualify as supernatural. Maybe it’s because I’m a non-believer when it comes to follicle-related miracles involving cattle. A red-haired cow with a massive rockabilly quiff or Afro might grab my attention. But the markings on this little lady doesn’t really do much for me. And I’m currently tripping on 400 mics of pure LSD.

If after viewing the video, you’re at all curious about the Biblical significance of the number seven click here. Otherwise, do what I did - drop another tab of acid.

In the book of Revelation there are seven churches, seven angels to the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpet plagues, seven thunders and the seven last plagues. The first resurrection of the dead takes place at the 7th trumpet, completing salvation for the Church.

The heifer harbinger of the end times doesn’t appear until around the ten-minute point in the video but the lead-up is worth viewing just to witness Zach Drew’s delusional notion that this is the scoop of the century.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Even C-3PO and R2-D2 think Jenny McCarthy is an idiot


 
Because so much ink and so many pixels have been committed to the ongoing and breathtakingly stupid culture war over childhood immunizations, I’ll keep my comments brief: anti-vaxers? You are destructive fucking morons and if you die of something easily preventable I will laugh about it.

But though the numbers of anti-vax jackasses have grown dangerously out of control in the recent years since the likes of Jack Wolfson, Jenny McCarthy, and Andrew Wakefield started spewing the criminally irresponsible shit they should all be in goddamn jail for, there have always been people ignorant of the necessity for childhood vaccinations. In the late ‘70s, when Star Wars mania was at its height, the CDC obtained permission to use C-3PO and R2-D2 for an immunization education campaign. From the Nov/Dec 1979 issue of Public Health Reports:

In a continuing effort to focus public awareness on childhood immunization, the Center for Disease control has distributed to State and local health departments copies of a poster featuring the “droids” R2D2 and C3PO from the movie “Star Wars.” Special permission to print the posters was granted to CDC by Twentieth Century Fox as a public service.

The poster has proved to be so popular that it has entered its second printing. The posters have been used as a reward to individual children who complete the basic immunization series, as reminders to parents in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and pharmacies, and as attention grabbers in announcing mass immunization clinics at schools and shopping centers. The poster is also drawing increased attention to child health in conjunction with projects sponsored as part of the International Year of the Child celebration.

 

 
This television commercial from the campaign has an unusual role reversal—R2 is freaking out over bullshit and 3PO serves as the voice of reason. It seems to actually be voiced by actor Anthony Daniels, who played the droid in all six Star Wars movies, and indeed, the typically reliable Wookieepedia claims that both Daniels and R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker did in fact appear in this PSA.
 

 
UPDATE, Thu Feb 5, 2015, 8:17 A.M. EST: This post as originally published contained a significant error, which I deeply regret and have corrected in the text. I misspelled ‘Wookieepedia.’ My sincerest apologies to anyone who was misled by my negligent inaccuracy. See how that’s done, science-deniers? It’s not so difficult.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The real ‘Quadrophenia’: Mods vs. Rockers fight on the beaches

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In 1964 gangs of Mods and Rockers fought battles on the very British beaches Winston Churchill had once sworn to defend.

It all kicked-off over the Easter weekend of 30th March in the holiday town of Clacton-on-Sea, south-east England. Famed for its cockles and winkles, “Kiss Me Quick” hats, amusement arcades, its eleven-hundred foot pier and golden sands on West Beach, Clacton provided the backdrop for the first major battle between the twenty-something Rockers and their teenage rivals the Mods. Clacton was reportedly “beat-up” by “scooter gangs” and 97 youth were arrested.
 
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This was but a small rehearsal for what was to come later that year. Over the May and August bank holidays “skirmishes” involving over “thousands” of youngsters “erupted” at the seaside resorts of Margate, Broadstairs and Brighton.

In Margate there were “running battles between up to 400 teens and police on the beach as bottles were thrown amid general chaos.” But it was the fighting in Brighton that scooped the headlines, with tales of two days of “violence” and some “battles” moving further along the coast to Hastings.
 
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The press latched onto the story of youth out of control like a terrier and squeezed every damning adjective out of it, hyping the events into a small war. Yet, these so-called “running battles” between the two rival factions were no worse than the fights between soccer fans or street gangs on a Saturday night. Still,  the press and parts of the “establishment” (the police, the judges, the bishops, the local councillors and politicians…etc.) saw an opportunity to slap down the youth, and the press created a “moral panic” outraged over the falling standards of “this scepter’d isle.”
 
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The Rockers were proto-biker gangs—they kept themselves separate from society, were bound by their own rules and rituals, and usually only fought with rival Rockers. Though considered dangerous—often referred to by the press as the “Wild Ones” after the American B-movie starring Marlon Brando—there was a sneaking admiration for the Rockers as they epitomised a macho fantasy of freedom and recklessness that most nine-to-five workers could only dream about. The Rockers also had the added appeal of being working class and fans of rock ‘n’ roll—which was more acceptable to middle England in the mid-sixties once the God-fearing Elvis had set youngsters a good example of being dutiful to one’s country by joining the US Army.
 
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Mods on the other hand were an unknown quantity—ambitious, aspirant working class kids, politically astute, unwilling to take “no” for an answer. They were feared for their drug taking—speed was their tipple of choice—and their interest in looking good and wearing the right clothes. Dressing sharp was considered “suspect” and if not exactly effeminate, being fashion-conscious was not an attribute traditionally thought of as a masculine one. For an older generation, the Mods were the face of the future looming—the red brick universities, the council estate, the supermarkets, the motorways and self-service restaurants—these entitled brats were the very children for whom they had fought a war.
 
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The events of that heady summer inspired The Who’s Pete Townshend to write his rock opera Quadrophenia. Anthony Burgess, who was never shy about making a headline, said his book A Clockwork Orange had been inspired by these “loutish” and “hoodlum” youth—even though his book had been published in 1962. Fifty years after the infamous “fighting on the beaches,” the BBC made a documentary revisiting the Mods, Rockers and Bank Holiday Mayhem that interviewed some of the youngsters who were there.
 

 
The intention of the filmmakers in this short extract from the “exploitation” documentary Primitive London is to take a pop at tribal youth culture and its fashions. The four youth cultures briefly examined are Mods, Rockers, Beatniks and those who fall outside of society.

The Mods are dismissed as “peacocks;” the Rockers are seen as lumpen and shall we say knuckle-dragging; the Beatniks don’t really know what they believe in as they are against everything, man; and finally there are the ones who are not part of any group as they consider themselves to be outside of society—apparently these guys “dissipate their identity in complete passivity”—now that sounds like a group I’d join.

Mostly it’s all about the Beatniks, who are filmed hanging out in their local bar getting drunk, answering questions on fashion, work, marriage and all the other concerns middle-aged producers thought were important in 1965. As a footnote, the bar seen in this clip is the one where Rod Stewart (aka Rod the Mod) hung out. The featured musicians are Ray Sone, harp (later of The Downliners Sect) and Emmett Hennessy, vocals, guitar.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Sick Drugs Stunt’: That time when Pulp were ‘Sorted for E’s & Wizz’

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There are not many pop lyricists as good as Jarvis Cocker. Listen to the best of his solo work or the songs written with Pulp and you’ll hear a man who eavesdrops on life and turns the everyday into poetic gold.

When he started, Jarvis had a romanticized view of the writer’s life—the noble poet ensconced in some distant high tower contemplating his own suffering and angst. This all changed after a brief spell in hospital when he tuned into the conversation of his fellow patients and found their lives and tales to be more fascinating than his own. It changed the way Jarvis wrote his lyrics—changing from songs of myself to songs of experience.

When Pulp headlined at Glastonbury in 1995, Jarvis explained his inspiration for the band’s new single:

“‘Sorted for E’s and Wizz’ is a phrase a girl that I met in Sheffield once told me… and she went to see The Stone Roses at Spike Island and I said “What do you remember about it?”. And she said, “Well there were all these blokes walking around saying ‘Is everybody sorted for E’s and wizz?’” And that’s all she remembered about it and I thought it was a good phrase.”

 
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‘Drugs: Pulp Fiction’—NME fire an early warning shot about ‘Sorted…’.
 
When Pulp released the “Sorted for E’s & Wizz” as a double-A side with “Mis-Shapes” in September 1995, there was a sense that “Sorted…” would have the curtain-twitchers of Tunbridge Wells scratching angry letters to the papers. But as it turned out, it wasn’t the lyrics or the song’s title that saw a tabloid hate campaign launched against Pulp, but rather the single’s sleeve that caused a furore, as music paper Melody Maker explained at the time:

The cover of the single features a photograph of a page from a magazine folded into the shape of a speed wrap. No drugs are shown on the sleeve. The inside booklet features a series of origami-style diagrams showing how to fold a piece of paper to make a speed wrap. Again, drugs are neither mentioned nor shown. However, under pressure from retailers and Island Records, a new, plain white sleeve has been printed.

The press denounced the cover as a “sick drugs stunt,” and the Daily Mirror ran a campaign to ban the single claiming the band were “offering teenage fans a DIY guide on hiding illegal drugs.”

 
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Exhibit A: The offending drug wrap cover.
 
I think it fair to suggest that most teenagers or twenty-something Pulp fans in the 1990s already knew how to make a drug wrap, because everyone was sorted for E’s, wizz, coke and anything else you could get your jammy little mits on during that decade—and this includes a whole tier of hypocritical Fleet Street journalists and TV producers, who snorted in their executive toilets but damned users in print and picture. Right or wrong, it was just the way it was, and Pulp’s song reflected the ubiquitousness of that culture.

But the Daily Mirror wasn’t just content with keeping down some working class pop stars, their journalists cruelly phoned a father whose son had died from taking ecstasy, and used his experience to damn the band. Classy.
 
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It forced Pulp to change the single’s cover and opt for a clever and rather tasteful knitting pattern design for the song “Mis-Shapes.”

As Jarvis explained the change was more about giving people the chance to hear the song than just giving in to the ire of a few media pundits. In an interview with the Melody Maker, he discussed what happened:

When did you first become aware that the Mirror was going to run with the story?

Jarvis Cocker: It was about half past 10 on Tuesday night. It was my birthday. Usually I would be out on my birthday, but I wasn’t that particular night, and I got a call saying it probably was gonna happen. The next thing I heard about it was my mother calling up at quarter past 10 the next morning, saying breakfast TV and various people had been ringing her up trying to get my number and trying to get her to make a statement about it, and stuff. But me mum’s alright, she’s not daft, so she didn’t say anything to them.

It surprised me, cos the thing that I was anticipating having trouble with was getting the record played on the radio. I’d been told that, because it mentioned drugs, they wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. They wouldn’t listen to it, and so they wouldn’t realise that it was just a song about drugs. It wasn’t saying drugs are fantastic. So, you know, I thought we were home and dry, but then they started taking exception to the sleeve. It’s stupid, cos that’s basically an origami diagram. Origami does not lead to drug addiction, as far as I know - I might be wrong. Nowhere on the sleeve does it say, ‘Put your drugs in this handy container’. People say it’s obvious what it’s for, but it’s them who’ve spelt it out. It’s like saying if you have a picture of a gun on a record cover, that means you’re gonna go out and shoot people. The subject matter of the song is about drugs, so it’s appropriate that it has drug related imagery.

Any road, the Daily Mirror took it upon themselves to ring up the Association Of Police Officers and get their opinion on it. It was kind of weird, cos they rang back and said they thought the song was great and they had no problem with it, but they thought the sleeve was bad. That was a problem for us, cos basically that could have led to it being banned from a lot of shops. So I thought to myself, I think it’s an important song for people to hear, and if the sleeve is gonna get in the way of people hearing the record, I don’t want that. I’ve been quite angry today cos there’s all this stuff to do with the chart people and all this daft formatting business, and they’re saying if you change the sleeve then it’s another format so it’s not eligible for the charts any more.”

 
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More from the Melody Maker:

Ironically, the pre sales on the single were already well over 200,000 before its release on Monday - the biggest advance figure in Island Records’ history, according to the label’s marketing director, Nick Rowe. Regardless of the tabloid reaction, with Sorted For E’s & Wizz, Pulp seem to have tapped into the wider debate going on in the media concerning drug use in Britain. Recent examples being Channel 4’s ‘Pot Night’ and the current series, ‘Loved Up’.

Jarvis Cocker: I’m not saying I did it cos I thought we could open up a forum for discussion, but I think the drugs thing in Britain now is something that people can’t ignore any more. So many people are doing it you can’t just say it’s these fringe elements and they should be rehabilitated. People are just doing it on a recreational basis and treating it in the same way as they treat drinking or having some fags, so you can’t just say everybody who does it is an evil monster, and you can’t just like shut your ears to it every time somebody mentions it. There’s got to be some kind of a change in attitude to it. That’s why I thought it was great that it got played on the radio, cos that to me showed that there had been a change in attitude to drugs.”

 
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Exhibit B: The offending diagram showing how to make a wrap.
 
Despite all the unnecessary hoo-hah about nothing much in particular, “Sorted for E’s & Wizz”/“Mis-Shapes” went on to hit the number two spot in the UK pop singles charts.

Below Pulp premiere “Sorted for E’s & Wizz” at Glastonbury 1995.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The worst ghost ever
01.09.2015
05:28 am

Topics:
Amusing
Hysteria

Tags:
ghosts

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This is one of the worst “allegedly real” ghost videos I’ve seen. Even so, it was convincing enough to scare the shit out of the men who shot it as they traveled along some deserted back road in Blackburn, England—what the fuck they were doing in the middle of nowhere? I dunno…

The three-minute video shows a car driving along this desolate country track when the headlights pick up a “ghostly” apparition—which let’s be frank, looks like someone wearing a bed sheet and bad wig—blocking the car’s progress. The “ghost” then begins to rapidly move towards the vehicle which causes one of the passengers to start panicking, telling the driver in Arabic to:

“Move the car backwards!”

“Faster! Faster!”

 
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Just like in the movies, as the car reverses the spectral figure follows—though this “Lady in White” actually merely hobbles along with the aid of a walking stick. If you look closely you can see the ghostly shadow (ahem) cast by the headlights.

While this Grudge-like “Lady in White” is an obvious hoax, the terror of the car’s passengers sounds very real. Even so, as one commentator on YouTube notes:

“...if they thought it was a ghost then why didn’t they just drive right through it?

“That would also have solved the ‘hoax’ question once and for all!”

Indeed. But still top marks to this hobbling hoaxer for effort.
 

 
Via Daily Record

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Leonard Nimoy Wants You To Live Long And Prosper: The ‘Y2K Family Survival Guide,’ 1999
12.30.2014
06:56 am

Topics:
History
Hysteria

Tags:
Leonard Nimoy
Y2K

The Y2K Family Survival Guide
 
On New Year’s Eve, 1999, the world was preparing for the worst. The Y2K problem had just about everyone on the edge of their seats—will there be power outages? Will water stop flowing from our taps?? Will planes fall from the sky?!? Will nuclear power plants malfunction and kill us all?!?! Will I have to poop outside? ‘Cause I ain’t poopin’ outside.

No one knew what was going to happen.

To address (or simply cash-in on) the concerns, a number of books and videos were issued on the subject, including the Y2K Family Survival Guide VHS, which was hosted by Leonard Nimoy (he also wrote the introduction for the book version). Here’s how the video was pitched:

The Y2K Family Survival Guide video is specifically designed to help you get ready for the local, national and international effects that may significantly impact the lives of your family, your community and your nation. All essentials are covered in this video, from how the Y2K dilemma began to what may happen after December 31, 1999, to what the average person can do now to survive short inconveniences or a long catastrophe.

The first half of the video features interviews with a variety of “experts,” from dudes that ran Y2K websites to the U.S. Y2K czar (yes, there actually was such a government position). Nimoy is shown telling us all the terrible things that might—or might not—happen, while images of fast-moving dark clouds and an assortment of dated graphics appear behind him.
 
Leonard Nimoy
 
The second half is dominated by a man by the name of Ted Wright, who explains all we’ll need to do to prepare for Y2K, including how we’ll use toilets without access to running water (I’m listening!). Wright has some good tips (and hey, we all should be somewhat prepared to go temporarily off the grid), but ends up coming off like a bit of a kook (he thinks the worst-case scenario will definitely happen). Naturally, he has his own guides to sell.
 
Ted Wright
 
As we know now, nothing major occurred when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000. Thankfully, the Y2K Family Survival Guide remains as a reminder of the hysteria. We Americans are especially prone to panic over the possibility of catastrophic events, so perhaps Mr. Nimoy’s video can serve as a tool for us. Maybe we won’t get so riled up the next time a potential disaster looms in the distance…Wait, we’ll have to go through this all over again in 2038?!?
 
How to Live Without Electricity
 
So, how much did you want for that chemical toilet?
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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Black Friday in 1983 vs. Black Friday today
11.25.2014
11:31 am

Topics:
Belief
Hysteria

Tags:
Black Friday


 
Before you hit play, I must preface this with a disclaimer that the video gets awfully preachy towards the end (it’s the product of a survivalist group). I wish they would have just used the old footage vs. Black Friday in 2013 to make their point. That’s all it needed. Maybe someone else will follow this video’s lead and make a more impactful version.

It’s still really eye-opening, though to see how attitudes towards materialism, consumerism and oh how the times have changed since then. Just observe how fucking batshit crazy people are now. We were comparatively a genteel people thirty years ago buying things we didn’t need. These days we’ll cheerfully stomp on someone’s neck at a Walmart for a shot at a $100 PlayStation®4.

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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God (apparently) has big plans for the kooky Christian Monster Energy drink conspiracy theory lady!


 
She’s baaacckk. Already? Remember the Christian Monster Energy drink satanic conspiracy theory lady from last week? Well…improbably (or not so improbably) she’s back on our radar screens again.

This time Christine Weick was caught on video disrupting a Muslim prayer service being held at the National Cathedral on Friday, November 14th.

She told conservative Christian conspiracy theory website WorldNetDaily that God got her past security and that she hid in the bathroom praying over and over again before she realized that she had become “invisible.” When the Imam called for prayer Weick stood up and shouted:

“Jesus Christ died on that cross. He is the reason we are to worship only Him. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior,” she said. “We have built …allowed you your mosques in this country. Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone? We are a country founded on Christian principles.”

She immediately heard voices in the crowd yelling for security.

One might suppose that Ms. Weick has been hearing voices for some time now.

She worried that she’d flub her carefully rehearsed lines and look like an idiot, but believes “it didn’t happen that way”—contrary to the videotaped evidence!

So this is not Weick’s first or even second brush with notoriety, it is (at least) her third—she got a Slushie thrown in her face in front of a news crew on Mother’s Day as she held a sign reading, “Thank your mom today for not being gay!”—we just didn’t know her name until now. In the sub-Drudge reader sector of wingnuts within wingnuts, Weick, who lives out of her car and has authored the book Explain This! A Verse by Verse Explanation of the Book of Revelation, is already being held up as a Christian martyr “hero” and not someone who needs to be fucking medicated, stat.

She claims that it was a “thumbs up” from a “strange” clapping woman along her 400 mile drive from Tennessee to the nation’s capitol that she took as a sign from God convincing her that she was doing the right thing. Weick’s husband apparently divorced her over her goofy beliefs. More from WND (where the comments are pure mental midget genius!):

“It was a situation in my life, how God yanked every anchor in my life over the last five years, just everything that would keep a normal woman, a normal mother, at home just got yanked out from under me,” she said. “I have a son and a daughter, and they disowned me. I took a stand against gay marriage and I lost them. That is my heartache. And it hurts me so much. And I wonder what they think now when they see me on the news.”

Weick said she doesn’t know what her next “assignment” will be, but she knows now she can tackle almost anything.

“I told the Lord last night, ‘OK, you can take me now,’ but I don’t know,” she said. “I think He may have other plans for me, per Jeremiah 29: 11.”

Oh Lord, please do not take her. Christine Weick is one of the very BEST Christians in America. Maybe THE best. What a fine example of a good Christian to point to (at?). Time will tell what plans God has for this zany lady, but all I can say is watch out Victoria Jackson, you’ve got fierce competition in the Christian dingbat department.

It also occurred to me that wacky William Tapley, who bills himself as the “co-prophet” of the End Times, has never really seemed to find his duet partner. What if it’s Christine? Let’s hope they’re both on Christian Mingle, right? They could make beautiful music together!
 

 
Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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No, Internet, there isn’t a ‘sexy Ebola nurse’ costume for Halloween (or is there?)


 
Some troll today tweeted a shocking and, it was implied, inevitable idea for a Halloween costume: sexy Ebola nurse.  The apparent price was 45 pounds, as you can see in the image.

This offensive costume idea elicited considerable outrage on Twitter, which is understandable considering that Ebola has already killed thousands (around 5,000 as of this writing) in 2014 alone. Then there is this sobering fact from the World Health Organization: “A total of 450 health-care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD up to the end of 23 October.” Three days ago the first known case of Ebola in New York City was confirmed.

On Twitter, user @thei100 tweeted, “Are people really trying to sell a ‘Sexy Ebola nurse’ outfit for Halloween?” to which user ‏@cfly97live responded “Unbelievable.” Perhaps @thei100 will be heartened to hear that the answer to your question appears to be no. The UK website Metro was on the case. It turns out that the sexy Ebola nurse is fake. The images were taken from a preexisting costume idea which is pretty absurd in its own right: a sexy Walter White costume. 
 

 
So it’s all good news, right? Humanity is redeemed. There is no “sexy Ebola nurse” constume. But wait! It turns out there IS a “sexy Ebola containment suit” costume, available on the brandsonsale website—it costs $59.99 per outfit.
 

 
Here’s their product description for that one:
 

As the deadly Ebola virus trickles its way through the United States, fighting its disease is no reason to compromise style. The short dress and chic gas mask will be the talk of Milan, London, Paris, and New York as the world’s fashionistas seek global solutions to hazmat couture. Ending plague isn’t the endeavor of a single woman, so be sure to check out our men’s Ebola Containment Costume for a great couple’s costume idea.

 
Long story short, if you’re hung up on the word “nurse,” then you’re in the clear. But this other costume is just about as bad, so faith in humanity—dashed.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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They’re only movies: Moral panic, censorship & ‘video nasties’

Infamous Poster for the even more infamous
 
There are few things more offensive than the act of a group of holier-than-thou types trying to inflict their intensely rigid and often, properly uninformed, viewpoints on the masses. Every decade has some rich examples of this type of restrictive behavior, but the 1980’s were an especially fertile hotbed of moral majority types. In the United States, we had Tipper Gore and the PMRC attacking the music industry. In the United Kingdom, they had Mary Whitehouse and the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and their attack on the “video nasties,” a list of horror films that were targeted for being especially violent and lurid enough to the extent of being socially harmful. The tight girdle-brigade of Tipper and Mary Whitehouse would have surely gotten along like gangbusters, but the latter’s actions, along with key members of British Parliament can still be felt to this day.

There have been a number of books and articles written about the “video nasties” and even an episode of The Young Ones using them as a key plot device. (Complete with The Damned playing “Nasty” no less!) So it was high time for someone to come along and make a documentary about this movement and thanks to director Jake West and Severin Films, we have all that and more.

Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide is one of the most aptly named sets to have come out in the past five years. Disc One features West’s documentary, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Video Tape. Originally released in 2010, West manages to fit in an amazing amount of commentary and information in its 72 minutes. There is a perfect mix of film writers, academics, filmmakers and former political and law enforcement members interviewed here, painting a thorough picture of a weird and sad time for film in the UK.
 

 
Director West, who also made the incredible and underrated Razor Blade Smile (1998), integrates a punk type energy and fun with the gravity of the subject matter. The film delves into the fact that, like any situation where censorship is put into action, the issue is far deeper than the works being targeted themselves. Elements like social unrest in a land riddled with high unemployment and the bloody specter of the Falkland Wars, not to mention the inherent classist attitudes of Whitehouse and her crew, are just some of the points bubbling under the surface of “obscene” movies. Censorship, in all of its ugly forms, is rarely about the actual contents themselves and more about assorted underlying problems that run way deeper than a movie with blood and breasts mixed in.

While there are a number of standouts interviewed here, including Stephen Thrower (Nightmare USA), Kim Newman, Dr. Beth Johnson and The Dark Side editor Allan Bryce, it is Professor Martin Barker who is the real star and moral core of the film. Barker, initially studying the horror comics uproar in the 1950’s (a censorship-fueled movement that was paralleled here in the United States around that time period) but soon noticed some striking similarities between the then burgeoning video nasties scare and what happened in the fifties. It was from there that he became one of the few but key voices to speak up critically against Whitehouse and her cronies, which included members of Scotland Yard and Parliament. (Not to mention some moral support from Prime Minister Thatcher herself.) There’s one clip shown of Barker on a chat show where an intensely rude Cardinal interrupts him to ask if he would show a one of “those” films to a little kid, to which Barker replies without a beat, “What a silly question!”
 

 
The films themselves, while briefly shown in clips and named in the documentary, get more of an in-depth analysis on discs two and three. Disc two features original trailers and commentary on the 39 films that were successfully prosecuted. Some of the titles on this list include Abel Ferrara’s second feature film Driller Killer, Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, the bonkers Island of Death and Roger Ebert’s favorite, I Spit on Your Grave.

Disc three features the same great commentary/trailer combination, with the focus being on the 39 films that were initially banned but were later on acquitted and removed from the list. Some of those titles include Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, the ultra-obscure Elke Sommer film I Miss You Hugs & Kisses, Matt Cimber’s unhinged psychedelia The Witch Who Came From the Sea and Andrzej Zulawski’s art-house, psychological horror film Possession.
 
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The trailers alone are pretty fantastic but the commentary is very much the icing on the cake, including some particularly great insights from the aforementioned personalities, as well as writers like Brad Stevens (Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision) and academics like Professor Patricia MacCormack. The quality of commentary can make or break a set like this but West did a bang up job selecting a group of people that are not just highly educated and experienced, but also quite fun to listen to. Anyone that is working on a film-related documentary in the future need to study this set and see how should it be done. There are few things more soul-crushing than seeing dry-as-ashes commentary on something as vibrant and fluid as art. In fact, if you’re a film lover by any definition, then do yourself a favor and pick up this set. 
 
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The vital importance of a set like this is summed up beautifully at the end of the documentary by Martin Barker himself:

“The most interesting thing is just how little historical memory we have. The next time there’s a panic we won’t remember just how stupid the last one was and how people get away with things. And that to me is the most important lesson about this campaign. The evangelical got away with murder. They got away with fraud. They got away with deceiving people. They now laugh it off. The fact that almost all of these films are now available uncut in the public domain, they don’t care. Because they move on, because what they want to do is to dominate the present and they don’t care about history. Critical voices have to care about history. We have to care about the way which things got controlled in the past, because that’s when the damage gets done. If you don’t keep that historical memory, we will allow them to do it again next time.”

 

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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