July 05, 2005



Pax is Fox’s Jesus-heavy, family-friendly spin-off, a channel being desperately branded as evidence that the parent company is motivated not by cash, bright lights and fight club buzz, but by—what's his name, again?—Jesus! Fox Corps would like you to believe they do NOT pay the bills with titties and yelling and death, because if they did (and they do), that would cancel out their avowed "values," which is apparently a word for stuff that you say, not what you broadcast. Enter Pax, and one weird-ass movie.

Within Pax's cramped paramaters, it seemed odd that they would show The Great Waldo Pepper, a truly grim movie depicting people who fly biplanes and burn to death, suffer mercy-killings at the hands of Robert Redford (a total Commie!), or fall to their death from 4,000 feet wearing silky underthings if they're named Susan Sarandon. The movie is about the wild world of post-WWI biplane pilots who are hooked on the junk of adrenaline and, unwilling to be put out to pasture, decide to keep the party going by being stunt men and flying barnstormers, fighting fixed wars for flat-field audiences full of rubbernecking bleacher bums who want to see a motherfucker crash while attempting a 360.

The regulators, though, catch up with this genuinely dangerous racket and come down hard on Redford and his Oliver North loose cannon steez. THEY ARE TRYING TO STOP FREEDOM. Ah, you feel the programing now. Deborah spotted all of this coding: in Waldo, a movie about the pain of change and losing your identity, Pax saw an anti-regulation screed.

The final fire fight is Redford and an ex-Nazi, employed as stunt men playing themselves (holler, simulacra), recreating a famous fight that the Nazi fought for real the first time around. Redford and Krautski leave their parachutes behind before take-off, and end the fight by arcing sweetly into the suicide clouds, never to be seen again. They die invisible and free, unbought and unbound. That may be the rebel yell of American petroleum, but it doesn't have to be their song alone. You can steal it for yourself.

(NB: The cast of actors went on to dominate 1970s and 80s movies—just check the resumé.)

Posted by Sasha at July 5, 2005 11:57 AM | TrackBack