A True Film Lover’s Alternative to Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie

Essay

In the eleven years from 2008’s Iron Man (directed by Harold Joseph Hogan), through Avenger’s Endgame (directed by Russo Brothers) in 2019, the 27 films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have grossed $25 billion dollars in theaters and dominated box officii across the world.

Unfortunately, as we true cinèphiles know, Marvel fans are mostly low intelligence manchildren who lack the attention span to appreciate any movie that isn’t crammed full of CGI splooges and snarky quips. Let’s face it, the average Marvel fan is the type of person to stick their finger way down their butt hole when it itches, then sniff their finger, then lick their finger. To get away from their idiocy, I have assembled one high-brow alternative of true cinema for each Marvel movie.

PHASE I

Instead of IRON MAN (2008)

watch ROBOCOP (1987)

Before Tony Stark put on the Iron Man suit to fight the Not Taliban, Detroit police officer Alex Murphy was forced into the RoboCop suit after his life is ended by the white thugs who terrorize Detroit. While Tony finds a new purpose in life as Iron Man, Murphy finds his humanity stripped away as RoboCop. But what really makes RoboCop superior is that it is directed by a European, Lars Von Trier.


Instead of THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008)

watch SHREK (2001)

Never have two films paralleled each other more than Louis Letter’s The Incredible Hulk and Steven Speilberg’s Shrek. Both Dr. Banner and Shrek are, at heart, simple men who inside them in a world that provokes them to violence. Both men have to rescue a dame (the princess for Shrek/Liv Tyler for Hulk) while facing off against a ruthless authority figure (John Lithgow for Shrek/some military guy for Hulk), with the help of a donkey friend.

One film from the beginning of the George W. Bush presidency, one film from the end, these films are bookends to a particular era of American violence. Hulk and Shrek are honestly so alike that it’s surprising Dreamworks and Marvel haven’t sued each other.


Instead of IRON MAN 2 (2010)

watch ROCKY II (1979)

In Iron Man, Tony Stark thought he proved himself as the Iron Man, but in the sequel, must prove himself again, while suffering the injuries from his Ironing. In Rocky II, a battered Rocky Balboa has to prove himself again in a rematch against Apollo Creed.

There are some differences. Tony Stark fights with his Iron Man suit, whereas Rocky Balboa fights with boxing gloves. Tony is a genius, whereas Rocky is Italian.


Instead of THOR (2011)

watch HÄGAR THE HORRIBLE: HÄGAR KNOWS BEST (1989)

Many Marvel fans are too ignorant to understand that the character of Thor is not an original creation of Marvel Comics. In fact, Thor is based on a much earlier work, a comic strip called Hägar the Horrible, which has ran in newspapers since 1973! Marvel fans would do themselves well to cure their stupid, stupid ways by immersing themselves in this 1989 made-for-television animated adventure.


Instead of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)

watch JFK (1991)

Captain America was a World War II veteran who became an American icon and leader, only to be struck down by a conspiracy that had tentacles everywhere. Likewise, was John F. Kennedy. The movie JFK laid it all out.

I mean, I think it did. I never saw it. It’s three hours and sounds boring. I like to imagine the entire film is the Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files leaving nonsense clues for Kevin Costner’s character to investigate, then going home to laugh. I like to think the CSM had fun in his off hours. He also made origami. “I have a life outside of you, Agent Mulder. But you never ask about that, do you? Here’s a paper frog, jerk.”

I never cared about the Kennedy conspiracy. Kennedy tried to have Fidel Castro assassinated, and had Marilyn Monroe killed for using her feminine wiles to tempt him away from his beloved wife. As far as I am concerned, if you conspire to kill other people, you can’t very well complain if people conspire to kill you. What goes around comes around!


Instead of MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012)

watch GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1992)

Twenty years before Josh Whedon assembled the Avengers to fight an alien invasion led by the Viking Loki, Dutch filmmaker Lars Von Trier assembled a group of gay black alien heroes to invade Earth and liberate oppressed men from the tyranny of women. What a brilliant way to subvert expectations!


PHASE II

Instead of IRON MAN 3 (2013)

watch ROCKY V (1990)

In IM3, Tony Stark was traumatized from the years in the Ironing Suit and looks to retire. In RV, Rocky Balboa likewise is at the end of his boxing career. Both heroes had slugged it out over several movies — fighting colorful enemies, friends, and powerful opponents in Russia. Now each man has to fight when the chips are down, his home is gone, and his only friend is a little boy. Time to fight a new enemy in the streets!


Instead of THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)

watch MY DINNER WITH ANDRE (1981)

My Dinner with Andre is the perfect substitute for the excitement of Thor: The Dark World.


Instead of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

watch LOOSE CHANGE (2005)

The world is full of seemingly random coincidences. In The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson (Falcon) meets Captain America while jogging along the National Mall early one morning. This leads to the Falcon joining with Captain America and training to become an Avenger. If either man had chosen a different location for a morning jog, or slept in, Sam would have never met Captain America. He would be home, watching the events of the later movies on TV.

Man, all the Avengers are fighting that robot monster in that Russian country. That is so cool. I wish I could be there. If only there was some way to join the Avengers. But who would I even talk to?”

“I got that flying backpack just gathering dust in my garage. I should probably return it to the Army. It’s their property. But they never asked for it back. Maybe they don’t know it’s missing. We’d lose machine guns and grenades all the time.”

Oh shit, the news says Captain America is a terrorist. That’s a lie. I know Cap would never go bad. I never met him, but I just know it. If only I could help him somehow.”

Then, there are questions. How did Hydra so effectively infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.? How did the US government get subverted by a shadowy group of elites who sought to cause a mass casualty event to further their own ends?

The real world is full of unanswered questions and strange coincidences even more baffling than the movies. Why were an unusual amount of put options placed on the stocks of various airlines in the days before 9/11? Why did the alleged flight path of the alleged Flight 77 into the alleged Pentagon not match the destruction a Boeing 757 should have caused? How could the World Trade Center have collapsed from an airplane impact when fire can’t melt steel? Why did Building 7 collapse when it wasn’t touched by a plane? Why was George W. Bush seen giggling to himself on September 9th, 2001, then when a reporter asked what was so funny, did the president stop and say “Nothing” but then went right back to giggling and said, “You’ll see!” The documentary Loose Change examines these questions and more.


Instead of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 1 (2014)

watch 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (2001)

They are both in space.


Instead of AVENGER’S AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

watch THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)

In Josh Whedon’s Age of the Ulton, the Avengers battle Ultron, a super powerful robot that can defeat any army and seeks to destroy. In HG Well’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, Earth is visited by a super powerful robot than can defeat any army, but claims to want peace. I wouldn’t believe that tin can!


Instead of ANT-MAN (2015)

watch A BUG’S LIFE (1998)

No explanation needed here.

But you know what bugged me (LOL!) about Ant-Man? When Ant-Man was working at a Baskin-Robbins, and gets called into the manager’s office to be fired because felons aren’t allowed to handle ice cream. That manager’s office was huge! It has a window. He wasn’t an executive at Baskin-Robbins corporate; he was a manager for one franchise. Does anyone in Hollywood know how small a retail manager’s office is? In real life, Ant-Man’s boss would have a windowless office a quarter of the size, full of boxes of plastic spoons and paper napkins. Ant-Man would have had to sit on a box. Totally made the rest of the movie impossible to buy into.

I once had an interview at a K-Mart. The manager had an office that was basically a concrete prison cell. No windows, and if you locked someone inside, they’d run out of air in an hour. Another time, I went in for a job at Family Video (Midwest Blockbuster). The manager didn’t even have an office. She talked to me in a corner of the store and kept having to interrupt the interview to check out videos for customers. I didn’t get hired at either place, but both K-Mart and Family Video are out of business, so I got my revenge in the end. Wahahaha!


PHASE III

Instead of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)

watch ADOLF HITLER, THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD (2013)

In Civil War, Bucky Barnes is a hero of the Second World War who history had deemed a madman and a mass murderer. When Steve Rogers tries to tell the truth about his old friend, the powers-that-be turn him from a hero to a pariah, and put anyone who helped him in prison.

Why do the elites hold so tightly to the lie about Bucky Barnes that they will persecute anyone who questions it? Likewise, the documentary series Adolf Hiter, the Greatest Story…well, you know.


Instead of DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

watch RASHOMON (1950)

What is truth? What is reality? Dr. Strange would grapple with these questions when he gets a hold of that sorcerer thing and buildings flip upside down. Audiences are forced to grapple with these questions in the story of conflicting testimony over a murder trial, from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.


Instead of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017)

watch THE GODFATHER (1972)

Both films are about a man facing the pressure to live up to his father. See, they fit! Do yourself a favor and find the rare seven hour long special edition laser disc copy of The Godfather. It’s truly the definitive edition. There’s a scene in no other version where Francis Ford Coppola yells at Marlon Brando, enters the frame, and hits him repeatedly with the business end of a boom mic.


Instead of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)

watch JACK FROST (1998)

Marvel and Sony shook up the Spider-Man world by re-imagining Peter Parker as a teenager under the tutelage of Tony Stark. Baby Spider-Man was a hit with audiences. But the standout actor in Homecoming wasn’t Tom Hiddleston as Peter Parker, but Michael Keaton as Vulture – a father forced to turn to crime to provide for his family.

The big twist in the movie occurs when Peter meets the father of his new girlfriend. Egad! It’s Vulture! It doesn’t take long for Mr. Vulture to figure out Peter is Baby Spider-Man. In probably the most chilling scene in all of MarvelCinematicUniversdom, Mr. Vulture gets Peter alone and tells him:

Listen to me Peter Parker. I know you are Spider-Man. I swear to God, I will kill you if you get in the way of my evil scheme, or get my daughter pregnant. I will kill you and your whole family if I can’t sell alien weapons, or end up with an eight-legged grandson.”

In Jack Frost, Keaton plays a father who dies on Christmas from a snow accident, only to be brought back next Christmas in the form of his son’s snowman. You would think this would be horrifying, but he adjusts really quickly to being a snowman. He is making quips and having fun throwing snowballs within minutes. I think he enjoyed being a snowman more than being human. He was a 47-year-old man still trying to start a rock band, so it’s not like he had a whole lot going for him as a human.

As a snowman, he reconnects with his son. He doesn’t reconnect with his wife, who doesn’t seem to miss him all that much, either. She was still able to afford the house. Makes me think she was always the breadwinner of that family, and probably a bit relieved when he died. She’s no longer attached to the dead weight of a middle-aged wannabe rock star.


Instead of THOR: RAGNOROK (2017)

watch MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

Just watch Mulholland Drive, you simpletons.


Instead of BLACK PANTHER (2018)

watch BUCK BREAKING (2021)

Black Panther took us inside the African kingdom of Wakanda, led by the strong black king The Challah, who held the power of the Black Panther. Both blacks and insufferable liberal whites were enthralled by Afro-Utopian vision of the movie, and its masculine lead. But it left us to ask: why is there no Wakanda in real life, why are there so few strong black men like the Black Panther? The recent documentary Buck Breaking from Tariq Nasheed (who is totally not gay) explains why.


Instead of AVENGER’S INFINITY WAR (2018)

watch CITIZEN KANE (1941)

Many dumb Marvel fans (redundant) claim Infinity War to be the greatest film of all time. We true cinèphiles know the greatest film of all time is in fact HG Well’s masterpiece Citizen Kane. Why is Citizen Kane the greatest film ever? Because all the smart people say it is, and you must agree to be considered a genuine film lover.

If you go to Barnes & Noble to buy Criterion blu-rays, the clerk will ask what is the greatest film of all time, and you absolutely must reply, “Citizen Kane.” If you give any other answer, the clerk will refuse to sell you the blu-rays, and you’ll be added to a nationwide blacklist that will prevent you from every being able to buy a Criterion Collection film anywhere. Then, when you go home, you’ll find TCM blocked out on your cable. Instead of classic films, you’ll only see video of Ben Mankiewicz scowling at you in disgust (it’s live video – Ben Mankiewicz can do this all day).

Don’t be a pariah cinèphile. Just accept Citizen Kane is the best thing ever and shut your mouth.

Besides, both movies are similar enough. They are about men on a quest they are willing to sacrifice everything for. Thanos will stop at nothing to collect the Infinity Stones. Citizen Kane will stop at nothing to buy every newspaper in the country to find his sled. I saw Citizen Kane, I totally appreciate it. Please think I’m smart.


Instead of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018)

watch THE EVIL DEAD (1981)

Make sure you watch the original 1981 version from Sam Rainny, not the remake from 2013. The remake was awful. The original was a horror masterpiece crafted on a meager budget. The remake had scenes that were supposed to be shocking, but were in fact stupid and unnecessary. For instance, in the original, audiences became aware that one girl is possessed by a demon because she can predict playing cards from across the room. It’s a chilling scene that very quickly takes the audience from uncertainty to horror. In the remake, we first see the possessed girl when she bursts into the room with a shotgun.

Who cares if a demon has a shotgun? A person possessed by a demon is scary enough, so is a crazy woman with a gun; combining the two doesn’t make it DOUBLE SCARY, no matter what the director thought. Hey, he should have told the director of The Exorcist to give the girl a gun. Would have been a much shorter movie.


Instead of CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019)

watch EMPIRE RECORDS (1995)

Captain Marvel took audiences back to the ‘90s and peppered the action with cool ‘90s tunes. Not very well, though. Guardians of the Galaxy used pop music to enhance scenes. Captain Marvel just threw in twenty seconds of No Doubt or Nirvana here and there to remind us it’s the ‘90s. Also, they digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson, put him in a suit, but didn’t make him look like Jules from Pulp Fiction, which pissed me off.

For another take on the ‘90s and music, watch Empire Records. I don’t really remember what happens in Empire Records; saw it once twenty years ago and didn’t like it. Don’t tell any Gen-Xer I said that. I’ll die if a bunch of 50-year-olds don’t think I am cool.

On the subject, I’ll occasionally see a middle-aged man wearing an Alice in Chains or Guns N’ Roses t-shirt, and think why is that old guy in that shirt? Then I’ll remember no, he’d have been the right age to listen to those bands back in the day. Generation X is just old now. Dave Grohl is 52, Lisa Loeb is 53, and Slash is almost 400. It’s hard to remember because Gen X men decided that they way they dressed as high school juniors would be the way they’d dress for the rest of their lives. Graphic tees, backward baseball caps, and denim shorts go with gray hair now. I am relived I don’t have to deal with Generation X much. My father is a Baby Boomer, so dresses appropriate for his age (Hawaiian shirts).


Instead of AVENGER’S ENDGAME (2019)

watch CARTOON ALL-STARS TO THE RESCUE (1990)

29 years before Disney and Marvel Studios assembled the greatest collection of superheroes ever to teach Thanos the dangers of the Infinity Stones, Roy E. Disney and McDonald’s assembled the greatest collection of Saturday morning cartoon heroes ever to teach young Michael the dangers of drugs and alcohol.


Instead of SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019)

watch CHARLOTTE’S WEB (1973)

Growing up, finding love, finding your purpose, finding a way to not get killed, elaborate spider-webbing – Skip Far From Home. Charlotte’s Web did it better 46 years earlier.


PHASE IV

Okay, now I haven’t seen any Phase 4 movie except S-MNWH, but I think these next recommendations will be as helpful as the rest.

Instead of BLACK WIDOW (2021)

watch THE DAY OF THE JACKAL (1973)

Pretty sure it’s the same, but without special effects.


Instead of SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (2021)

watch BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986)

They look basically the same, from what I can tell.


Instead of ETERNALS (2021)

watch LEAN ON ME (1989)

Just kidding. Don’t watch Lean on Me. It’s terrible. But I saw it earlier this month and have to vent. Morgan Freeman stars in this tru-ish story of a principal who turns around a failing inner city high school. He does this by yelling at everyone with a bullhorn. Unless you’re a drill sargent at boot camp, that’s no way to be a leader.

There’s one scene where he goes to the choir room to chew out the music teacher for changing the school song. He yells at her, but then he turns around and smiles and is all, “Congratulations on our new school song.” All the kids in the choir room cheer. They don’t like the principal, they are really just overjoyed he didn’t fire the music teacher. “Finally the principal isn’t angry!” “I’m so scared to come to school every day because of him.” “I have nightmares he breaks into my bedroom and yells at me through a bullhorn.”

Morgan Freeman’s characters meets his angry match in the superintendent, played by Robert Guillaume, who challenges him to a shouting match over who is blacker.

Listen to me bub, I’m black and these kids are black, and they are going to see a black world unless we have their backs like blacks!”

Let me tell you one thing, mister. You say you’re black, well I’m blacker than you and we have black kids who are going to fall into a black hole if we don’t back their blacks!”

Black black black-ity black black!”

*Dances like a chicken* “Black black black!”

Turns out the real life principal did a horrible job. Do you know how he got test scores up? He kicked out a bunch of students. The dropout rate rose ten points under him Jerk. If that’s what it takes to be a high school principal, I could be an amazing principal. I’d expel kids left and right. “You like The Weeknd? He makes Drake look like DMX. Clean out your locker, you’re done here.”

No movie about a teacher or principal in an inner city school is any good. Dangerous Minds was so bad that Michele Pfffffer should have been shot out of a cannon, but at least it got us “Amish Paradise”.


Instead of SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME (2021)

watch SPIDER-MAN (2002)

Spider-Man’s spider-world spider-collides in this tangled web of a movie. So many Spider-men! Rather than watch it, though, instead watch Sam Rainny’s take on Peter Parker from nineteen years earlier. It has the same Peter Parker and Green Goblin.

Just between you and me, I’ll admit the MCU Spider-Man has been fun. My only issue isn’t with the movies, but when critics praised them for “finally getting Spider-Man right”. Fuck that, Spider-Man was done right two decades ago. “Teens really relate to this Spider-Man” they say. Teens back in the day related to Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man, believe me. All the hair gel and people yelling, that’s what being a teen in the early ‘00s was all about.

On the subject, I often smugly ask people who Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis is, and, being stupider than me, they answer incorrectly. No, it’s not Green Goblin, nor Mysterio. Spider-Man’s greatest adversary is in fact J. Jonah Jameson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Bugle. He hates Spider-Man more than anyone. Most of Spidey’s nemesii only show up once in a while to fight him. Not JJJ. He comes to work every day ready to take down Spider-Man. He hates Spider-Man more than anyone. “He’s a MENACE!”

No Way Home showed us that no matter what version of Peter Parker there is, the great multi-verse will have a version of JJJ there to harass him. Worse, Peter usually works for Jameson. You think you have a lousy boss!

By the way, how many MCU villains have been people Tony Stark pissed off? I’m counting seven movies:

  • Iron Man 1: Tony’s business partner, Jebediah Stone.
  • Iron Man 2: Tony’s business rival, Justin Hammer.
  • Avenger’s Age of Ultron: Tony created Ultron, of course, but then Wanda and her not an X-Men brother sought to kill Tony because Stark weapons killed their parents. Fair enough reason, I’d say.
  • Iron Man 3: That geek Tony blew off to sleep with a whore. It’s a really bad idea in a comic book world to ignore a geek; they are all geniuses who will become a fearsome super villains at the smallest slight (look at Batman Forever). Now I get why geeks love comic books so much! It all makes sense now.
  • Civil War: Helmet Zero, who blamed the Avengers, and Tony most of all, for his family being killed in Avenger’s Age of Ultron. Zero crafted a dastardly plan to divide the Avengers. I never understood how his plan was supposed to work, and it seemed too far fetched. But it totally did work. The Avengers broke up. Give it up for Helmet Zero.
  • Homecoming: Mr. Vulture, who he lost his government contract because Stark Industries is basically the US government.
  • Far From Home: A crew of pissed off Stark Industries employees. Seems like it wold have been easier for them to quit and go work for Apple. Maybe tech workers are just temperamental. Maybe there are a bunch of angry engineers at Telsa secretly building a killer robot to get back at Elon Musk. “I work 18 hour days designing car batteries to save the world from Climate Change. I was promised it would be worth it with the stock options. Then my asshole boss smokes pot on Joe Rogan’s podcast to crash the stock for his buyback scheme. I will have vengeance! VENGEANCE!”

But seriously folks, Tony Stark was such an asshole that the people he is an asshole to go so mad they turn into super villains. That’s why I could not sympathize with Tony in Civil War when he flipped out like Bruce Wayne after learning his parents were murdered. Tony, your father was a weapons manufacturer for the US government. Lots of people would have wanted your parents dead for, frankly, good reason. There must have been entire villages in Vietnam wiped out from Stark Technologies brand Agent Apricot®.


Bonus for Television: Instead of WANDAVISION (2021)

watch CHRIS CHAN: A COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY (2019)

In the Disney Channel Original Series WandaVision, Wanda Maximoff copes with the loss of her love, Vision, by taking a New Jersey town hostage to create a happy suburban family life through 20th century American sitcoms. It’s the story of madness that goes on for hours.

A real world story of madness is the multi-part documentary series about the internet’s greatest victim, Chris Chan. Just when you think it couldn’t get any weirder…he goes and rapes his demented mother! 🤣🤣🤣🤣


Also on Warm Fuzzy Glow:

To ween the ignorant masses off their Marvel addiction, acclaimed autèur Martin Scorsese provided us with his list of the Top Ten Greatest Films of All Time.

10. Metropolis (1927)

9. Mean Streets (1973)

8. On the Waterfront (1954)

7. Cape Fear (1991)

6. Gangs of New York (2002)

5. Raging Bull (1980)

4. Casino (1995)

3. Goodfellas (1990)

2. Citizen Kane (1941)

1. The Irishman (2019)

Jeopardy, a Poem

Uncategorized

Michael Richards is the new host
of JEOPARDY!
A controversial choice

First Episode at the Podium
Contestants:
pharmacist from OR,
teacher from PA,
& Returning CHAMPION
mailman from UT

Categories:
RUSSIAN LITERATURE | COMIC STRIPS | TRAVELS THROUGH TIME | W.A.P. | HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS | AFRICAN-AMERICANS

Returning Champion
“I’ll take African-Americans
for 200,
Michael.”

“This man is a nigger. He’s a nigger. Throw his ass out. He’s a nigger. He’s a nigger. A nigger, look, there’s a nigger.”

Returning Champion
“Who is
W.E.B Du Bois?”

“Correct. Pick again.”

Returning Champion
“African-Americans
for 400.”

“Fifty years ago this man would be upside down with a fucking fork up his ass.”

Pharmacist from OR
“Who is
Lebron James?”

“Correct!”

And it went on

for years and years

Degrassi Revisited: “Message in a Bottle”, Season 2, Episode 16

TV Review

How’s COVID been for you? I don’t know anyone who’s gotten sick, so am confidant in saying COVID is a hoax and we should all be breathing on each other. I want to hate this months long lockdown, but, truthfully, it hasn’t really affected me. I have no friends and never go anywhere. 2020 has been pretty much like 2019 for me, except I have to wear a mask to Wal-mart, and it closes at 8:30 pm, like a folksy small town Wal-mart from a bygone era.

There is one aspect of this pandemic that I have taken pleasure in: how it’s cut through the hubris bigger states have about themselves. As a life long resident of Michigan, I’ve never had a reason to be proud of my state, and resent there are states where people do. Watching them taken down a peg makes me happy.

For instance, early in the outbreak, California had very few cases and acted like they were managing it right and the rest of us were too dumb to figure out. “We’re like our own country. We aren’t following Drumpf. We got this.” Then COVID hit them so hard, and they had to close businesses, shut down Hollywood, arrest people trying to use the beach, and make everyone wear masks outdoors. Ha ha! With your gyms and yoga studios closed, Californians, soon you’ll be just as fat as we are in the Midwest!

Then Texas was all like, “We ain’t pussies like California. We ain’t afraid of no Coronavirus. YEE-HAW!” Knock that off. You had to shut down the same time California did. You Texans aren’t as tough as you claim. You deserve Joe Rogan.

Being stuck inside has started to wear on me. I’ve regressed to the point where I’ve been watching old Degrassi. Yeah, I’m going stir crazy. Recently, I saw Message in a Bottle” the season 2 episode that originally aired January 17, 2003, and wanted to re-recap the original on Boycott the Caf. I like this episode because it centers on Sean, the most interesting character from the early seasons. He’s the original bad boy of Canada. Sorry Jacques Loubier, the lumber jack who plays by his own rules.

We see a key unlock a door, footsteps, the key flung on a table, a Coke can opened. Then it is revealed that this is Sean’s hovel, where he brought Emma to study. It’s not exactly The Sopranos or Breaking Bad quality cinematography, but it’s nice to go back to when the people who made Degrassi put a little effort into their show. Sean lives with his adult brother, Tracker, who shows up because he quit his job as a jizz mopper. Tracker kicks Sean and Emma out so he can have a girl over. Tracker is ashamed to show anyone the type of girl he can get.

We then go to the school, where basketball practice is bouncing away (tee-hee!). Sean and Jimmy are on the team but don’t like each other for some such reason. But Spinner brokers a peace accord. See, Jimmy will host a party tonight, Spinner tells Jimmy to invite Sean, and Jimmy does. You don’t say no to Spinner.

Meanwhile, Emma’s parents have been planning a dinner for Sean for a week, but Emma still hasn’t invited him. If I was Emma, I wouldn’t want anyone to meet my parents either. But since the dinner is tonight, Manny pushes Emma to tell Sean.

“No!” yells Sean, upon receiving the invitation. He was really angry, like offended at the offer. I always liked eating dinner at a friend’s house. It was nice to see what another kid’s mother cooked, how their dinner setup looked, and experience a family meal where the mom and dad didn’t scream at each other the whole time.

Sean would rather go to Jimmy’s party. But Mr. Simpson comes by, grabs Sean’s butt, and is excited to have Sean over. He’s such a cool kid and Simpson could brag to everyone that he hung out with Sean. Emma says her mom will make sushi. Wait, isn’t Emma a vegetarian? Maybe she considers fish a vegetable. Maybe she thinks refusing to eat Japanese food would be racist. Either way, they’re having sushi tonight.

Then we go to Jimmy, who looks longingly at Ashley. They broke up after her escapade with Ecstasy last year, but he still pines for her. Of course, since Ashley is goth now, she won’t date Jimmy unless he starts wearing black makeup. “She’s become a vampire,” Spinner tells Jimmy. Goths had been a thing in the US for twenty five years at this point, but must’ve been new to Canada. Spinner doesn’t know what to make of it.

I’m not even sure what Ashley and Ellie are doing is strictly goth. They have too much color in their appearance (at least Ashley and Ellie are black in demeanor). They look more like Avril Lavigne (remember her?), pop-punk filtered through Hot Topic and the Warped Tour. To be fair to Ashley and Ellie, I think goth culture was greatly diluted since the ‘90s. These two grew up in a time when Christina Ricci was considered goth. Really, all you had to do to be goth in 2003 was not smile and watch Tim Burton movies a lot. Ashley and Ellie made multiple trips to the theater for his remake of Planet of the Apes.

Fun fact: The actress who played Ellie hated her goth look and that is why the producers toned it down later on. Which is good because the character wanted to pursue a career in journalism. If Ellie was interviewing people and reporting stories while dressed goth, she’d look dumber than Chris Cuomo.

Anyway, Jimmy invites Terri to his party. He doesn’t want Terri there, but Terri will be sure to bring Ashley. In the hallway, Paige and Terri talk about the party while Ashley and Ellie are behind them. I don’t know if they are walking as a group or it’s a coincidence Ashley and Ellie are right behind them. But now we have confirmation that Ashley knows about Jimmy’s party. Paige can’t attend because she’s getting her vagina dyed or something. I don’t know why we had to hear that, but I guess we had to know that Paige won’t be there.

Back at the hovel, Sean is mad at his brother for losing his job. “Money is important, Sean,” says Tracker, “but so is my pride.” Tracker demands respect when he’s on the clock, mopping up jizz at the Wank-o-drome. Sean says Tracker is behaving just like their dad, but Tracker responds that, unlike papa, he doesn’t waste all his money on booze. Tracker assures Sean that he has an interview at another porn theater. Good for Tracker. You don’t want to spend your whole career as a jizz mopper at the same porn theater. Your skills will go stale. Stale and crusty.

Sean takes some pickled herring out of the fridge and heads to Emma’s house. What’s the deal, Sean? You aren’t going to a Norwegian wedding? You know what’s funny? I saw that and really wanted some pickled herring. I looked it my fridge and there just so happened to be half a jar of pickled herring way in the back! I don’t know how old it was, but pickled herring can’t spoil. It pretty much already is.

Anyway, the whole family is getting ready for the big dinner in Sean’s honor. Simpson opens a bottle of wine. I don’t like that the only two adults insist on drinking alcohol when the meal is for kids. Open a bottle of Faygo for everyone. Sean arrives and is uncomfortable because they have to sit on the floor like real Japanese people do in Japan. They even use the coffee table as a dinner table. Fucking weebs. Sean doesn’t know how to use chopsticks, so stabs the sushi like a boss. I like that. I don’t know how to use chopsticks either, so I eat sushi with a spoon.

Sean goes to get water, sees the wine, and takes a big drink. He slammed that 6oz glass like it was nothing. I am an adult, and if I downed that much, I’d have to lie in bed next to a bucket. Also, Sean did that in clear view of everyone else. There is no door between the kitchen and living room. But Simpson and Spike could get in trouble for letting a kid drink in their house, especially since Simpson is a teacher. So it’s best if everyone pretends it never happened.

Now that I think about it, that might be sake, since everything about this meal is Japanese. Sake is called Japanese wine, except it’s made from rice, so should be called Japanese beer, or maybe whiskey. The Japanese don’t know what wine is. That’s our fault, though, we in the West. It’s kind of mean that we’ve had relations with Japan since the 1850s, but not one of us ever explained grapes. It’s the worst thing we’ve ever done to Japan.

Anyway, Sean drunkenly spills pie on Emma*, so she goes to change, and then Simpson goes to tinkle on the potty (he sits down of course), so Sean is left alone with Spike, who wants to make conversation. It goes about as well as any conversation between a teen boy and an over the hill woman could. Snake says it must be nice to get a home cooked meal. “Because I don’t get home cooked meals at home?” Sean says sarcastically. He should have shot back that sushi was never cooked, so she is a dirty lying old cunt. Sean accuses Snake of calling him a “welfare case” and leaves in a huff.

Why is Sean so ashamed? Being a welfare case in Canada would be sweet because they have actual welfare. If I lived in Canada, I would never get a job. I’ve seen Trailer Park Boys—being a deadbeat in Canada is a lot of fun.

*I blame Mr. Simpson for having puny little girl arms that can’t pass a pie tray.

Every party needs fresh apples. They are a healthy snack!

The party is bopping at Jimmy’s. Kids are making out (the boy extras probably enjoyed that assignment more than the girls) and dancing to some song from white guys pretending to be Bobby Brown. Music is weird.

I had a sad realization a few months ago, when Ben Shapiro, the tiny conservative pundit, complained about a song by Cardie Bee and Meg Stallone, and was mocked over and over. People my age are old enough to be out of touch with pop music! I know that, spiritually, Ben Shapiro is the world’s youngest Baby Boomer, but it still makes me feel old—even more than the fact my knees hurt when I sit down on the toilet.

I am fine with laughing at Ben Shapiro. He certainly deserves it. But can these people also admit that “WAP” is not a very good song? “But it’s empowering to women!” Sure, I’ll concede that. Every 9-year-old girl needs to hear “WAP” every morning before school to inspire her to fight the Republican Party. “WAP” truly exemplifies the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I get that. Now I want you to admit that it’s a terrible song. The lyrics are simple and the beat is boring.

Cardie Bee is so stupid she makes me wistful for the time of Lil Kim. You kids may think Cardie Bee is something new and groundbreaking, but Lil Kim’s songs were just as sexual and provocative, but actually sounded good. The Jump Off is catchier than anything Cardie Bee has done, with better lyrics too. I make a Sprite can disappear in my mouth. Man, I’d like to see that. I wish I could do that. It would be a neat trick to show at parties! That’s Lil Kim, she told a story with her songs. Lighters Up” told me that particular part of Brooklyn is a place I should avoid. How Many Licks” told me masturbating to Lil Kim’s poster would help me get through prison. God bless you Lil Kim, wherever you are.

So…anyway, Sean arrives at Jimmy’s party drunk. He is happy to see Spinner, but who isn’t? He gets along with Jimmy, too. Good thing Sean is a happy drunk, like a German, and not a mean drunk, like an Irishman.

Craig asks Sean if he has been drinking. Craig is wearing a leather jacket over a sweater. He must be sweaty as hell. He has two of the warmest items of clothing on top of one another, and he’s indoors, in a crowded room with people dancing. Of course, he has to dress in black to indicate he is a rocker. In contrast, Sean always wears a denim jacket to show he is poor but tough.

The kids of Degrassi dress like cartoon characters, and I love it.

Sean sees a bottle of the Devil’s Sprite that belongs to Jimmy’s dad. Sean takes it—because the white man always take from the black man—and pours it into a pop bottle, which every teenager thinks is a full proof way to sneak booze around. But Sean also keeps the booze bottle. Sean, you so crazy.

Emma arrives and tells Sean, “So sooooorry about my mom.” Seriously, I think she set the record for the most Canadian slur of sorry ever. She should get an award from the prime minister. Emma tries to grab the bottle from Sean. He keeps it away but then drops it on the floor, where it shatters. Immediately, the music stops. That comes from a movie trope: something happens to stop the party, there is a record scratch. They can’t do that anymore because kids don’t know how to use record players. Someone hit the pause button on the CD player just in time.

Jimmy kicks Sean out and picks up the glass. He cuts his finger and then Ashley kneels down next to him and takes his hand. Maybe Spinner was right about her being a vampire!

Emma and Sean are on the other side of the highway from Jimmy’s estate. Sean is hungover. Emma calls her parents for a ride. But I don’t think they are too far away. Sean walked from his house to Emma’s and then to Jimmy’s. Or maybe he took the bus. For all I know, Emma and Sean are sitting at some odd looking Canadian style bus stop right now.

The next day at school, Jimmy is mad at Sean. But then Jimmy gets a kiss from Ashley. Ask me, Jimmy should thank Sean for setting in motion what led to that kiss. At least give him some money.

Emma tries to comfort Sean. She has on her signature dolphin jeans, which are meant to help. Dolphins are very soothing. Also, she has boxing gloves tied to her waist. I don’t know what’s up with that.

Conclusion

This was a nice, simple, classic Degrassi story. No dumb gimmicks, no superfluous characters or scenes. No obnoxious politics, even. This is Degrassi done right.