Tokyo Damage Report

Offensive Sitcom

I’m watching this new, totally tasteless sitcom. It opens with a preview scene, sort of like the vignettes they show after the 8:30 show to get you to stay for the 9:00 show. The preview vignette is a muscley, goateed white guy with granny glasses and blonde hair cut in this very un-hip, Buck Rogers-era Gil Gerard bowl cut, cruising around Southern California suburbs in this huge-ass topless Cadillac with three women in the back seat laughing (a black woman, a Latina, and some other race with skin somewhere in the middle, like a token Filipino maybe) and in the passenger seat is this other Latina lady saying "Hey, why are you out on a date with this black woman in the back seat? I am your girlfriend, right?" (laugh track) and the guy replies, "Hey, look at it this way, you get to go out with the two remaining girls, so you’re twice as lucky as me!" (more laugh track). I get the impression that the sitcom is about three wacky multi-racial but totally crass women room-mates in the suburbs.

The black woman has totally acne-scarred cheeks and is hell of skinny and wizened and looks like some cracked-out homeless Market Street person, but the beefy-yet- totally unhip-looking white dude has fallen for her. The plot goes back in time to the start of the date, where the white guy is trying to peep through a fence into the multi-racial roommates’ backyard. Unfortunately, due to the mistaken-identity screwups that happen a lot in wacky sitcoms, he winds up looking instead into the backyard of the roommates’ next door neighbors: three obese, middle-aged, brutally lonely white women. They lounge around tiny lawn chairs. The only sounds are the one woman furiously typing on her laptop into some virtual sex chat room, and the twin chorus, Beavis-and Butthead-like-if-they-were-fat sound of the other two masturbating along with the first one. Not like "Huh-huh,… huh-huh…." but more like a deep, asthmatic, cow lowing chorus like "hUUh……hUUgggh…:" Meanwhile, ‘up one level’ I’m still watching the TV, thinking, "Man! This show is offensive to all races!! How the fuck did this get made??" The guy clears out of there really fast before the 3 brutally lonely women notice him and jump him.

Then the scene changes: the white guy has found the right house, and is in the living room chatting amiably with the wacky roommates, while I’ve somehow become an extra in the sitcom party. I’m sitting in a corner of that room, facing away from them and towards this huge, tattooed white dude in a wifebeater leaning intently towards me on his ottoman and describing how he totally trounced the first, beefy-but-unhip white guy at football. "That guy claims that he can play, but he really can’t!! Just like you!" and I say, "Dude, I never claimed I could play!!"

Then it jumps forward in time ( way past the original driving-in-the-Cadillac preview sequence) directly to their destination: this spectacular golf course. The five are standing at the tee-off spot on a cliff towards the right of the screen, with this huge but out-of-focus vista opening up away to the left. The camera is shooting a very tasteful, nature-time panoramic shot of the whole scene. Suddenly, as the guy is about to tee off, from the right side of the screen, comes this total OTHER skinny, junkie, raggedy black woman, but this one is a transvestite kung-fu master that just flies into the screen, foot-first and kicks the first black date, WHAM!! They’re tumbling to the ground from the force of the blow, with legs sticking out in weird undignified directions, when the screen freezes. Like how a screen at the end of three’s company would freeze at the end of the episode with the characters about to laugh, and then the credits would roll over the freeze? It’s like that, but looking up the skirts of these two black junkies kung-fuing it out on this ritzy golf course. And there’s no credits rolling. … it just stays still for an awkwardly long time. Then just as suddenly, it pops back to life, and they fight some more, and the drag queen gets her wig torn off, but then she just starts doing some crazy martial arts style, whirling the wig around like nunchucks or something, holding off the other 5 characters.

Then the transvestite ghetto kung-fu avenger reveals she’s the black male superhero Cloak (who was a real superhero for Marvel in the 80’s), and the current freeze-frame of the TV show turns into a single panel in Cloak’s comic book, which just happens to be drawn in a photorealistic style, as opposed to the crude, pen-and-ink style of the rest of the comic. (somehow the photorealistic panel functions as a ‘window’ to the video/film world) Since it’s drawn in this different style, Photorealistic-Cloak can’t just flow from panel to panel in the way regular comic book dudes do. He has to physically climb out of the panel and drop down to the next panel, over the white line. Which he does, with this very grim, fatalistic demeanor which he usually has in the comic. The three obese, brutally lonely, middle aged white women are waiting for him in the panel below, joined by a fourth identical woman. They’re drawn in typical comic book style, and the background of the panel is radiating lines of red and orange, just painfully over saturated colors that are just overdone and bleeding into one another and hellish to look at.

Cloak jumps in to the bottom panel, and throws his cloak around him to form a sort of hut around himself and the four women (he can change the shape of his cloak in the comic; it’s his power). I don’t know if it’s to protect all of them from the hellish red-and-orange colors, or to ensure that he can’t escape his doom at the hands of the fat naked middle-aged white women. I get the impression he knows he’s going to die next panel, but this is something he is obligated to do by his personal honor code. The hellish colors are ambiguous, though: usually comic book radiating colors are like sound effects, visually drawing attention to a physical action. These colors are so intense and sinister that they seem to be almost causing the actions by ruling out less violent ones.

Anyway, as soon as he’s in their panel, the four women immediately seize and gang-rape him. They don’t penetrate him so much as just suffocate him and rub him out of existence with their huge flabby bodies. Somehow this is all taking place within one panel, which gets stretched out way too long in time, like 3 minutes of excruciating torment is being compressed into one panel, which only increases the feeling of escapeless suffocation. This entire extended rape-by-suffocation scene is drawn out even further and more excruciatingly by this totally unnecessary, heavy-handed, unbelievably pompous comic book narration which I both read and hear, about how a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do for honor and justice and so forth.

Plus even though I can’t physically feel Cloak’s pain, I can feel the tactile sensation of the cloak pressing in on all sides of the characters with a suffocating feel of wet, humid wool. I see Cloak’s white superhero partner, Dagger, levitating up in the upper left hand corner but making no effort to help at all. Bitch! The entire scene gets too frustrating, going on and on, and the panel never changes, and I begin to feel trapped as well, so I shut the book. On the front cover is a picture of cloak and dagger striking some pose, and in the lower left corner is a little blurb saying "Special Issue: scripted by So-and-so, the famous skateboard graphic designer!!" and I look back up at the main picture and sure enough, the cloak and dagger picture is laid out on this extremely fine graph paper, the kind one might use when drawing a technical schematic of a new skateboard deck.

 

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