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14 of June '22

A column fromA&B issue 05|2022

An important request runs through your growing number of letters to the editor, which a former resource cataloging specialist from Kiev's National Library named after Lesa Ukrainka had to be hired to review. You write that you want more news, for Mr. Szczęsny to refer more often to current events and related issues. When, in the dusty editorial room, the pile of letters containing this request grows to a size that allows me to lean against it with my elbow in a standing position, about 120 centimeters counting from the floor, the chief takes the phone and puts pressure on me. Everything is done culturally. Gently, even. Even the headmistress's voice somehow softens from the handset, although it is interrupted by coughing, because they smoke unbearably in this editorial office, and they keep the windows closed because of the noise of streetcars braking in front of the intersection.

And then, flowing from the receiver, I meet the pressure. After all, I will not contradict anyone, and I understand perfectly well that you have not enough topics of pandemics, recession and the Polish Order, the climate crisis, war, and especially whether "Poland will be next". So, as I said, I will address the needs of esteemed readers. Well, I have decided to provide you with a review this month. And not some book about architecture, incompatible with our everyday life, to say the least, but a position significant for the culture of the whole world and baaaavery current.

So let me tell you about the film "Gremlins 2".

"Gremlins" part one, known in our country as "Gremlins are smashing", is associated by everyone who was more than a year old in the mid-1980s and could already enjoy the grandeur of the slightly greenish world flowing from the oft-copied VHS tapes. For those who don't remember, however, I'll quickly remind you, because it's important for the continuity of the plot. Well, so in a small American town lives Billy, a nice, curly-haired teenager from an indigent family. His father, an inventor-turned-playboy, gives him a gift for Christmas in the form of a cute pet called Gizmo. He repeats to the boy what he heard from the Chinese old man who reluctantly sold him the creature: "just don't feed him after midnight, no harsh light, and God forbid the pet gets wet." The boy sticks to the rules, but, as he goes to school, earns money in the bank after hours to support his family, on top of that he has a mischievous dog and a younger brother, Gizmo, of course, fails to take care of him. Awkwardly wet and after midnight, the big-eyed furry one literally splutters, except that his magical spawn is not as nice as he is.

That's because they're evil Gremlins!

The disgusting, vicious creatures with scrawny skin soak in the pool at the YMCA and gobble up whatever they can to fill the hapless town with themselves and prance around to their heart's content, destroying the peace of God-fearing tax payers. In the end, thanks to the efforts of Bill and his sensible sympathizer Kate (blinding headlights, microwave ovens, mixers and high voltage, among other things, are used), they manage to tame the masterminds, rescue the hapless Gizmo and save the town from Christmas oppression. So everything ends happily, the good guys cheer in the cardboard sets of the ageless "everytown" amidst the Rosco-branded artificial snow falling from the ceiling of the film hall. Ding-dong and Merry Christmas!

But one would be mistaken who would think that the producers of this work would let the Gremlins ultimately fade away without providing the audience with further elation and themselves with additional earnings. It's worth mentioning that "Gremlins," like the film "Ghostbusters" released into theaters the same weekend, was not only a novel experiment in mixing film genres (in this case, horror and family comedy), but also, thanks to Chris Columbus' script and Joe Dante's direction, contained a small dose of social criticism. And at the same time they were still an authentic blockbuster. Thus, in "Gremlins," the victims of the mischievous masterminds were one by one various "uncool" characters in the type of Dickens' stingy old rich woman or xenophobic Republican neighbor.

Six years later, in 1990, the Warner brothers followed suit and released a sequel in the form of "Gremlins 2: The New Batch." You might have missed this release, just as I missed "Goonies" (I'll never forgive myself for that). Probably because the film didn't make it to Poland, and besides, we had other things to do at the time. For here a new one was being born: Walesa and Jaruzelski were shaking hands, future fortunes were being made on the field beds, and the officer in charge of the former Polish oppositionist was instructing on a park bench near the Sejm, as they both looked ahead at the lush stand of trees, that: "Now, gaspadin Antoni, you will enter more into politics and wait for further instructions." Not in our minds were some Gremlins, which is a pity, because they too foreshadowed this "new," only from even further in the future.

In the second part, Bill and Kate work in the high-tech Cramp Tower skyscraper in Manhattan(sounds familiar?). He starts a job as a renderer for an architectural firm, painting sweet watercolor views of more office buildings, while Kate gives tours of the building to excited provincials, parading around in a moronic hat that is part of her professional uniform. Here two themes important to the 1990s come together: a set of high, even futuristic, technologies and the ordnung imposed by the new corporate "culture." Filled with gadgets and hop-ahead companies, the office building is overseen by an obsessive monitoring team (who remembers the 1993 thriller-romance titled "Sliver"?), which zealously tracks through a system of CCTV cameras any sign of non-compliance with the building's internal rules devised by its owner. That owner is an unearthly rich, visionary, yet egotistical, egotistical and above all narcissistic developer with the familiar-sounding name of Daniel Cramp. In front of the skyscraper's entrance stands a sculpture, and at the same time the logo of his corporation, where the pincers-like letter C squeezes our globe so much that it is shaped like a flattened ellipsoid.

The complacent owner's visit to the skyscraper-fetish combine with the appearance of Gizmo, who unhappily ends up in a cage in the genetics company's laboratory located on one of the building's floors. Visiting his own domain, Cramp enters the architect's office and falls into raptures before Bill's rendering, moments before criticized by the director and Marla, Billy's otherwise two-faced direct supervisor, a cold redheaded maggot. Every contact between the smiling Cramp and the office building employees seems to bring out the worst in them. People become subservient, deceitful and, at best, stiff, as if someone had sucked the life out of them. At the end of the workday, Marla, having seen Cramp's favor with the naive Billy, forces the boy to have dinner together. In the course of it, she dangerously rubs her predatory lower leg against the crotch of the boy, who, after all, has a fiancée! Hello! She spreads, in the process, career mirages in front of him, which will become his, as long as Billy shows her consideration of you-know-what nature.

Meanwhile, Gizmo, as luck would have it, gets out of his laboratory cage, eats something after midnight and suffers a wetting due to the failure of an automated watering can while wandering the empty corridors of the office building. By some miracle, Gizmo is found by Bill, but it's too late: Gremlins are already starting to prowl the building, and they're really vicious. On top of that, the smartest of them not only speaks with a human voice, but also has aspirations for the gremlin family to have the status of full-fledged New Yorkers. The ever-growing army of monsters slowly takes over the building. A real armageddon begins.

Sirens howl, the entire control system goes down, people inertly run through the corridors with Gremlins stuck in their hair looking like Jim Henson dolls. The building is locked, with a cordon of police and a crowd of onlookers in front of the entrance. The important scene here is a conversation between Bill and Cramp in his obviously corner luxury office. Serial employee Bill calls the panicked "boss of all bosses" to order, suggesting that only he, Daniel Cramp, can save the building, New York and America as a whole! Cramp then experiences a daze and states in exultation; "I, the developer, can save the world!". After many adventures, Bill manages to bring the whole army of monsters to the lobby of the building. Meanwhile, Daniel, at the urging of the boy, gets out of the building. Cramp spreads in front of the windows of the vestibule full of Gremlins a giant trapdoor designed to fool them into thinking that it's night, so that at the right moment the trapdoor is abruptly moved away, flooding the interior with deadly light. To make things more interesting, Daniel Cramp's giant set valve depicts... the Kremlin.

Of course, all's well that ends well. Under the influence of the Gremlins' fortune, Bill hugs Kate, Cramp hugs Marla, who becomes his personal assistant, Gizmo is saved, and the crowds cheer! Coincidentally, the whole incident is filmed and Cramp and the rest of the company become heroes. The film is a bit chaotic, but fun and anarchic, and on top of that, anyone who knows even a little about the history of cinema will find a lot of parodic references to important items, from "The Wizard of Oz" to American musicals. Except that I didn't really want to write a review, but rather draw our attention to something, using a Hollywood "masterpiece" as a figure of speech.
Let's try to connect some dots, as befits trackers of chemtrails and collusion by global vaccine manufacturers. Trump Tower opened in 1983 just weeks before the release of the first part of Gremlins. The multi-purpose skyscraper is built and put into operation despite a number of scandals, including those involving non-payment... to Polish construction companies. After that, Trump continues to grow in stature (albeit with perturbations), not only expanding his developer portfolio, but slowly becoming a media figure. This is especially true since he played himself speaking about architecture at a coffee table in Woody Allen's "Her Majesty Aphrodite" and in "Celebrity." The figure of the pathological narcissist excites screenwriters and directors to such an extent that they not only place him among the actors, but also tack on his likeness of the character, as David Cronenberg did with a stooge president in the perfectly Trump-as-head-of-state foreshadowing film "The Dead Zone" from 1983.

"What are you getting at?" you ask.

Well, to the fact that real people, flesh and blood, can, under the influence of narratives, fairy tales and visions, pupate into monsters, without a little like Gremlins resulting from Gizmo. Fiction, instead of water and nightly feeding, is necessary for the pupae to pupate. Only when coupled with machines used to create illusions can they quietly grow somewhere on the side, in comfortable offices, to suddenly blossom in their full glory as monstrous characters set in some fairy tale, rather than people limited by physicality and morality. When they blossom terrible things happen, because the constipated ordinary people will give themselves over to the narrative and to its main character. Even if the story is so far from reality that white turns black and the war becomes saving someone from the Nazis. Our fairy tale illusion vehicles are getting stronger: we have never consumed as much fiction as we do now, and I'm sure we are all finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish it from reality. But we have no way out, we have to earn the effort, because it is these machines: twitters, feebooks, state and private television, and last but not least feature films, that have the power to foreshadow, bring to life and shape the real monsters. Monsters from hell.

Jakub Szczęsny

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