“subversion” and a diversion

December 28, 2006

so netflix sent me the “naughty” version of “National Lampoon’s Pledge This!” and i’m having a hard time trying to decide what to make of it. so far it’s mildly funny, which is quite surprising. after the American Pie: Band Camp debacle, i didn’t know whether i’d ever watch another 4th rate teen sex comedy. i actually decided to rent Pledge This when I was in best buy a few weeks ago and noticed that the film had the aforementioned “naughty” version. while i don’t believe a non-naughty (is nice the binary for naughty?) version of said film is extant, i started to wonder whether every film should be released with a naughty variant. it would certainly make me more agreeable to seeing “Happy Feet.”

i can’t help but wonder who still writes “National Lampoon’s” movies. even though they’ve ceased being a credible comedy organization, does National Lampoon still employ Harvard Lampoon graduates? is this what has become of America’s elite universities?

perhaps this film was written by a quasi-intellectual. Unlike the recent coterie of NL flicks, Pledge This! appears to have achieved a highly acute self-awareness of its standing and plays with the tropes of its genre. watching the opening, the word subversion was on the tip of my tongue. but is that fair? are self-consciousness and self-criticism the same thing as subversion, or simply staid intertextuality?

let’s find out…

Pledge This! certainly has nothing to do with “1. Overthrow, demolition (of a city, stronghold, etc.)” but that definition is obsolete anyway. nor does it refer to the now rare “The turning (of a thing) upside down or uprooting it from its position; overturning, upsetting (of an object).” if the movie’s caliber degrades, i may find it refers to, “Med. subversion of the stomach: nausea.” again, this definition is obsolete, but like “merry-sorry,” i’m taking it back.

2006 hammerskjold “the merry-sorry seas caused a pronounced subversion of Dr. Schneider’s stomach”

who said studying vocab hurt creativity?

the current definition of subversion is suitably broad enough to include everything, and nothing. “In immaterial senses: Overthrow, ruin. a. of a law, rule, system, condition, faculty, character, etc. b. of persons, countries, peoples, or their lives or fortunes.”

the emphasis on “immaterial” is the most interesting part of the definition. whereas previously subversion was a physical act, subversion is now confined to the effect. one no-longer subverts a city with a fire, one disparages the firefighters and subverts their authority. unless, of course, one is a subversive.

btw, the verb subvert also has the rare variant “subverse”. i’m sure you know which one i’ll be using.

as to whether or not “Pledge This!” is subversive, i should probably watch the whole movie before I attribute greatness to it–it’s 4 netflix stars not withstanding.

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