Uncle Josh Runs The Gauntlet (Part 1 of ?)

It’s been 8 days (as I write this) since the second season of MST3K dropped to Netflix. They are calling it “the Gauntlet <insert weird hand gesture here>” and imply that Jonah and the bots have to watch six hideous movies in a row, which is kind of a riff on the dedicated fans who spend Thanksgiving watching six hideous movies in a row. (Disclosure: I disrupted several holiday meals to record every song in the first MTV 100 Top Videos of the Year, so I know something about this kind of dedicated fan thing. That, and I’ve seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show 500 times.)

We’ve watched two of them so far. This article is about Mac and Me.

I didn’t watch Mac and Me when it came out for a couple of reasons.

  1. I recognized it as a horrible ripoff of E.T. the Extraterrestrial
  2. I was a senior in high school when it came out so I was not it’s target market.
  3. I was aware of the movie in that my friends were mocking the product placements.

So the movie held no attraction to me then, or in the 30 years since it’s release. Of course I bounced around the IMDB page  to see if anyone attached to this movie survived to have a career in Hollywood (short answer: mostly not), and I naturally tried to see if the recent reviews matched up with the first round reviews (they did). It is not a good movie, but damn if it doesn’t try.

It wants me to care about a separated family of rubber aliens who communicate through whistling, are very relaxed about their shape, and apparently are strong, electrically grounded, and (for “reasons”) able to revive dead children. It tries too hard, maybe. I’m not sure where they are supposed to be: perhaps one of Saturn’s moons that looks like Nevada.

I believe Crow riffs about wanting to watch the movie the composer thought he was scoring, and the bits of the score I could hear justified this.

The one thing I do think Mac and Me deserves some credit for is the way it handled Jade Calegory’s character Eric. Eric, like Jade, is in a chair. I didn’t know Jade had spina bifida until after the scene where he pushes himself out of his bed into his chair; I thought it was perhaps a choice the director made and the kid playing Eric was really good at playing that aspect of the role. Then I looked it up.

The cool thing about Mac and Me is that nobody blinks at Eric in a chair. His family, naturally, wouldn’t be freaked out at this point. Mom explains how the house will be easy for him to navigate, which is entirely practical and a sign that Mom gives a shit. Nobody else reacts in any negative way. Cultural Appropriation Girl Next Door doesn’t blink. Her trendy McDonald’s Model Sister doesn’t blink. Neither does their mom, any of the kids at the party. Nothing.

The chair is part of Eric and the people around him make room or help out but there are no negative reactions.

It’s almost like the chair is invisible. Eric is short and a bit wider than a normal kid. I appreciate it because really at no point is the chair part of the definition of who Eric is. It’s not the chair that turns Eric into a background character in his story, it’s the awful writing.

It’s sad that this integration is just as a fantastical reality as a whistling rubber monster driving off after a citizenship swearing-in ceremony.

Epilogue: I realize as I write this out that it is possibly entirely a point of privilege that I can think this kind of integration is a good thing and that the idea that the “chair doesn’t define Eric” is condescending. That’s certainly not the intention behind it. I guess a better phrase would be “the chair doesn’t limit Eric in any way or is treated as a massive inconvenience to anyone else”. Eric was part of a high-speed chase for crying out loud!