The populist appeal of James Cameron’s Avatar, which has managed to translate massive ticket sales into inexplicable awards consideration, may in fact be the game changer that Cameron predicted. The future portended by Avatar looks like motion seats, 3D glasses, and cinematic migraines for decades to come. Worse still, the huge expense of making a movie like Avatar will be passed on to us, the movie viewer, who will have to fork over $15 to $20 per person for admission, in addition to even higher concession prices, as theaters seeks to upgrade their own equipment to meet the demands of distributors. Within the next couple of years, a trip to the local multiplex with a family of four to see Alvin and the Chipmunks Raped Your Wallet could run $100, easily.
We’ll have James Cameron to thank for that. I liked the game — I didn’t want it changed. Asshole.
Before the cinematic landscape completely changes for the worse, however, we can continue to appreciate the sublime low-budget gems like Midgets vs. Mascots for another few years before $300 million special effects-laden eyeball busters drive out the divine pleasures of watching Gary Coleman go down on a woman while she’s seated on a toilet, tongue-flicking her happy spot while breathing in the odors that accompany such an experience — sewage, flatulence, and the tangy aroma of a woman’s flower. There’s nothing in Jimmy Cameron’s arsenal that could duplicate that, or the sight of a lactose-intolerant little person engaged in a milk-drinking competition. Cameron can give us perfectly rendered CGI creations, but that’s hardly a match for an old-fashioned pants explosion, and the sight of an older lady at a five-star restaurant looking on in shock as a little woman defecates herself and showers the older woman with her ass spray. One action sequence in Avatar probably cost $10 to $20 million, but the human feces of a little woman is practically free (save for the costs in dignity), and the end result is equally memorable.
Indeed, Cameron can amaze us with the dazzling destruction of the tree of life, but how can he possibly compete with something as quaint as watching a man dressed up as an elephant anally pleasuring another man poorly dressed as a bunny rabbit? Cameron created an entire new language, but Midgets vs. Mascots director, Ron Carlson (no relation to our own Dan Carlson), managed an even better feat on a smaller budget: He got five little people to simulate sexual acts with one another in one scene; in another, a man dressed as a gator fellated another extremely overweight man with an immense amount of body hair while yet another man with a huge foam head adorned with a giant cowboy hat penetrated the overweight man from behind — a mascot sandwich, if you will. Moreover, all the unobtainium in the world could hardly compete with a man dressed as a taco chasing a wild pig around a rodeo ring.
While James Cameron’s Avatar is certainly a huge-budget, eye-popping spectacle, Carlson’s Midgets vs. Mascots is no less deserving of awards consideration — in fact, it took third-place at the Tribeca Film Festival last year (in the Heineken Audience Award competition). It’s propelled by a narrative that’s no less intricate than that of Avatar — in fact, I might even give the edge to the former. A Midget Porn Star, by the name of Little Red Bush, passes away, and in his will, he stipulates that his son and his third wife must coach a team of midgets and mascots, respectively, through 31 events in 30 days. The winner gets to split $10 million with the rest of his or her team.
For the next 102 minutes, we get to experience the competition through the lives of these little people and these mascots as they embark on challenges both traditional (track and field, mechanical bull riding) and bizarre (amateur porn competition, karaoke, gator wrestling) before the cruel twist is inflicted upon the contestants. I dare not give it away, except to say that there’s more complexity involved than the simple good vs. evil that dominates Avatar.
Future generations of filmmakers, undoubtedly, will look back on 2009 as a watershed year — the year of Avatar, the year that everything changed. But when they do look back on this point in history, I do hope that film historians find Midgets vs. Mascots among a pile of obsolete DVDs and wonder aloud, “If only Midgets vs. Mascots had been the game changer back in 2009, instead of Avatar. What kind of cinematic world might we live in today?”
A beautiful one, I daresay. A future world where little people and men dressed as animals can copulate freely without fear of reproach.
Look what you’ve taken away from us, Jim Cameron.