Culturology 007 – Nugent Way Update!

With Tuesday’s historic election, the country seems to be on the way to change. I personally have my fingers crossed for some serious infrastructure (if you’re not as anxious for me to see a new High Voltage Direct Current National Power Grid in place, then you really should be (for the near loss-less transmission of energy from remote renewable sources to high-need areas)) development. And a big part of me hopes that Obama’s inauguration goes something like “…and to my critics, you’re right! I am a socialist, and the injustice of maintaining the illusion of limitless growth for supposedly ‘free market’ economies ends with me!” though that seems unlikely. However, as readers of Culturology know, all this fuss over who was going to be President, and now who is gonna be has distracted from an even more important race, the race for Senate in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, Al Franken, the Ted Nugent of Liberal Political Comedy, is a mere hundred of votes behind his competitor Norm Coleman. Norm Coleman is not the Ted Nugent of anything, so it is clear where our loyalties should lie. All Tuesday night, and then for the rest of this week, I have looked forward to posting a victorious Nugent Way Update, announcing the newest Nuge-Elect of the US Senate, but no such luck. Franken has already gained several hundred votes (the margin is currently all the way down to just 221 votes) but Norm is still winning, and grumbling about voter fraud as well, as if to preempt any full-on swing in the vote tallying. So I’m here on the edge of my seat, but I wanted to get to this now rather than wait another week (as much as Nick and I will be running Zombie Palin probably until Inauguration Day, I am still rather obsessed with trying-and-failing to keep things topical) to mention it.

The question is the same, really, anyway: Who is the current Ted Nugent of the Senate? Franken obviously has so much Nuge-cred that we would be unseating whoever was the current Nuge, but if he doesn’t win, than who has managed to cling to their crown? Robert Byrd (D, WV)? Orrin Hatch (R, UT)? No, friends, its even more obvious than that: John McCain is the Ted Nugent of the Senate! In fact, I would go so far as to say that if he had made the Nugent Way part of his presidential campaign, things would have gone much better for him. I mean think about it: McCain did something kind of awesome back in the ’70s, just like Nugent, and without really doing much else but being conservative managed to keep in the public eye for the next three decades. McCain was of course involved in several failed reality TV programs (the campaigns of 2000 and 2008), just like Ted Nugent. And when John McCain shoots a bear, the first thing he does is drink its blood before it gets cold.

With McCain’s humiliating defeat nationwide and the even greater humiliation of associating himself with Sarah “Dumb as a Zombie” Palin, he’s gotta be hoping that Franken loses his race, so that McCain can at least retain his Nugent Status. Someone needs to let McCain know to get off that “Maverick” garbage and start saying it like it is: “I am John McCain and I am the Ted Nugent of the US Senate!”

And now that this post is dedicated to political things, I’d like to bring up one other imporant matter. I’ve never been one for conformity, as such, but I think–and I think a lot of you out there agree with me–that it’s about time that men in America once again felt obligated to wear hats. This stopped with a President (when Kennedy didn’t wear one to his inauguration [okay, a little fact-checking has turned up the fact that Kennedy did, in fact, wear a top hat to his inauguration, but took it off to deliver his speech, but the urgan legend of “hatless Jack” stands, so I think my reasoning is still valid]) so it can start again, with a President. As you may be aware, Obama already has a new website,, up to, I guess, get things rolling on that whole change thing. A part of this website is a place where you can write them your ideas for the future of America. I would like to hearby start an electronic-letter-writing campaign. Go to and let the president-elect know that you want him to wear a fedora to his inauguration. He would look kick-ass in a fedora, and so will you.

Things that it is Okay to Like

5) Pixar Movies. Generally speaking, I have felt like my choices for things that are okay to like are more obvious than my choices for things that aren’t okay to like. But this example is something of a platform shift for me, from the prior generally positive ambivalence to Pixar out-and-out approval. I thought Wall-E was great. And most of their other movies are genuine successes (I think Cars was the worst of the studios output, and that one about bugs wasn’t great either). In a similar manner as AC/DC for their partnership with Wal-Mart, I’m able to forgive Pixar for their partnership with Disney. It really was Wall-E that pushed me over on this one though, since it was quite unique and I think more working towards making a movie at all rather than a kid’s movie (I think most of the Pixar output is kid’s movies that adults can like, which is somewhat different from the model of Wall-E (which is almost the opposite)). So, hurrah! for not only the technological advancements that keep Pixar well ahead of the pack visually, but also the aesthetic dedication to actually producing animated fare which it is actually okay to like!

Things that it is not Okay to Like

5) Nicolas Cage. Specifically, the Nicolas Cage of the rare movies he’s made that are actually good and the few movies he’s made that aren’t terrible. Though he’s made enough terrible movies in the past few years to do much of the work of obviating his not-okay-to-like-able-ness, Cage still gets brought up as one of those actors that makes a lot of trash, sure, but does manage to make some damn good cinema now and then, and that we shouldn’t hold his consistent selling-out against his more genuine efforts. So far as I can tell, the movies Cage has made that people think are good (with asterisks by the few that I approve of) are: Peggy Sue Got Married, Raising Arizona*, Wild at Heart, Leaving Los Vegas, Con Air*, Bringing Out the Dead*, and Adaptation. Maybe a few others. This ignores his successful streak of action movies back in the decadent mid-to-late ’90s (The Rock through Gone in Sixty Seconds) or his more recent apparent success with the National Treasure movies. The man is a terrible actor. He is replacable in all of his good or supposedly-good movies (though, of course, Wild at Heart would have been such a different movie if Cage hadn’t brought his own Snake Skin Jacket to the set). It’s about time we gave up on the man. And also warn John Cusack that he’s treading down the same path, and will end up in Cageville if he’s not careful.

4 Responses to “Culturology 007 – Nugent Way Update!”

  1. 1 nick marino

    Pixar? I’m fine with them. No big feeling either way. But I have to say that with Kung Fu Panda, I feel that DreamWorks Animation has moved past Pixar in terms of appealing stories and properties. When I see a Pixar movie advertised, I think, “Ehh whatever.” When I see a DreamWorks cartoon advertised, I think, “Hmmm might be good!” Now as for Cage, I have to disagree on the Not Okay to Like status. I think his long and bizarre string of action roles actually makes it okay to like him. In fact, I wanted to see Bangkok Dangerous really bad because it looked absolutely hilarious. With every new film, Cage sinks a little further into this confusing space somewhere between pathetic and incredible. Plus, he took his “stage name” from Marvel’s Luke Cage character, so that gives him a big up in my book.

  2. 2 kirsten

    Hats, yes! In Grand Central Station, there’s a photo exhibit of the station when people used to dress up to go traveling. Hats and suits for men, low heels and skirts for women! Life will be one grand costume party!

    Also, how can you not like Nic Cage? He’s so ridiculous! I love the National Treasure movies — in what other venue can a shipwreck pushed around under ice for hundreds of years have a perfectly preserved cabin complete with viable gunpowder? Where else would Mount Rushmore contain a secret hydraulic vault of Incan gold? How else would a balding forty-four-year-old who once divorced Lisa Marie Presley hook up with a stone cold fox like Diane Kruger? I think you seriously underestimate the awesomeness, and I, for one, cannot wait for the third installment.

  3. 3 neal

    eh. hats. they make your head hot – which is good when its cold, but no one should be sporting a porkpie in june.

    nick cage is of noble birth as far as movies go – much like the sheens. it doesn’t matter how many stinkers he puts out – it’s nick cage! you may not be titillated by bangkok dangerous, and you may be tempted to poke fun at his unsuccessful desire to play superman for so many years – but the guy has heart. He so furiously wants to be a superhero that he’s willing to take a role even if it only grazes the mark.

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  5. 4 pete

    Wow! So I clearly hit a nerve with the Nick Cage thing. I think some of your points are better than other:

    Neal, the fact that Cage has “heart,” is a no-go for me. There are plenty of humans out there that sincerely want to do they do, and turn out not to do it well–this does not make them suddenly good at what they do. If anything, the fact that he’s Coppola’s nephew makes me like him less, since clearly his “pedigree” as it were is what gave him the chance to flop around movies like a fish out of water. I think maybe Wild at Heart is the best example of this, where Cage is still very young and very excited, but absolutely terrible in a movie where all that was needed was for him to play a ridiculous character-type, and deliver his lines in a ham-fisted way, but he doesn’t even mange to act well in an intentionally shallow, bizarre Lynch universe.

    Kirsten, I did rather blow past the ridiculous action movies that Cage as made. They do play a part in my ongoing sense that the mid-to-late ’90s were one of the lowest points of American culture, but I realize that some of them have high entertainment value. Con Air being the best example, though there Cage is really one amongst an ensemble, even though he is the protagonist. My main question is whether or not anyone could have played those parts. Is Cage’s gung-ho terrible acting really that unique?

    Same goes for your point, Nick. What is it that Cage brings to these parts other than being famous and then over-acting them? Is that enough?

    Maybe it is. I am still open to reconsidering this one.

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