Fifth Article

How it is compared with other arts?

We proceed thus to the fifth article:--

Objection 1. Well, first I've gotta say that the reply to my objection in the fourth article didn't do a thing for me. Is music soteriological? And, what is music? Sure, you might be able to pick a few token exceptions to the rule; but don't exceptions prove the rule? I mean, take Muzak--would that be soteriological too, if all music is? (Add quote from Kundera?) (Stir well, mix with Nietzsche, and pour. Hardens to a high (art) gloss in ten minutes or your Ph.D. cheerfully refunded.)

Objection 2. Besides, one of the things typical of kitsch that is also all too true of the Bill and Ted movies is the commingling of art forms: is it a teen movie, a rock video (it begins with one, Slaughter in concert playing "Shout It Out," intercut with scenes from the movie, and in some sense the whole thing is just a longer one), a commercial for heavy metal music, a documentary or rockumentary (the newspaper stories and magazine covers that accompany the closing credits hype it as one), or what? How can you compare kitsch to other arts when it mixes so many of them into an undifferentiated mash?

Reply to objection 1. Hah! Caught you out in an etymological mistake! When an exception "proves" the rule, it doesn't mean "demonstrate," "prove right"; it means "test," as in "the proof of the "pudding." So if Bill and Ted prove the rule, the disciplinary regimen that uses kitsch to define high art by being excluded from it, what is really being "proved" or tested is the principle of inclusion/exclusion, the definitional mode that makes art whatever kitsch ain't, and vice versa. In that light the existence of a single exception to the rule--the existence of a movie that stirs together "Whoa, dude!" and the hero myth, the Grim Reaper and lip-syncing scandals--begins to break down both categories, art and kitsch, or all categories, art/kitsch/science, kitsch-movie, kitsch-painting, kitsch-novel, kitsch-sculpture (the robots!), and so on.

Besides, who's to say that Muzak isn't soteriological? Or for that matter, who's to say that Muzak is kitsch and not high art?

Critics, of course, you fool! That's what we're paid for!

Critics or priests? Or is there a difference?

Reply to objection 2. Also, kitsch-education, kitsch-gender . . . De Nomolos is the high culture guy in the movie, the hater of Bill and Ted and everything and everyone associated with them, because their messianic mission (and the paradise on earth it creates) is so kitschy. But this means that the high-cultural attack on kitsch becomes (or is revealed as) fear-driven, idea-based, repressive control, precisely the suppression of polyphonic playfulness that Kundera projects onto kitsch. De Nomolos and the high-culture professor as control freaks; the lecture on kitsch as the high-cultural repression of kitsch: it goes on so long and in such mind-numbing detail in order to establish beyond a shadow of a doubt (a shadow I for one can never quite get beyond) that it is not repressing its own impulse to the suppression of playful polyphony and is not projecting that suppression onto the cultural expressions that it hates and is not denying any of this. De Nomolos hates having to work through the evil metal usses because he wants total control, total univocity: his voice, and his alone. He's probably happy that the good robot usses totally smashed the evil robot usses, cause now he can step in and totally take over. Bill and Ted, on the other hand, by always quoting heavy metal bands, are double-voiced by them--kitsch is the polyphonic art, not elitist antikitsch. Come to think of it, everybody quotes from heavy metal except De Nomolos, even Ted's dad, if only when Ted possesses him (talk about double-voicing!), a trick the boys learned from The Exorcist I and III. Kitsch is a whole network of polyphonic playfulness, quoting and crossquoting.

Besides, who's to say that Kundera isn't kitschy? If it has feathers and webbed feet and quacks, well--if you simply gotta give it a name, it's probably a duck . . . and if it's name is Daffy, it's probably kitsch, too.

And the kitchification of gender identities (kitsch as performative gay camp?). Death and De Nomolos are both bald--the bald head as symbolic pecker? Both dudes always wear black, too. De Nomolos as the butch bodybuilder, Death as the queen who gets into heaven in drag, with a fake high voice and swishy hands. Death passes the boys' Melvin on to De Nomolos, who likes it--every Nazi is a masochist at heart, longing for the flick of the whip? De Nomolos is also a reincarnation of Ted's dad (who arrests De N. in de end, and whose wife he steals) and of Col. Oates, director of the Alaskan Military Academy, both macho control freaks. Check this out: De Nomolos makes the robots that kill Bill and Ted, who inhabit Ted's dad's body before being sent to hell by Missy, Ted's dad's current and De Nomolos's future wife, where (hell) they are pursued by Col. Oates before being rescued by Death, who Melvins De Nomolos before the latter is arrested by Ted's dad. There's a whole symbolic web in there, knotted in control and death, pain and punishment (Melvins and hell, Helvins and mell), fascism and repressed homosexuality--but how does Missy fit into the web? As bait? Why is it that, unlike the princesses--who play a similar role in the movie, as beautiful bimbos--Missy never conceives? Is she a class traitor, a kid Bill and Ted's age who marries a succession of older men, the control freaks who run the world (until Bill and Ted take over with their music)? Is that why she's made symbolically barren? As the evil metal usses are about to push the good human usses over the precipice to their most heinous death, the latter cry out to the former--in an attempt to confuse them, win them over, break the spell?--"We love you!" But the evil metal usses just laugh, in good locker room tones, "Fags!" Heterosexist homophobia displaced outward onto the robot selves, to leave the good human selves open to homosocial bonding? Both pairs are in fact incredibly tight; lots of mutual support, no competition. The musical hand-tickle (which both pairs, good and evil, do) as stylized gay sex? In fact if anything the boys are heterophobes: in Bill's private hell he has to kiss a "girl"--his ugly ole grandma (ageism too, of course)--and almost spews. Sexual nausea, the "babe" as hag, the kiss as (of) death or infernal punishment. Yeah, these guys like guys--and, like the Greeks, use women as breedmares.

You just can't stay on the high road to beatification, can you? Do you know that deviating from the Thomistic form could cost us our halos? Get back on it! Besides, you're preaching.

Sorry. (not!)

Sixth Article.

Articles screen.

The copyright thing for Bill and Doug