Well, maybe that’s going a little overboard, but I think the concept would make a funny commercial for sWitch if it was ever made into a film. And if it were, the Drive-In would be where it belonged. I’m not much for big, posh, multiplex theaters crowded with cardboard adverts and noisy arcades. I like to hear the projector or the crackle of a dangling speaker, not some idiot on a cell phone. And with your date in a tube top and a six-pack of Michelob in the trunk, what could be better? You could even hit the diner later and unscrew the salt shakers.
I’m not that huge a retro-fan – okay, I certainly am, but I like to think that I recognize the truly special in contemporary popular culture – but there seems to be a commercial agenda to broaden the cultural perspective so that the entire family can join in on the fun with their wallets. I’m always hearing that we’re “getting what we want”, so much so that I’m starting to wonder a) how they know what we want, and b) if they’re not just telling us what we want. To be honest, I want to know what you as a filmmaker/writer/artist wants and I want you to try and convince me of your point of view. In other words, not so much “here it is!” as “check it out!”. We’re so focused on raising the bottom line that very little is a surprise anymore. In the end, I suspect, we lower the standard for our imaginations. No wonder there’s so much attention being paid to remakes and retreads. How something from 50 years ago is still relevant has less to do with new effects and cultural signifiers than where we are now in terms of the human animal.
The story of The Ducharme family was, on the surface, a twisted and sexy romp that attempted to turn modern horror paradigms on its ear. Believe me, that sounds far more pretentious than it really is. I just wanted things to “switch” in the middle, and have the hunter sort of become the hunted and mess with our ideas of who is really the bad guy and so forth. If that’s enough for you, and I’m fine if it is, you can stop right here and enjoy the picture. The likes of which you, too, can make by going here. But if you’re in the mood for the real pretentious stuff, read on.
sWitch is my comment on the culture quandary caused by a commercialized, cookie-cutter caricature of the American Dream. I had grown tired of “feel good” narratives that propped up the wholesome brand while basically pretending that our darker instincts didn’t exist. The practice is the entertainment equivalent of a local beauty pageant. And with entertainment making enormous profits by raising our children these days, I believe we as a society addicted to entertaining ourselves are fixing them with overly simplified versions of what they should expect of their values, bodies, minds and the world. While I strongly believe there is room for low nuance and high sentiment in what we might dub mainstream recreation, fucking hell, have you seen an episode of America’s Got Talent, lately? Why can’t we mix family values with bold and truly creative expression of which diversity is not a challenge of otherness but intrinsic to our strength? Where’s our Adam’s Family, Hollywood?
At this point, there appears a stagnating divide that perpetrates a culture war within our own families. In essence, we’re at war with ourselves in modern American society and therefore we’re at war with everyone outside of it. We’re covering up, painting over, and sublimating our true nature –– a nature that is open to change in a variety of forms –– and the results are social and political constructs that support conflict, division and ill mental health (much of it organized under a rotting belief system).
I’m not trying to spur a revolution with rock and roll literature, and I actually believe that real cultural growth needs a balanced view of social propriety and experimentation. In fact, what fun would it be if there were no inherent conflicts in human social nature? It’s awesome to have a Bogeyman unite us, as long as we’re all clear on where he comes from and do our due diligence to determine what exactly is “real”. With sWitch I was definitely championing what I perceived to be cultural scapegoats and pariahs to try and make people examine their own personal beliefs and see if they recognize anything profoundly full of crap. And if they do, I would love to say to them, “Hey, it’s cool. Sometimes you need to play along to get along but let’s not confuse the matter further by giving up our connection to the earth and our own, natural born strengths”. I know that might sound like some lame Chicken Soup for the Soul definition of dark paganism, but if we’re bent on adhering to some saintly marketing concept that, under scrutiny, actually opposes togetherness and growth, I think it’s not only unhealthy, but ultimately fruitless, as well.
What I’m saying is, we don’t need to be afraid of who we are as human beings. What we should be afraid of is a lack of inward examination and self-exploration. We’re created to be comfortable with the dark as well as the light, with the earth and the stars and with sexuality and pleasure. It’s not wrong to lust, nor is it wrong to release our deepest desires through all forms of expression, as long as we’re not asking anyone else to adopt them. In nature, everyone is held accountable for their actions. There is no court of high appeals and no sociological “time outs”. Are we now too comfortable with a margin for error that is so easily filled with empty doctrine and self-serving spin? We’ve lost so much trust for ourselves, we’re creating hundreds of billions of walking powder kegs who are mourning the passing of self-respect in all kinds of weird and scary ways. And not “cool” weird and scary, more like “really” weird and scary. There’s a difference, folks.
Hey, I don’t give a damn how you look, what you drive, what kind of house you have, where your kids go to school (as long as they “teach” there), what kind of music you like, how much you “give” and what silly little bullshit you might have “lost” doing it. I give a damn about your humanity and understanding enough about what that means to wake up and accept that you might have a responsibility to keep working, growing and stay out of the way of real, evolutionary progress. In short, and perhaps in toto, sWitch sets out to be a wickedly fun way to hold you responsible for your connection to yourself as a human being and hold others responsible as well. I’m not even sure I succeeded in doing what I set out to do, and if some of the ideas turned you off, then consider yourself filtered. I’m okay with that. But you still have to ask yourself if you are doing enough to discover your own strengths and recognize your own real weaknesses, or are you expecting someone else’s marketing concept of who you should aspire to be dictate what’s right and wrong, and what’s appetizing and what isn’t?
It’d be swell if we stopped being afraid of who we really are, and more importantly, who we really could be. It requires a malleability of vision and the development of courage to accept what our experiments truly yield. Expectations are okay, just as long as you don’t expect anything but the truth.