The Radical Egalitarian Politics Of Weird Al’s "UHF"
April 18, 2019 11:07 AM   Subscribe

 
OP's note: This article is so extremely my shit it hurts.
posted by duffell at 11:08 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


Perhaps the most MeFi headline possible
posted by billjings at 11:10 AM on April 18 [50 favorites]


Hmm, I enjoyed UHF well enough and don't have much of a problem with socialism, depending on who's selling and what their particular package contains, but the article leans more than a little bit more on wishing UHF's fictions were real than reason here. Which is all fine and dandy for them to do if they want, I'm just not all that convinced the U-62 model will scale, to say the least.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:18 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Without capitalism, how will society ever have access to all the spatulas it needs?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:20 AM on April 18 [44 favorites]


Weird Al was probably my first real, deep musical love as a kid, I saw "UHF" in the theater opening week, and am now a dues-paying member of the DSA. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:22 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


Without capitalism, we will never again have to club a seal to make a better deal.
posted by duffell at 11:22 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


We still refer to the Wheel of Fish on a weekly basis.
posted by 41swans at 11:23 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Quick, everybody! Let's all discredit the latest model for a future utopian society, which is

checks notes

Weird Al's 1989 comedy, UHF?
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 11:24 AM on April 18 [28 favorites]


When the workers control the means of spatula production, spatulas will be provided from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:26 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]


Say what you will, gusottertrout, but what's your alternative, eh? The Ski Patrol model is every bit as flawed!

All power to Emo Phillips!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 11:27 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Isn’t UHF more of a syndicalist Model? /beardedMarxistvoice
posted by The Whelk at 11:29 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


Between UHF and Airheads someone needs to produce a grand-unified theory of when Michael Richards will allow your revolution to succeed or to fail.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:31 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Yes, in the utopian socialist future, dwindling fish supplies will be doled out in a lottery and library fines will be paid in the ultimate price.
posted by Dmenet at 11:34 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Emo Phillips, who had a small role in it, said that “whenever a young man turns 13, he sees this film, and it becomes his favorite film of all time.”

You can basically hear him say this.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:40 AM on April 18 [33 favorites]


Say what you will, gusottertrout, but what's your alternative, eh? The Ski Patrol model is every bit as flawed!

Call me a tweedy intellectualist if you like, but I prefer a model of self actualization through study of historical precedent in service of better improving one's own time. You know, the Bill and Ted model.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:46 AM on April 18 [21 favorites]


The Roger Rabbit Model: in which the means of production are signed over to those lovable characters, the workers!
posted by The Whelk at 11:48 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


gusottertrout: "You know, the Bill and Ted model."

I believe that's simply "Be excellent to each other."
posted by MrGuilt at 11:49 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


QFT: Emo Philips - "whenever a young man turns 13, he sees this film, and it becomes his favorite film of all time"
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:50 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I believe that's simply "Be excellent to each other."

.. and years and years of Noisebridge drama come flooding back.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:51 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


I believe that's simply "Be excellent to each other."

Exactly. The journey to a better culture is found through expression of individual excellent!s.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:58 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Supplies!!!
posted by neon909 at 12:26 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


From each according to their abilities, to each from the fire hose.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:39 PM on April 18 [29 favorites]


Oh shit I am also in the middle of the "Loved UHF" and "Active, dues-paying DSA member" Venn diagram. Maybe there's something to this?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:44 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


I wonder if UHF was a factor in creating MEANS TV
posted by The Whelk at 12:51 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Space Coyote, I feel that. I think every American hackerspace of that generation gave Radical Bill and Tedism a try and it ended up being a pretty bogus journey. We could do worse than letting Weird Al write our code of conduct.

Bill Gosper and Ted Nelson's Excellent Adventure, on the other hand, has much wisdom to impart
posted by phooky at 12:53 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


"you get to drink from the firehose" would make an excellent campaign slogan
posted by phooky at 12:55 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


... for Bill Clinton's return to the national stage?
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:08 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Everybody matters — Channel 8 is full of boring rich white men. U-62 is staffed by a full cross-section of the community: women, people of color, little people, neuroatypical people, even an alien. It is a colorful place where everybody belongs and differences are celebrated rather than looked down upon.

The Channel 8 newsbro tells Fran Drescher, "Broads don't belong in broadcasting."
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:36 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


I feel like I read a variation on this article that was centered around the Garbage Pail Kids movie
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:37 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


gusottertrout: You know, the Bill and Ted model.

phooky: I think every American hackerspace of that generation gave Radical Bill and Tedism a try and it ended up being a pretty bogus journey.

Good news!(?) Bill and Ted will have a chance to try again. Yes, Bill and Ted 3 is happening ... in 2020.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:42 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I have long supported Weird Al's political statements, including his early comfort food endorsements (balogna, Rocky road, lasagna) and his support of mass transit (Another one rides the bus), the Amish lifestyle and general tackiness, his rejection of a unified white identity (White AND Nerdy) and tech-bro-ism (All About the Pentiums) , but he has shown some troubling tendencies, from his recent short videos declaring a grammatical pedantry ("it's 10 items or FEWER, people") and his song/video "Foil" which endorses a highly conspiratorial tendency, just short of declaring himself the secret identity of Qanon. I guess all idols have their flaws and we all contain multitudes... of squirrels in a human suit chitter chitter.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:45 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


The Roger Rabbit Model: in which the means of production are signed over to those lovable characters, the workers!

but only when it's funny
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:57 PM on April 18 [9 favorites]


just short of declaring himself the secret identity of Qanon.

The fact is he hasn't. I think Al dabbles. He wants to tell you your daily horoscope, and knows so much Jedi lore, one must think he himself was a padawan at some point.

He knows what Nirvana smells like.

But Al is also body positive (Fat). And he does know a guy with a big fuck-off TV.
posted by gc at 3:00 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


And sometimes he just wants to tell a really long story about the time he went to Albuquerque.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:09 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Turns out the revolution will be televised after all.
posted by jackbishop at 3:42 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Turns out the revolution will be televised after all.

ON SOME FLY-BY-NIGHT UHF STATION. A U! H! F! STATION!
posted by duffell at 3:46 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


And he does know a guy with a big fuck-off TV
I will insist to my grave that Frank's 2000" TV is the single best REM song
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:03 PM on April 18 [9 favorites]


I wonder how Nathan J. Robinson's dissertation is going.
posted by Beardman at 5:09 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I guess you missed the dystopian UHF sequel, where George's popularity continues to grow and he becomes a "Lonesome Rhodes" style populist hero. Then at the peak of his power he and Big Louie buy all the TV stations and take over the country, which they rename Uncle Nutsyland.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:10 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Hmm, I enjoyed UHF well enough and don’t have much of a problem with socialism, depending on who's selling and what their particular package contains, but the article leans more than a little bit more on wishing UHF's fictions were real than reason here. Which is all fine and dandy for them to do if they want, I'm just not all that convinced the U-62 model will scale, to say the least.

I’m sure even the Daily Worker had clickbait.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:52 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


“Figure out which member of the Politburo you are by taking this quiz about what you eat for breakfast!”
posted by Going To Maine at 5:53 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Just to be clear, when anybody says 'drink from the fire hose' of streaming data - that is the exact image we all have collectively agreed to picture in our heads.

And yeah, the first time I took a tweet throttled down to a 1% rate - it was awesome... when I finally got exposure to a 70% rate...I'd asked for - I was a little kid smashed into a wall asking to go again!
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:44 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


when anybody says 'drink from the fire hose' of streaming data - that is the exact image we all have collectively agreed to picture in our heads.

I can't prove it, but I strongly suspect that that scene was the origin of/inspiration for the phrase as we use it nowadays.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:18 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


...I strongly suspect that that scene was the origin of/inspiration for the phrase as we use it nowadays.

As much as I'd love to believe this, I'm pretty sure I'd heard that expression before 1989. In 2013, an AskMeFi thread took a detour to investigate the "drinking from a firehose" idiom and found it in print in 1963.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:22 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Three things about this movie:
1) Joel Hodgson was at one point going to play the scientist character, and I often wonder what that would have been like...
2) The gag with the guy making one turn on a Rubik's Cube and asking, "Is this it?", getting rejected, and repeating the process is one of my favorite sight gags ever, and the leading metaphor for some of my client projects.
3) You know how some people feel about the number 69 and repressing an urge to say NICE? I am that way with "red snapper" and "very tasty" because Wheel of Fish rules so much.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:35 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


I’m sure even the Daily Worker had clickbait.

As I am now ELBOW DEEP in old issues of THe Masses and The New Masses I can tell you

YES

but sometimes they're also fun like this

(God some of the cartoons in Daily Worker sucked but you have to fill space somehow I guess.)

(My favorite lost lefty empherima was ads for boardinghouses, cigars, and art classes that where in line with the socialist ideal. yes I WOULD prefer my cigar and night class was built along worker controlled lines actually!)
posted by The Whelk at 8:35 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


At least in the context of Twitter, I think is worth remembering that that's the company that created the 420 Error with the description "enhance your calm", taken from Demolition Man. The idea that they would riff on a second movie isn't that unlikely.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:37 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I will insist to my grave that Frank's 2000" TV is the single best REM song

Just like Dare to be Stupid is the best Devo song
posted by gc at 8:51 PM on April 18 [14 favorites]


Apparently "Everything You Know Is Wrong" is a pretty great TMBG song, too.
posted by XtinaS at 9:06 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


...I strongly suspect that that scene was the origin of/inspiration for the phrase as we use it nowadays.

As much as I'd love to believe this, I'm pretty sure I'd heard that expression before 1989. In 2013, an AskMeFi thread took a detour to investigate the "drinking from a firehose" idiom and found it in print in 1963.


Miko's answer in that 2013 Ask is great, thanks for linking to it!

I had a hunch and googled "drink from a torrent" and it seems to be a bible reference. While current pressured firehose technology may the best in human history, I think that the idea of drinking knowledge from a vast and powerful ocean, torrent, river, fount or firehose goes back even farther than the rightly beloved UHF.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:57 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING BIBLICAL REFERENCES
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:33 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


I’m sure in Weird Al’s homelife the Yugoslav socialist model was well known.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:42 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Ah fuck, I just counted and I have 7 spatulas.
posted by srboisvert at 6:41 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


(God some of the cartoons in Daily Worker sucked but you have to fill space somehow I guess.)

Well, PM had all the good cartoonists.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:36 AM on April 19


Add affront to to injury - I am still put out whenever I attended a funeral and there is no salad bar.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:56 AM on April 19 [3 favorites]


For some strange reason my brain isn't able to distinguish between UHF and Tapeheads.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:16 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


For some strange reason my brain isn't able to distinguish between UHF and Tapeheads.

MeFi really needs a "love" vs. just "like" option, because I feel very strongly about this comment. I mean, I know I am among my people here at MeFi, but every once and while ... well.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:26 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Me, after googling "tapeheads" and watching the trailer: WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST SEE
posted by duffell at 8:55 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


You know, a great prank would be to work for years to subtly implant the idea in someone's mind that "celebrity mud wrestling with this week's guest, Mikhail Gorbachev" was a thing that actually happened.
posted by duffell at 9:01 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


ryanshepard, let's get coffee. But I'm gonna let you do this one "on spec".
posted by humboldt32 at 9:22 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST SEE

I am so deeply jealous if you are just now about to experience "Tapeheads" for the first time. It's truly one of the delirious glories of late 80s pop culture, and definitely the best movie that John Cusack, Clu Gulager, Junior Walker, Jello Biafra, Zander Schloss, Doug E. Fresh, Fishbone, Don Cornelius, Ted Nugent, Stiv Bators, or King Cotton ever made (it also features a cameo by Weird Al).

But I'm gonna let you do this one "on spec".

Let's get into trouble, baby.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:35 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


I listened to the Tapeheads soundtrack so much in college after a friend introduced me to the movie. Now I wonder if it's on streaming anywhere...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:56 PM on April 20


Any ordinary man would have given it up by now.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:08 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


Speaking of "what the fuck did I just see", Zander Schloss, and why not, Courtney Love:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p38TxQNzQ98


K-A-R-L's disco wiener haven!
posted by humboldt32 at 8:45 AM on April 21


UNPOPULAR TRUTH: WAFFLES just pancakes with little squares on em.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:15 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Just like Dare to be Stupid is the best Devo song

And Dog Eat Dog is Talking Heads' best work.

I am that way with "red snapper" and "very tasty"

I have so many of these. "Yeah. It works." in a total deadpan. "This is it! This is the last minute!" "You found the marble in the oatmeal!" "Don't you know Dewey Decimal System?"
posted by nickmark at 11:28 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


This is making me really want to know where the politics of a close-then but lost-track-of-now high school friend went.

Because he was the person I first about both UHF and Ayn Rand from, and he was very enthusiastic about both.
posted by flaterik at 9:04 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


What's halfway between UHF and Ayn Rand? Obama?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:12 AM on April 25


Because I trust all of you so much, I just watched "UHF". Even better, I convinced my partner the dour socialist to watch it. We weren't very convinced about the socialism part, but we laughed like maniacs about the spatulas.
posted by acrasis at 5:45 PM on April 27 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we just rewatched this ourselves. A couple parts didn’t age super well and it’s definitely a time capsule, but we definitely still enjoyed it. The idea of a community-owned TV station feels almost unthinkable nowadays, unfortunately.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:22 PM on April 27


A community-owned YouTube channel.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:39 PM on April 27


Cough MEANS TV cough
posted by The Whelk at 7:53 PM on April 27


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