Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Superstar's Fun and Music-Filled, Yet Hitler-esque Rise to Power

When Tony and I were brainstorming for fictional presidents to round out the bracket to an even 64, we admittedly had some trouble coming up with 19. If memory serves, President Breyer was one of the last to be added to the list. He only got a ticket to the big dance because we're both fans of The Venture Bros.

One character that could have beat out Breyer was Max Frost, the protagonist from the 1968 film Wild in the Streets.
"Let's put a lot of reading on a poster advertising a movie geared for the under 25 set."
— Something you would never hear today

I had seen it once several years ago and thought it would be perfect for the blog. The problem was that it wasn't available on Netflix, and since there was a lot that I didn't remember about the movie or the character, I didn't really try to make a case for Frost. Now that I think about it, a Frost/Nixon fight could have been funny.

Recently, Wild in the Streets became available instantly on Netflix, so I watched it in all of its glory. It's quite campy in a 60s counter-culture sort of way and and I believe it's the only movie where we get to see Shelley Winters slap a young Greg Brady's face.
Not much of a Sunshine Day now, is it?
IMDb also says that Gary Busey appeared in the audience in one scene.
Again, with the Shelley Winters. Man, she's a freaking king-maker in this movie.
I'm glad I got to see the movie again, even though it was a little disturbing the second time around. I'll try to keep the synopsis short:

Max Flatlow Jr. left home as soon as he can, changed his name to Max Frost and became a pop superstar complete with millions of dollars, throngs of screaming fans and his own entourage including Richard Pryor.
No, really. He played drums.
Frost sang songs like Fifty-Two Percent, a song that explains that 52% of the U.S. population was under 25. I don't know if this was true in 1968, but I'll give it to him. I believe my time is better spent looking for 43-year-old pictures of Gary Busey.

Meanwhile, we have Johnny Fergus, a young Congressman who was seeking a Senate seat on the platform of lowering the voting age to 18 — so in other words, baby boomers liked him. I have a suspicion that Fergus' wife, Mary, is the older sister of Trudy Campbell from Mad Men.
Maybe I'll have to write some fan fiction making this so.
Fergus had Frost perform at a campaign rally, and Frost nearly threw a wrench into Fergus' efforts by telling his "troops" — that's how he addressed his fans —  to fight to get the voting age down to 14.

This started a movement, and the voting age is lowered to 14 (or 15... it wasn't clear to me and it's not very important) within days. Maybe if Susan B. Anthony had been a rock star, women would have gotten the vote fifty years earlier, because it's apparently very easy to get Congress to change their mind about this sort of thing.

With the younger vote, Fergus easily won his Senate seat. Hooray!

Meanwhile, a death left a vacancy in the California delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Frost ran one of his entourage members in the special election.
I'd like to say election of Sally LeRoy is when things stopped getting ridiculous, but that comes later.
Rep. LeRoy's first action was to introduce a constitutional amendment lowering the minimum age for all federal offices to 14.

Needless to say, this idea didn't go over very well with the members of Congress, so Frost did what any logical, non-sociopath would do in this case. He spiked Congress' water supply with LSD.
The age minimum was lowered and Max Frost was elected president, with the largest margin of victory in history, winning every state but Hawaii. If only there were some sort of third branch of government in the nation's delicate system of checks and balances to keep things like this from happening.
"Ehh, we're cool with all of this."
—U.S. Supreme Court, 1968

Frost's first act was to make the required retirement age 30 — which just seems bad for the economy — and at age 35, citizens will be shipped off to camps where they would be given LSD. All of this with exception to the residents of Hawaii, who all seemed to have been poisoned. In an interview, Frost said that he didn't worry about the older people being hidden in attics and basements, because they would eventually be "ferreted out."

Adding to the — I'd hope — unintentional allusions to the Holocaust, the character who I joked was the older sister of Trudy Campbell was played by Millie Perkins. She's famous for playing Anne Frank in the 1959 version of The Diary of Anne Frank, about the girl who hid in an attic to keep from being sent to a camp by a dictator who was lawfully elected.
Say what you will about the guy, he never used LSD to convince people to do things.
That's about the only nice thing I can think of to say about him.
I can't really imagine Frost being much of a contender in this bracket. He doesn't have too much going for him. Yes, his charisma gives him a scary amount of power, but really all of his legwork is done by his entourage and his legion of fans. By himself, he's nothing.

He's also extremely short-sighted, which wouldn't serve him well in a fight. As president at 24, he declared everyone over 30 to be the enemy. Really? So I guess he won't be seeking re-election in four years, because that would mean that he would be in office until he's 32.

Then there's the fact that his counter-culture cred would essentially go out the window. When the police opened fire on demonstrators, killing 12, he came out with the song The Shape of Things to Come.

In 2006, this song would be used in a commercial for Target. Of course, in Frost's "utopia," Frost himself would have had spent decades out of his mind on LSD in some state-run camp funded by who knows what.

So in the end, I think I'm glad we included President Breyer and not Max Frost. Breyer may be an idiot, but he never shipped people off to camps. On the other hand, he never wrote a catchy tune.

There are still two days left to vote in the Breyer vs. Grant fight.

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