Archive for April, 2012


Trailer Park Drive-In: God Bless The Hunger Games

[ Comments Off ]Posted on April 13, 2012 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Friday, April 13th, 2012

What could be more fun than cornholin’, PBR, and pirated copies of the Hunger Games and God Bless America at the trailer park on a global warming March night? A surreal evening of self-unaware meta-irony, wherein the working class unknowingly watches itself being watched.

Recently, I was invited to a party at a trailer park. Yeah, go ahead and laugh. It’s in your nature, since you foolishly think you’re more like the one percent than “those people”. I said yes of course; as you may know, this is one of my areas of anthropological expertise (see my field work here). Besides, we were enjoying some exceptionally nice climate change here in the Midwest. It was nearly 80 degrees that day. In March! I arrived a little early to find all the expected trappings of a trailer park party. People were cornholing, playing hillbilly horseshoes, and PBR was in abundance. The crowd was a little embarrassed about drinking hipster beer, but they pointed out that they could hardly pass up the 30-pack for $12.99. As the pink slime smoldered on the grill and the smell of medical marijuana began to waft through the air, I stopped mingling for a bit to step into the “back yard” and observe. The back yard in this case was the thirty-foot wide strip between the host’s trailer and the next one. By the way, before you get the urge to get all politically correct on me and tell me the polite term is “mobile home”, the host himself at one point said “Shit. Wikipedia calls them that, but this home ain’t been nowhere”. He also added that “no damn bank is takin’ it anywhere neither”. I pondered his financial savvy for a moment. His house is paid off, but 99% of the “smart” people I know are in debt up to their eyeballs. As I stood watching a particularly spirited round of cornholing, a few guys started attaching a bedsheet to the side of the next trailer and setting up a laptop and some other gear, including an insanely bright portable projector. I went over to check out what was going on. It turned out the gang had been looking forward to warm weather, because one of the guys had dropped part of his severance pay from GM on the projector and some sound gear, figuring if he couldn’t find a job, at least he’d finally have that big screen TV. I asked what was on the bill for the evening, and he surprised me a bit with “Hunger Games and that new Bobcat Goldthwait movie”. He was referring of course to God Bless America. When I observed that one of those wasn’t even in the theaters yet, he smiled and said “Yeah, I paid this nerd ten bucks each for ‘em.” I didn’t point out the exploitation and irony inherent in the fact that some unemployed kid living in his rich folks’ basement had ripped off the film industry to enrich himself by exploiting the working class. Things started feeling a little surreal not too long after that. A woman walked up to me and started a conversation with “I ain’t so sure you and me belong here. I think we’re both a little bit more NPR than PBR”. I pondered her remark as I tried not to stare at the barcode tattoo on her neck. As we watched the movies over the next couple of hours, we had a good laugh when – as we talked during God Bless America – one of the guests stood up and jokingly brandished a PPK, telling us to shut up. Life still has an irritating tendency to imitate art. I decided to test my new pal’s “NPR-ness” by asking her what she thought about a group of hardworking people who had little hope of rising above their current lot in life being thoroughly engrossed in a film that was not only a not-very-subtle exploration of the very life they were leading, but which had enriched its author by exploiting their teen children by using the public schools as a marketing and propaganda machine. She sort of stared at me with a hurt look. I wasn’t meaning to be a jerk; it actually saddened me that the crowd at this trailer park drive-in party was cheering on and rooting for their futuristic Hunger Game counterparts on the screen. Partly because the story’s theme was probably not inconceivable as a near-future reality, but more because the audience was proving the point. I was relieved when my “date” laughed heartily a few minutes later. God Bless America’s hero Frank had just shot the screaming baby in the film. “Who hasn’t wanted to do THAT at least once in their life” she said. I just smiled and prayed silently for the future.