Why You Should Never Mock Macaulay Culkin: A Cautionary Tale

Macaulay Culkin has managed to create minor buzz recently, mostly related to pizza. Here he eats a slice of pizza for four-and-a-half minutes, struggling with oregano, digestion and purpose. Turns out he was paying homage to Andy Warhol eating a Burger King hamburger in similar fashion in 1981. Also, just because, someone fused them side by side.

Mila Kunis will break up with me one day!

All of this apparently promotes Culkin’s new music venture, a Lou Reed/Velvet Underground cover band that mumble-sings parody lyrics about pizza.

You might deride this as the cynical stoned nonsense of a former child actor clamoring for a morsel of attention. You might question why Time Magazine devoted extensive analysis to Culkin’s pizza consumption. You might reasonably ask, “Who gives one tiny sliver of a fuck?”

But I will not ask that. Mock Macaulay Culkin at your peril. I learned this lesson years ago in a personal and traumatic way.

Once in my early 20s, my girlfriend and I went to the movies. Our first movie choice, which I don’t recall now, was sold out. So my girlfriend suggested My Girl, starring Macaulay Culkin.

I’d have as soon watched a documentary about the history of bonnets. If you’re not familiar with the movie, My Girl came out in 1991 on the heels of Macaulay mania from the Home Alone juggernaut. My Girl is a coming-of-age nostalgia film set in the 60s, most notable for the fact that Culkin’s character dies. Some controversy surrounded the release of the film. Many worried that his young fans wouldn’t be able to process seeing the precious, wide-eyed burglar tormentor meet the reaper onscreen. As an avid reader of movie reviews and entertainment news, I knew well the details of his demise going into the theater: His character, allergic to bees, succumbs to a swarm.

Culkin today, at age 74

Culkin today, at age 74

So I was whining about having to watch this movie from the flicker of the first preview. My girlfriend alternated between amused and annoyed as I leaned in and whispered my relentless running commentary. (Mostly annoyed.) Every time Culkin appeared, I would pinch her arm and “bzzzzzt” to helpfully foreshadow his imminent expiry. I groaned. I rolled my eyes. I snickered inappropriately. I sighed and looked at my watch. But mostly, I cracked an ongoing stream of jokes about the treacly chick flick I had regretfully agreed to sit through.

Culkin’s death scene, as I recall it, was comical. I laughed aloud as the obviously phony swarm overtook the poor boy in the woods. Really? This was going to destroy the psyches of a generation of vulnerable young Home Alone fans?

My girlfriend was already feeling the sadness, though. After the death scene and leading up to the funeral scene, she sniffled and wiped away real tears, so I backed off the snark. I figured at this point I could ride out the closing 10 minutes or so and we could make our way to a bar somewhere.

Then it began.

I did not just cry a little. Desperate unchecked emotion consumed me. Nor was it gradual, like a twitching watery eye that I could dab away unseen in the dark of the theater. Oh, no, that’s not what happened next.

The girl in My Girl is Anna Chlumsky, her character the death-obsessed daughter of funeral home director Dan Aykroyd and best friend of Culkin’s character. If I remember correctly, her character chose to skip the funeral service for her dead friend because she said it was no different than any of the other services in the funeral home.

I was entirely unprepared when Chlumsky got up and walked out of her bedroom during the service. She listened to the dry, impersonal words of the preacher who delivered the eulogy in the room below.

She listened more intently and solemnly as she descended the stairs. She stopped and hunched down behind the railing, her grief and sorrow escalating. I swallowed hard and pinched my eyes tightly and realized there was no turning back. I choked out an audible whimper of despair that my girlfriend noted.

“Are you OK?” my girlfriend asked with much more genuine concern than I deserved.

“I’m fine.” Except my incomplete, gargling yelp betrayed my emotions. My face filled with heat and tears. The bundle was set to unravel.

And then Chlumsky walked down the stairs and into the service and did the worst thing she could possibly do to my dignity. She raced up to the open coffin and made desperate pleas for her departed companion. “His face is hurt!” she said as she observed the welts from his bee stings. And the clincher, “Where are his glasses? He can’t see without his glasses!”

I bellowed out the heaving sobs of a grieving widow. I hyperventilated with the uncontrollable hopeless sadness of a child whose dog had died. “Guh-HUHHK! Guh-HUHHHK! HYUUUUGHT-unh!” My girlfriend realized that I was losing control and sweetly held and stroked my arm and then I did the only thing I could. I got up and ran out of the theater. I bolted up the aisle with my tear-streamed face and retreated to the sanctuary of the men’s room to regain my composure.

I leaned over the sink, still crying through deep, calming breaths, fists gripping the bevel of the bathroom counter, oblivious to the comings and goings of other more emotionally stable moviegoers. I clung to one note of solace: This absurdity was, without question, funny as hell. I knew through the tears that I would eventually laugh really hard at the entire shameful episode. I’d spent 90 minutes mocking the movie, buzzing whenever Culkin entered stage right, and all the while a karma spider quietly crawled up my pant leg and bit me right on the ass. I had just made a humiliating evacuation from the theater because I could not stop my frenzied sobbing. Over My Girl. With Macaulay Culkin.

I waited in the lobby for my girlfriend as the credits rolled. We drove wordlessly home, and went to bed soon thereafter. She made the unlikely decision to stay in the relationship for a couple more years afterward. Fortunately we are still friends and can recall this incident with reliable hilarity.

So anyway, here it is. If you dare.

I didn’t realize John Hodgman was doing commercials all the way back in 1970

OK, the guy in this ad just reminded me of him, but obviously advertisers have relied on the nebbish everydork to sell products for generations.

I’m more fascinated that even in 1970, advertisers would’ve found this message effective. To summarize: “Even if you’re a greasy putz, you can kick sand on your nerd girl and pick up hot beach bikini pussy instead. Dodge Charger.”

Although, as we’ve noted here before, marketers still like to appeal directly to the grunty inner male sex panther. The folks who make Axe products for men bring it as shamelessly and offensively as anyone, as in this ad for Axe Rape-is-Her-Fault Chest Wax.

Axe applies the same pot-clanging subtlety to its packaging. I took this picture in a Target the other day:

Gargle with it and she'll let you do butt things

Gargle with it and she’ll let you do butt things

The sassy silhouette says it all: “Axe it up tonight and get 33% more HOT LADIES!”

Also, this particular flavor of Axe Shower Gel is called SHOCK (all caps mandatory).

Which invites the tagline: “Our SHOCK isn’t toxic, at least not in that way.”

There is another Axe variety called ANARCHY. Here too, the message is clear: “It’s lawless here in Pussytown, fellas. When you’re soaked in Axe Torso Dip, civil order disintegrates and your fat wagging meat is the only law the ladies bow down to.”

It’s easy to make fun of this mentality in men’s marketing, but Axe and similar Neadveristers probably have a point. Men are simple creatures; we are not clever. Axe could save a lot of money on broadcast advertising by just sending female field marketers into stores to thwap us over the head with a mallet and tickle our balls a little bit. We’ll buy anything you’re selling. AXE!

Bill Clinton in Drag Says Be Careful and Courteous at Crosswalks

Pedestrian:

I understand that you have the right of way when walking through a crosswalk in a parking lot. Safety and general courtesy dictate that I stop and wait for you to safely cross before driving my vehicle ahead.

This reality does not bestow upon you some shopping center royalty status. It does not demand or even reasonably suggest that you assume a posture of indignant superiority. We, car drivers, counted you among our ranks just moments before. It’s preposterous for you to glare at us in smug, wordless defiance, daring us to violate the Universal Law of Pedestrian Preeminence and enter the crosswalk as you pass.

Just walk across the damned road. Maybe even pick it up a step while courteous drivers wait for you.

Most importantly, heed the lesson of this fascinating digital animation of Bill Clinton in a dress being mowed down by an Audi at a crosswalk: No matter who is “right,” you will lose an inevitable battle with a car. This cautionary clip, set to a somehow appropriate wocka-chocka Cinemax soft porn soundtrack, vividly illustrates the point. Warning: This clip includes a graphic depiction of the tragically debilitating medical trauma condition known as “firefly head.”

The Fast and the Follicle: Coif in the Fast Lane

This is the awesome new packaging for my hair stuff.* Because speed-limit hair is for pussies. Bad hair, keep right; Style is passing you on the left like a red Mustang. Better turn on your hairstyle hazard lights, because your look’s out of gas, bitch!
 
Seriously, this packaging says, “Touch this hair and buckle up, sexy lady, we’re taking off on a short, fast, perilous, one-way straight-line pleasure drag race. No need to stop for foreplay gas here; I’ll be gone in 60 seconds.”
 
I shared this on Facebook, and our good friend Davin Wood posted this funny take on absurd marketing to men’s masculinity from Sean Lock.

That fancy salon cuts my hair in kilometers.
*You think hair that looks this good just happens?