3/29/08

RVOD021 If Mirrors Could Speak

(1976, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

Le pain... le despair... le mort...

Rating: **

In a nutshell:

A magic mirror belittles bad behavior with hellish visions of clown makeup.

Summary:

Apparently, this mirror gazes into the very depths of hell.Unbeknownst to anyone, three youngsters have arrived at school in a state of fully painted clownishness. It’s unbeknownst even to themselves, until a magic mirror propped up near the school’s entrance calls out to them as they pass. The clown makeup is a reflection of their inner selves, you see. An outward signal of how others see them.

The Asian kid, for instance, carries the visage of a sad clown with him everywhere he goes, as he remains shy, withdrawn, and clinically depressed. Having this shown to him in such graphic, clownish detail perks him up instantly. He sheds his white-faced fa├žade and goes on about his day as normal with all the other happy, well-adjusted kids. A girl has a sly clown face, reflective of her vindictive, dishonest nature. Seeing this spelled out for her immediately cures her of all desire to steal, cheat, and backbite. A chunky boy has a boisterous clown face, and you know what? He doesn’t care, even after all the mirror’s efforts to make him see the error of his ways. Oh, well. You can’t win them all, I guess.

Thoughts:

Card-carrying member of the Junior Satan Squad.Compulsive disorders? Nah. Troubles at home? Couldn’t be. Emotional problems? To quote words of wisdom I attributed to a previous short, “Buck up, you pansies.” I found If Mirrors Could Speak to be more disturbing than funny, actually. Many of the Rifftrax shorts (especially the older ones) can get rather wrong-headed, but this one takes the cake.

Didn’t anyone notice that the Asian kid suffers from severe depression? Doesn’t anyone want to know why? The answers to these questions are “Yes” and “No”—the magic mirror knows perfectly well how sad the kid feels, but doesn’t care. Don’t you know you’re dragging down the rest of the school with your problems? Perk up or get lost, you little drip.

What about the little girl’s kleptomania? Telling someone to stop stealing isn’t going to cure a compulsive disorder. Of the three, the chunky kid had the most appropriate response. Sure, he looks like he has emotional problems, but he was the only one to recognize the magic mirror as full of crap.

Of the three kids, the short spends the most time on the depressed Asian kid, and so Mike, Bill, and Kevin have time to add lots of existential ennui in a variety of French accents. “Blind obedience is the only cure for clown-induced depression,” says Kevin, while Mike sums up the kid’s epiphany with, “My pain is unfair to others.” As the short closes out its round of unhelpful advice, Bill adds, “This is the haunted mirror reminding everyone that the nail that stands up will be pounded down.” The Rifftrax version of If Mirrors Could Speak turns out intermittently funny, but the message still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.