Armageddon creeped me out

I was watching Armageddon the other day on TNT or USA or whatever, one of those channels that shows movies at night. It’s somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me; yeah, it’s a cheesy movie but sometimes that’s what you’re looking for, and the good guys bring it all home in the end, so what’s not to like?

Anyway, it’s near the beginning of the movie - for the two people who haven’t seen it, I’ll briefly recap: big meteor heading to Earth; pieces of it start hitting the planet in advance of the main chunk. So we have a scene of New York city in the summer, and from the sky come tens or hundreds of basketball to car sized chunks of meteorite. They scream down from the sky, fully in flames from entering the atmosphere, and hit buildings, roads, people… whatever. Destruction is caused but it’s really a precursor to the big meteorite, which is gonna wipe out the planet.

Well, one thing that struck me is a throwaway line uttered by a New York city cab driver. A meteorite hits a building, causing an explosion of sorts, and a cabbie says “is it terrorists?”

And I look at the date on the film. 1998. Ok, definitely pre-911.

Then a minute later… another piece of throwaway conversation “Sadaam Hussein is bombing us.”

Ok, now it’s getting weird. Check the date again. Yeah, still says made in 1998.

Then they pan over the city after the meteor shower. It’s a 10 second pan max. They slowly pan to the World Trade Center buildings and show one of them with the top destroyed and burning, and the other tower with a chunk out of the middle, and it burning too. They’re on the screen for maybe 3 or 4 seconds as the camera pans through. Then it’s a cut to NASA.

That completely creeped me out. I certainly don’t claim that this movie inspired anyone, but to have those little coincidences all happen while I’m watching the movie late at night with nobody around… well, it was unsettling, and really the first time a non-horror movie has made me so uneasy.

Maybe it inspired the Bush administration?

Someone call the 9/11 Commission STAT!

You really want to be creeped out by foreshadowing? Rewatch The Siege, which was, incidentally, also released in 1998.

That’s not the weird thing about Armageddon. The weird thing is the fantastic subtext that the meteor turns out to be a pretty good thing for whitey - most of those nasty foreign cities are obliterated, leaving Middle America as the center of the universe. If that wasn’t obvious enough, Michael Bay thoughtfully includes Michael Clarke Duncan as a black biker who likes Skynryd. I ask you: What self-respecting black man on the planet would listen to “Sweet Home, Alabama”?

Of course, the really creepy thing is Bruce Willis watching his daughter get it on with Affleck, but quite frankly I’m trying to block that scene from my mind.

IIRC, The Japanese arcade game “Master of Weapon,” released in the 1980s, opens by telling you that it is September 11. The game is a typical shmup, with bombs to destroy the landscape. The first landscape object you can destroy are twin towers, and they go down just so.

Bruce Willis never watches his daughter get it on with Affleck in that movie, madkevin. And three cities get destroyed onscreen: New York, Paris, and some Asian city that I don’t believe is identified. New York and Paris are more or less full of white people.

C’mon, Ben. Stop ruining his theory with your facts!

No, no, no, my theory still holds. Paris is full of French people, which is worse than being non-white. And New York, as we all know, isn’t really part of America anyway. Thus: Middle America reigns supreme.

I could have sworn that there was a scene in Armageddon where Bruce Willis catches his daughter (Liv Tyler) pre-inflagranto, if you will, but there’s a bit where he watches her just a little too long. Is that not Armageddon, or am I mixing it up with some other god-awful Bruce Willis movie? Perhaps I dreamed it.

Of course, the really, seriously creepy thing about Armageddon is having Udo Kier as your staff psychologist.

You want to be creeped out, watch the first episode of connections from 1978.


Or the pilot from the Lone Gunmen tv series.

Or read The Running Man, which is a damn fine short novel by Stephen King (under his Richard Bach pseudonym). The movie is dreck, of course.

Deus Ex, which I recently played for the first time, creeped out in much the same way, starting with no WTC towers in the NY skyline.

Or the 1970’s remake of King Kong where the giant ape jumps from one of the Twin Towers to the other. I saw an ad for that in an old comic book recently and it was creepy.

Are you suggesting that Sadaam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks? And you know the towers had already been attacked once before, in 1993, right? I don’t see what’s so weird about the dialogue.

I think he was just saying that some of elements of the film were odd given that they seem oddly topical to now but the film was made so long ago (shortly after 9/11 many people thought Saddam had something to do with the attack, in large part because the administration kept joining both in the lead up to the war; in fact the vast majority people thought that was the case. Since then, that number has changed)

What Jake said. I’m certainly not suggesting Hussein was behind the 9/11 events (who do you think I am, Dick “Deadeye” Cheney?). I’m just saying that given how history has progressed, the justxaposition of terrorists, Hussein, and the Twin Towers freaked me out.

I suppose this is my mind playing that old trick on me, where you see lots of events, but dismiss the ones that don’t have any significance to you. Then you walk around all day thinking about the two events that seem related and say “see, there’s a pattern here!” I guess I should point out that, for the creepiness of the events in Armageddon, I can’t think of other movie events that have creeped me out (well, not counting the acting in Van Helsing, but that’s another story).

And if you think that’s foreshadowing, how about this monologue from Good Will Hunting, which was, incidentally, also released in 1998*.

Why shouldn’t I work for the N.S.A.? That’s a tough one, but I’ll give it a shot. Say I’m working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. So I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ‘cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never had a problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin’, “Send in the marines to secure the area” ‘cause they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there, gettin’ shot. Just like it wasn’t them when their number was called, ‘cause they were pullin’ a tour in the National Guard. It’ll be some guy from Southie takin’ shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ‘cause he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile my buddy from Southie realizes the only reason he was over there was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish to scare up oil prices so they could turn a quick buck. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain’t helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And naturally they’re takin’ their sweet time bringin’ the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain’t too long ‘til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So my buddy’s out of work and he can’t afford to drive, so he’s got to walk to the job interviews, which sucks ‘cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin’ him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he’s starvin’ ‘cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they’re servin’ is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what do I think? I’m holdin’ out for somethin’ better. Why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.

Emphasis mine.

*Don’t let the IMDB date of 1997 fool you. It only saw limited release in December, 1997. It didn’t receive a wide release until January, 1998.

The Pre 911 George Carlin stand up routine was very very creepy as well. He does like a 5 min thing on how easy it is to get shit on a plane.