Misunderstood Ignored Forgotten

I attended first grade against my will. I rode the typical yellow school bus, coated in dust from the many gravel roads it traveled. My brain was traveling much faster, speeding on the sugar that my mom had put on the sugar coated cereal, served up with breakfast coca-cola. I feared school because no one had warned me. Or if they had, I probably wasn't paying attention, since I was speeding, along with mom and dad, away from The Depression, through Modern Times, and into the Seventies.

Some mornings, I hid behind the large oak tree situated in the drive-way of our fifty acre farm. The bus would stop, the doors would open, and we waited. The bus gears would grind and off it went. My mom would yell at me, but my maw (born in 1879) would always say, “If that boy doesn't want to go to school, then he doesn't have to!”

I dropped out of first grade. I spent the rest of the year with my 93 year old “maw”. She died the following year and I returned to school.

During that first attempt at first grade, there was one girl on the school bus who really caught my attention. She was the girl with a caved in face. To be fair, only half of her face was stuck to her skull. The other half was normal as pie. There was a rumor she was a monster, but this misshapen creature never thumped my ears from behind, like the other kids, the real monsters, that rode that horrible school bus each day on the way to East Union School.

She was just trying to get out of school the hard way: by graduating.

time warp


The Winter 2008 Cineaste Magazine used Cult Film and it's assimilation into the mainstream as the issue's theme. I hungrily ate up every word but then I hit that wall where you find yourself disagreeing out of sheer experience.

Writer Adrian Martin wondered if cult film was now "losing it's value and identity?". The editorial question was raised, "Is there any longer such a thing as a cult movie that can manage to resist it's co-option by the mainstream?" My first thought upon reading this, was "HELL YES".

Finding my work on the internet would not have been impossible for those writers at Cineaste, but it would have made the magazines editorial message ring false (but maybe more interesting?) Cineaste wanted their high school thesis to be "No" because it made for a tidier story. Ironically, cult film and tidy stories don't always mix.

It's the same reason that Tura Satana is not mentioned in "Popcorn Venus", a book on liberated females in film. Psychosexual starlet Tura Satana didn't fit the politically correct canon, so author Marjorie Rosen pretended she didn't exist.

So here I am, an artist from Mississippi who worships cinematic women as 'starlets'. I use theories based on Camille Paglia and Elvis Presley to make art house cinema while being ignored by mainstream assimilation - or critical studies like the one found in Cineaste, Volume 24, Number One.

Cineaste Magazine draws conclusions about 'big city' cult films. What would they know of my gravel road? Perhaps it is awkward to look down your nose when it faces south?

So be it. Only in cult filmmaking can you succeed by not succeeding! While others fail upward, I succeed downward. Certainly, my exclusion in this article proves I am the 'cultiest' of the cults. But how long can it last? Desperation is stopping my work, not assimilation.

I repeated first grade the following year. I learned how to live with overdoses of sugar. Soon I became an honor roll student. But the sweet girl with the caved-in face was no longer around. She had graduated.

At the time, I just assumed that she was no longer allowed to attend school because she was ugly. You know how ugly folks cause disruptions among the beautiful people who are only there to learn. As it turned out, she had graduated with honors. I know this because her picture was in the 1969 year book.

Somehow, I will always miss that girl.

Mike McCarthy
Summer, 2014

copyright 2015 by Mike McCarthy