Friday, April 24, 2009

It's Been Such a Long Time

the blog is back! there have been many events over the course of the past year and a half that made me think about blogging again: the phillies world series victory, the election of barack obama, and the return of phish, but none of them seemed to push the right buttons to get me back on the train to write until my lightning bolt of inspiration last night: that travis bickle is michael scott is leslie knope.

now, who are these people, you might ask? i'll tell you. travis bickle is the hero (anti-hero?) of martin scorsese's 1976 masterpiece "taxi driver". bickle is played by a young robert de niro and also stars cybill shepherd, albert brooks, a YOUNG jodie foster, and harvey keitel. the character of travis bickle is very complex. it's a story about a man who is completely clueless about the world around him. he can't seem to fit in with society, either because society in new york in the mid-'70s was out of control or because he has severe mental problems, most likely aspergers. in reality, its both, the decay of society in new york further alienated a man who already had trouble connecting with people. its really interesting to watch bickle as he tries over and over to understand people, human emotions, and verbal cues. he takes shepherd on a date to the movies, except they go to a porno, much to shepherd's dismay. travis' defense to his movie choice is "i don't know movies", which, understanding the character of bickle, is completely plausible. he didn't know which movie was socially appropriate to take her to, so he took her to what he knew and that was porn. bickle's further inability to connect and understand people further isolates him from a society that is spinning out of control and ultimately leads him down the dark path to the movie's finale.

michael scott, steve carell from "the office", and leslie knope, amy poehler from "parks and recreation", also suffer from this derangement that bickle does, albeit to a different extent (i couldn't see michael ever wanting to assassinate a presidential candidate!). neither of them understand how society works, pick up on verbal, physical, or emotional cues, and generally have a tough time acting like normal people. but that is not all they share with bickle...

admittedly, had taxi driver not been on TV wednesday night, i never would have made this connection, so i guess i have that horrible kate ascher project to thank for this (man, did that thing suck! i have never gotten something more wrong in my life!). one of the most curious things about bickle is his diet, which consists mostly of sugar and brandy. when he and shepherd get coffee on their first date, he orders a slice of pie with melted cheese on top (in his words, a "perfectly sensible choice). later on in the movie we see him making a breakfast consisting of sugar, milk, and brandy (had it been allen's coffee brandy that would have been perfect). pretty gross, right?

well, in addition to sharing bickle's aspergers, they also share his fondness for sugary foods. in last night's "parks & recreation", knope is seen twice eating waffles with whipped cream, and in last night's "the office", michael, in response to pam's request for some coffee, hands her a thermos and says "sugar & milk". pam accepts, thinking that its coffee with sugar and milk, but nope, its just sugar and milk! michael then goes on to say he drinks this every morning. yum.

so what am i trying to say here? that michael and leslie are going to team up and attempt to assasinate senator palantine? that they are going to go all urban commando and rescue jodie foster from the hands of harvey keitel, the pimp? well, no, but there are some eerie similarities here, both about the characters' mental faculties and their taste for sugary foods. i wonder if the producers/directors of both "the office" and "parks and recreation" were aware of this. it seems like too much of a coincidence to me for it to be random. i am also surprised that no one on these here internets has made the connection between michael and bickle (leslie knope has only been around for a month, so it will take some more time to get to know her), and as they say around these parts: FIRST!

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