It Was Deeply Weird (Ep. 152 - Cats)

This Week's Guest: Tyler Coates

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Have you ever found a monster beautiful? It's rare that something can be both gorgeous and grotesque, but when those two qualities overlap it can be hard to look away -- and hard to resist following it wherever it wants to take you, no matter how dangerous. This week's guest is Tyler Coates, Culture Editor at Esquire.com. He felt the allure of the arts emanating from what seemed like a threat: phantoms in an opera house, clawing cat people, and David Bowie in a massive codpiece. From the tiny town where he grew up, he couldn't say no to their pull -- though when he finally ventured out into the world, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first a quick reminder that we're doing a Sewers of Paris video livestream this weekend, on Saturday, February 10th at 2pm Pacific. I hope you'll join us and share stories about the entertainment that changed your life. We'll also have some special guests joining us throughout the stream. Hope to see you there.

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This Week's Recommendation: Beetlejuice

Big thanks to Tyler for joining me. I love talking about beautiful seductive monsters like Jareth, Elvira, and dancers with teased 80s hair and cat bodysuits. Villains always seem to be having more fun than heroes, and it's so hard to resist an invitation to join them. For this week's recommendation, take a look at the movie Beetlejuice, starring Wynona Rider, Michael Keaton, and a bunch of Tim Burton stripes. 

The film concerns the justifiable haunting of an insufferable couple of yuppies with too much money and not enough taste. The couple's daughter Lydia, played by Winona, is in the midst of a gothic phase that is only heightened when she makes the acquaintance of the ghost who inhabit her new home. The ghosts are pleasant enough, certainly more tolerable than her annoying parents. But there's another more malevolent spirit in the home who wants to take the entertaining haunts to a dangerous place. 

Lydia faces a tough choice in the weird mayhem of the movie: how much haunting is too much haunting, and when does spooky stop being fun and become downright evil. It is of course a delight to see a sullen teenage girl brighten with enthusiasm when given the opportunity to summon the forces of darkness, even as the movie's moral pendulum swings between the two unpleasant extremes of the banal living and the horrifying dead.

By the end, we've settled someplace far more appealing: a sort of conscientious ghoulishness, macabre with a heart -- a sweet spot where people may die, but they can still go on dancing.

Stuff We Talked About