Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tales From The Discount Bin: Acid Rock

I have to admit I'm a pretty big fan of propaganda; when someones ideals and moral values are heightened to the point of self parody. I have a pretty big box of propaganda pamphlets, booklets, videos and comics in my closet, and the subject matter is primarily religious. Tapes of Bob Larson's christian television show(Bob Larson is either a brilliantly subversive satanist, or the devil himself, and I'm not joking about that at all), dozens of 'Chick Tracts' along with their larger print versions from the 70s(inadvertently some of the most hilariously homosexual comic books around). They share the box with some religiously neutral diatribes against the World Health Organization, psychiatry, and basically anything 'those damn kids' are into. With this ever growing collection and minor hobby, it's quite possible that I would have picked up today's book, Acid Rock, even if I hadn't been somewhat familiar with it's basis.

The Destroyer series, despite it's longevity(currently over 130 books long, with a new series starting soon), is probably most well known for the 1985 film Remo Williams; the Adventure Begins. Certainly that's how I knew it, as the movie had been a minor favorite as I was a child. I revisited the movie recently, and it reminded me that I'd been wanting to check out the books for awhile. Acid Rock is the 13th book in the series, but it's the earliest title I could find after scouring every used bookstore in Anchorage. I also assumed(mostly correctly) that the series would not be continuity heavy, and would probably be easy to understand wherever you happened to jump in.
The plot ensures that this book would fit right in with the rest of the material in that box in my closet. Remo(unlike the movie, he has no last name) and Chiun are given the task of guarding Vickie, a young, sex-and-drug crazed groupie of the acid rock band Maggot and the Dead Meat Lice. Vickie is the target of a 1.5 million dollar contract because she has chosen to testify against her father's shady business partners. It's not very clear what crime it is she's testifying about, but to be fair that isn't really the focus of the book. What the book focuses on is a hilariously over reactive view of post-hippy counter culture, where casual sex and serious drug usage were starting to lose their innocence. Vickie is perpetually stoned, and has sex with just about everyone she meets(the only exceptions are people who refuse, not people she decides not to offer it up to). Practically her only lines of dialogue from the prologue to the end of the book(when she miraculously cleans up her act) are 'gotta ball that maggot.' It's repeated over and over, making her a sorta nympho energizer bunny. She stops to have sex, and mechanically gets out of bed, saying 'gotta ball that maggot' as she leaves the room and her lover stares after her in confusion.

The view of youth culture in this book isn't too different from the Chick Tracts in my collection, actually. On top of Vickie's behavior, the author's view of the music of this new generation couldn't be more negative. It's never described as rhythmic, but as screeching and offensive. This isn't really that surprising, but when an accident at a rock concert kills dozens, and the band keeps playing and the crowd ignores the moans and screams of the still-living victims, it seems like Mr Murphy and Mr. Sapir have a serious axe to grind. Now, the question arises; is this serious, or tongue in cheek? I haven't read any of the other books, but the humorous, deadpan tone between Remo & Chiun would lead me to believe the comedy was intentional, not accidental. Or maybe this is wishful thinking. The book is fairly awful, in terms of realism or meaning, but I want this to be by design, because it's also fun as hell.

Remo & Chiun are kept outside of the action for large parts of this book, and in fact seem more than a little uncaring in their assigned task. More than once they allow Vickie to elude their guardianship, and don't seem to be in much of a hurry to find her again. But still the interaction is funny, and more than once elicited a slight chuckle.

It isn't a top priority, but I've decided to check out more in this series at a later date. My question, to anyone who might have read these books; IS the humor intentional, or should I move this from the bookcase to that box in my closet?

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