DC at Night

DC at Night

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's The End of the World ... Again ... and Again ... And Again ... and Again ... And Again ... And Again

Everyone from everywhere wanted to be at Disasterthon! in DC
If you love disaster films and Apocalyptic movies, then the Hirshhorn was the place to be on Saturday as the museum presented Disasterthon! An All-Day Marathon of Cataclysmic Classics.

A total of 6 films were shown during the event, which began at noon and concluded after midnight.  Disasterthon! was scheduled to coincide with the Hirshhorn's current exhibit Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950.

Five of the movies were selected by museum officials and they offered varying possibilities for the end of the world as we know it. They were:

  • Miracle Mile (1988) - Nuclear destruction. Message from film - if a pay phone rings really early on a dark morning, don't answer it 
  • The Host aka Gwoemul (2006) - A Korean toxic-chemical altered walking, climbing, bridge-swinging giant mutant lake creature. Message from film - don't dump environmentally unsafe liquids down the drain, even if ordered to by an American scientist upset with dusty bottles.
  • War of the Worlds (2005) - Invading Martians intent on capturing Earth. Message from film - keep watching the skies and keep Tom Cruise nearby if you want to survive. 
  • Sharknado (2013) - A Sci-Fi camp classic in which LA is threatened by sharks brought from the sea and dropped from the sky and one of the worst premises for a film (so bad it is actually good) ever created. Can't wait for its spawns - Sharknado 2 and Zombeaver) ever. Message from film - always have a big chainsaw handy for battling sky-dropping sharks. It works much better than a red-stooled, cast-iron bar seat.
  • 28 Days Later (2002) - Speedy zombies take over England. Message from film - If you wake up in a hospital all alone, be prepared to encounter the environmentally-created living dead.
The 6th and final film was selected by online voters from a list of 25 titles submitted by the Hirshhorn. The winner was Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). The Stanley Kubrick atomic-era classic captures the hilarious horror when an insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of political leaders frantically tries to stop. It  is filled with messages. Here's just one - if you are bent on unleashing a nuclear air attack, make sure you have at least one Cowboy character like Slim Pickens on board so he can ride the plane to destruction in the event of a mechanical failure.

After each film, viewers got a stamp on a special Disasterthon! passport from "an official government signatory" attesting to the fact that they had seen the film. Those who made it through all six would be eligible for special prizes. (For the sake of full disclosure. I had fully intended to watch all 6. I made it thorough and enjoyed Miracle Mile, The Host, and War of the Worlds. But I only lasted half-way through Sharknado, which, unfortunately I had seen twice before. You know a film is pretty bad if even Tara Reid's frequently bouncing breasts can't keep you in your seat for a 3rd viewing.)

Disasterthon! was designed to be an interactive event so live tweeting was encouraged. As you can imagine from the subject matter, the tweeting was both clever and engaging. Here are some of my favorites from the day. (To see all the tweets, click here and begin with April 26)
  • OK, now you’re just wasting ammo.
  • Ever since George Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead, shopping as a respite from the waves of undead has held a special charm.
  • In a zombie movie, whenever there’s a discussion about the relative safety of routes, they pick the wrong one.
  • An adult chimp can rip your arm off and beat you like a dirty rug. A chimp infected with rage…
  • Shouldn’t there be a sealnado and a manateenado as well? Seaweednado? Sandnado?
  • I ripped it off from that mute chick who rode around with Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes.
  • Collin should know better than to be a total d-bag in a shark movie.
  • 20 minutes in and they shoot the oxygen tank. SMH
In between films, nuclear safety short films prepared by the government were screened, including one of my all-time favorites "Duck and Cover." I am certain the absurdity and inanity of Civil Defense propaganda films like these contributed to why so many of us took to the streets in protest in the 60s and early 70s. You can check out my theory by clicking on the "Duck and Cover" link above. This was actually produced and released by a government that expected to be taken seriously?

Here Deborah Horowitz (center) is with museum public information officer  Glenn Dixon, who has just realized that Saturday marks the 4th anniversary of Hirshhorn employment, and Rhys Conlon of the publication department.
And while the day was a fun event, there was an artistic purpose behind it, says Deborah Horowitz, the Director of Curatorial Administration and Publications for the Hirshhorn.

"The notion of end-of-the world destruction is terrifying, yet it is mesmerizing, too," Horowitz said. "The whole notion of spectacle is important to our culture. In many ways, we have become a culture of spectacle.  While this was fun, it also has weight."

So as one of the Hirshhorn's now-leading experts on damage and destruction, does Horowitz have a chosen way she would want the world to end?

"Quickly and not for a long time," she says. 

A Prices Do DC Extra
What else could you do at Disasterthon! beside watch end-of-the-world films? Here's a pictorial sample.

You could view the movie posters  created especially for the event by Hirshhorn artists

 You could picture yourself in Sharknado 2.

This is me meeting Jaws ...
... and this is Zoe, Deborah Horowitz''s 6-and--half -year-old fearless daughter
You could compete for Hat-astrophe prizes for best disaster-themed head wear.

 You could buy special Disasterthon! t-shirts and other end-of-the-world items.

Glenn with his Hat-astrophe and Deborah model the for-sale event t-shirts
Or you could view the art from the exhibit that started all this day of disaster-movie madness.

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