206 Chapters
Medium 9780253013873

14 Zombie Cocktails

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

We take great pleasure in drinking big zombies.

Simone de Beauvoir, America Day by Day

When Betsy Connell, female lead in Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked with a Zombie (1943), confesses that is she isn’t in fact familiar with zombies, her interlocutor, Dr. Maxwell, first tells her that she is dealing with “a ghost, the living dead” and then informs her more cheerfully that the Zombie is also a drink, at which point Betsy finds herself on more familiar territory. “I tried one once,” she says, “but there wasn’t anything dead about it.” Uttered in 1943 at the height of Hollywood’s tiki craze, these lines are no doubt an inside joke. By this time, actors and audience alike were more than familiar with the real Zombies that had overrun America’s bars and the mystical powers they allegedly possessed. And much like Val Newton’s cinematic living dead, the Zombies served at bars such as Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s evoked echoes of Haitian vodou, supernatural possession, and the mystical, transatlantic origins of the zombie myth.1

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Medium 9780253007438

10 · Defiances of the Dead

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

Speaking for the first time of things never seen, . . . this language
carefully hides that it says only what has already been spoken
.

—MICHEL FOUCAULT, DEATH AND THE LABYRINTH

Storms’s African souvenirs remained in his widow’s possession until the early 1930s. As Boris Wastiau comments, by then they had become “family relics, metonyms of the deceased, . . . thereby implying new ‘rituals’ of remembrance and devotion”—to Henriette Dessaint Storms and her family and friends, that is, rather than to the people who had made or used the objects and from whom the lieutenant had seized them. The ongoing “social lives” of the things seem to have left any such possibilities far behind. The general’s collections were donated to the Royal Museum of the Belgian Congo in response to the efforts of Frans Cornet, head of the RMCB’s Moral, Political, and Historical Sciences Section, which was dedicated to memorializing Belgian accomplishments in the Congo. As Maarten Couttenier reports, the section was founded in 1910 to counter international criticism of atrocities of the Congo Free State. A “glowing” revisionist image featuring “the colony’s ‘intellectual and moral development’ towards ‘progress’ ” would downplay or simply ignore “negative aspects such as . . . forced labor, mutilations, rapes and murders that occurred during the economic exploitation of ‘red rubber’ and the violent military occupation.”1

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Medium 9780253340481

Chapter Ten Events Follow Events

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253340481

Chapter Three Aunt Yetta’s Magic

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253353801

14 LebowskIcons: The Rug, The Iron Lung, The Tiki Bar, and Busby Berkeley

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Dennis Hall & Susan Grove Hall

The Big Lebowski is full of the kinds of images that are popularly called icons. The film not only places these in our view, but also shows them in dimensions and relationships that are new to us. What are these icons? The term is now used so commonly, especially for celebrities, that it might seem without meaning. In several years of studying icons in popular culture, though, we have found the term difficult to define because it has deep and pervasive influences beyond our usual perceptions. In preparing American Icons: An Encyclopedia of the People, Places, and Things That Have Shaped Our Culture, we identified several common features of icons.

An icon often generates strong responses; people identify with it, or against it; and the differences often reflect generational differences. Marilyn Monroe, for instance, carries meanings distinctly different for people who are in their teens and twenties than for people in their sixties and older. An icon stands for a group of related things and values. John Wayne, for example, images the cowboy and traditional masculinity, among many other associations, including conservative politics. An icon commonly has roots in historical sources, as various as folk culture, science, and commerce, often changing over time and reflecting present events or forces. The log cabin, for example, has endured as an influential American icon, with meanings and associations evolving from our colonial past through the present.

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