Scream, Silent Bob!: A Pop Culture Indulgence

Imagine, if you will, this little nugget appearing on the big screen (provided movie theaters ever reopen):

EXT. DAY. IN FRONT OF A CONVENIENCE STORE.
JAY and SILENT BOB are leaned against the brick. JAY bobs his head and freestyles hilariously obscene rap lines. He pauses as his cellphone rings.

JAY
Yo, Jay and Silent Bob, the f*&^ing mack daddies of Jersey. Recognize!

VOICE
Hellooo, Jay.

JAY
Who da f*&^ is this?

VOICE
Well, I was looking for Sidney, but you’ll do. Wanna’ play a game?

JAY
Man, how many times I gotta’ tell folks, I don’t swing that way, yo.

VOICE
What’s your favorite scary movie?

JAY
Batman vs. Superman. So f*&^ bad, ruined my childhood.

VOICE
That was scary … but Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!

JAY
Word, bitch, Phantoms like a motherf*&^er!

Jay and Silent Bob/Scream crossover? Haven’t we had enough of those. Didn’t we learn our lesson when Sony wanted the 21 Jump Street crossover with Men In Black? (Yes, that was a thing.)

I mean, does everything have to have a shared universe? Sure, the MCU makes sense, as does the DCEU, provided they’re ever able to make a decent film.

00Phantoms
Bruce Wayne?

King Kong, of course, is going to square off with Godzilla again. That’s nothing new. They first did that in 1962. And, had Tom Cruise’s horrific Mummy not spoiled the batch, we might already be elbow-deep in a Universal Monsters series of films.

But Jay and Silent Bob and Ghostface? Nah, that’s just too farfetched. Except that it already happened.

Sort of.

Well, it’s complicated.

***

This whole essay is the quarantine’s fault. Seriously.

Our local library holds community events often, and a large portion of our community are film geeks. I personally have spoken at this venue about films as disparate as Django UnchainedSpider-Man: HomecomingJawsThe Black Panther, and the TV shows of Joss Whedon. (OK, maybe “disparate” is the wrong word.)

Once COVID came calling, a colleague of mine who is the Film Studies professor of our department started a weekly livestream in association with the library to discuss classic films, answer questions, give the local film fanatics something to do. And I occasionally guest host.

This Thursday (21 May), I’ll be talking about everyone’s favorite dinosaur movie: Tammy an the T-Rex.  (Again, I assure you, that was an actual thing.) But, I kid. Of course it’s Jurassic Park. Tune in if you’re so inclined. I promise I won’t spend too much time talking about Jeff Goldblum’s magnificent, hairless, glistening bare chest.

If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, then 11 June I’ll be back at the metaphorical podium, talking about the greatest meta-horror movie, at least until Cabin of the Woods was released: the 1996 film Scream.

I’ve already revisited all 5 of the Jurassic Park entries, including, unfortunately, Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom which is basically 90+ minutes of Chris Pratt doing parkour to avoid claws and jaws of thunder lizards. So, I went ahead and re-acquainted myself with the Scream series.

I was already really familiar with the original, part 2, and 4 because they are genuinely good films that I can revisit consistently and always be pleased. Then there’s that damn 3rd installment. It’s just … not a very good movie.

Matter of fact, I don’t think I had seen it since the first time I went to the theater.

The commonality of the killers in each movie is simply that they are somehow tied to Sidney Prescott. Each film has a different identity (or, in most identities). 1 and 4 take place in Woodsboro, 2 at Windsor College. 3 takes us right to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, which only makes sense, as the series consistently interrogates the horror genre.

Much of Scream 3 takes place at Sunrise Studios, where Stab 3, the third installment of the loose adaptation of Gail Weathers’s book The Woodsboro Murders, which is about the events that took place during the first Scream is being shot.

Still with me? It’s OK. Takes me a while to wrap my head around it all too.

Speaking of Miss Weathers, she is again drawn in after the murders start, and naturally, she makes her way to the film set. That’s when she crosses paths with a couple of visitors, one of whom recognizes her as a famous journalist, Connie Chung. The other doesn’t say anything, and why would he?

00JaySilentBobGailWeathers
Snoogins!

So–to put it in Jay’s parlance–bickety bam! Proof positive that while the sleepy town of Woodsboro was being terrorized by (spoiler alert!) Stu and Billy, Dante was moping at his shift at the Quick Stop (he wasn’t even supposed to be there), that asshole from Fashionable Male was giving Brody the stink eye (not the stink palm), and the 13th apostle Rufus was in Heaven watching people (especially in the shower).

Only, it’s much, much more complicated than that.

***

All this time spent at home with nothing to do, my mind just keeps racing, pondering the silliest of questions. Case in point:

Screen Shot 2020-05-16 at 4.57.09 PM
I wasn’t really looking for someone to talk me out of it; I posted this after the deed was already done. Also, delicious as it was, I don’t recommend it.

Lots of #QuarantineThoughts. When I started talking to my wife about the Jay and Silent Bob/Ghostface connection, she listened … for thirty seconds or so. Then she asked me to hush. I continued until she threw a shoe at me, and now here I am writing an entire essay about it.

So back to Jay and his hetero-life mate. When they mistake Gail Weathers for Connie Chung on the lot of a studio, all of us who watch too many movies assume that this is taking place during their trip to Hollywood to “stop the movie that’s being made” about them, Bluntman and Chronic. I know I did. I laughed, and I kept watching.

But something was nagging at me, so much so that I had to pause the movie and go into deep thought. Something wasn’t adding up.

In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it is clearly established that the studio in question is Miramax. (Sure they only made classy movies like The Piano and The Crying Game, but after She’s All That …) Scream 3 was distributed by Dimension Films, which was a subsidiary of Miramax, but the studio making Stab 3, the fictitious film, is the equally fictitious Sunrise Films.

Plus, Jay and Silent Bob–in their own movie–stumble onto the filming of Scream 4, featuring the lovable orangutan Suzanne and Brenda.

00brenda
“F&^% you”

Not Stab 3, which was being filmed in the Scream 3 cameo, but Scream 4, which also means that Strike Back takes place after the release of Scream 3. (Scream 3 was released in 2000, Strike Back almost a year and a half later.) Furthermore, in Strike Back, the narrative makes clear that Jay and Silent Bob have never been to Hollywood before, so it’s not like they went to Sunrise Studios on vacation a year earlier. Even if they had, why Scream 4? A year later, shouldn’t they have stumbled on to the set of Stab 4 instead?

(Spoiler alert for this whole ¶!) Oh, yeah, they couldn’t even do that because Stab 3 never got filmed. Its whole cast was pretty much disemboweled, as well as its producer. Oh, and the director turned out to be a psycho killer who also dies at the end.

Oh, if only there were a little coordination. If only Scream 3 could have actually used Miramax instead of creating a fake studio. Or if only Kevin Smith would have run with Sunrise Studios. If only Jay and Silent Bob stumbled onto the set of Stab 3 (which was still filming at that part in the narrative).

Then we could very well be looking at Scream 5: Snooch to the Nooch coming down the pike in 2021.

I know. If, if, if … If that damned virus hadn’t somehow jumped from a bat (or pangolin) to a human, I wouldn’t be washing my groceries or re-watching Scream 3. I certainly wouldn’t be spilling this much ink on such a stupid thought.

It also wouldn’t be worth adding that in the first Scream, among the VHS tapes stacked on Stu’s television is a copy of Clerks.

***

The thing is, both of these film universes are far more similar than is initially evident. Both are highly referential, loaded with pop culture references, slightly nodding and winking to the audience without breaking the fourth wall (except for Strike Back where they literally do that on a few occasions.)

Aside from Tarantino films, I don’t think any other fictional worlds exist where the character are consistently droning on about movies. Dante bad-mouthing Jedi, Randall bad-mouthing Lord of the Rings, Elias and his love affair with TransformersScream is populated with high-school kids obsessed with movies, then college film students (who, by obvious extension) are obsessed with movies. In part 3, Detective McDreamy Kincaid has movie posters in his LAPD office and a stack of film theory books on his desk. We’re told he gets assigned to all the Hollywood cases because he’s also a film buff.

Jay and Silent Bob are real characters (in the fictitious world) who also have a comic book and then a movie made about characters that they were the basis for. (Even though according to Jay, “No one knows we’re real in real life.”) Likewise, Gail Weathers’s book The Woodsboro Murders is the basis for the fictionalized account told in the Stab series.

The latest installments of each series, Scream 4 and Jay and Silent Bob Get a Reboot, are a pretty interesting meta-analysis of the reboot itself and again knowing wink to the audience throughout.

It only makes sense that in Scream 3 we find out wrongly accused killer of Maureen Prescott, Cotton Weary, has become a celebrity and has a cameo in Stab 4.

Also, he was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!

00liev

 


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