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Richard Linklater Interview, Part 2

by Jon Lebkowsky

(Linklater and I talked after "Dazed and Confused" had been wrapped and previewed. We were at Austin's Flight Path, 51st and Duval, a laid back coffee house with 50s boheem ambience. I was drinking Latte, Rick was drinking IBC Root Beer.)

Rick: After the last big preview, which we had at Marina del Rey, the head of Universal called "Dazed and Confused" "the single most socially irresponsible movie in the history of Universal." I thought, "Wow, that's GREAT!" That's a long history. That's 77 years of movies, including "The Last Temptation of Christ," and :"Do the Right Thing." That was quite a compliment. We should have put that on the poster. You know, it's amazing when you get anything done in a studio system. If you say anything you meant to say, that's kind of an accomplishment.

Jon: Do you still want to work with guys like that?

RL: Yeah, it just depends on the film. The film I want to do next, I wouldn't do with them, because they wouldn't understand it. "Dazed and Confused" was tangible...you know, a rock and roll movie. But for other, weirder kinds of things, I wouldn't try to work with a studio.

JL: I found a movie from the 50s called "Invasion of the Saucer Men," one of the old American International movies, a semi-comedy about a UFO landing, aliens running around, and eventually there were teenagers out parking, drinking beer, and dealing with the aliens. The lead teenager, the fair-haired protagonist, wore a SUIT through the whole film. In fact, there were a lot of suits, I was thinking how things have changed...

RL: The rebellious teenager, drinking, but he's wearing a suit! I like movies like that. As long as they've got the saucer people, they could throw in all kinds of witty, subversive, strange shit. Anti-authority, rebellious, violent strange attitudes.

It's disappointing when people are doing a genre like that, like a horror genre, not to take it another level...once you get all the horror elements, but to take it another level, and do something that's a social allegory, or has strange characters, strange attitudes. You can get away with that, especially through the bad person. You can put all your own real ideas about anything on the bad person, and if they get punished in the end, say "okay, they got what they deserved," but you know you're getting that information out to all these young minds.

JL: Tell me your take on "Dazed and Confused" now that you've cut it.

RL: It's what I set out to do. "Dazed" was made more in the editing room than "Slacker." The way it was shot, it was so obvious what it was going to be. "Dazed" has a big cast, 24 main characters, and a lot of cross-cutting. It's a lot more of a rock & roll movie, a lot of music and cutting to music and trying to get its energy. That was the most fun thing, the music.

JL: What kind of music did you use. Did you use new stuff?

RL: No, all period, from May 28 '76 and before. So it was ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent... We couldn't get the rights to "Dazed and Confused," but I think we've got another Zeppelin song.

JL: My perception, as an outsider, is that once you get into the studio system in Hollywood, they'll try to lock you in.

RL: Yeah, it's really subtle. I think they do it without even knowing...it's not conscious on their part. There's this system that's in place in a very firm way. That's why I live in Austin.

If you live in LA...there's a lot of people there who talk about "living in the belly of the beast" and how the studio is evil, but they become a part of it, by definition. Like if CAA is your agency, and they're packaging deals and putting you in ("You need to do this movie, careerwise.") No thanks!

But I come back to Austin and all that shit just kinda like peels off. I was in L.A. for months finishing the movie, but I wasn't doing anything in L.A. that I couldn't have been doing in Austin. I wasn't dealing with the studio, they never came to the editing room. I didn't have meetings with them...it's like I didn't exist to them, which is good, actually. We were so small, and they didn't have much faith in the film, or they didn't think that much about it.

So I could have been doing it here, but I was there because that's the way it's set up. On the next movie, I'll do everything here. Saves money, actually.

The whole system is a real mediocrity machine, it has nothing to do with ideas. I'm getting a lot of scripts, just because they know I've finished a film for the studio. They haven't even SEEN the film, but they hear it's good. Producers are sending me scripts everyone there is excited about, and I'll read 'em and I can't believe it. I think, "this is terrible!" But the whole movie system, the way it's set up, is so many different things. It's a huge business to some people, and to other people it's still a means of making their own films. I've never shot a frame of film that wasn't my own doing or worked for anybody else. I intend to keep that going.

JL: You can work as an independent forever as long as you don't demand big budgets, right?

RL: Yeah, I think so. There was a comfort in this budget. I could have used a little bit more, a little more of a schedule, a little more shooting time. But other than that, you can keep things pretty low. All the movies I have in mind are pretty frugal designs. They're not that expensive, or they shouldn't be.

JL: Are you working on your next film?

RL: Yeah, I'm writing every night. I'm hoping to do it this summer, that would be really quick.

JL: Are you going to shoot it in Austin?

RL: Yeah, here, or maybe San Antonio. It all takes place at night.

JL: Have you seen "Mariachi"? (A critically successful film shot for $7K in Texas by Austinite Robert Rodriquez.)

RL: Yeah, I saw that in L.A. in a theatre downtown. I was the only gringo in the whole theatre. It was a good place to see it, a huge theatre.

JL: Sounds like he had less budget than you had with "Slacker."

RL: Well, at that level, there is just no budget at all, it's just whatever you can get.

JL: You just kinda keep shooting 'til you finish?

RL: For his $7,000, mine was really about $12,000. I shot a lot more footage than he did. It kinda proves that it doesn't have to be that expensive, though by the time you blow it up to 35mm and get a new sound mix, it costs a bit more. I guess I have mixed feelings about these super low budgets. In "Slacker," I tried to defuse that feeling...like, "Oh, it's $23,000..." and Terminator II opened the same week, and they say "That cost $100 million, and yours is $23,000." Why do people care what it costs? It's not publicly funded. It costs the same at the door. When you buy a computer program, do you care how much money went into the development? It all costs the same to the consumer.

JL: "Cleopatra" is where that started. Nobody paid any attention to budgets until "Cleopatra" ran over. Total cost was what, $20 million?

RL: Yeah, back then, that was like $100 million.

JL: But when you talk now about a film like "Terminator II" costing 100 million bucks, that can be good publicity. Everybody wants to see a film that costs that much to make.

RL: I guess...that, or turn on it and hate it for costing that much. It's a weird balance. The public's very fickle about that. They'll accept one every now and then, but if the people involved are perceived as really wasteful...I don't think people know enough about James Cameron [director of "Terminator II"] to really dislike him, but if it had been a bigger name, like Coppola or something, they would have turned on him.

JL: "Terminator II," and "The Abyss," the films Cameron has done that cost a lot of money, have turned out to be, arguably, good films.

RL: You look at 'em and you think, "I got my $100 million's worth."

JL: But when you look at Cimino's "Heaven's Gate," it really wasn't much of a film. I think people get pissed off at the idea of spending multimillions and not producing anything.

RL: Yeah, it just seems wasteful. Look at our government, how much they spend doing shit. Billions in our military programs in the last 15 years.

JL: Can you imagine doing a $100 million film? It seems like the logistics alone would be...

RL: Yeah, frightening. And the pressure involved. That inverse pressure, of how much you're spending is how much heat you feel while you're making it. I think Spike Lee on "Malcolm X" is an example. That was three or four times anything he had ever worked with before, and the heat was tremendous.

If you fail or don't produce, some corporate entity is going to go under! That's a lot of pressure that most people could do without.

JL: I guess it's sort of like the evolution of a Mom and Pop store to a large corporation, and how the guys who originally started the business, if the business grows, sometimes don't cope with growth. I guess the same thing could happen with a filmmaker, where you could evolve toward bigger and bigger films until you hit a point where you're not able to handle it anymore. But Spike Lee seemed to do very well with "Malcolm X".

RL: He's a strong individual, very confident. I could do that if I was so confident in the subject matter...which he was, obviously, he was one and the same with the subject matter. So I think he kicked ass, compared to these lame movies that cost even more than that. There's a lot of really dumb movies that cost $40 or $50 million these days.

JL: Seems to me that there would be some difficulty going back to making an intimate film, like "She's Gotta Have It."...

RL: Yeah, that's what they say. They say you can't go backwards. I'm really actively trying to do that. I just made a $6 million film. The thing I want to do this summer is half a million. Kinda like "Slacker," that kind of crew, that kind of size. I feel that if I don't do that soon, I might reach the point where I can't.

JL: That might be an innovation in itself, the idea of having an established filmmaker working on the fly with a small budget....

RL: Scorsese did "After Hours" for $3 1/2 million after working on $20 million films. It can happen. But to go back and do a no-budget film, completely independent...I'd want to raise money in Europe, with no American attachments, no financial backing from America...be left completely alone and do this small film that's not commercial. It would be good freedom to have. The Hollywood system doesn't like to give you that freedom.

What they really count on is spoiling you, whether it's more money for yourself, or just the conditions...having an assistant, having the most professional people and equipment...just everything.

There's a certain comfort in having that system. It's a cushion. You can concentrate on the camera and the actors. There's so many people on the payroll taking care of locations and permits and food. It's kinda nice, you know.

JL: It lets you focus on your real job.

RL: That's what it's set up to do. A hierarchy that's set up to give you room to do your film. That can spoil you.

JL: We talked once before about "Dazed and Confused," and I've thought since then about the condition of the teenager at that time, the postmodern teenager who's living in a world that's completely changed without anybody really acknowledging the changes, which result from the communications revolution and so forth. Do you get into that very much, or is it a more personal story?

RL: I think you feel that as an atmosphere. These kids have been through it, they grew up with tv, and they refer to that every now and then. They kill time...a lot of them are pretty cynical.

Our parents had their ears glued to the radio listening to FDR, a good man who was there to protect us...but by the time we were teenagers, it was like, "What crook is in office now?" There wasn't any of that belief in the institutions. But I see that as very healthy, a healthy cynicism, which is realistic...for the first time, I think the people who were coming of age were not in some dream about the world they were living in. They'd been slapped around, and they'd grown up realizing cold hard facts about life.

JL: Before, you couldn't really scrutinize the world you were living in the way we've been able to, actually since the 50s but more so since the 60s and 70s...

RL: The information age. Mega information. That amazes me, that there are kids who are so plugged in, whereas back then you were reliant on mass media.

JL: I meet a lot of kids online, and I'm shocked when I learn how young some of them are. They're really bright, and they've figured things out that I hadn't figured out when I was 30 or 35...I was still working on these puzzles, and they know. I used to be impressed that we knew so much more than the college grads 50 years ago by the time we had a high school education ...but now, by the time you're out of middle school, not only do you have the facts, but you have some of the understanding. You don't really have the maturity to handle the understanding, sometimes, and I think that really bowls 'em over. Hackers are a good example of that. A little knowledge is dangerous.

RL: Yeah, some of these kids are living hooked up to a computer and a modem. Wiley was telling me about a friend of his who's not in school anymore. He's young, about Wiley's age...quit school, and he's online all the time.

JL: It's true. There are people who just stay totally plugged in. It's an easy way to form community with people without having to deal with some of the special problems that you have when you meet face to face. They don't see you.

RL: They don't judge you...

JL: You can have a fantasy of yourself and represent yourself with that image. Just with television, just with radio, there's ways to stay totally plugged in. But if you bring other technologies into it, like computing, which eventually will be ubiquitous, everybody will have access to some kind of network...I guess we'll all be dazed and confused.

RL: Yeah, it's an overload. I go back and forth about it. The human element vs the information. You need both.

JL: When we talked before, you compared "Dazed and Confused" to "American Graffitti," as everything that "American Graffitti" was not. What I know about the film not having seen it is that you have people moving through the night -- one night, wasn't it?

RL: Yeah, one night. I call it "Slacker" with about four or five laps. You keep coming back to the same characters. All of them have their own story...not all of them, but the main ones. I think they're younger than the people in "Graffitti." "Graffitti" was a whole other time and place, and they all seem so much older. They were making big life decisions. The oldest kids in "Dazed and Confused" are juniors in high school becoming seniors, so it's not like they can go out in the world and start changing things or be different people. They're stuck for at least another year.

JL: That's a weird twilight zone, actually.

RL: Yeah, the future's on the horizon, so there's a little angst about that, but they know they have one more year to kind of fuck around, so that's what they're doing. More than anything, it's about being stuck where you are, and being frustrated. The thing about small towns is how creative people can be with their own space and how humans create a liveable system, no matter how bad things are. You create your own world that you can survive in, or that you can get by in, psychically, through the day. That's what you see happening in the movie. There's always talk about how being a teenager is such an oppressive situation, domestically and institutionally, so riding around is a statement of freedom.

JL: Drinking beer.

RL: Drinking beer. Smoking *a lot* of pot, too. It's already being hailed as a pro-pot movie. _High Times_ had a half page on it..."hot movie for the 90s!" There is a shitload of pot, but I just had to be honest, because for teenagers smoking pot symbolized rebellion and freedom from those oppressive circumstances. I don't have a real attitude one way or another about it, but kids have been brought up with this "Just Say No" stuff, and it seems sort of Orwellian that it's been pumped into their heads without much thought. It seems so dangerous.

JL: Through the 60s and the 70s, we were fed disinformation about marijuana and psychedelics and so forth, and many of us who were growing up through all that became cynical about anything that the authorities told us about any drug. Then cocaine came into fashion, and nobody wanted to believe that cocaine could be harmful...

RL: That any drug could actually not be good for you...

JL: Yeah, exactly. But it turned out that coke was a terribly addictive, destructive drug, and now we have people who are really strung out on it. Then this "Just Say No" thing came out as a response to these hard drug addictions that are really detrimental.

RL: Yeah, crack.

JL: Crack, yeah. But they're lumping marijuana with that...they include marijuana, and they include other usually benign drugs.

RL: Yeah, there's never any distinction, it's "Just Say No." To what, and why?

JL: Because people who have never participated in the so-called "drug culture" don't have a sense of the distinctions between "recreational" drugs.

RL: Yeah.

JL: Nor do they realize that they're using drugs themselves.

RL: Constantly. We're all self-medicating in some way or another constantly. I guess that's how I view drug use. I think this film may touch off a lot of talk about that. It brings it out in a real matter- of-fact way, and doesn't have an attitude about it, one way or another. It's not saying it's good or bad.

JL: The people are just smoking dope as a cool thing to do.

RL: Yeah, as teenagers do. And smoking a lot of it. The party really cranks up, and they're all hitting on bongs, driving around, smoking...it's so weird. I feel like I've gotten away with a lot of stuff.

JL: I don't know...do kids still do that stuff now?

RL: Yeah, they really do, you just don't hear that much about it. It never really went away. I think the dangerous thing about the "Just Say No" campaign is that the veneer, the sheen went up of "Kids's aren't doing drugs anymore," but they were, it just wasn't officially acknowledged.

It's that whole denial thing, which I really hate. And no one wants to go one step beyond that, and say, "Why are kids doing drugs?" They have these miserable lives...they're not treated as people, they don't have freedom, they've got all these dickhead teachers telling them what to do, they have parents who don't always understand 'em.

Incidentally, a lot of the kids in the movie have parents who smoke pot. It's the first generation whose parents are hippies, so some of them smoked for the first time with their parents. A couple of 'em have, isn't that weird?

JL: I believe it!

RL: Yeah, sure. I just thought that was pretty interesting. There's another thing: even if your parents are cool, they're still your parents, they're something to rebel against...

JL: Some kids are very uncomfortable if their parents are 'cool.'

RL: Yeah, because everybody's always saying, "You've got such cool parents, I wish I had parents like that." But they still tell you to come in at a certain time, or do your homework...even cool parents.

JL: Cool parents may also have the tendency to display their weaknesses as human beings more. Someone who's really in the throes of adolescence will grab that, and they'll get pissed off at their parents for having those weaknesses at the same time that maybe they're a little bit comfortable that their parents are human too. But in some sense kids don't want their parents to be human beings, to be their friends.

RL: Yeah, you don't want to hang out with your parents.

JL: My daughter is 17, and she doesn't want to hang out with us at all.

RL: It's just unhip with your friends. My mom a single mother, and she taught college. She'd hang out with some of her students, and I'd hang out with older people. There was the slightest overlap sometimes. I'd see her around town...it was kind of a small town...and it would just drive me nuts. I didn't want any contact with her in that context.

JL: And that's different, I think, because there's a tendency of the people from my generation and the generations that followed, at least from a segment of those generations, to want to continue doing things that they did when they were young, not just put everything aside but continue doing rock and roll and doing whatever's new...going to raves or whatever. You see a few old pharts like me at a rave. And that's different from the way it was when I was a kid, because my parents wouldn't be caught dead where I wanted to be. There was never this sense of overlap. But I think you see that some now, and kids get weird about it.

There has evolved a difference in the way the generations handle each other. Do you see the adults very much in your film?

RL: Nah. The ones that are there, looking back on it, are kind of like how I viewed adults at that age. They're always slightly cartoonish. They're not total buffoons, but they're slightly weird...they're going on about something that doesn't mean anything. They're obsessed about dumb things, or they're just kind of goofy. Inconsequential. So, yeah, it's kind of a blow-off to the old people, anyone over about 25 is suspect.

There's one hip teacher, she's talking about interesting things. One of the students flirts with her, she's a mid- to late-20s English teacher. That's the closest we come. He makes a joke of how he's going to ask her out this summer, but nothing comes of it.

JL: There was a guy in my chemistry class when I was in high school who got it on with the chemistry teacher.

RL: Yeah, there's always a story where that happens. It certainly happens with male teacher - female student, that's probably more common. But then there's those fantasy things for the guys. We all had crushes on our teachers.

***

JL: "Dazed and Confused" is set in the 70s?

RL: Yeah, '76. It's that in-between period. The 60s were officially over about then, in '73 or '74.

JL: Was there any major historical thing going on in '76, when this takes place?

RL: The Bicentennial's coming up.

JL: Oh, yeah.

RL: Yeah, who could forget. Someone has a mailbox that's crushed, that they vandalize, and it has red, white, and blue, they painted a little Bicentennial girl on it....

JL: Did you see Joe Dante's film, "Matinee"?

RL: Oh, yeah, that was wonderful, I loved that. That felt like a movie for film people. It was a really interesting look, that whole period.

JL: I was in the eighth grade when the Cuban missile crisis went down, only we weren't as aware...I think that, if you were that young and you didn't live close to it, you weren't quite aware how serious it was. Those guys [in Florida] were right on top of it.

RL: That's serious. We've had nothing like that in our life, that felt imminent...that they could start any second. There's always been those threats, but that's real.

JL: I didn't believe it at the time. Our science teacher came into the class, and was telling us how her husband, who was in the Air Force, had been shipped to Florida. They had shipped everybody to Florida, and had them all on alert. She was trying to convey how serious that was, and I wouldn't believe it. Now we know that they were really pretty close.

RL: They were as close as it gets. It wasn't inconceivable.

JL: It was pretty tense in the mid-70s. It wasn't as bad as it got later, in the Reagan years.

RL: I just remember that it seemed inevitable. It wasn't happening right then, but it seemed like it would in the future... There was this massive buildup of armaments, and historically, no one's ever built up and not used that buildup. There was that kind of scare in the early 80s about Central America. All the guys had to register for the draft again. That was an interesting moment.

JL: '76 would have been just after the Vietnam war wrapped.

RL: I had a scene that's no longer in the movie where they discuss it. Three Vietnamese girls walk across the crosswalk, and one of the guys, a racist kind of hyped-up dumb jock type, says "Why in the hell don't they go back where they came from." And another guys says, "Well, maybe we had something to do with fucking up where they came from." And it gets into a discussion about what happened in Vietnam. I remember that no one really knew. "What, did we lose, what happened? Saigon fell...but wait, we were gone before it fell?" It never seemed like they just came out and said what happened. From a kid's view, I didn't quite get it.

JL: I don't think anybody completely figured it out.

RL: It wasn't until about '78 that people started going "Hey, man, we fucked up, we lost." It went down in the loss column. Typical America, we weren't going to admit any kind of defeat.

JL: The vets were swept under the rug.

I was watching a television program, "Flashing on the 60s," and they talked about the Diggers, and the Bay Area scene, and so forth. Then they talked about the Vietnam vets, and how screwed up some of them felt when they came back. And you know, a lot of those guys are dead now, and they didn't die in Vietnam, they died here.

RL: No, spiritually they died seeing the war, and then coming back, it was more insult to injury. I don't think anyone else can ever really feel that kind of pain. I think Oliver Stone captures it in "Born on the Fourth of July." He's hyper on both sides...the trajectory's probably too much, too pointed. But I think there's a real truth to that. You go off believing one thing, and you come back believing another.

JL: Unless you've been to war, you never quite know what it is, but apparently it's the most awful experience anybody can ever have. Somebody's actually shooting at you.

RL: Being that close to death.

JL: And the people who are shooting at you, it's not that they hate you personally, in a way you can relate to.

RL: Yeah. When I was a kid and all of this was going on, we had a guy who lived in our apartment complex. He had come back from the war. I was in the third grade. He told me this story about how he had come face to face in the jungle with this Vietnamese guy. They looked at each other, and had this communication, like, "Nothing against you, brother, I don't want to kill you." But he ended up killing him, because he knew he would be killed. And he would wake up at night, crying and screaming.... That tore me up, that story.

JL: It just struck me that the same kind of stuff happens now in L.A. and places like that, where we're having internal domestic wars. Is there any violence in your film?

RL: Yeah, that's a big part of it, actually. It's a real abuse of power, the seniors have initiation rituals into high school. I see it as a social critique of the abuse of inherited power. It's pretty abusive, some people think it goes too far.

The girls get initiated more formally. They pick 'em up from school, the eighth graders, and lay 'em all out, dump stuff on 'em. It's this big party, run 'em through a car wash and that 's it. The guys, however, are running for their lives, and the seniors have these paddles, and when they catch 'em, they beat 'em.

JL: Sounds pretty realistic.

RL: Yeah, and when they catch them, it's harsh. I put music behind and it's kind of ironic. Wiley [Wiggins] gets the hell beat out of him. They catch him after a baseball game. They bend him over a car and they all wear him out, to Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy." It's one of my favorite sequences in the movie, just the way it works, the cutting, and what I had in mind there...to pull it off felt good. It's harsh, but those are really cruel times.

JL: Wiley said you had some realistic fight scenes.

RL: Yeah, at the beer bust itself we had a very realistic fight scene. You get the whole pack mentality. There's going to be guys who, if they don' t pick up a girl, will get into a fight. Every one of those parties I went to, inevitably somewhere in the evening there was some kind of fight or disturbance. Human design flaw, I would call it.

JL: When I finished junior high, a bunch of the guys from high school grabbed us and took us out in the country. They made us take our shoes off and run barefoot on hot pavement. It pulled the skin off our feet.

RL: Everybody has some experience like that. I always felt that was training for the adult world. Corporate America is like that, too. When you're the new kid, you get abused all to hell....

JL: I guess it's a kind of walkabout thing. Primitive cultures have tests, but these are kind of weird.

RL: Yeah, these are imposed initiations, ritualistic kinds of brutality ... I was always fascinated by it. You know, while it was going on, I was afraid of it, but the more distance I got, I just thought "Why? Why are we so cruel to each other"?

JL: They want to reinforce their authority.

RL: Yeah. It ties back into war and everything else. You just have to think, what is it to be human? And where do these sadistic and, ultimately, masochistic urges come from?

JL: They almost require a kind of impersonality, like with the sociopath, somebody who can't identify with the person he's dominating. Guys like [convicted murderer] Kenneth McDuff, who can kill people because they have no empathy, they have no sense of the pain that they're inflicting.

RL: Yeah, it's so strange. You read how kids from age two to five learn that. If they have a really abusive father or someone who's beating the hell out of them at that age, sociopathology develops.

JL: They just turn off, I guess...they turn off the part of themselves that allows empathy.

RL: Raising kids has got to be the most responsible thing. It seems worse now than it's ever been for kids being raised in really shitty environments. It just produces more of the same.

JL: Most people don't come ready-made with parenting skills. You learn that by doing, and if you don't learn it pretty fast, you can screw your kids up in the process.

RL: Seems like, if you don't have your shit together beforehand.

JL: It's harder now because it's so complex.

RL: Reading about [David] Koresh's background is interesting, to see the kind of life he came from. His mom was fifteen when she had him, not married. Kind of got raised by his grandmother.

JL: His mom would have been more like a companion.

RL: Heavy doses of religion. That's why that whole thing was so fascinating. It's like the worse aspects of our culture coming to a head in Texas, of all places.

JL: Waco seemed a really appropriate place to me for that to happen.

RL: Very, very appropriate. No one talked much about that. It's portrayed as a normal town. No one gets into the gist of what Waco is, this weird over-the-top Christian excessive town.

JL: My father used to refer to fundamentalist Christians like that as cultists...

RL: It's different factions of the same cult. I know some people who grew up in more extreme groups, Jehovah's Witnesses, things like that. People think Michael Jackson's screwed up, but he's a Jehovah's Witness, no one ever points to that. That is a cult. It's really kind of evil, all about hating your body. Another thing parents impose on kids without any feedback: it's one way, you go to a particular church, and you're going to get programmed. I guess I was lucky, I had parents who were just kind of loose.

JL: There seems to be a pagan revival now, people who really want to reject all that, and get to know their bodies, get back to their essential nature without acknowledging any distinction of spirit vs body.

RL: That's healthy. That comes back to drug use. It seems that most people have a need to transcend, to find a spiritual quality. It's just how that gets answered. You can be a Bible thumper answering that need, or a new ager. We all find our own rituals and our own methods of answering that spiritual need.

JL: It's important to have something you can focus on that will take you away from your egocentric concerns.

RL: Right.

JL: Where you can actually get beyond yourself. Christianity does that for some, but people who reject Christianity because it's been so dominant in our culture are having trouble finding where to plug in so that they can get outside themselves. A lot of them are doing twelve-step programs.

RL: Yeah! And you kind of need to...plug into some other kind of ideology. It could be any kind of dogmatic thing.

JL: Cinema!

RL: Cinema, yeah, that's what I'm plugged into. It became my view of the whole world, I think. That's my twelve-step program.

 

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