"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this any more!"
There is a scene in the 1976 Academy Award winning film NETWORK, where TV anchorman Howard Beale (played by actor Peter Finch) looses his control during a live TV broadcast and begins to rant and rave about the injustice in America and how it's gone on long enough. "I want all of you to get up out of your chairs!" he says, "I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell…I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE THIS ANY MORE!" And much to the surprise of the corporate "big wigs" at the network where Howard worked, viewers from around the country were opening their windows and yelling out into the night…"I'M MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE THIS ANY MORE!" None of the people in power at the network ever thought that the "ranting of a mad man" could transcend into the "words of a prophet".
As an Elvis fan, I've been feeling a lot like Howard Beale lately.
It has been 24 years since Elvis Presley left us, and recently it appears as if some of the world is paying a little more respect to his contributions to American music history (TV GUIDE proclaimed him "Artist Of The Century"). But it still feels like being an Elvis fan is the same as wearing a sign on my back that says, "Kick Me!" If you've been an Elvis fan as long as I have (36 years), the abuse that we fans have had to endure is driving me to "the point of madness! The brink of misery!" (Sorry, I couldn't resist the "Edge Of Reality" reference) Why is it that every time I tell someone I'm an Elvis fan, they want to know if I like fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Or that over-used joke about the Burger King in Michigan comes up. Or after an act of courtesy, I get the inevitable "Thankyouverymuch". And why is it a general assumption that just because I'm an Elvis fan, I must like impersonators? Essentially, I have nothing against them. But I do wish they were a little more concerned about getting Elvis' moves right, than handing out scarves and polishing their egos. I once saw a bumper sticker that read, "If this was a perfect world, Elvis Presley would be alive, and the impersonators would be dead." (I must admit, it brings a smile to my face every time I even think of it.) Why do we get this abuse? It's largely a result of the damage done to Elvis' image over the past 24 years. The biggest damage coming from the "Elvis Is Alive" movement that started in the 1980's. To this day, those vultures are STILL trying to sell their "Elvis Is Alive" crap. (Somebody get me a bee bee gun!) They'll never see, nor do they care about, the destruction left in the wake of their bizarre quest for what they call the "truth". Think about all the kids that grew up around that time in the 80's when all this crap started. They think Elvis is a big joke, like that "Find Waldo" game. They will never know the Elvis that the veteran fans knew because of this. It's gotten to the point where putting down Elvis Presley is status quo.
Just ask the people that write for ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY who insulted Elvis Presley on 3 separate occasions in 3 different issues. In the January 12th 2001 issue on page 14, there is a cartoon "spoof" on Elvis' Birthday Sightings (with insulting references to his eating habits) and then on page 65 in the "Coming Up" column of future video releases, there is an blurb for the upcoming release of ELVIS THAT'S THE WAY IT IS that says "It's the FAT Elvis, taking the stage circa 1970 in all his sequined glory". Anyone who knows about Elvis' performances at the International Hotel in 1970 knows that Elvis wasn't fat. If the writer had done his homework instead of trying to be "cool", he might not have ended up looking like a blow-hard grade school kid shooting off his mouth about things he has no knowledge of, just to gain acceptance from his imbecilic buddies. Then in the January 19th 2001 issue (which features that flash-in-the-pan Vanilla Ice clone EMINEM on the cover) on page 68 there is a review of the video release. And although the reviewer gives the movie a rating of "B" ("A" being the highest) he just can't let it be without a little "jab" at the end stating that "the King seems less concerned with vocal precision and more concerned with administering the love-me-tender to every female in rows A through H." (Hell, most the performers today JUMP INTO the females in rows A through H!) And then finally in the January 26th issue on page 81 in the "EW RECOMMENDS" column they mention the movie one last time. And once again, even though they "recommend" the movie, they couldn't resist still another "jab" at it by saying "And you thought the King was dead". (More of the "Elvis Is Alive" aftermath) I'm seriously thinking about canceling my subscription.
And what in the hell happened to the ELVIS THAT'S THE WAY IT IS - SPECIAL EDITION project? It was 1999 when I first heard about this project. Needless to say, I was thrilled with its potential. Unseen footage, remastered sound, and an all new edit with more of Elvis and less of everything else. A film showing Elvis Presley…dynamic, charismatic, and at the top of his game! A project like this could be BIG! A nationwide release, a companion CD release on the 30th anniversary of the film, some prime time commercials advertising the movie and CD. I thought this had the same potential (if not more) than the Beatles re-release of A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. With the right amount of promotion and media coverage, this could be HUGE! As time went by and the 30th anniversary came, and we got a 3 CD set of ELVIS THAT'S THE WAY IT IS - SPECIAL EDITION, but no movie! There was a "sneak preview" in Memphis during Elvis Week 2000 which was great but why wasn't the movie finished? We were told it was to be released in January of 2001. Well, so much for the 30th anniversary! Whatever happened to "timing is everything?" It was announced at the Sneak Preview that they would "try" to get a theatrical release and that it would premiere on the TURNER CLASSIC MOVIE CHANNEL. That's great, if you HAVE that channel in your local cable package! The video and DVD were to be released the very next day and it was going to have up to one hour of additional footage on the DVD! Okay, so they missed the anniversary, but at least there was a chance to get the movie in the theatres! At least they would give us some extra stuff on the DVD.
When January rolled around, there was no theatrical release (other than a few one-night special engagements around the country) and on January 8th at the "ENCORE PRESENTATION" of the "SPECIAL EDITION" of the movie, we are told that a couple songs had been taken out of the version we saw in August. THEN, we were told that the DVD would NOT have the additional footage that was promised to us at the "Sneak Preview" and that the release date had been moved to March instead of January. We were told it had something to do with money. (How come the people in charge of preserving Elvis' memory seem more concerned about profit and less concerned about the very thing that brings them profit?) Okay, now my disappointment is getting fuel.
Upon my return to Chicago, I went looking for the video release (supposedly to be released on January 9th) and it was nowhere to be found! Here I was expecting to walk into BEST BUY and see one of those cardboard isle video displays that they have for new video releases, but NOTHING! When I asked someone about it, they looked at me as if I was crazy. To this day (it has been 10 weeks since I returned from Memphis), there is NOT ONE STORE in my area has this video!! If this had been The Beatles, BEST BUY would've stayed open one hour past midnight on the day of its release! That is why The Beatles had the number one CD in the U.S. recently. I'm sure there'll be a cardboard isle display for the re-release of A HARD'S DAY NIGHT on video. Let's face it…if you're going to promote a pr