This past Saturday, as we stood outside the Bill Cosford Cinema waiting for Everything Is Terrible's 2Everything 2Terrible: Tokyo Drift, we were extra curious to see who would turn up for this exercise in awkwardness. When we spied a few senior citizens in sweater sets, we wanted to throw trench coats over their heads and march them out of the danger zone. Then some college kids arrived, already giddy with madness, donning Clockwork Orange-style pig masks, and charging the door.
Both demographics entered the theater, but we assumed only the masked ones knew what was in store: a feature film mash-up of found VHS footage, coupled with an Eyes Wides Shut performance orgy that involved Yo Gabba Gabba clergy men, chanting, and a Jerry Maguire impersonator in Spanx. Intrigued? Read our Q&A with Everything Is Terrible (EIT) here.
First, they warmed up the crowd with videos found on their blog, beginning with an upbeat '80s rap video that turned out to be an ill-conceived PSA about contracting HIV. And just minutes in, we were confronted with what would turn out to be the night's most disturbing visual: a clip from a (possibly) German porn involving ET -- with ET looking more like a rotting corpse than a lovable extraterrestrial. Unspeakable deeds were done that we haven't been able to un-see.
A masked, cloaked character emerged onstage and announced that only way
to get this party started -- and we're paraphrasing here -- was to build
a shrine to Jerry Maguire. This is one of EIT's big obsessions:
Thrift stores are flooded with Jerry Maguire tapes as the year it came
out on VHS, America was switching to DVDs.
Soon after, Jerry Maguire himself jumped down off the stage, the skin on
his face melted like wax and striped with blood. He weaved amongst the
aisles, exclaiming "Show yourself the money!,"asking if he could
touch us, and then shouting "We're friends now!" His crowd interaction
fed his extraversion until he ripped off all his clothes except his
bloody mask and a pair of nude Spanx that looked well-stocked with
As his mashed groin floated mere inches from our face, it occurred to us
this would have been the perfect time to use the video camera we had
stashed in our purse -- that is, if we didn't think such movements would
either enrage or encourage this Maguire monster.
When the action returned to the stage a few rows up, we bravely raised
our camera and captured the below ritual evoking the start of the film,
or as they called it "your catechism to your apocalypse":
The taste of the fog machine still in our mouths, 2Everything 2Terrible:
Tokyo Drift finally began. There's no use trying to explain it, so
take a look at a short clip we snagged below. Click wisely; the first
couple seconds are NSFW:
It was like being thrown down a wormhole of cultural artifacts from our
youth. Was that Alf dropkicking someone in the nuts? Did that mullet-coifed
Christian kid just do the running man? The film cuts and jumps were
fast, relentless, and hypnotizing. We were dizzy with nostalgia and shame.
Yet somewhere in the deluge of visuals, political commentary began to
take shape: cleverly juxtaposed clips revealed xenophobia, religious fanaticism,
sexism, and corporate greed. The EIT team managed to find a "making
of" video from a BP commercial on the company's public image. They paired this found
footage gold with a shot of Earth being blown-up, eliciting cheers and hoots from the Cosford audience.
The majority of 2Everthing 2 Terrible: Tokyo Drift, though, simply
relished in awkward moments. By focusing just on VHS tapes, they set
the very parameters to capture what could be the 20th century's most grotesque decades, roughly 1980-1997. (Coincidentally, it's the same awkward 18-year
span of this writer's adolescence.)
But no matter your age, there's
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something eternally cringe-worthy about the VHS years' low production values,
special effects fails, proclivity for talking puppets, and fashions that
don't get rehashed without sufficient irony. But how will today's Chocolate Rains, Numa Numas, and Double Rainbows be remembered?