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Brain Candy


If one ever wanted conclusive proof that alternate realities exist, just study our current presidential campaign. Supporters of President George W. Bush see him with great certainty as a man of the people, plain-spoken, clear-headed, strong and patriotic -- the leader we need to protect our freedom and our safety. Bush supporters see his opponent as wishy-washy and unprincipled, a man who has distorted his record for heroism and one who will degrade our culture and coddle our enemies.

Supporters of Sen. John Kerry, in striking contrast, see the current president as an elitist who governs for the interests of the richest among us, a muddle-headed man who wraps ill-thought-out policies in the flag of patriotism as a way of squelching dissent. They see the president as pursuing policies that are nakedly failing in the short run and incredibly dangerous in the long run. Kerry supporters see their own candidate as an intellectual who understands that the world's complicated problems can't be adequately addressed in TV sound bites. They see him as a man of courage and vision, one who will govern for all the people and not just the most privileged.

And between these two groups, there is almost no common ground. Kerry lied about his naval service, and Bush deserved his honorable discharge from the National Guard. Or Bush shirked and lied about his service in the National Guard while Kerry risked his own life in combat to save the lives of others. I go on at such length about these matters because they are far more interesting than What the #$*! Do We Know!?, a New Age-like "documentary" about how quantum physics accounts for alternate realities.

Written and directed by the trio of filmmakers William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente, Bleep, as I shall henceforth call it, is three pictures in one. (One for each writer-director perhaps?) One part tries to deliver a primer on sub-atomic physics, which I will comment on with great ignorance. In this part, a series of talking heads including chatty Ph.D.'s and Ramtha, a 35,000-year-old man as channeled by JZ Knight, explains that the universe is mostly made of nothing and that matter, which is something, is mostly made up of nothing, too. Moreover, some of the matter that is something, is a lot like a fan dancer: now you see it; now you don't. Scientists can't account for this, but electrons and even neutrons have this disarming habit of disappearing and then reappearing. Where are they when they are gone? In an alternate reality.

And though the talking heads don't say this, I will posit that they may not be in the same alternate reality every time. What if there are several alternate realities? I think there are at least three because, well, you do have to allow for Nader supporters.

A second part of Bleep proceeds from the fact that sub-atomic particles behave differently when observed than when not observed. I haven't figured out how the scientists know how the particles behave when they aren't being observed, so I have tried to construct my own analogy. Parents have known for generations that teenagers behave better when chaperoned. Therefore, when not observed, sub-atomic particles are just looking to score some weed and hang out at the mall.

Anyway, this different behavior stuff leads to the introduction of the term "The Observer," and leads us from physics over into psycho-theology. And that stimulates the talking heads to pontificate about the effect of peptides that arise from our emotions, attach themselves to neuron receptors in our brains and make some of us addicted to eating, sex, anger and depression, all of which are bad for us except for those on restricted carb diets and, of course, sex. If I am following the ideas here, and I quote: "Our mind creates our bodies"; "our brain does not know the difference between what it sees and what it remembers"; "we only see what we believe is possible" (and that's why Caribbean Indians couldn't see Columbus' ships); "materialism strips people of responsibility for their own actions, but so does religion"; and, most tellingly, "the trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery"; then basically, we've got to get the good peptides in and take the bad peptides out, so we can do the hokey pokey 'cause that's what it's all about. I've almost forgotten that the third part of this film is an actual narrative about a divorced, unhappy photographer named Amanda (played by Marlee Matlin). Amanda is beautiful, but she doesn't think so. And that means she needs a particle adjustment, performed by some chiropractors and the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. In short, God (aka The Observer) works in mysterious ways at the sub-atomic level, and you can help by laying off the bread and pasta. Meanwhile, if you're missing an electron or neutron here and there, God will send it back when he's done with Nader's universe.

Attitude adjustment: Amanda (Marlee Matlin) tries to gain self-confidence in the pseudo-documentary What the #$*! Do We Know!?.
  • Attitude adjustment: Amanda (Marlee Matlin) tries to gain self-confidence in the pseudo-documentary What the #$*! Do We Know!?.

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