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Do not give in to Evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vanderboegh: Allegory

by Mike Vanderboegh
18 June 2008

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

"Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy. Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning." -- English Teacher Theodore Nellen

A New "National Floral Emblem"

On 23 September 1986, the House of Representatives passed a joint resolution naming the rose as the "national floral emblem" of the United States. The Senate had passed the resolution in 1985. In one of the more useless acts of his administration, President Reagan signed this resolution into law on October 7, 1986 in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

Of course - where else?

Well, that was then and this is now. Ronaldus Magnus is dead and buried, and his office has been occupied since by puny creatures with cravenly appetites masquerading as men. As a student of history, I cannot but help be struck by the fact that while government grows more powerful and grasping, the men who direct it grow more unprincipled, corrupt and incompetent. (Think Lord North's administration which precipitated the American Revolution.) This situation is unlikely to change after the next election, unless perhaps for the worse.

With that in mind, and with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dedicating its new way-over-budget national headquarters in Washington DC recently, I would like to propose that the rose be replaced as the "national floral emblem" with something more appropriate to the new realities of government in the 21st Century. It should first be planted in the lobby of ATF's new headquarters, for no other agency quite so demonstrates its dubious advantages.

And here it is:

Audrey II - the unofficial flower of the BATFE and proposed new "national floral emblem" of the United States.

"On the 23rd day of the month of September, in an early year of a decade not too long before our own, the human race suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its very existence. And this terrifying enemy surfaced, as such enemies often do, in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places . . ."

That's right.

It's "Audrey II" from Little Shop of Horrors.

Nothing else typifies the Imperial Federal Government today quite so well.

You know, I'm always looking for items of popular culture that I can use to teach the Founders' lessons. "A Bug's Life" was a movie that I excerpted to make a point in my essay in the '90s, "What Good Can a Handgun Do Against an Army?" where I compared Hopper and his gang of predatory grasshoppers to the black-clad ATF.

But it wasn't until I heard (second-hand) the other day of a threat to my life and liberty that I made the connection between Audrey II and the present day Imperial Feds. I'll spare you the details, but it's one of those "somebody I know was talking to somebody else" stories, the upshot was that certain members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are unhappy with my recent writings.

"He doesn't know who he's messing with," one of them was reported to have said.

And I flashed back to Audrey II singing:

Better wait a minute
Ya better hold the phone
Better mind your manners
Better change your tone
Don't you threaten me, son
Ya gotta lot of gall
We gonna do things my way
Or we won't do things at all

Ya don't know what you're messin' with.
You got no idea
You don't know what you're lookin' at
When you're lookin' here
Ya don't know what you're up against,
No, no way, no how
You don't know what you're messin' with,
But I'm gonna tell you now!

I have had dealing with a variety of law enforcement officers over the years - sometimes friendly, sometimes confrontational. Of all of the state, local and federal cops I've met, the federal gun cops have always had the worst attitudes, even when they didn't know what I thought of them up front. The ones I have met all seem to be equal parts of inferiority complex and bully. Consequently, they're always threatening whenever anybody refuses to kowtow to them.

"Don't you know who I am?" I've been asked more than once.

Get this straight!
I'm just a mean green mother from outer space and I'm bad
I'm just a mean green mother from outer space
And it looks like you been had
I'm just a mean green mother from outer space,
So get off my back 'n get out my face,
'Cause I'm mean and green
And I am bad!

Wanna save your skin, boy?
You wanna save your hide?
You wanna see tomorrow?
You better step aside
Better take a tip, boy
Want some good advice?
You better take it easy,
'Cause you're walkin' on thin ice

Ya don't know what you're dealin' with
No, you never did
Ya don't know what you're lookin' at,
But that's tough titty, kid!
The lion don't sleep tonight,
And if you pull his tail, he roars
Ya say, "That ain't fair?"
Ya say, "That ain't nice?"

Ya know what I say?
"Up yours!"

I love Levi Stubbs' characterization of Audrey II in the 1986 movie version of "Little Shop". But I got to thinking how much that movie is really an allegory about tyrannical government. Government never starts out being oppressive, it just grows that way.

Same with Audrey II. At the outset, Seymour Krelborn, a lonely orphan, exploited by his employer and pining for the true love of a girl who works with him in Mushnick's Skid Row Florists, is looking for companionship. He finds and nutures the small and helpless looking plant, talking to it, trying everything to get it to grow. Then, after pricking his finger with a rose thorn, he discovers Audrey II eats human blood.

At first the plant brings business to the shop and notoriety to Seymour. Audrey, the girl not the plant, has secretly liked Seymour but has not felt worthy of him. With the grow of the plant, Audrey is Seymour's biggest supporter, which Seymour wrongly attributes to his new-found success. The plant has grown considerably on Seymour's voluntary blood donations, but becomes more demanding:

Audrey II: Feed me!
Seymour: Does it have to be human?
Audrey II: Feed me!
Seymour: Does it have to be mine?
Audrey II: Feeeed me!
Seymour: How am I supposed to get it?
Audrey II: [singing]

Feed me, Seymour
Feed me all night long
That's right, boy
You can do it
Feed me, Seymour
Feed me all night long
'Cause if you feed me, Seymour
I can grow up big and strong

Audrey II promises Seymour success:

Would you like a Cadillac car?
Or a guest shot on Jack Paar?
How about a date with Hedy Lamarr?
You gonna git it.

Would you like to be a big wheel,
Dinin' out for every meal?
I'm the plant that can make it all real
You gonna git it

I'm your genie, I'm your friend
I'm your willing slave
Take a chance, just feed me and
You know the kinda eats,
The kinda red hot treats
The kinda sticky licky sweets
I crave

Come on, Seymour, don't be a putz
Trust me and your life will surely rival King Tut's
Show a little 'nitiative, work up the guts
And you'll git it

But Seymour has reservations about Audrey II's growth requirements:

I don't know. I don't know
I have so, so many strong reservations
Should I go and perform mutilations?

Audrey II counters:

Think about a room at the Ritz
Wrapped in velvet, covered in glitz
A little nookie gonna clean up your zits
And you'll git it

Seymour's will weakens:

Gee I'd like a Harley machine,
Toolin' around like I was James Dean,
Makin' all the guys on the corner turn green

And the plant seals the deal by arguing:

So go git it
If you wanna be profound
And you really gotta justify
Take a breath and look around
A lot of folks deserve to die

Audrey II draws Seymour to the window to show him the Human Audrey being abused by her boyfriend, the sadist dentist Orin Scrivello. Maddened at the sight, Seymour is convinced and they sing together:

If you want a rationale
It isn't very hard to see
Stop and think it over, pal
The guy sure looks like plant food to me.

He's so nasty, treatin' her rough,

Smackin' her around and always talkin' so tough.

You (I) need blood and he's got more than enough

So go git it!

So Seymour does, and the transformation is complete. Audrey II, which started out as Seymour's creation, has now made Seymour his servant. He becomes more demanding, and Mushnik the Florist is eaten.

But Seymour's fame continues to grow, and although he still thinks Audrey loves him for his success, in the play upon which the movie is based, he sings:

My future's starting,
I've got to let it.
Stick with that plant and gee, my bank account will thrive.
What am I saying?
No way! Forget it!
It's much too dangerous to keep that plant alive.

I take these offers, that means more killing.
Who knew success would come with messy, nasty strings?
I sign these contracts, that means I'm willing to keep on doing bloody, awful, evil things.
No! No! There's only so far you can bend!
No! No! This nightmare must come to and end!
No! No! You've got no alternative Seymour old boy,
though it means you'll be broke again and unemployed.
It's the only solution, it can't be avoided:

But still Seymour hesitates until Audrey II finally tries to eat Audrey I.

Seymour confronts Audrey II, "Every household in America? Thousands of you eating... that's what you had in mind all along, isn't it?"

Audrey II sneers back, "No sh-t, Sherlock."

And Audrey II begins to threaten Seymour with the lines above, and then sings, accompanied by pods which have appeared growing on his tendrils:

Watch me now!
I'm just a mean green mother from outer space and I'm bad.
I'm just a mean green mother, a real disgrace,
And you've got me fightin' mad
I'm just a mean green mother from outer space,
Gonna trash your ass,
Gonna rock this place,
'Cause I'm mean and green and I am bad

Don't you talk to me about old King Kong
You think he's the worst, well, you're thinkin' wrong
Don't talk to me about Frankenstein
He got a temper, ha! He ain't got mine!

You know I don't come from no black lagoon
I'm from past the stars and beyond the moon
You can keep The Thing, keep The It,
keep The Creature, they don't mean sh-t

I got one style, major moves
I got the stuff and I think that proves
You better move it out
Nature calls
You got the point?
I'm gonna bust your balls

Here it comes!
I'm just a mean green mother from outer space and I'm bad
I'm just a mean green mother, a real hard case
You can't beat this trouble, man
I'm just a mean green mother from outer space,
So just beam him up
It's all over, ace
I'm mean and green
And I. Am. Bad!

Confident in its increasing (and, it thinks, invincible) power, Audrey II and the pods sing while attacking Seymour, trying to kill and eat him. The shop is destroyed, the ceiling falls in, walls collapse, electrical cables are broken and Seymour is buried, defeated, perhaps dead.

But just as evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction, the plant has unwittingly given Seymour the weapon to kill it. A large electrical cable with its sparking end is seized by Seymour's hand emerging out of the rubble. He slaps it to one of Audrey II's tendrils and electrocutes the plant, which blows into atoms.

Audrey and Seymour are married and settle down in a little suburban tract home "somewhere that's green."

In the flower bed out front is a new, tiny Audrey II.


The Founders who crafted our constitutional republican system thought they had done the best they could, but as George Washington's words at the beginning of this essay indicate, they were apprehensive and fearful that even it would someday grow out of control.

It has. A government which once answered to the people is now issuing its own orders to the people, and occasionally killing them for its own purposes.

Just ask the Davidians.

A little bitty domestic plant, cultivated for the right reasons, has grown into an alien killer vegetable interested in nothing but its own survival and growth.

I agree with Seymour Krelborn. Allegorically speaking, "the vegetable must be destroyed."

In the meantime, let Audrey II become the new "national floral emblem." Nothing fits our present-day Imperial Federal leviathan quite so well.

It is perhaps fitting, however, that no threatening ATF agent I ever met could deliver his lines quite as believably as Levi Stubbs.

Even the ones who are as ugly as Audrey II all grown up.


Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126


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