George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic are going to hear about this!
Remember back in the late 90s and early 2000s, when Comedy Central would run the same movie over and over every day? It was always the underseen classics like Back to School, Meatballs, and PCU.
To be honest, I had not thought about PCU in around 20 years. That's probably my loss.
For those of you who need a refresher, PCU is a 79-minute comedy film starring Jeremy Piven and David Spade. It takes a funny look at life at the fictional Port Chester University. We see parties, clubs, sex, bullying, and lots of insane situations, culminating with George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic playing a house party.
Oh, and it has Jon Favreau looking ridiculous. Which makes me laugh all the time.
This movie was largely dismissed after it came out, another 90s comedy that had some funny jokes but never elevated into something transcendent. I have not seen it in two decades, but I remember loving it when I was 14.
So what prompted this pleasant wave of movie nostalgia?
Yesterday, on Twitter, I ran into an article about how Hollywood has canceled PCU because the movie is not woke enough. Usually, I would laugh and keep going, but this argument was not made as a bit. It was inside an article about defending free speech.
“PCU is unavailable on streaming services today; the only way to access it is via DVD on the secondary market, which will cost you $35. It would not be unreasonable to surmise that there may be a political reason behind its relative unavailability.” https://t.co/lRujv4r7DM
“PCU is unavailable on streaming services today; the only way to access it is via DVD on the secondary market, which will cost you $35. It would not be unreasonable to surmise that there may be a political reason behind its relative unavailability.” https://t.co/lRujv4r7DM— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) June 10, 2021
The article, titled "How to Defend Free Speech," goes deep into details around supposed free speech suppression but goes back to PCU over and over...
Things start this way:
"Animosity toward political correctness was so universal at the time that Hollywood made a movie criticizing the concept. In the 1994 film PCU, Jeremy Piven and David Spade made campus radicals the punch lines. This being Hollywood, Spade played the obligatory Republican antagonist and leader of a fraternity of blazer-and-tie-wearing Neanderthals, while Piven's character Droz stood aloof, mocking the pretensions of campus radicals and generally belittling all sides. The movie even allowed leftists to parody themselves. In one scene, a feminist asks a friend accusingly, '[y]ou went out with a white male?' The accused responds defensively: 'I was a freshman! Fresh-person.'"
That's a funny paragraph, and I think generally fair to the movie. It was a satire about being on a woke campus of the 90s, and Piven was seen as the "voice of reason" within the film. But then the arguments about PCU take a wild turn.
The article poses that while "political incorrectness" used to be cool, now it is what Hollywood censors. And it uses the general unavailability of PCU to prove that behind the scenes, Hollywood is trying to silence this movie.
The article actually says, "The fourth area of opportunity for free-speech advocates is in the realm of popular culture. Here, too, things are more challenging than they were in the 1990s. Hollywood is, if possible, even more left-leaning than it was that decade, and cancel culture has a powerful grip on the entertainment industry. In fact, PCU is unavailable on streaming services today; the only way to access it is via DVD on the secondary market, which will cost you $35. It would not be unreasonable to surmise that there may be a political reason behind its relative unavailability."
I truly don't know where to begin here, but if you think Hollywood is silencing PCU, what do you think they're doing with classics like True Lies, The Abyss, Cocoon, or all the other wildly more popular titles that are also inaccessible thanks to corporate studio takeovers and licensing agreements?
While Hollywood leans left, I don't think there's some liberal conspiracy to bury a lower-tier David Spade movie.
I think there's not enough of an audience for a corporate overlord to make sure it transfers onto Blu-ray. And I don't think Disney+ is itching to put on a 90s homage to Animal House either.
Even outside of all of that, we're in a weird time where we actually don't have access to a lot of movies. We might think we do, thanks to streaming, but studios and their massive categories have not made things easy, even if we thought they might. We're losing older films, classics of genres, and even unknown gems at an alarming rate.
The truth is, lots of old, mostly okay movies are not accessible anymore. It's a really sad part of the industry! When Disney took over Fox, people decried the fact that they might bury old titles, among which PCU resides.
This epidemic has nothing to do with cancel culture. I mean, you can still watch Birth of a Nation, and I think if Hollywood was canceling old movies, that one would hit the top of the list!
Even the laziest researcher could have found this stuff out. The most simple Google reveals a list of movies that are not streaming thanks to complicated licensing and studio neglect.
Among them is Dogma. Do we think there's a big conspiracy by the Catholic Church to silence Kevin Smith? Keep Silent Bob quiet! No. That's not a thing.
PCU was not canceled, and people in Hollywood are not victims of anything but aggressive capitalism that forgot this town was built on the intersection of art and commerce, and only focuses on commerce.
It's a bummer when you can't watch a movie from the past. We have to do something about it. But this has nothing to do with free speech.
As the great George Clinton once said, "Free your mind, and your ass will follow."