Octopussy by Other Means | The Nation


Octopussy by Other Means

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In the movie that has been assigned to us to write about, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Mike Myers from Saturday Night Live plays a secret agent named Austin Powers. He did this before, in the first Austin Powers movie, though not on Saturday Night Live, where he doesn't actually make appearances anymore, except when he's a guest. I didn't used to watch Saturday Night Live back when Mike Myers was on, because in high school my friends didn't really watch that program, or if we did we didn't admit it, because of its being on on Saturday night. But we knew about Mike Myers, especially from the second Wayne's World, and that's part of what's interesting about this new movie, in that it's mostly about time travel, and old things like the sixties.

About the Author

Stuart Klawans
The Nation's film critic Stuart Klawans is author of the books Film Follies: The Cinema Out of Order (a finalist for...

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A more apt comparison would be between the surviving staff of the satirical magazine and the brave abortion providers who carried on after the murder of Dr. George Tiller.

In this paper, I will show that The Spy Who Shagged Me completely summarizes Western Civilization as Mr. Klawans has explained it to us, making it an appropriate movie to be assigned for this final paper.

First, Western Civilization was built to be Phall-o-Sentric. That was why in the Greek theater, which proceeded movies, they trademarked the original special effect, which got strapped on for comedies. After that, it was proved many times that nothing is funnier or delivers a bigger box office than this Phallus effect. There are two reasons. First, everybody in the locker room or wherever wants to look at a really big one, but nobody wants to stare. So when they strap on a special effect, you get to look at it right there in public, even though you're not supposed to, and you laugh out of appreciation.

The second reason it's funny is that when they strap on a Phallus, you see they could take it off again. I think this is what Mr. Klawans meant when he talked about the sense of detachment they had in certain parts of Greek culture.

Now, as a movie about time travel and the sixties, The Spy Who Shagged Me tells about detachment, and how Austin Powers's Phallus comes loose. Only they call it his "mojo," and here's how it happens.

In the first Austin Powers movie, Austin Powers was an English secret agent and fashion photographer from London in the sixties who got frozen. By the time they thawed him out, in the nineties, he didn't know about AIDS or MTV. As a result, Austin Powers had to learn a lot about history and how people have changed, which I didn't completely know about myself, though the movie made it funny so I didn't mind. However, the idea for the new Austin Powers movie is this:

Dr. Evil, who opposes Austin Powers, uses a "time machine" to go back to 1969, where he steals Austin Powers's sex drive. To recapture it, Austin Powers himself has to go back to 1969, where he's more comfortable anyway. But even back in the sixties, because his mojo has been stolen, he can't make a commitment to his new spy partner and girlfriend, Felicity Shagwell. The actress who plays her is named Heather Graham, who according to Mr. Klawans was in some good movies like Drugstore Cowboy and Boogie Nights, which I didn't see.

Now comes the second trademark of Western Civilization: the Timeline. This doesn't just mean useful things like flow charts but also intellectual ideas such as they put in our non-major course requirements. By this, I mean history going in only one direction and having a meaning and coming to an end. Generally I don't see how this applies to my career, but it seems to work out in this course, because of the way Mike Myers is middle-aged. The whole idea of The Spy Who Shagged Me is that if Mike Myers or Mr. Klawans could go back to the sixties, the way Austin Powers does, they would be young guys again, so they'd be able to go to bed with Heather Graham, assuming she would do that, considering she's so much better looking. But secretly, people from their generation know they can't go back from being middle-aged, even though they want to. So in the movie Austin Powers has no mojo, even in the sixties.

This is where the detachment comes in. If time only goes one way, to The End, you're going to think history is like one big filing cabinet, where everything has its place and nothing ever gets lost. Mr. Klawans says that's how it is in this important book by Don T., the Italian comedy writer. I didn't see what was so funny about this idea. But then, I realized it means that when Mike Myers turns middle-aged and his Phallus gets detached, the mojo can't just disappear. It has to go somewhere, like it was filed wrong. So in the movie, it goes to Dr. Evil.

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