Like Citizen Kane before it, Howard the Duck‘s cinematic perfection remains untarnished by time. And no, I’m not trolling you. I firmly believe that William Hyuck’s 1986 masterpiece, which is based on one of the longest-running comics of our time, is completely flawless. Granted, I’ve never read a single issue of Steve Gerber’s comic, and that could, quite possibly, be the reason I love the movie adaptation as much as I do. I’m devoid of angst concerning the treatment of the original subject matter because I have no experience with it, and I choose not to sully my adoration for the film by delving into the printed material. I love the film for everything it is, but mostly for what it has come to stand for in my life. Before we go any further, this post is dedicated to fellow author and new friend of mine, Gregor Xane. Gregor emailed me yesterday and asked where he might find the reasoning behind the affection with which I shower Howard’s one and only movie. I’ve discussed this before, so much so that I continue to receive film memorabilia from friends and fans, but I wanted to kill two birds with one stone by acquiescing to Gregor’s demands (he was actually quite undemanding and pleasant, but I’m a melodramatic fucker) while creating a public record detailing why I care so much for one of George Lucas’s only box office flops.
First Argument: I do not think that Howard the Duck falls into the category of So Bad It’s Good. It is not my Troll 2. I enjoy watching Howard’s journey not because I fancy laughing at its faults, but because I thoroughly savor the ride. The film is well-written, with a stellar cast of stars (Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins, Jeffrey Jones, Holly Robinson), and showcased ground-breaking special effects. The movie touched upon such hard topics as social acceptance, racism, and the plight of the unemployed. It even managed to make bestiality acceptable for a split second, which is a feat no other film can claim. As many times as I’ve seen this movie with first-time viewers, not one has said, “But… she’s kissing a duck.” While I do not condone sexual intercourse between man and animal, I respect the character development. By the time Beverly kisses Howard, we’re so invested in their characters that we completely ignore the fact that what’s happening on screen should be considered disgusting. Well played, indeed.
Second Argument: Though I adore Howard the Duck, I’m not oblivious to the fact that more people hate this movie than like it. This proved two things to me: Just because someone hates something, it a) does not mean everyone will, and b) those who despise things you are a fan of should be allowed their opinion as you should be allowed yours. This comes into play concerning my unyielding stance on reviews. Sure, there are many people who cannot stand my writing, and that’s okay. Not only because a great many people do enjoy my work, but also because everyone is entitled to their opinion. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t understand the story or didn’t finish the book or have no want to ever even open the first page. They have every right to leave me a one-star review wherever with no reasoning whatsoever, or tear it apart in snarky- or angst-filled critiques. It’s okay. O-K, you hear me? I was raised in a house where one parent worked all the time and the other mostly ignored my presence, and when my father did manage to yank himself away from his television shows for two shakes of his bulbous nose it was only to tell me I’d never amount to shit if I were eaten by a wild animal, digested, and squeezed out among the weeds. I learned at a rather early age that I could only rely on myself to provide myself with happiness. I learned how to be alone, and most of that time was spent playing inside the vast expanse of my imagination or watching Howard the Duck on VHS. But let me be clear. I was not a lonely child. I do not tell you these things to garner sympathy. All these things merged to create an individual who realized very young that no one is entitled to happiness. Instead, you must create your own happiness while finding your way in life. Much like Howard.
Third and Final Argument: Howard the Duck is a fond memory of a time to which I wish I could return. After seeing the film in theaters (thanks to my wonderful older sisters and their boyfriends at that time) my life changed. Not because of the movie, mind you, but because all children must grow up. Unfortunately, that time came far too soon for me. Things started to become clear to me. The world wasn’t the safe place I’d once imagined it to be. You see, a few houses down on the street where I grew up, it came to light that the father of two of my best friends was a child molester. While he didn’t get at me, his existence turned my world upside down. Suddenly everyone was talking about their run-ins with this man, even my sisters. Rumor had it that they had willingly given in to his demands to save me from his advances. To this day, my sisters haven’t told me whether or not these rumors were true, and I refuse to broach the subject. What I do know is this: Monsters were suddenly all too real. Mostly, they’re men or women with disgusting appetites who cared not for anything but satiating their needs. I long for the days when monsters were nothing more than crab-legged inter-dimensional overlords with snapping mouths and seeking claws, because mankind is fucking scary, and Howard the Duck isn’t here to save us.
Have a good day, my friends.