September 04, 2011

Chief Dan George in Americathon

Indians Buy the Country Back in ‘Americathon’Here’s something interesting we stumbled across in an article about Ten Movies that Accurately Predicted the Future: The first pick is a little-remembered comedy from 1979 called Americathon. In the film, set in 1998, the United States failed to pull out of the 1970s energy crisis; without gas, everyone must get around by bicycle and automobiles become useless. Well, not so useless—as the USA of Americathon teeters on the brink of financial ruin, its citizens have taken to living in their cars.

But even this is a fool’s paradise; the president (played by John Ritter) has kept the economy afloat by borrowing heavily from an ultra-rich lender who decides he wants his money back. To stave off foreclosure, the USA ends up putting on a telethon to try to save itself; as you can imagine the hijinks that follow are both zany and madcap. Appearances by Meat Loaf, Harvey Korman, and Jay Leno.

But back up: Who’s the lender who calls in the debt? No, it’s not China. It’s Sam Birdwater, leader of an Indian cartel that has grown staggeringly rich off its cash cow, an international conglomerate that has mushroomed from what was once a modest shoe company called Nike. Yes, in this parallel universe, it’s the Indians who extract poetic justice, threatening to reclaim the country over $400 billion (a lot of money in 1978, apparently).
Comment:  Americanthon is perhaps best remembered for the song It's a Beautiful Day by the Beach Boys. Alas, few people know this fine song.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool movie. I love the idea. Back in the 70s, Americans, while mostly ignorant of Indian issues, were at least somewhat aware that the typical reservation wasn't a cross between Endor and Pantora. (Well, Pine Ridge has one thing in common with Endor: It was used in the manufacture of WMD by the government without the locals' consent, yub nub.)

Of course, it still doesn't have the consummate example of Harvey Korman hilarity: Korman in drag as a four-armed chef.

Wait, Birdwater? Why does that make me think of a bird bath? (My grandma has all kinds of kitsch lawn sculptures like a bird bath and a sundial.)

How does Mr. Three's Company play the president anyway? Ritter wasn't that old in 1978. Oh well, acceptable breaks from reality.