The Master of Disguise: 13 1/2 Years of Questions

In the year of our lord 2002, I saw the Dana Carvey film, The Master of Disguise, in theaters. It was during a weeklong vacation to Cape Cod. For some reason, my father and our family friend decided to take me, my two brothers, and our family friend’s son (our friend… it’s confusing to refer to one’s family’s friends) to the movies to see the film.

 

I don’t remember much of that experience, except that right after we had gotten tickets, another family tried to buy some and were told that the showing was sold out. I cannot begin to explain the ways my life would have been different had we been that group.

 

Apparently, after seeing the film, I was satisfied. In fairness, I was only 6 years old, so moving pictures across a screen were usually enough to satisfy me. But, what was more confusing was my older brother, who was eight at the time, who should have known better.

 

We were so satisfied, that Christmas, we got the DVD as a gift. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have seen the film nearly a dozen times since then. And every time I watch it, and every time I Google it, I am left with more questions than answers. No answers will be provided in this blog, only explorations of the nuclear meltdown of a film The Master of Disguise.

 

The Master of Disguise killed Dana Carvey’s career. If you check IMDB, he did not have a starring role in any movie until 2011’s Jack and Jill–another dumpster fire–and even that was almost a cameo. The director of Disguise, Perry Andelin Blake, never directed another film. It would be unthinkable that a movie that made more than twice as much as its budget would kill two careers, had you not seen the film.

 

For those fortunate enough to avoid Disguise, here is a quick summary that will, no doubt, make zero sense. Dana Carvey plays Pistachio Disguisey (yes, that is his name), an Italian boy/man/child? who works for his parents restaurant in America. Little does he know that the Disguisey family (surprise, surprise) has a long history of disguising itself. However, his father, Fabrizzio, played by the woefully miscast James Brolin, decided to that “this is no life for [his] son. He will never learn of his true destiny.”

 

Unfortunately for our nutty-named protagonist, Fabrizzio and Pistachio’s mother, whose name I cannot recall, get kidnapped, and with the help of his estranged grandfather, Pistachio uses his genetic predisposition for disguise to get them back and save the day.

 

Obviously, much of the “humor” from the film is derived from Pistachio’s disguises, which, of course, take advantage of Carvey’s talent at impressions. In total, Pistachio does 21 different impressions (or 20, if you don’t count being a literal pile of shit as an impression). [Exact numbers provided by Johnny Efstathiades (@jefstathiades).]

 

The first set of questions I will ask is about the impressions he chooses, because, boy, do they make no sense whatsoever. For a character that is supposed to use disguise to get places and information he normally wouldn’t be able to, he sure disguises himself as things that make him stand out. For example, when trying to get invited to the main villain, Devlin Bowman’s (played by Brett Spiner of Star Trek fame) party, he disguises himself as a handsy elderly woman named “Gammy Num-Nums.” This disguise choice is so bad, that he is completely unsuccessful in his mission.

 

Furthermore, the disguises that Pistachio uses are much less sophisticated that than of his father and grandfather. While all of Pistachio’s disguises look more or less like Dana Carvey in makeup or a wig, those of his father and grandfather are played by completely different actors. These are the logical inconsistencies that can plague one’s mind for years on end.

 

Having watched the film several times in my adult life, it has dawned on me just how many references in the film went completely over my head as a child. Now, that is something you can probably say about most kids movies. However, there are entire scenes and motifs that could not possibly be gotten by anyone under the age of ten. For example, one of Pistachio’s disguises is basically just Tony Montana of Scarface. What person in the target demographic of the film would have seen Scarface? I get it. Dana can do a decent Al Pacino. But when I was a youngin, he was just a strange guy with a lot of chest hair. Also, for what it’s worth, the classic, outside-of-the-house shot from The Exorcist is recreated. Fun for the whole family.

 

The Master of Disguise was a big studio film. Several dozen people had to say yes to most of these decisions. It is truly a tragedy that Dana Carvey’s career had to end due to their negligence.

 

Speaking of tragedies: the Turtle Club scene. Whenever I bring this film up to friends, the only scene any of them ever remember is the Turtle Club scene, and it’s little wonder why. Pistachio, trying to get info from the exclusive Turtle Club, dresses up as a guy who looks like a human turtle. He has a shell on the back of his green suit, thick rimmed glasses, and a bald head. Also, he moves his neck like a turtle, and speaks with the cadence that a turtle would, I suppose.

 

Obviously, the Turtle Club is actually a lounge for rich gentlemen, but that is no matter for Mr. Disguisey. You would think his assistant, Jennifer Baker (played by Jennifer Esposito), would correct him on this mistake, but nope. Anyway, he gets into the club after Baker, being attractive, convinces the bouncer that it’s been his dream. Once in the Turtle Club, he acquires the information from veteran character actor Eric Avari and then gets made fun of, because he looks like a complete weirdo.

 

Then, in one of the most puzzling scenes in cinema history, he proceeds get into some kind of scrum with some suited guys. At one point, he literally bites a man’s nose off, drawing no blood, and spits it back onto his face, perfectly. No one makes anything of this. No one says, “Holy shit. This guy is magic. He just ripped a guy’s nose off his face, and put it back on perfectly.” After this, in what is the most confusing editing choice I have ever seen in all of my life, we slow fade to a top down shot of Pistachio break dancing on the floor of the Turtle Club, yelling the word “turtle” for no more than five seconds. This means, that after violently assaulting patrons and not belonging in the first place, they let him break dance unmolested.

 

However, I have not gotten to the most important detail of the Turtle Club scene. I would not believe this if it were not confirmed by IMDB’s trivia section. The Turtle Club scene, which is without a doubt, the most memorably bad scene from this memorably bad film, was filmed on September 11th, 2001. Apparently, after news of the terrorist attack reached set, the cast and crew held a moment of silence. I wish we could chalk the work they produced up to grief and confusion, but something tells me it didn’t make much of a difference.

 

None of the characters in this film make any sense. For one, by all accounts, Pistachio Disguisey was raised in America his whole life. However, he retains as thick of an Italian accent as his father and grandfather. What’s more, his grandfather looks no more than ten years older than his father. I don’t know how they casted those roles so poorly.

 

And that brings us to Jennifer Baker. Why does Jennifer Baker become Pistachio Disguisey’s assistant? Because she needs dental insurance for her son Barney, a name I didn’t think people were still being named after the Reagan administration. This children’s movie had jokes about dental insurance. Yay. Baker is the only competent person for the duration of the film. She, being played by pre-gluten allergy Jennifer Esposito, is way out of Pistachio’s league. Of course, they fall in love anyway.

 

Which begs the question: what does she see in him? Is there a boyish charm in 47 year old Dana Carvey playing an ambiguously young loser? Throughout the movie, Pistachio demonstrates a half dozen markers of autism and learning disabilities. He is not a schlubby manchild. He is literally a man with the mental capacity of a child. Not to mention the fact that he speaks in the silliest Italian known to man, despite being from the same freaking city as Jennifer Baker.

 

In case you were wondering, and I know you weren’t, the reason Devlin Bowman kidnaps Fabrizzio is to force him to use his powers of disguise to steal priceless artifacts, like the Apollo 11 module and Liberty to sell on the Black Market. If you were wondering if the aforementioned “Black Market” was a literal online market and not just a general concept, then congratulations, you may have written this movie. Who is purchasing things on the Black Market? Obviously, Kenan Thompson, as “Kenan.”

 

One of Fabrizzio’s disguises, by the way, is of actress, model, and international icon, Bo Derek. Because movie magic isn’t magic at all, Bo Derek “plays” Fabrizzio disguised as her. If my memory serves me correct, she is on screen for no more than a minute and a half. However, this did not stop her from being nominated for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress. It’s that kind of movie.

 

I just cannot emphasize enough how inane, thoughtless, and, one an occasion or two, racist the disguises are in this movie.

 

Oh, and I almost forgot. What is the name of the mystical power that gives Disguiseys the ability to disguise? Energico, of course. Energico is not explained at all, and something tells me it’s for the best. If there were a Master of Disguise prequel in which someone explained that his grandfather had abnormally high levels of “Energico,” it would have been a Star Wars/midichlorians-type situation.

 

Pistachio spends a large duration of the film training to be a Master of Disguise. I suppose this is a good a time as any to mention that the film’s running time is only 80 minutes, and that includes ten minutes of credits. This film almost couldn’t be considered one of the worst movies of all time simply because it was almost not a feature-length movie.

 

And the during- and post-credits stuff sure is a doozy. For reference on how long this goes on, imagine the shwarma scene at the end of the Avengers. Then imagine that it lasted another nine and a half minutes. Dana Carvey literally performs new characters just during the credits, which suggests that even during principal photography, they knew that their film would be just a nose longer than an episode of True Detective.

 

And what would a film be without an original score. What original songs are on the soundtrack you ask? There’s M.A.S.T.E.R. Part 1 by Hardhedzz featuring Play. There’s M.A.S.T.E.R. Part 2 by Play featuing Lil’ Fizz from B2K. There’s also Master of Disguise by Vitamin C. The subject of all three of these songs, as should be no surprise, is the Master of Disguise.

 

I have so, so, so many more questions about this movie. As does my brother Kevin (@mskevinchristie),  who aided in writing this tour-de-force. Like, why after almost getting attacked in her fake kitchen set-up, does Pistachio’s mom look at the surveillance camera and say, “No more caramel corn for me” as if she knows Pistachio is watching? Or how exactly did Pistachio get into his cow poop outfit so quickly? Did he have it on him in his Tony Montana outfit? Or did he improvise it with actual cow poop? And why does he get up so quickly after laying on the ground in that outfit? These are all questions that are only appropriate to discuss around other people who have seen the film more than seven times, so I will spare you the exercise.

 

However, I do still have a copy of the movie in my dorm, so if you would like to watch, I am always available for a movie night.

 

 

The Master of Disguise: 13 1/2 Years of Questions

B.o.B. vs. Science: A Beef Examined

The world was reminded of rapper B.o.B.’s existence after his January 24th Twitter lecture on how he believes the Earth is actually flat. To many, this was their first foray into the world of Flat Earth Truthers. However, being a veteran of boredom on the Internet, I recalled reading about the “Flat Earth Society” way back in the day. Apparently, their website (http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/cms/), still exists.

Somehow, these people have managed to convince themselves that thousands of years of science are completely incorrect. Most believe Christopher Columbus disproved the flat-earth theory, but in fact Greek mathematician Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth almost exactly way back in 240 B.C.E. So even before Jesus was crucified, people would have given B.o.B. side-eye for what he is espousing.

So what leads B.o.B., who was born Bobby Ray, to disbelieve what is such basic science? He provides his own explanations, which you’ve no doubt heard by now. On the off-chance that you have more important things to do than read the Twitter feed of Mr. Ray, here’s a quick rundown of his “evidence.”

For one, he takes issue with the horizon being flat. To him, if the Earth really were curved, so would the horizon. Obviously our field of view simply isn’t wide enough in order to see the curve, but B.o.B. has no time for such nonsense. What’s more, he posted a series of photos of varying heights, explaining that if the Earth were round, photos from a high enough elevation would also show the curve. Once again, these pictures, while taken from high places, were not high enough.

You may be thinking about how there are photos high enough that show the curvature of the Earth, like the video taken by Felix Baumgartner, the daredevil who famously broke the record for longest fall by a person for Red Bull a few years ago. Not so fast, says B.o.B. According to him, the curvature of the Earth in that video is simply a result of the GoPro’s lens.

Furthermore, B.o.B. points out that the fact that the stars rotate back into their same places means that the Earth is flat and the heavenly bodies are simply rotating around us. That’s basically it. He provides more evidence, as well as a multitude of pictures of him in front of the horizon, but that’s most of it. For the tweets themselves, this link is pretty helpful.

Had B.o.B. stopped there, I would not have gone on this deep dive. However, Bobby took offense to popular astrophysicist and novelty tie-wearer Neil deGrasse Tyson correcting his bad science. In a move that would have defied explanation just a week before, B.o.B. released what is likely the only diss track on a scientist. It is called Flatline.

Please listen to it. I implore you. There is so much to unpack.

And I’ll be going line-by-line.

Alright. It’s worth noting that the beat is very good. This is a common theme in bad rap diss tracks, in my opinion. Then we start.

Yo, you ain’t seen my best
Checkmate, ain’t a game of chess

My biggest issue with most diss tracks is how long they take to get to the subject of the diss. This one gets there pretty quick, but I don’t need this.

Globalists see me as a threat
Free thinking, got the world at my neck

“Globalist” here means people who think that the world is round. So, according to Bobby Ray, about 7 billion people see him as a threat. This is also, of course, a great example of when you just assumed that it wasn’t necessary to have a term for something.
Hah, am I paranoid? Picture Malcolm X
In a room full of pigs, trying not to bust a sweat

I really would love to tell Malcolm X that fifty years after his death, a musician would compare his struggle in believing the Earth is flat to the Civil Rights Movement. And even if you believe you’re on the same level as Malcolm, you keep that to yourself.

 

Aye, Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest
They’ll probably write that man one hell of a check

First off, I do agree that Neil Tyson could use to loosen his vest. However, as my good friend Courtney Perkins (@snikrepyentrouc) points out, “the idea that [Tyson] is saying this shit because he’s going to be written a check FOR CALLING OUT A STUPID RAPPER is insane! This is a mild hobby for him!” And that begs the question of who exactly is writing the check? I can only assume some shady Illuminati group.

 

Aye, I’m over here on this side of town
Come on over, over, over, over here try to clown
Aye, I never pipe down
If they weren’t coming for me then
They definitely coming for me now

For one, repeating “over” four times is just bad rapping. Also, who is coming after you? If there really were some conspiracy covering up the shape of the Earth, wouldn’t they have already silenced you?
I can’t even keep my phone charged up

I’ve done some research on this line, and either he means that his phone is being tapped (which it isn’t) or he’s tweeting the truth so much, his phone is dying, which is a dumb thing to brag about.
All this shit I’m talking, I should get my home bought up

Apparently, it is widely believed by conspiracy theorists that eminent domain is used to silence them. So that’s a thing.
Rappers get off of my dick and get your own bars up

C’mon, Bob. Stay on topic. There’s nothing relevant here.
Now the mirror lizard’s breath got the clones scared cuz

And nonchalantly, our friend Robert brings up two crazy conspiracies. First, he implies the existence of lizard people, which, according to lore, are supposed to be revealed only in mirrors because apparently they’re also vampires. Also, he mentions clones. One could pass this by if they were completely unaware of the rest of B.o.B.’s twitter feed. This is a list of all of his tweet’s mentioning cloning. Basically, he believes that the government clones people to make them more docile. For example, he cites when celebrities go to “rehab” as them actually being kidnapped and cloned.
Woo, use your, use your common sense
Why is NASA part of the department of defense?

This is a question I don’t know the answer to. However, my common sense does not tell me, “To cover up the world being flat.”
They divided up the seas into thirty-three degrees

Rather than regurgitate the ridiculous info I gathered on what he means by this, I’ll just say that apparently, Flat Earth Truthers explain seasons by the sun covering different thirds of the Earth at different times.
Feeding kids masonry, bruh, be careful what you read

So apparently the Freemasons are in on this. What I was reminded of on this deep dive is just how conspiracy theorists will literally connect every conspiracy possible. Like, if the Earth really were flat, do the Freemasons have to have something to do with it?

Flat line, flat line
There’s no superior blood line
Flat line, flat line
You got me once but that died, aye

I want to believe that the “superior blood line” refers to an alien race, but there is no evidence to support that (while obviously that doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe it). I will give credit where credit is due and say that if you are going to rap about the Earth being flat, the “flat line” metaphor is fairly effective.
Voice, voice, do I have a voice?

Yes. It’s 1:04am and I’m talking about you.
Do I give a fuck? Do I have a choice?

Apparently not.
Joint, joint, I roll up a joint

You couldn’t help yourself mentioning marijuana could you? And a word of advice for anyone considering rapping about an outlandish conspiracy theory: don’t mention weed. Because we already think you’re high as hell anyway.
Keep my shooters in the game like I hate to disappoint

I don’t get this line, and no one else does, so I’ll skip it.
I see only good things on the horizon
That’s probably why the horizon is always rising

He compares his life to the horizon, which is apparently always rising. This is a reference to how in the Flat Earth Theory, the horizon appears to rise because the sun moves farther away. Jesus.
Indoctrinated in a cult called science
And graduated to a club full of liars

Alright, man. The concept of science is a cult? That’s like saying “History” is a crime or something.
Heliocentrism, you were the sixth victim

Oh yeah. Did I not mention that the Flat Earth Theory rejects heliocentrism, or the belief that the Earth revolves around the sun? This is, if you recall, what Galileo died for. 550 years later, he may have died in vain.
Fuck you and your team, you can sit on the bench with ’em
They nervous, but before you try to curve it

Once again, “your team” being all 7 billion reasonable people.
Do your research on David Irving
Stalin was way worse than Hitler
That’s why the POTUS gotta wear a kippah

Thanks for the recommendation, Bob. I researched David Irving. Who is a Holocaust denier. Perhaps that belief is why he think Stalin is worse than Hitler, because, apparently, he believes the Holocaust to be a hoax. Because of a Jewish conspiracy. Which is why Obama has worn a Jewish hat from time to time.
I’m a man first ‘fore an artist
Get a lawyer, look up Doctor Richard Sauder

A good song shouldn’t make you have to Google, but whatever. For those interested, Dr. Sauder is a conspiracy theorist (surprise, surprise) who believes, among other things, that there are a series of underwater bases and tunnels run by a shady, Illuminati type group. Mother of god.

So after this, the hook comes back in, and then we are treated to a sample of Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining the oblong shape of the Earth. Here it is in full just so you understand the absurdity of B.o.B. using it:

So you want to find the farthest point from that center. And it turns out sea level at the equator is farther away from the center of the Earth than sea level near the poles. It has nothing to do with global warming and melting of the ice caps

(Why is that?)

Because… Earth, we know it spins, once a…. day. Yes, thank you. Three people know that, how long a day lasts here

(Good for row number two, they’re off to a great start)

So you, so you spin, you know when you spin pizza dough, it kind of flattens out. It gets wider in the middle and…so Earth throughout its life, even when it formed, it was spinning. And it got a little wider at the equator than it does at the poles. So it’s not actually a sphere, it’s an…it’s oblate, it’s officially an oblate spheroid. That’s what we call it. But not only that, it’s slightly wider below the equator than above the equator

(A little chubbier?)

Little chubbier, chubby’s a good word, it’s like pear-shaped. So it turns out the pear-shapedness is bigger than the height of Mount Everest above sea level

As Courtney Perkins correctly asked (angrily, I might add), “Does he think that an interlude of Neil deGrasse Tyson giving a detailed description of the earths (sic) shape is going to make us think it’s flat?” But seriously, does he? Because he inserted a clip of Tyson precisely explaining the shape of the Earth, which is not flat.

The song ends after another hook, and we are left to wonder what B.o.B. intended us to think. The most insane thing about it is that we are, I presume, supposed to come away believing in the Flat Earth Theory. Which makes no sense. Because even if the Flat Earth Theory were true, this song is a terrible primer on it.

But what is most concerning to me, and others, is how B.o.B. makes his pitch to the listener’s common sense. After I asked her thoughts on the song, my other friend Emily Fong (@emolyfong) mused, “We live in an world that seems to be constantly regressing in terms of what is deemed as ‘logical thought’ or ‘common sense.'”

Should we really be surprised that people believe this when grown adults also believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old? I don’t know. But Emily points out is that “B.o.B’s refusal to acknowledge something as basic as THE ROUND EARTH THEORY has spurred possibly the greatest beef of all time between a scientist and d-list rapper.” And she’s right.

It needed to be something as ludicrous as the Flat Earth Theory, or else nothing would have happened. As I realized last night, B.o.B. is really most known for only three songs, all of which are most remembered for their choruses by other, featured artists (“Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams, “Nothin’ On You” featuring Bruno Mars, and the formerly ubiquitous “Magic” featuring Rivers Cuomo). He simply is not famous enough for this story to matter if it were something as simple as 9/11 truthing.

In fact, that level of conspiracy theorizing is so often overlooked. I mean, we can pretend that Macklemore never tweeted “911… bush knocked down the towers” or that Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t grill a retired general about the September 11th attacks, but you can’t ignore someone saying that the Earth is flat. That’s the type of thing you lose all of your friends over.

We’re all willing to give B.o.B. the spotlight for this because it is one of the rare out-of-left-field moments we have in this day and age. I was legitimately surprised when I saw the headline, “B.o.B. Claims Earth is Flat,” and I’ll believe just about anything.

Apparently, though, if I had followed B.o.B. closely, I wouldn’t be. After “Flatline” dropped, I immediately set up a call with my high school friend Addison Allen (@addison_allen) to discuss B.o.B. and his theories, and he enlightened me to Bobby Ray’s long history with conspiracies. I’ve shared some of his tweets earlier, but even in his popular music he dabbled with the tin foil hat community.

Addison pointed me to a 2010 song called “Dr. Aden” which is about Bayer selling drugs laced with HIV. He has also made references to the 9/11 conspiracy, among others throughout his discography. When I asked Addison if these references made him see this coming, he said, “Definitely not.” Because of course not. For some reason, in the minds of everyone I’ve talked to about this (and I’ve talked to everyone), they all share the belief that Flat Earth Truthing is a step beyond all other conspiracy theories. It’s on a whole different level.

It shouldn’t surprise you that Bobby Ray also believes that mass shootings are false flags or that the government can read your mind. I don’t chuckle to myself when I hear about people who believe in these things. But flat earth? That’s hilarious.

Emily summarized how I think we all feel, that “in the span of like 6 months, Twitter has given us stories like Zola, Twitter has given us landmark cultural trends like #wastehistime2016. but B.o.B’s flatline…. tops it all.” Because it is just so fucking nuts. Bill Simmons describes a concept called the “Tyson Zone,” named after Mike Tyson, wherein you’ll believe any story that comes out about a celebrity, and not even that would have prepared me for this.

My least favorite thing about the Internet is its capacity to forget. I hate the fact that the Internet will forget this. I want to hold onto this feeling of disbelief I’ve held for over 48 hours forever. Perhaps life’s simplest pleasure is thinking, “Holy shit, I can’t believe someone is that stupid.” Because holy shit, I can’t believe someone is that stupid.

But seriously, get Bob some help. And not from a scientist or whatever.

B.o.B. vs. Science: A Beef Examined