No Matter Who Wins, We Lose

While staying at my mother’s house over the weekend, my baby daughter woke up screaming in the middle of the night, completely inconsolable. She was wailing in a desperate and terrified way completely unfamiliar to me. And there was nothing I could do to make her stop, which gave me the worst feeling a parent can have: powerlessness. If you can help it, you don’t want your child to realize you’re completely worthless until they’re at least 10 years old.

Cry Recognition is one instinct you develop pretty early on your parental career. Like a car nut who can tell the model of classic wheels based on the sound of the engine, a parent can tell what their child wants based on the style and timbre of their cries. There are subtle yet important differences in a baby’s cry when she’s wet and a baby’s cry when she’s hungry. Or a baby’s cry when she just feels like crying and waking up everyone in the house. Babies are real dicks sometimes.

I tried whispering soothing things and I tried singing to her but she refused to even open her eyes. So I walked her into the bathroom, hoping that she’d see herself in the mirror and realize she was with her father and everything was okay. But that didn’t work either. So I finally decided to take her out to the living room and put on some kiddie show she likes. I felt like watching Teletubbies at 2 in the morning about as much as I felt like stabbing myself in the eye with a cocktail toothpick, but these are the sacrifices you make for your children.

But when I got out to the living room, the TV was already on, tuned to TNT. Once the baby saw what was on the TV, she calmed down very quickly. Then she smiled a little bit. I settled her down on the couch, and she sat there quietly, playing with her toes. It was if nothing bad had happened at all. Her worries had all disappeared. Within a half hour, she started to nod off and was completely ready to go back to sleep.

That was great for my hopes for more than three hours of sleep. But what had captivated and cheered her up so? No, amazingly, it was not a Law and Order rerun. It was the last 15 minutes of Predator.

We arrived in the living room just as The Predator finally made himself visible, and Arnold Schwarzenegger growled “Vat thu hell ah you?!” She was delighted as Arnold crushed The Predator with a booby trap. And she said “ooh!” when The Predator set off a nuclear mushroom cloud.

But even though she was no longer hysterical, she wasn’t ready to go to bed when Predator ended. So we stayed up to watch the next movie up on TNT: Predator 2.

Have you ever seen Predator 2? If McBain movies were real, this would be one of them. It is a shining example of Don Simpson-esque late 80s/early 90s low brow/high concept action garbage. A turd polished until a glistening brown. Its dystopian view of the future is a lot like RoboCop‘s, except unlike RoboCop, Predator 2 has no sense of irony, or humor, or shame.

Predator 2 (set in the violence-rocked future urban Vietnam of Los Angeles, 1997) opens with the kind of ridiculous gang war that only happens in movies, where scumbags spray machine gun fire at cops and blow up squad cars while laughing at the top of their lungs. Only Danny Glover can stop the scumbags but of course all his superiors hate him because dammit, he just cares too much.

Oh, and The Predator is killing drug dealing gang members in brutal, ritualistic fashion. Why? The movie never bothers to tell you. You are supposed to assume that The Predator (1) knows who drug dealers/gang members are, (2) has moral objections to them, and thus (3) wants to eviscerate them with his bitchin’ alien killing technology.

Or, more likely, the screenplay was written by some hack during a frenzied three-day coke-and-meth-fueled Motel 6 bender, and the producers counted on Joe Sixpack to not think too hard about its finer plot points.

But thank you for making such a terrible movie, Hollywood Assholes, because you put my daughter to sleep right quick. I guess I should also give props to the mountains of Bolivian Marching Powder you consumed. Thanks, Cali Cartel–because of you, all things are possible.

It didn’t truly occur to me until the next morning that my daughter had been roused from a bout of terror and soothed back into sleep by The Predator. Not a lullaby, or rocking, or whispered reassurances from her father. No, she was sent off to Slumberland by an unstoppable alien killing machine.

So, I should be worried, right?