Planet Weirdo ('Rubin and Ed' (1991) dir. Trent Harris)

The best way to introduce this rant, I think, is to say that I fucking love buddy comedies where one of the pair is truly, truly weird- a bizarre little freak. The other, in my ideal, has to start out normal, with weirdness repressed. Kind of a 'wake up and look in the mirror and do my daily affirmations, today I will be normal, I am normal, I fit in and am just like everyone else', normal. Initially disgusted by the weirdo they meet, as if being in the same room as the presence of freakiness taints them by association, they should (to make me obsessed) be coaxed out of their shell and exasperated to the limits, becoming even stranger than their weird-from-the-start counterpart.

I think of every movie like this as a reparation for the scene in 'The Breakfast Club' where they give Allison Reynolds that 'normal girl' makeover. For every creep that dies, several more shall rise!

So with 'Rubin and Ed', Rubin is obviously the weird-weird one. His hoarding obsession is quickly outgrowing the single room he occupies at the motel managed by his mother. At the beginning of the movie he is taking part in music-accompanied ritualised mourning for his recently deceased cat, who was his only friend.

Crispin Glover, man. I became obsessed with him when I watched 'Willard', and am now satisfied to watch anything that he is in because I know I will soon be introduced to another abnormal character. I've never appreciated type-casting more. His Rubin wears awful striped bellbottoms paired with a sensible button up shirt. His statement-piece are these gay platform boots which he frequently weaponises by delivering mock high kicks, propelling them from his feet and toward the head of a target. Yes, I've seen the Letterman interview where Glover-in-character-as-Rubin, motions doing the same to the bewildered talk show host. I only wish he'd shown one of the other abilities of the multi-purpose shoes as shown in 'Rubin and Ed'- that they collect quite a bit of sweat in the soles for emergency consumption later on.

Regardless, this ensemble is the type of automatically queer-coded outfitting which, as many people have pointed out, is a result of a low-budget thrift shop costume department. More films should do this, regardless of budget. Go down to the closest second-hand shop and pick the three most disjointed and gaudy pieces, whether the character they're intended for is quote unquote 'weird' or not. Let them dress ugly!

Rubin has a gay little outfit, and his odd-couple counterpart, Howard Hesseman's Ed, is also MLM- trapped in a pyramid scheme, that is. Flung straight from the seminar, Ed meets Rubin. Come hell or high water, Ed is determined to recruit at least one person to the cause, and Rubin is the only one that gives him the time of day. Rubin agrees to go to Ed's seminar, but first, they must go out into the desert to find the perfect spot to bury Rubin's poor dead cat.

Earlier that day, Rubin had been threatened by his mother; no more music until you make a friend! This of course also threatening Rubin's mourning process. Therefore, Rubin and Ed both scout each other for their own purposes.

Throughout the film, Ed routinely sees Rubin do something, and then remarks that it's the most disgusting thing he's ever seen. He can't abandon Rubin because, for one, they're now out in the middle-of-nowhere-desert with Rubin's dead cat in a cooler, but also because Ed will consider himself a failure if he doesn't bring Rubin back to his seminar. That in and of itself, Ed, is weird. Bro, at this point, just find someone else. Case in point, Ed is weird and just doesn't want to admit it. Obsessive, angry, motivated by failure- yes, and a freak. Rubin's flagrant disregard for politeness and the social norms of conversation means that Ed often has no recourse but to start a screaming row, and they go back and forth, insulting each other. Again, Ed, if you were truly normal, you wouldn't even be in this situation in the first place, out there looking for a peaceful desert oasis in which to bury a cat. They actually do end up splitting from each other in a fit of pettiness. Rubin doesn't want to go in the direction that Ed is headed, and Ed is too pissed off to stay with Rubin, so leaves anyway.

This is a repeated moment in many 'weirdo brings out the weirdness in another person' movies, I think. They're at the point where they're that sick of each other that they actually go out of the realm of safety, morality, social norms, or what is sensible just to get away from each other. Of course, they always end up back together.

Ed was always going to gravitate back to Rubin, whether through circumstance or personal choice. Ed even travels back into that sodding desert to save the man he supposedly hates- the most disgusting man ever- from dying of dehydration and overexposure. What is it about the weirdo that attracts and maintains the attention of so-called 'normal' people even when they have claimed that the weird behaviour is just too much. I think there's a sicko deep down in all of us that wants to steal cars, drink dead-cat water, and talk about echo-people without a care in the world. You get to do that vicariously through the weirdo, and by the time they've rubbed off on you and you're openly weird too, you don't care anymore. People hate those they think are strange, but are secretly thrilled by the idea of seeing firsthand what they do next.

Freaks in the movies, maybe even in real life, with their own set of rules, personal styles, and abnormal ways of living, are therefore black holes. Better yet, they are their own distinct planets, sucking people who dare to get too close into their gravitational fields. People claim to hate their guts but cannot get away. Why did you chart your spaceship so close in the first place then, idiot? These people take to their new weirdo planet climates by developing freak personas to help them survive the otherwise unbreathable atmosphere. Ed becomes a public nuisance, crashing the seminar he once was a proponent of, then wandering through the streets aimlessly with Rubin, ranting.

Is Ed a better person because of his encounter with Rubin? Not at all, in the grand scheme of things. But the big stresses of life are problems for other people, and this should be the age of caring about the seemingly pointless and inane. Of insulting people for no reason and telling them to shut up when they try to have a conversation with you.

What advice can Rubin and Ed offer to weirdos and non-weirdos alike? Well, for self-proclaimed 'non-weirdos' (yeah, right), if you're consistently irritated by someone standoffish, unnatural, or cringe, then I have bad news for you. By devoting that much brain power to someone you deem strange, you have already been sucked in. Maybe you're a moon or a meteor right now, orbiting. Pretty soon you'll be classified as a planet all by yourself, and that's not a bad thing.

For weirdos... This one's tricky. Not all weirdos are interested in having friends, but, speaking as someone with fringe-of-society experience, most are deeply lonely. Rubin seeks companionship to replace his cat. He needs a new friend, even if he doesn't seem to want one. The trouble with wanting a friend is that (to quote my mother) if you're actively looking for it, it wont come along. Things will hit you when you least expect them, if you're brave enough to pretend that you don't care. Go about your daily routine, and someone is sure to take offence!

Rubin goes about his life, but Ed seeks him out. Give people chances! Ask the improbable! Defy the norms of conventional meetings and conversations. If someone starts chatting to you at the bus stop, there's your in. They are only going to be normal until you start to wind them up. If you already think you don't fit in, you might as well drag someone down with you.