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I Ruined A Movie And Didn’t Kill Hitler

I built a time machine, but instead of killing Baby Hitler I took a Guy Who Writes For Salon to see the 1981 premiere of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’


As the film began, we saw the South American guide get spooked by a flock of birds flying out of a statue’s mouth. This seemed to agitate the Guy Who Writes For Salon. He sneered that this deliberately portrayed “indigenous people” as “superstitious and cowardly” rather than from a culture with a proud and distinguished history. Some folks near us looked over with disapproving glances. I whispered to the Guy that the scene was merely to heighten suspense. He shook his head.

After the second guide pulled a gun on Indiana Jones, the Guy threw his hands up in disbelief and said Spielberg obviously wanted to convey that “brown people can’t be trusted.” An older man behind us asked the Guy to stop talking. The Guy said everyone talks in movie theaters, but I reminded him we were in 1981 and people in theaters weren’t self-absorbed jerks yet.

Indy disarmed the guide with a whip, causing the man to panic and run off. The Guy muttered, “Oh I get it, white guys are magic!” He was immediately shushed by a young child.

In the temple, Jones helped his last remaining guide evade several lethal traps. “See the subtext there?” the Guy said, “Follow the white European way or die. Jesus. So blatant.” I nudged the Guy in the hopes he’d keep it down.

As Indy approached the golden idol, the Guy sat bolt upright and looked over at me. “This doesn’t bother you?” he asked. I said I didn’t understand. He replied, “The fact that a white male feels it’s his birthright to pillage the rich history of other cultures! He’s a thief! A culture thief!” A lady to his left said in a friendly Southern way to please shut up.

When the third guide left Indy for dead and fled with the golden idol, the Guy leapt up and cheered loudly, jarring the audience. Someone in front asked what the hell he was cheering about. “Indigenous people reclaiming what is rightfully theirs!” he exclaimed. He told the man to download Midnight Oil’s 1987 land-reclamation anthem “Beds Are Burning,” which could not be downloaded and hadn’t come out yet because it was 1981.

As soon as the Guy saw that the native had been gruesomely impaled on the trap gate, he became incandescent with rage, shouting, “Are you [expletive] kidding me?” He was cursed at by several members of the audience but continued complaining bitterly that it was “nothing more than imperialist propaganda” and an effort to “subjugate developing countries” by “instilling fear of resistance to cultural banditry.”

I was now very worried because the Guy was clearly agitated. It was still quite early on in the film. We hadn’t even gotten to Indy casually shooting the Arab swordsman or telling Marion he’d give her money to buy a pretty dress.

The Guy’s lecture greatly reduced the suspense of the “rolling boulder” scene. A burly dude two rows up threatened to “punch his fat face.” The Guy then accused the burly dude of sizeism and shouted “hashtag plus is equal!” The burly dude was understandably befuddled.

Any happiness the Guy felt at seeing Indy lose the golden idol when he emerged from the temple quickly dissipated when it fell into the hands of a “colonialist  Frenchman”—who then used it to make the tribesmen bow down before him. I realized that, for the Guy, this whole thing must be an emotional rollercoaster that mostly went down. I started to wonder why I had brought him here.

There was no way of knowing how the Guy would respond to Indy fleeing hundreds of blowdart-wielding tribesmen. I can tell you he started by shouting “Hail xenophobia!” In short order, the entire audience was subjected to streams of NC-17 curses, condemnations of Spielberg, Lucas, and (oddly) Dick Cheney and a litany of buzzwords I hadn’t heard since college.

Fortunately, security appeared. The audience cheered as the guards ushered us toward the exit in the back. The Guy was all spittle and clenched teeth, threatening a negative Yelp review, but I was very apologetic and advised anyone within earshot to buy stock in Apple and hold it for 30 years.

We returned to the time machine and I set a one-way course for present day. I leapt out before we departed. At the last moment I decided I’d rather stay here. It’s simpler. Kids don’t use iPads at the table. And my mom’s alive for two more years, so I can reassure her she won’t be missing anything.

Sorry I didn’t kill Hitler.