Creative Mac Q&A

You're different. You don't fit in. Everyone around you seems ... alien. The world to you seems grotesque, pasty and puritan. Something isn't right, and you're pretty sure there's a conspiracy behind it all. You don't have faith in much, but you are certain that there must be some higher power that will reach His big fist down from the heavens and crush this filthy world as you're swept to safety aboard flying saucers sent by an intergalactic savior who smokes a pipe.

There were a couple of other guys back in the '70s who felt the same way you do. Unlike you, however, they were actually contacted by the pipe-smoking savior (J.R. "Bob" Dobbs) and told to spread the word: "These are the end times." So Dr. Philo Drummond and the Rev. Ivan Stang (2nd Stangian Orthodox MegaFisTemple Lodge of the Wrath of Dobbs Yeti, Resurrected) founded the Church of the SubGenius to do just that.

Back in those days, the word was spread with rubber cement and Xerox machines. The result was a collection of pamphlets and the familiar half-toned image of "Bob" you've probably seen plastered all over college campuses. Since those beginning of the End Times days, the message has remained the same, but the production techniques have changed dramatically—from rubber cement to computers, from flyers to the Web, from pamphlets to fancy book publishing—all promoting fanatical dedication to (and sometimes defamation of) the prophet "Bob."

The Church
of the
SubGenius

“The world ends tomorrow and you may die!”
Pamphlet No. 1

X-Day: July 5, 1998, the day of prophecy, when the world was to end.

XX-Day (Dos Equis): July 1999, the back-up date for the end of the world.

XXX-Day: July 2000, this year's prophecied end of the world.

URL: http://www.subgenius.com

Faith keeps them moving, but the Mac moves the faith—to a total of 12,000 registered cultists as of this writing, with hundreds of thousands of non-paying (and therefore non-salvation-receiving) fans around the world who lurk in the labyrinthine Art Mines of the Subgenius Web site. The content begs analogy with Christian iconography, a powerful tool in the proliferation of faith and remuneration of cash. In fact, art on the Web is now the Church's principal means of reaching out to the young and uncorrupted, supplanting the groups "Hour of Slack" radio broadcasts. It's come a long way from rubber cement and Xerox machines. Mac-generated graphic arts now play the key role in the Church's efforts to save the Subgenii of the world from "the Pinks," the C.O.N.S.P.I.R.A.C.Y., the evil space god JHVH-1 and, most of all, themselves.

I had a chance to fire off some questions to the Rev. Ivan Stang on how the Mac and Web marketing have brought this religion to its current position of prominence on the world cult scene. Stang is an unabashed fan of the Mac from way back.

Creative Mac: When did you first start incorporating computers into your production? What was your first one?

Rev. Ivan Stang: I was directing low-budget music videos for this ambitious young producer in the mid-'80s. I had always worked on an electric typewriter and photocopiers. This producer guy informed me that henceforth I was to write all my scripts, budgets etc. on this new "computer thing" he'd brought into the office. I was horrified. Many of my friends in the film business had been telling me I needed to get a computer, then they would proceed to show off all the neat tricks they could do with their IBMs, like ... type a letter! (It only took an extra 10 or 15 minutes more than just doing it on a typewriter.) The ridiculous commands and all that just disgusted me. I had already decided that I would not touch computers until they were like on Star Trek.

But ... the computer my boss was forcing me to work on was this new thing called a "Mac." He showed me how to start a letter. It was like the computers on Star Trek. I sat down and started poking around on the thing.

Within one week my wife was threatening me with divorce because I was so intent on spending our every available penny on this frivolous "computer" device, and I had to have it now, before it was too late! That first Mac had 128 KB of RAM and cost $2,000, and it still works.

What really struck me at the time was the unexplainable vehemence with which the DOS people responded to the Mac interface. They reminded me (and some real young ones still do) of Van Helsing facing off against Dracula. Their main objection seemed to be that it was EASY... which they evidently found revolting, and somehow difficult.

If the Mac interface, or something like it, hadn't come along, I'm sure I and many of my fellow artists, and bipeds, would still not be using computers. As the world turned out, most of the amateur artists that I know use PCs. With the Mac knock-off interface.

For 10 years, I only used my Mac as a glorified typewriter-rolodex that required no white-out and could do italics. It was around 1993 that I started looking into the Internet and wanting to exploit that new [that] world forced me to start using my computer for more and more things.

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