Fletch – Ego Vs the Collective Unconscious

“I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.”

Hearing that on Saturday Night Live’s news segment as a kid, it never occurred to me that it might be a sort of boast.

I always thought it was a sort of dry reflection on the “signoff” tradition itself – just as banal and obvious as “Good night and good travels” or “Stay classy, San Diego.”

My assumption was that it was an existential half-joke, a commentary on the nature of being and the nature of being a news announcer. I thought it was a signoff made not for self-aggrandizement, but for the Zen amusement of millions of Americans watching Saturday Night Live.

Most people thought he was just being a dick.

Having found and watched The Chevy Chase Show (which ran from September of 1993 to October of 1993,) “most people” may have been right about that one.

Chase’s humor-fuel may have been the sort of arrogance that comes from being at the top of your game and being loved for it. He was a gas-guzzler in the 80s, but the world loved him. He was low on gas by the time he got that latenight talk show.

Chevy Chase may have been cringey to watch on the Chevy Chase Show because he was doubting whether people wanted to watch him. Egoism at half-mast.

But he was burning down the highway in 1985. He was feeling the love, and he was fun to watch. Most people may have thought he was a douche, and they liked him all the same.

Fletch is the distilled essence of Chevy Chase. His smartass-schtick works, because the cleverness is clever and Chase owns it totally. The whole movie bobs along, lifted by wit and moved forward by the iconic synthesizer melodies of Harold Faltermeyer. Faltermeyer was able to somehow capture “Likable Smartass Who Is Actually Smart” using a Moog synthesizer. And that was after he gave Eddie Murphy his “Theme For A Likable Showoff Who Actually Puts On A Good Show” in Beverly Hills Cop.

It is possible that Chase was funny when he was feeling the love from America, and he lost his likability when he lost that feeling. It is also possible that some last breath of enthusiasm, a naive lack of self-awareness, passed from America’s lips in December of 1989.

Flash Gordon ushered in the decade. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation signaled “The End of the 80’s.”

In this post-post-postmodernism era, culture’s drooling henchman of advertising cannot say “Buy Buick Because It’s a Good Car” like it did in the 60’s.

Advertising cannot even say “Buy Buick Because Cool People Like It” like in the 90’s. Instead it must sneak sideways into your attention with protagonists that just happen to be driving Buicks.

Is there any hope for Chevy Chase? For the Chevy Chase-ness of America?

If you watch the first 7 episodes of the show Community in a row, you may see a glimmer of it.

Perhaps we are all a bit Chevy Chase, struggling with the paradox of likable-only-when-feeling-loved by the rest of the world.

Not so likable when egoic at half-mast.

There may be meta-hope for us all.



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