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Home / Articles / Music / Music Articles /  Music | It’s Only a Movie: The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne says Christmas on Mars isn’t the same old B.S.—it’s just a movie.
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Music | It’s Only a Movie: The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne says Christmas on Mars isn’t the same old B.S.—it’s just a movie.

By Randy Harward
Posted // December 24,2008 - Christmas on Mars, the long-awaited, much-speculated about film by fabulous Okie freak brothers The Flaming Lips is everything we hoped for and more, totally worth the wait—virtually orgasmic. But there’s a catch: To get into it, you must be a fan of the Lips’ far-out sounds or at least attuned to the world of cult cinema. n

What’s that, chorus of geeks? The Lips and cult flicks are complementary? Blah-blah, hand-in-hand, blah? No shit. Just messin’ with you, kinda like the Lips do with their trippy music and art, and the likes of David Lynch, John Waters, Matthew Barney and Jim Jarmusch do with their films. If that’s your thing, then main Lip, Wayne Coyne, figures this nontraditional Xmas movie is for you.

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“Let’s say you were slightly weird, had a little of an artistic bent, a 22-year-old failing college,” laughs Coyne from his home on the Oklahoma range, “and you were looking [to] download a Christmas movie. You don’t want the same old bullshit— Oh, here’s this Christmas on Mars movie. That looks like somethin’.”

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The mystery and ballyhoo that surrounded the film as it turtled toward completion was as much the by-product of the Lips’ busy touring and recording schedule (day jobs always get in the way) as it is the indirect, inadvertent product of the same. Lucky for the Lips, generating buzz among your cultish, obsessive fan base is as easy as announcing a project. When said project is a feature-length film and your videos already are the stuff of legend, speculation will lead to anticipation and become a turgid, throbbing lust. Add an element of delayed gratification—Christmas on Mars, incidentally, was announced way back in 2001—and you’re golden.

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/That’s not to say the Lips manipulate their fans; the film’s evolution was more of a happy accident, how Christmas on Mars flew—nay, floated—by the seat of its pants, happening on its own time and evolving (preter)naturally from demented minds. The fucking-with-you part has more to do with the existential-spiritual theme of the film, which pits science vs. religion vs. myth (What’s that, chorus of geeks?) in a battle to grudge-fuck your worldview. At the end of this David Lynch (for the Eraserhead trippiness) meets early Kevin Smith (bad acting—in most cases—but often genius dialogue) meets Jim Jarmusch (grainy imagery and dialogue tantamount in importance) film, you won’t know what to believe. As Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen says in Mars, “Cosmic reality is a motherfucker.”

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Now the film is on DVD, and it’s playing on the Sundance Channel (four times between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day); it’s out there, ready for its close-up. So to the issue of accessibility, whether one needs to have consumed some musical or filmic prerequisite in order to enjoy Christmas on Mars: Suppose the ultimate indie rock band is alien to prospective viewer? And must he/she have seen a certain number of offbeat films in order to grasp the heady social message of the film?

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“If you didn’t know anything about the Flaming Lips,” says Coyne, “I think it’d be the better. ’Cause it would almost allow you to see the movie as a movie, as opposed to another strange eruption from the minds of the Flaming Lips.” And seeing Christmas on Mars as just a movie takes the “cult” right out of the equation, he continues, because seeing it as just a movie—in other words, as someone looking for an entertaining way to kill 85 minutes—means “You don’t care who made it, you don’t care who’s in it, you just wanna be entertained and then get on with your fuckin’ life.”

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Christmas on Mars trailer:

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