Tuesday, December 14, 2010




: not genuine : counterfeit, sham

According to Merriam-Webster, BOGUS began its course as a noun in the early 1800's. The word referred to a machine used to produce counterfeit money. I was hoping to find an image of such a machine, but a search for "BOGUS machine" implies the adjective, and offers me only images of fake money and photos of a band from Richmond, Virginia of the same name.

BOGUS is also the title of a 1996 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Gerard Depardieu and Haley Joel Osment. Little HJO's carnie mother dies in a car wreck and he creates a BOGUS imaginary friend to cope with his loss as well as the trauma of being dumped into the care of his mother's nonsense-business-woman-foster-sister (Goldberg). He names his friend (Depardieu), appropriately, BOGUS. I have never seen this film. All of this is coming from the ever-helpful IMDB. The film's description recalls in my mind any number of childhood Sunday afternoons, sitting in my pajamas, fingertips stained by the artificial coloring of various cheese snacks, flipping channels, landing on TBS or USA, and staring blankly at the movements of Goldberg and Depardieu until a commercial break interrupts my hypnotized state when I get up to pee or refill a cup of soda. Of course, this film wasn't released until 1996; in my memory it would have to be replaced with Married to the Mob or Adventures in Babysitting or the like.

I had some long weekends as a kid.

The contemporary form of the word, though, is inextricably linked to the cultural phenomenon of the Bill and Ted's films. The second film, Bill and Ted's BOGUS Journey, came out in 1991, placing BOGUS comfortably into the zeitgeist of the early 90's, where it still remains. Before this film, the word BOGUS had not appeared in the mainstream film circuit since the silent days. A variety of films came out between 1909 and 1915: A BOGUS Motor Elopement, A BOGUS Professor, A BOGUS Hero, A BOGUS Baron, A BOGUS Bandit. Interestingly, they were all made by different people, and aside from the last two, all foreign (UK, Italy, Denmark, respectively). I'm not sure what accounts for the cultural absence between the 'teens and the 1990's, but BOGUS fell off the map for the majority of the 20th century.

Lucky for us, BOGUS resurfaced in San Dimas in 1991. I couldn't think of a better way to make a comeback.

No comments:

Post a Comment