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In Memory of Neidermeyer, In Praise of Nurse Ratched;
A Subversive Movie and the Real Life Events Reconsidered, 25 Years Later

By Gary Gordon, Summer, 2003

     As you may remember, Douglas Neidermeyer was killed by his own men in Vietnam after serving his fraternity, his school’s ROTC unit, and his country. The men who killed him were never prosecuted, and there is no statue to honor him, even at his alma mater, Faber College.
     Most of what we know about Neidermeyer comes from the highly one-sided and revisionist documentary, “Animal House”, written by graduates of the sophomoric National Lampoon, and starring, among others, John Belushi, who died in Los Angeles in a den of iniquity known as the Chateau Marmonte, and Donald Southerland, who smokes marijuana in the movie and has always had very, very questionable values.
     In this documentary, Neidermeyer is portrayed accurately as a staunch patriot, willing to do his duty for his fraternity and school, but his patriotism is needlessly and incessantly mocked, mocked to such an extent that audiences actually cheered the news of his death.
     Notes from the soon to be released Neidermeyer’s Diary (Limbaugh Press) reveal an introspective young man, passionate, given to action, a man who cared for his horse; a man who would not tolerate lardasses or people who had been persuaded to be ethnically different; a man who, with good reason, hated the Delta House as well as its members, which included the aforementioned Belushi.
     Animal House was released 25 years ago in 1978 and is enjoying some celebration on this anniversary, but to many prominent scholars it represents the last in a long line of untimely, ill-conceived anti-American movies that endorsed irreverence and anti-establishmentarianism.
     As Greg Marmelard, another Faber alumnus and frat brother of Neidermeyer once noted in an interview in the National Review, “what started with outlaw film-makers like John Cassavettes and Woody Allen, and outlaw films like ‘The Trip’ and ‘Easy Rider’, what was inflicted upon an unsuspecting and gullible public during those eleven years was nothing short of despicable, subversive, unintelligent garbage. Fortunately ‘Animal House’, in which I played a part, ended that run, finally undone by God-fearing action films and happy endings.”
     Marmelard, a swimming pool salesman with a keen interest in anti-pornography and anti-terrorist legislation, currently tours college campuses with another veteran of those years of turmoil and the absence of decent values, Nurse Ratched.
     “What I tell the young people,” Marmelard said in a recent interview on Bill O’Reilly’s talk show, “is that if those movies were allowed to be in the theatres these days, President Bush would have faced tremendous opposition to his foreign and domestic policy initiatives, and the Arabs and Socialists would’ve won. Those movies fostered the notion that authority figures should be challenged. Just look at the way the Delta House members jeered at Dean Wormer and wrecked our parade. It’s all there, all caught on film.”
     Marmelard cites movies as diverse as “Bonnie & Clyde”, “M*A*S*H”, “Five Easy Pieces”, “Little Big Man”, “Catch-22”, “Network”, “Shampoo”, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, “Badlands”, “Midnight Cowboy”, “Blue Collar”, “Taxi Driver”, and even a pre-1967 movie, “Cat Ballou”, for brainwashing youth and undermining American values.
     “Neidermeyer understood this at the time. According to his diary, he lectured his men on the evils of masturbation the day before they killed him,” Marmelard said.
     “Neidermeyer got a bad rap and a raw deal and now that America is proud to be America again, it’s time to swing that pendulum back, get right with God, and honor his memory,” Marmelard told the graduating class of Faber College last June.
     Marmelard contended Nurse Ratched “also got a bad rap.”
     Nurse Ratched, now retired and working on her memoirs in her home in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where she serves on several municipal boards and commissions, accompanied Marmelard throughout his campus tour, presenting her version of what actually happened at the mental institution depicted in the movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”.
     Her assertion, similar to Marmelard’s, is that the character portrayed by the popular but amoral Jack Nicholson was a “sick, sick, troubled, sick, perverted, sick, troublemaker.”
     “That movie was an outright attack on every trained professional who works with the sick and disturbed people in this world, and what’s more, it was an attack on any professional who takes their job seriously, who knows the amount of work that goes into formulating policies and rules, who knows that you don’t just go around changing rules because that’s what people want, who knows where to draw the line between serving people and getting walked on by opportunists who claim to be visionaries, who knows that there are just some people who reject conformity and want to violate the conventions and values society holds dearest, and need to be disciplined or lobotomized,” Ratched tells college students.
     She said in an interview with Ann Coulter that she is impressed with the quality of college students these days, as opposed to students during “that awful, awful, truly awful period”.
     “These students are attentive. They listen. They’re clean and neat. Most of them support the President. They understand the need for authority, obedience, loyalty, and especially reverence. And even the ones who don’t support the President, who are swayed by the lone, solitary voices of derision and anarchy are at least polite and respectful and show promise that they will, with punishment, see the light,” Ratched said.
     When asked about her role in the suicide of the young man in the hospital, depicted in the film, she reiterated what the actress portraying her said. “It was tragic. So tragic. Here was a young, disturbed man, a man without an identity and really, if you study it closely a man with no need for an identity. He was where he belonged, a nameless, faceless person in a hospital, hopeless but well-cared for, and he fell victim to those who encouraged him to explore, to explore sex, to explore the notion that he was more than what he really was, to have hope. So tragic.”
     “If your reach exceeds your grasp, sometimes you get cut and your wrists bleed and you die before we can help,” she said. “But we are always there to help.”
     Ratched said she urges students to spend some time in their life caring for the less fortunate, for the people who will never be thoughtful, for the people who will never be professionals.
     “But please, don’t do what the liberals do. Don’t give them hope when there is none. It’s just deceitful, and that’s a sin,” she said.
     Marmelard said Nurse Ratched joined him in an appeal to Faber College to build a statue to honor Neidermeyer.
     “I’m pleased to report to you that Dean Wormer, Jr. is enthusiastic about the project and the statue will be unveiled as part of the graduation ceremony next spring,” Marmelard said.
     “It’s time for someone to get on the ball, and that ball is me,” Wormer Jr. said.
     It looks as if Nurse Ratched will also get her due. According to Marmelard, “Nurse Ratched herself will be honored with an honorary degree from Faber College. She’ll receive the prestigious Frank Burns Award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Medicine.”
     Burns, Marmelard said, was portrayed by Robert Duvall in “that terrible communist propaganda movie M*A*S*H, about the Korean war.”
     Neidermeyer may be dead, Marmelard noted, but his name and values will live on for awhile longer.

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