On September 11th, 2001, something taken place that changed American life forever. It was a momentous work whose impact was therefore profound, widespread and long-lasting that American background can usefully be separated into two categories: pre and post.

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Everyone knows wherein they were when this historic occasion occurred. It is burned indelibly into the social memory, in our cumulative consciousness as Americans as a date that will live in infamy, come paraphrase FDR’s words around another notorious attack, this time top top Pearl Harbor.

I’m speaking, of course, around how Dana Carvey, a comedy terrorist of kinds in his complete disregard for the rule of propriety and also single-minded hunger come make human being laugh, and also his gifted partners launched a devastatingly successful, complete frontal assault on our collective funny bone by filming, top top September 11th, 2001, the legendary Turtle society sequence in the an excellent Dana Carvey’s 2002 classic Master that Disguise.

The world was never the same. To this day, just stating the words, “Turtle! Turtle! Turtle!” In a gratingly unnatural manner is sufficient to provoke Pavlovian shivers of happiness from me and also my fellow Pistachio Nuts, as I just made decision Master the Disguise super-fans room known.

To it is in a true Pistachio Nut, and also not a pretender to dance on the bandwagon since it’s cool is come forever be questioning yourself, and then comment truthfully, “Am I no turtley sufficient for the tortoise Club?”


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That is the inquiry Pistachio uses to angrily and also righteously face a Turtle club doorman play by Brandon Molale, a towering previous football player you could know indigenous such duties as strip Club Bouncer in City that Lies, Beefy patience in Grey’s Anatomy and Noseless Troglodyte in Bone Tomahawk when that confronts Pistachio and also sidekick Jennifer Parker (Jennifer Esposito) and inquires, “Can I assist you? space you a member of the turtle Club?”

Before they get in the turtle Club, Esposito, that does a very convincing project of seeming embarrassed under to she bones to it is in seen and associated v a guy who looks and acts like Carvey’s iconic character Pistacho Disguiesy does, tells she overly enthusiasm compatriot, “I don ’t typical to save harping, but the surname the tortoise Club, you know, is just a name. I think you’re taking it a little too literally.”

The great thing around this heat is that it artlessly spells the end the premise of those to come. Pistachio is taking the surname of the Turtle club way too seriously in the he thinks that it method that in order come belong, come fit in, come literally be a member that the society you need to look favor a turtle, act like a turtle, and also possibly it is in a turtle also in in addition to interacting how a tortoise presumably would if it got the gift of speech yet kept the same level of sub-human intelligence.


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It would certainly be favor if ns tried to crash a Cub Scouts conference as one adult wearing a homemade be affected by each other costume made the end of a bear rug ns picked up in ~ a thrift store and also augmented with razor-sharp home-made “bear” claws and teeth and then howled favor I imagine a gull-grown grizzly bear can growl and also expected come fit in at Cub reconnaissance meetings by dressing and also acting that way.

I’m pretty sure I’d gain shot dead pretty conveniently if ns were to attempt a stunt prefer that, deservedly so. I likewise suspect the if you were to present up in ~ the Friar’s society in Los Angeles there is no a member or invitation yet were pull in Monk’s robes and also chanting lightly you would certainly be provided the old heave-ho.

Pistachio mumble-stutters, “turtle, turtle” end the course of the scene in a viscerally unnerving extraterrestrial whimper together if law so increases his turtle significance in one appealing and not disturbing and deeply counter-productive manner.


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It’d be favor if i were an alien pretending to be a human being—which Pistachio definitely seems to be over the food of the film, and to rise my authenticity ns constantly mumbled, “Human! Human! person person here!” In the same sing-song cadence as the Yip-Yip aliens indigenous Sesame Street and expected passerby to be all, “Hey, cool! one more human being! Always good to run into another one the those! Nothing much better or more natural 보다 seeing one more human, non-alien just hanging out, mumbling about what types it belonging to!”

“He’s dreamt the this place since he was a child. Carry out you think we might go in for a moment? fine be out in five minutes. Please?” Jennifer implores flirtatiously, making use of her beauty and also the full force of her womanly charm to to convince a man who should know far better to permit what shows up to it is in a mentally okay mutated turtle-man that keeps mumbling “turtle” into the club once his ONE project involves keeping the Pistacho Disguiseys that the world out.

Even before he enters the club, that is the facility of attention. Everyone understandably seems to be wondering what the posesthe is going on v the mutated turtle-man with his hideously deformed back squeezed uncomfortably right into a green suit making unsettling eye call with strangers and also blurting v inexplicable but deeply unstable hostility, “Turtle! no turtle. TURTLE! not turtle” together if going through the group to determine, ~ above a patron-by-patron basis, whether or no they’re humans like everyone because the start of time, or humans who space also, on some inexplicable but intense level likewise weird turtle-human hybrids favor the paris in The fly but friend know, disturbing.


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Pistachio keeps blurting out the word “turtle” throughout the scene because that no discernible reason. It’s as if words is a security blanket, the just thing that have the right to possibly get his mind off the unspeakable horrors the the terrorist strikes of 9/11 that must have actually hit the Saturday Night Live breakout star very close come home. So Carvey, though the character of Pistachio, keeps returning to lock over and also over again, as if that cannot aid himself, together if the only thing that provides sense in a civilization gone mad involves compulsively mumbling words “turtle” as civilization look in with understandable horror and also confusion.

There’s clunky narrative work going top top in the scene. It’s established that Devlin Bowman, the flatulent poor guy Brent Spiner breathes life right into through his artistry is a member the the turtle Club.

Jennifer purringly asks for the villain’s resolve or phone call number, his call information as it were, and also if there’s one quality many villains re-publishing is the they don’t want to be also accessible, an especially to your nemeses.

At that suggest the weird, overpowering yet Implicit aggression of Pistachio’s demented turtle program becomes explicit. Since if yes one thing turtles are famed for, it’s fucking civilization up. Seriously, you do NOT want to mess through a turtle. There is, after ~ all, the story the the tortoise and also the hare, which ends v the hare acquiring beaten to fatality by a an extremely angry turtle.


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“What if HARM discovered its way to you? Terrible, terrible, disastrous harm!?!” Pistacho endangers in a weirdly milquetoast fashion, fidgeting in a path that’s claimed to be intimidating. “Would that adjust your mind? maybe it’s time to get in my shell.”

“Shell time coming!” Pistachio assures as his bald, bespectacled head, i m sorry looks tiny in comparison to his massive human-sized turtle shell begins to retract earlier into his body v the most legendary outsized suit since David Byrne in Stop make Sense, a movie whose title likewise describes the thinking behind this particular set-piece.

Pistachio’s shave head looks like the head that a penis. His massive turtle shell-suit, meanwhile, looks like a hurt scrotum, which, combined, gives him a disturbingly phallic look and also vibe.

Pistachio renders weird, grunting, growling, sub-verbal upset turtle noises together Jennifer tries to restrain him from walk off, native the devastation that “Shell time.”

Pistacho walks away with Jennifer, at which suggest a cocky businessman, a actual Chad type, questioning Jennifer, “Hey baby, can I buy you a drink, and also maybe some POND water for your friend.”

At first Pistachio pretends to it is in amused, however the businessman’s cruel barb brings out the lunatic in Pistachio. There room two political parties to Pistachio: The maniac and also the enforcer. We’ve watched the enforcer transparent the film, an angry, turtle-like male of violence bristling over with incoherent aggression towards everyone he meets.

The snob’s insult sets off something ugly and personal and cruel in Pistachio. That retracts his head ago into his huge turtle torso-shell-body. The males foolishly come over to investigate, in ~ which suggest Pistachio’s turtle head pops out. He then bites turn off a man’s nose, then spits it earlier out so smoothly and also quickly the it re-attaches come his face instantly.


Then, since we have entered a human being of pure madness whereby logic has no power and also chaos reigns, Pistachio spins about on the ground on the huge turtle-shell choose apparatus within his outsized environment-friendly suit.

And then, friends, it’s over. The totality sequence lasts a only 147 seconds however that’s every Carvey and also his collaborators needed to make a scene so singularly insane, so deeply nonsensical, so wrong in every way that that deserves to it is in singled out and examined carefully the same method we might do a deep, academic dive into a step from Citizen Kane or Touch the Evil.


On 9/11, Dana Carvey claimed what us were every feeling when he said, “Turtle.” climate he just kept saying it due to the fact that he to be like most of us on that most momentous and tragic the days: overwhelmed. Confused. Scared. Unsure the what had just happened and also what the undoubtedly far-reaching consequences can be. Desperately in need of consolation and comfort in a civilization seemingly careening into madness. Put on a bizarre turtle-man costume and also mumbling the word “turtle” compulsively and senselessly.

So while history was made in a very dark method on September 11th, 2001 it was made in a life-affirmingly stupid method as well. The astonishingly, eminently re-watchable idiocy of the Turtle society scene in Master the Disguise stands as an important rebuke to the terrible solemnity and also seriousness the the cultural moment that birthed it, come the idea that us would never ever laugh again, that irony was dead and also we would need to be earnest forevermore or we would be dishonoring the storage of the dead.


By filming that scene as planned, Carvey was telling Osama Bin Laden and his whole disreputable lot that not only would we laugh again in spite of 9/11, yet we’d laugh at stupider, an ext juvenile, more insultingly idiotic rash than ever before before, and also we would never feel guilty for laughing. Not also a tiny bit.

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And you understand what? We’ve kept that promised. We’ve continued to be dumb and superficial and that, ultimately, is exactly how we’ve survived, individually and also as a culture.

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