Home > History > Jerry Falwell in Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Jerry Falwell in Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Do you remember where you were when you first heard about Koyaanisqatsi?

It’s a long-form art movie by Godfrey Reggio and a soundtrack by Philip Glass (an A/B mashup with DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… is available on YouTube [link]). It’s a bit heavy-handed with its “the modern world is destroying itself” theme, and the references to the Hopi feel a bit stuck on, but if you can get past that it’s mesmerizing, especially since it incorporates a lot of what are now vintage crowd shots (count the obese people; there are very few), vintage pop culture references, and fair use samples of early Eighties television.

This is a ten-minute clip including most of the chapter “Microchips” and all of “Prophecies,” and starting at about 5:06 there are a couple of fascinating sequences: first of a boy playing the arcade game Defender, then a tightly edited, almost overwhelming montage of Eighties television. In about thirty-five seconds (from the start of the Defender sequence to the start of the sequence of the guy in the Harley-Davidson t-shirt and the mullet) you’ll see among others

  • Linda Ellerbee
  • Lou Dobbs
  • Ed Asner
  • Johnny Carson
  • Burt Reynolds
  • A clip of a Dallas Cowboys-Minnesota Vikings game
  • Ted Koppel
  • Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA)
  • Howard C. Estep
  • Jerry Falwell
  • Sue Willmington
  • Mack Evans
  • Don Norman

Four of these last five may be unfamiliar if you didn’t travel in certain circles in the Eighties; Howard Estep was the host of The King Is Coming; he hosted this show for fourteen years, and was replaced in turn by David Breese and now Ed Hindson [link]. The title card for the show is very briefly visible before a shot of Dr Estep. The current show is available on TBN and elsewhere; the only outlet I’ve found for the vintage Estep show is WVCY-TV 30 in Milwaukee [link].

Jerry is very much his dark-haired Moral Majority self in this clip; Sue, wife of Harold, was the long-time deaf interpreter at Thomas Road. After a short interruption by a newscaster I don’t recognize the movie goes back to Thomas Road and shows Mack and Don, two of the three members of the Old Time Gospel Hour Trio (Robbie Hiner is missing as best I can tell).

At the moment this is my favorite obscure Jerry Falwell appearance, not least because it has apparently eluded the sharp eyes of the folks at IMDB.

  1. September 21, 2010 at 7:10 am

    I remembered seeing Jerry Falwell’s appearance in the Channel Surfing scene (perhaps one of the longer appearances in the scene). So you know, I have submitted a correction request to IMDb. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. thehidalgograincompany
    October 20, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    This is so cool — you missed the MAI Basic4 Computer commercial – great shot of a vintage 80’s “semi-portable” computer (@5:09)

    Also Thomas Dolby video – “She Blinded me with Science” (@5:17)

    I’ll bet there are more 80’s buried in there —


    • October 21, 2010 at 9:54 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed that. The first time I saw that sequence I was already numb from having watched almost the entire movie, and all I picked up on was the one topless shot and the sequence with Jerry, Don, and Mack. I had hoped the Cowboys-Vikings footage was from the night Tony Dorsett had his 99-yard run, but it’s too early.

      I love the news clips; it’s hard to believe that local news (even in New York) ever had such a simple visual feel. And I wonder if the Tylenol ads are references to the TYMURS poisonings, which would have been close to the right period of time but may just be an interesting coincidence.

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