beetle bailey
4 min readJan 23, 2024

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WELL WRITTEN! I hadn't considered this angle on Jupiter. I had merely assumed he was definitely broken from what happened in his childhood, and viewed the alien/beast the way he maybe viewed the chimp. Or viewed Hollywood, itself ... as some kind of beast-god that, though fickle, had spared him and was somehow his friend. That it would either kill everyone but not him OR ... it'd kill him, too. And he was fine with that.

But the angle you've written here, even factoring my pet theory ... Jupe COULD have become a zoologist or some other kind of wildlife expert. He could've become a nature photographer or a veterinarian or run an animal sanctuary. His fascination with predator-animals COULD have led to a career to a non-extractive career that involved his obsession. But he chose the path Hollywood had already started him on--an extractive-exploitative one. How many of his actions were consciously made decisions based in greed and how many were based in a bedrock of pure PTSD and other clearly unaddressed mental issues caused not only by the incident in his childhood but all the childhood to either side of that incident? What was the ratio of crazy:greed? I think that'd be interesting to know or guess at, too. But I don't doubt there's a healthy--or unhealthy--amount of your premise behind Jupe's actions and entire life.

I think that Jupe as a character was, in his eerie, too-serene way was the most interesting character. He gave the appearance of a seemingly ordered life and mind but was crazy chaos underneath, no matter how quiet that crazy. And he tried to control chaos by feeding it. Sacrificing to it. Which definitely is analogous—to me—of how Hollywood chews up and spits out talented people. The first time I saw NOPE, when Em stole Jupe's fake horse, it was funny and I remember feeling a bit bad for Jupe because he seemed pretty nice. Kinda dorky and defenseless (ha!) … only to then realize he'd been sacrificing horses to that thing like it was some carnivore god. And to see he had literally staked out his customers, family, and himself on that same altar. Em had only stolen a fake horse. Jupe stole lives--the lives of horses he promised to care for, and of people he'd promised to entertain (customers) and even protect (family). I think he wanted to live or die by this giant predator—to feed this unstoppable consumption-machine by whatever means he could. More than he wanted money, he wanted that. I think OJ and Em ... and Angel and the filmmaker (forget the character’s name), wanted other things more than the money, as well, and even then only the money to allow them to keep their home.

I think Jupe very much wanted to be eaten by the sky monster. The most horrifying part to me, though, was that he wanted to take his family with him. Not because he hated or simply didn't care about them (though the latter is a possibility), but because I get this sense of Jupe thinking: "This is an honor, this is my destiny. Where I was always meant to be and go. And since I love you, I’m taking you with me." I don't think it’s even that he didn't care about their safety or that of his customers. He thought this death was an honor. The very best thing that could happen. The absolute high point of his life and theirs: to feed a beast, just Jupe had done throughout his life. And certainly, being consumed by a giant monster that'd shit you out and never think of you again sounds like status quo-Hollywood to me. Jupe's whole life he'd had that notion reinforced and built himself around "predators" and "prey." Despite his actions I don't think he's ever seen himself as a "predator." He’d only begun to matter when a beast had nearly killed him. When he'd become prey. It's ultimately not surprising that to him, it might be the culmination of his life to die as he had always lived and by becoming prey to the largest predator on the planet.

Jupe is fifty different cautionary tales for fifty different things and even as I feel bad for him, I kinda hate him. And even as I kinda hate him, I feel bad for him. And I find him as fascinating and repellent and murky a character as ever there was in a film. But above all, I'm saddened and horrified that he never stood even a single chance at being anything but prey. Some beast or other--Hollywood, a system, or an alien sky-monster--was always always going to devour him. Turns out, all three did, I suppose. And your article points out an extremely strong and solid foundation for why that was true. Jupe never stood a chance and was as much of a victim as the people he sacrificed.

(I LOVE the Haywoods, btw, but nothing draws my consideration like seven hundred sub-levels of crazy in one person. Jupe was a jackpot for that and I sort of find him more creepy and unnerving than the alien.)

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beetle bailey

Just a bug with progressive values, opinions, and Interwebz. Black, atheist, AuDHD, Âû. A-awesome. PROUDLY a transmasc coleoptera. Be warned: I clap back.