Archives for posts with tag: feminism

neighbors 2

Seth Rogen vehicle Neighbors, while vile, was at least a passably funny film for fans of the star’s repugnant antics. This sequel, sad to say, retains and amplifies the grossness of its predecessor while disposing of any of the franchise’s previous charms. This time Rogen and wife Rose Byrne are subjected to the obnoxiousness of an upstart sorority headed by new neighbor Chloe Grace Moretz. Moretz, for several years one of Jewish Hollywood’s favorite shiksa voodoo dolls, is as usual degraded under the guise of women’s empowerment as she and her cohorts smoke dope (“College is about new experiences”), throw noisy parties celebrating the loss of virginity, wage war against “super-sexist” fraternities, and demonstrate themselves to be “strong adult women” by flinging their saturated tampons at Seth Rogen’s windows. Zac Efron, Rogen’s original nemesis from Neighbors, switches sides and joins forces with his old foe in Neighbors 2, while some of his old fraternity brothers also appear as part of a subplot that serves no purpose apart from the promotion of homosexual “marriage”. NBC sitcom old-timers Kelsey Grammer of Frasier and Lisa Kudrow of Friends are similarly wasted (no pun intended) in brief supporting roles. One also wishes character actor Billy Eichner’s supporting turn as eccentric real estate agent Oliver Studebaker had been expanded.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Neighbors 2 is:

6. Anti-marriage. The opening scene in the film shows a wife vomiting in her husband’s face during intercourse. This is how the filmmakers choose to establish the horror of conventional domesticity in audiences’ minds.

5. Pro-miscegenation. The obligatory interracial couple expresses interest in buying Rogen’s house.

4. Pedo-friendly. A small child is regularly present during inappropriate discussions and is repeatedly seen playing with a dildo. The last time this reviewer saw such a thing was in an Israeli film, so maybe kids and dildos is a Jewish tradition? There is also a joking reference to child pornography.

3. Pro-drug. Weed humor abounds, with illegal marijuana dealing highlighted as a quick way for college kids to pick up some extra cash. “I think this is my thing now,” one of the girls enthuses.

2. Pro-gay. A gay marriage proposal elicits a rowdy chant of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” The lucky couple also makes known that they intend to adopt. In addition, the film appears to encourage sexual experimentation even among heterosexuals, as “sometimes you gotta suck a dick to realize you don’t like suckin’ dick.”

1. Feminist. “Don’t call ‘em hoes. It’s not cool anymore.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

space

The appropriately odd-looking Asa Butterfield is cast as Gardner Elliot, the first human being born on Mars, in an ultimate emo romance fantasy that might just as well have been titled The Perks of Being a Mars Baby. The loneliest teen in the universe, Gardner, orphaned when his astronaut mother (Janet Montgomery) dies giving birth to him, is restricted to the planet of his birth because his heart and bones, having developed in the gravity of Mars, are unsuited to life on Earth. Consequently, he lives and mopes among the scientists living on Mars but strikes up a touching internet correspondence with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), an alienated high school girl living back in the States. Eventually, after surgical modifications allow Gardner to make to journey to Earth, he of course rejects being grounded by NASA and hatches a plan to escape, meet Tulsa, and track down his father, about whom he knows nothing. Robertson is too attractive to be convincing as a high school outcast, but does create a tear-jerkingly irresistible chemistry with Mr. Butterfield, who is perfect as the quintessential socially awkward Gen-Z outcast hothouse flower. Gary Oldman, too, is commendably present as the complicated elder statesman of the Mars program. A sweet film, and heartily recommended to angst-ridden teens of all ages.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Space Between Us is:

5. Class-conscious. Blue-collar Tulsa steals a BMW, confident that the presumably wealthy owner can afford the loss.

4. Family-ambivalent. The horror of Sarah Elliot’s childbirth scene is arguably antinatalist; but the film is largely concerned with the hole left in young people’s lives by the absence of conventional family structures.

3. Green. The exposition suggests that the likelihood ecological catastrophe on Earth could serve as a motivator for colonization of other planets. Wind turbines, meanwhile, illustrate the availability of alternative energy sources.

2. Capital-ambivalent. Sam’s Club, Tulsa explains, is like shopping a million stores at once with a trillion dollars to spend. In other words, she appreciates the cheap goods that neoliberalism has made available to the consumer. Gardner becomes ill during a visit to Las Vegas, however, when he is confronted with the dark side of globalization. Gaudy imitations of world cities thrown together in one neon hodge-podge disorient him and prompt him to observe that these things are not supposed to exist side-by-side. During this same sequence, Gardner appears to be horrified at the sight of a mulatto child.

1. Sexist! The Space Between Us seems at first glance to be promoting feminism with its depiction of a valiant female astronaut leading a trailblazing Mars expedition. It quickly undermines this deception, however, by having her turn out to be secretly pregnant, demonstrating that men and women bring different liabilities to the workplace.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

batman-the-killing-joke

This animated adaptation of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 graphic novel presents a much darker universe than the nineties TV show Batman: The Animated Series that this reviewer remembers watching at the tail end of his childhood. Batman: The Killing Joke is by no means a juvenile outing, and contains some decidedly adult content, themes, and insinuations. The story concerns the origins of the Joker, but Joker enthusiasts may be disappointed that the Clown Prince of Crime does not appear until half an hour or so into the program. Before that, the screenplay is preoccupied with the complex relationship between Batman and his protégée Batgirl. One of the most bizarre of the Batman storylines, The Killing Joke gives viewers a sensitive Caped Crusader who worries about the nature of his “relationship” with the Joker and even offers to “rehabilitate” him and maybe collaborate – even after Joker has shot and possibly even raped Batgirl! The ending, too, is a bit of a head-scratcher, and likely to be a conversation-starter after viewing. The idea of the Joker and Batman having a laugh together might seem too insane to consider until one begins to understand the characters as a pair of Judaic archetypes.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Batman: The Killing Joke is:

6. Anti-bankster, literally depicting a banker as an organized crime figure.

5. Anti-nuke, referencing the danger of nuclear holocaust, which, as one character puts it, could be ignited by a flock of geese appearing as a blip on a computer screen.

4. Family-ambivalent. Viewers are treated to a touching father-daughter relationship with Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon, but the Joker’s origin story, in which the financial and psychological strain caused by his wife’s pregnancy and death precipitates his downfall and transformative madness, is arguably antinatalist in character.

3. Pro-gay, perpetuating the homos-are-a-girl’s-best-friend convention.

2. Pro-miscegenation. “I don’t understand why you’re having fishing troubles when we are in the middle of a lake,” Batgirl’s gay friend tells her as he gestures toward a table full of young men including a bespectacled, intellectual-looking congoid. “What do these guys have to do to get your attention?” A white man and black woman are shown studying together in a library – marking race-mixing as the preference of the sophisticated – and a black floozy is also shown caressing the face of a white bad guy.

1. Sexist! The first act of Batman: The Killing Joke is concerned with young heroine Batgirl’s frustration with the limitations placed upon her by her mentor. She aspires to take more active part in Batman’s crime-fighting, but Batman views her as a rookie whose inexperience represents a dangerous liability. A burgeoning feminist, Batgirl objects to him “getting protective and sitting in judgment”, and confronts him with her previous understanding that they were supposed to be partners. “We are – but not equal,” Batman tells her, laying the bat-smack down on that uppity ho.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

10_cloverfield_lane

Nasty woman Mary Elizabeth Winstead wakes up chained to a cot in survivalist John Goodman’s basement in 10 Cloverfield Lane, a genre-bending experience in the tradition of Cabin in the Woods (2012) and The Signal (2014). Is Winstead, recalling Misery (1990), the prisoner of an obsessive loser who intends to possess her sexually – or is Goodman telling the truth when he claims that he only intends to keep her alive and that the world outside is uninhabitable, that everyone she knows and loves is dead, and that civilization has collapsed after a catastrophic apocalypse? Is it the Russians? The Martians? Or is it just a tall tale to dissuade his uncooperative guest from attempting to escape? Finding out is as frightening and fun as being held captive in John Goodman’s basement!

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 10 Cloverfield Lane is:

4. Alt-media-ambivalent. Goodman is “like a black belt in conspiracy theory”, a mixed bag of a man simultaneously tuned-in and misled as to a number of topics. The fact that, in addition to aliens and Russkies, he is also concerned about “Al Qaeda” seems to suggest that the film is condescendingly and disingenuously conflating neoconservative outlets and various conspiracy-oriented media of varying quality.

3. Anti-redneck. Goodman’s character represents a typical cosmopolitan millennial’s idea of a conservative Republican: a slovenly gun nut, “authoritarian personality”, and “no touching” prude scared of Martians and the prospect of a real-life Red Dawn scenario. He is stuck in a vanished American past, as evidenced by his Frankie Avalon records and VHS collection. The fact that major elements of his assertions turn out to be correct prompts the deliciously implied question at the heart of the film. Which would be more horrifying for a millennial woman – the prospect of an alien invasion that razes everything and everyone she knows, or the possibility that, for all of these years, those hateful, judgmental, beer-bellied, rifle-toting, misogynistic deplorables were right?

2. Disaster-alarmist. Turning viewer expectations upside-down, Goodman’s conspiracy-theory-fueled survivalism comes in handy when the shit really hits the fan. Rather than rejecting extreme preparedness outright, the movie suggests that liberals, rather than pointing and laughing at the conservatives, ought to appropriate such foresight and associated skill sets for themselves. The idea that fashion design could become a survival skill in a post-apocalyptic landscape is no doubt highly appealing to a number of young women and homosexuals with tacky, clashing heaps of student loan debt in the closet.

1. Feminist/anti-family. Goodman presents a negative patriarchal archetype (“I want us to be a happy family.”). Winstead also recounts a traumatic memory of seeing a man cruelly pulling his daughter by the arm and hitting her. Perhaps under the influence of such impressions of family life, she rejects the possibility of reuniting with her boyfriend in order to strike out on her own as a superheroine and save the planet – a choice about which the director, Dan Trachtenberg, expresses a cuckolded you-go-girl enthusiasm in his audio commentary.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

trainwreck

Sow-faced Jewess Amy Schumer impersonates a white woman as a slovenly, arrogant slut in Judd Apatow’s romantic comedy Trainwreck, written for the screen by the slob herself – and she shows a surprising range as an actress, managing fairly touching moments as a woman whose floozy ways conceal more substantial emotional needs. Absurdly, the star writes a bevy of men into the script – even muscle-smothered wrestler John Cena – who of course find her implausibly irresistible. Schumer plays a journalist doing a magazine story on sports doctor Bill Hader, whose nice guy ways and patience are tested when Schumer begins to resist the pull of love and romantic commitment to him. Colin Quinn is a breath of freshly polluted air as Schumer’s cantankerous, ailing father, and even LeBron James is shockingly competent as an actor in his supporting role as one of Hader’s celebrity patients. Unnecessarily gross as one would expect from an Apatow joint, Trainwreck nonetheless has its vomit-flecked charms for those willing to take the proper sanitary precautions.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Trainwreck is:

9. Pro-immigration. An African nursing home orderly (Method Man) mentions that he was a doctor in his home country, reinforcing the idea that immigrants are underappreciated, underutilized, and highly skilled workers.

8. Pro-slut. Hader remains devoted to Schumer even after learning what a biohazardous tramp she is. “Don’t judge me fuckers. I’m just a sexual girl,” she explains. “I am fine. I am in control.”

7. Pro-drug. Schumer gives a box of drugs to vagrant Dave Attell. During the prelude to a sexual encounter, a minor (Ezra Miller) snorts what appears to be cocaine. “We think it’s Ritalin,” Apatow says during his audio commentary, but the director also acknowledges that “it could be anything.” “We should celebrate! We should go out!” Schumer declares in a deleted scene. “We should get drunk! […] I feel like you don’t really know someone until you see them drunk.” Binge drinking leads to a romantic dancefloor kiss.

6. Pro-gay. Homos, Schumer explains, are “people”, and she objects to what she diagnoses as her father’s homophobia. In a wisely deleted scene, sports talk among seemingly heterosexual men leads to an orgy of homoerotic beer-spraying and sucked hot dogs.

5. Trainwreck receives a (dishonorable) honorary mention as an anti-gun film in view of the shooting incident that occurred in a theater during the film’s release – prompting its star to enter into collaboration with her cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, to lobby for stronger anti-gun laws.

4. Anti-Christian. “I let Tim and his [black] brothers tag-team me on Christmas morning,” confesses repulsive Bridget Everett. “And you know what? It was wonderful.”

3. Pro-miscegenation. In addition to the above anecdote, Schumer’s buddy Vanessa Bayer lusts after dysgenic unions.

2. Anti-white. “Babe Ruth was awful,” scoffs the protagonist’s father. “How could you be a superman when you never played against a black guy your whole life? Every twelve-year-old kid in the Dominican Republic right now could probably beat Babe Ruth.” Somewhat tantalizingly, the film, like Schumer’s stand-up comedy routine, flirts at times with race realism in its implicit acknowledgment that friendships tend to form along racial lines. The writer-star milks humor from her character’s goofy attempt to use a photograph of a black waiter serving her in a restaurant to prove that she has black friends. While Trainwreck at times appears to be skewering the hyper-sensitive absurdities of political correctness, it actually takes sadistic pleasure in the discomfort PC totalitarianism creates for whites who struggle for footing amid the constantly shifting requirements for white debasement and verbal self-policing. “We’re really making fun of white people here,” Apatow clarifies for those in doubt during his audio commentary. Most ridiculously, the film features a scene in which blacks are bothered by whites talking during a movie.

1. Pro-marriage. Opening with a woman’s memory of her philandering father’s breakup with her mother, Trainwreck concerns itself with a very real challenge confronting millennial singles: the problem of creating healthy and lasting adult relationships in the absence of successful parental models. After avoiding commitment all of her life, Schumer concedes that all along she has actually envied the comfortable but unerotic stability of her sister’s married life.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

gorillas-in-the-mist

Forget Runaway Slave (2012) or Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (2016). Gorillas in the Mist (1988), starring Sigourney Weaver as mountain gorilla specialist Dian Fossey, is the ultimate liberals-are-the-real-racists experience on film.

Fossey is a sixties feminist freakazoid whose work with handicapped children fails to satisfy her attraction to the dysfunctional and the grotesque. Instead, she travels to the African jungle to subsist all alone on a mountain with wild gorillas and nobody but mostly unfriendly blacks for miles around. One of the zanier heroines in eighties cinema, she is something of a thematic cousin to the protagonists of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982).

Disregarding her mentor’s warnings, Fossey, after first being spooked by one of the rampaging apes, slowly gets close and personal with a particular group of gorillas. She crawls around on the ground with them, learns to imitate their grunts, and gets to know each one of them individually. In one of the movie’s breakthrough moments, she even holds hands with one of the things and practically swoons with schoolgirl languor.

Her interactions with the black natives are far less promising. A group of soldiers ransacks her belongings and scatters her scholarly papers. The local Batwa tribesmen offend her sensibilities with their traditional hunting techniques, prompting her to sabotage their traps. Fossey capitalizes on their superstitious conviction that she is a witch by encouraging them in this impression, making them afraid of her with devilish exhibitions of voodoo.

dian-fossey

Dian Fossey, gorilla supremacist feminist icon

Eventually, after a party of poachers cuts off the head of one her apes, Fossey loses her mind and practically goes Col. Kurtz on the “wogs”, as she calls them, setting fire to grass huts and even staging a mock-lynching (!) for one of the culprits.

Gorillas in the Mist, on its surface, may only be the story of one woman, Dian Fossey. On the subtextual level, however, what is at stake is race relations. The overly optimistic idea is that, if this miracle worker, Dian Fossey, can even tame the savage heart of a wild mountain gorilla, then surely, too, there is hope that whites can live in peace with primitive blacks someday.

There is, too, an implicit imperialism of the heart about Fossey’s presumptuous shouldering of the white woman’s burden to teach the ignorant Africans how to conserve their wildlife. Maurice Jarre, most famous for composing the score to Lawrence of Arabia, was tapped to create the soundtrack to Gorillas in the Mist. Just call her Fossey of Afro-Apia!

The film’s depiction of Fossey as a woman of mingled passion and bigoted misanthropy seems to have been rather on the mark. The L.A. Times, in its notice of Fossey’s unsolved murder in 1985, noted:

“What is important is that she was the first to ‘habituate’ gorillas” to the presence of humans, said Belgian ecologist Alain Monfort, an adviser to the Rwandan Park Service. “Before that, people thought gorillas were highly dangerous,” Monfort said.

But the naturalist’s sometimes-eccentric behavior irritated both the Rwandan government and the international wildlife community. […]

In an interview at her camp in May, one of the last she gave, Fossey defended her policy of encouraging the apes to fear black Africans because nearly all poachers were black. She conceded that the policy could be branded as “racist.”

The Wall Street Journal also says this:

Fossey, who was hacked to death with a machete in her bed 16 years ago – by whom, we still do not know, though it could have been poachers, a disgruntled Rwandan servant, or even an American colleague – saw herself as a benign earth-mother to the highland gorillas she helped protect. There can be no denying her path-breaking achievements, and had it not been for her, and for the attention she attracted to the cause of the mountain gorillas, it is possible that we might, today, have been talking of those animals in the past tense.

But Fossey was also a racist alcoholic who regarded “her” gorillas as better than the African people who lived around them. Her anthropomorphization of the apes was matched by her unceasing belittlement of the area’s natives. Arguably the world’s first eco-colonialist, she habitually referred to Rwandans as “wogs,” never in all her time recruited a single black African as a researcher and even burned the crops of neighboring peasants whom she suspected let their cattle graze in the reserve.

As extreme as Gorillas in the Mist makes Fossey’s obsessiveness appear, the film constitutes a positive sanitization of her activities if her fellow primatologists Bill Weber and Amy Vedder are to be believed when they claim that Fossey “pistol-whipped a man suspected of poaching on her reserve, and then supervised his prolonged torture at her camp, including the rubbing of stinging nettles on his penis and testicles.”

The feminist conservationist icon might have missed her calling shoveling Shlomos into the ovens in a Spielberg epic, sounds like. At least Madison Grant never messed wit muh dik.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

arrival

Arrival is a more intimate alien visitation story than most owing to its sensitive lead performance from Amy Adams (Man of Steel’s Lois Lane playing another lover of extraterrestrials) as a distinguished linguist drafted by the U.S. government to communicate with the occupants of one of twelve alien spaceships that land around the world. Kill the Messenger’s Jeremy Renner appears as the physicist who assists her. Arrival features some highly stressful and fascinating sequences, but loses a little steam as its bankrupt moralism becomes evident.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Arrival is:

5. Green. The extraterrestrials’ craft demonstrates that highly sophisticated technology can be developed to travel at high speeds without producing an ecological footprint.

4. Feminist. It is women with brains and feelings, not men with guns, who will win peace for the world, the film suggests. The protagonist’s daughter plays at being a sheriff, her mother having empowered her to believe that girls can fill traditionally masculine roles.

3. Neoconservative. Russia and China, not the U.S., threaten global security with their idiosyncratic saber-rattling. Mention is also made of the Amy Adams character having helped the military translate a recording of Farsi-speaking “insurgents”, connecting Iran with terrorism in audiences’ minds.

2. Pro-immigration. Arrival functions partly as an allegory about western anxieties of demographic displacement. This subtext is made explicit when the viewer is treated to an excerpt of a blowhard conservative talk show host complaining about the alien presence. Lucky for Earth, the undocumented ones come bearing the gift of advanced parapsychological technology.

1. Globalist. Renner’s physicist feels – correctly, as it turns out – that the earth’s safety depends on his work with Adams rather than anything the military can do. It is sensitive, scholarly anti-racist academics to whom the world must look in order to understand immigrants’ needs and desires and the ways in which all beings’ interests are intertwined. The appropriately octopus-like Heptapods – reminiscent of the Twelve Tribes of Israel – visit the planet in twelve massive ships in order to gift humanity with their nonlinear, brain-reconfiguring language, a sort of intergalactic Esperanto through which a one-world order will be brought about. Something vague is said about how the Heptapods will collect on the debt in 3,000 years, at which point something akin to a horrible plague will develop. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer thereby seems to acknowledge that the “gift” of globalism will ultimately result in decay and death of the host, but seems to expect the viewer to feel that the joy of experiencing nation-erasing Jew World Order parasitism will somehow be worth the price.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Deadpool

Marvel antihero Deadpool’s leap to the big screen manages to be highly entertaining in spite of having one of the most unnecessarily filthy and anally fixated scripts this reviewer has ever encountered. Ryan Reynolds is frivolous but funny as the frenetic special forces fighter turned mercenary – “a bad guy who gets paid to fuck up worse guys” – in what may be the most successful incarnation yet of the wisecracking hipster-as-superhero genre. Fast-paced and guaranteed diversion for devotees of the cult of hyperviolence and slow-motion bullets.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis only recommends seeing Deadpool for free, if possible, and indicates that it is:

9. Pro-brony. The hero masturbates while amusing himself with a stuffed animal.

8. Gun-ambivalent. Deadpool owns a number of guns, but forgets to bring these to the final battle. He proceeds to demonstrate how an accomplished action hero does not need an arsenal to dispatch a heavily armed pack of henchmen.

7. Disingenuously anti-torture. Supervillain Ajax (Ed Skrein) subjects Deadpool to atrocities reminiscent of War on Terror interrogations and Abu Ghraib indignities in his efforts to activate Deadpool’s recessive mutant genes, but Deadpool himself also employs torture to get information out of opponents. “I may be super, but I am no hero,” he says by way of a disclaimer – a distinction that will be lost on all of the adolescent boys who watch Deadpool. “And, yeah, technically this is murder,” he says, flippantly dismissing his impalement of a bad guy, “but some of the best love stories start with a murder and that’s exactly what this is – a love story.”

6. War-ambivalent. War, it is suggested, is an evil enterprise, but the film makes light of wartime experiences that allowed Deadpool to travel to “exotic places – Baghdad, Mogadishu, Jacksonville – meeting new and exciting people.” The general incendiary bombast of the movie makes combat seem like a blast.

5. Anti-South. The South, as the above quotation demonstrates, is equated with the Third World.

4. Pro-drug. “God, I miss cocaine,” gripes Deadpool’s roommate Blind Al (Leslie Uggams). Learning a stash of cocaine is nearby, Deadpool’s friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) asks her, “Wanna get fucked up?”

3. Misandrist. A slap on the ass warrants vengeful crotch-clenching. Even gentlemanly behavior meets with genital abuse. Both Deadpool and Colossus must be rescued by women, and National Women’s Day occasions an unreasonable sexual favor from the protagonist.

2. Anti-family. Deadpool, a “sexy motherfucker”, exchanges dysfunctional family stories with a prostitute (Morena Baccarin). “Daddy left before I was born,” etc. Deadpool claims to have been molested by his uncle, to which she replies that more than one uncle raped her. “They took turns.” It is also suggested that Deadpool has carnal knowledge of his father when he reaches behind himself, feels Colossus’s cock, and asks, “Dad?” The film furthers the process of pedophilia normalization by trivializing child abuse.

1. Pro-gay. “Oh, hello. I know, right? Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my very own movie? I can’t tell you, but it does rhyme with ‘Polverine’. And let me tell you, he’s got a nice pair o’ smooth criminals down unda.” One of the most butt-centric movies in some time, Deadpool makes more than one reference to the hero’s anus as a sexual organ. His “on switch” is next to his prostate, he hints, and the viewer is even treated to the sight of his girlfriend (Morena Baccarin) screwing him in the posterior with a strap-on. It is also insinuated that he has been hiding her engagement ring in his rectum. Then, too, he takes a bullet right between the cheeks and threatens an adversary with a reference to his “hard spots”. “That came out wrong – or did it?” he asks, kissing him. Deadpool is “pretty sure Robin loves Batman, too.” An animated version of the protagonist sports an extensive erection when Ed Skrein’s credit comes up at the end.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Paul Morrissey

Paul Morrissey

Mention Paul Morrissey and movies about transvestites, heroin addicts, and other varieties of lowlife are likely to come to mind; but the director of such films as Flesh (1968) and Heat (1972) holds very different views than one might assume from a first impression of these films and from his professional association with Andy Warhol. “Staunchly conservative, Morrissey still frowns upon the moral and artistic state of America today,” writes Steve Ryfle, who interviewed the filmmaker in 2000. Rather, Morrissey’s vintage films reflect his view that “modern American life was going down the toilet.”1 David Bahr of The New York Times writes:

Paul Morrissey disdains rock music, abhors recreational drugs and thinks even less of liberal politics. When asked his views on sex, he pauses for a moment, looks his inquisitor in the eye and says: “I’m Catholic. I’m with Rome 100 percent.”

Such sentiments may seem surprising coming from a director whose films luxuriate in the libertine lives of heroin users, masturbating transvestites and polymorphous-perverse male prostitutes. Yet Mr. Morrissey – who from 1966 to 1972 directed more than half a dozen movies produced by Andy Warhol, discovered the avant-garde rock band the Velvet Underground and once saw a court label his work “obscene, vulgar and profane” – believes he’s misunderstood, to say nothing of misrepresented.2

Morrissey situates his work outside the counterculture and characterizes it instead as his disapproving reaction to the general collapse of morality as it occurred around him:

There’s something I realized years later, after I had made all the films, although I probably realized it at the time even though I wasn’t conscious of it. At that time, there was this idea that was just coming in – the media was just getting hold of it, and the music world was just screaming its lungs out about how great it was – saying you could do whatever you want. That was really idiotic, and stupid and foolish and silly, unbelievably stupid.

People, by the late sixties, were doing whatever they felt like, and nobody gave a damn.

“I understood that these people were good story material, good subjects to show where life had gotten to, and how pathetic it was,” Morrissey explains.3 Blood for Dracula (1974), for instance, imagines a future-shocked traditionalist vampire (Udo Kier) who despairs of finding virgin blood to drink in the sexually free and easy 1970s, while Trash (1970) depicts the boredom of heroin dependency. “So much of the culture glamorized drugs at the time,” remarks frequent Morrissey leading man Joe Dallesandro. “Paul wanted to show the seedier side, where it all led to.”4 Women in Revolt (1972), which utilizes a cast of transvestites for satirical purposes, mocks the increasingly noisy and confrontational feminist movement of the day. “I thought it would be funny if they were playing women who were converted to lesbianism by the women’s lib movement,” Morrissey says. “The whole women’s thing was so ridiculous. ‘We don’t need men,’ and all that.”5

The director envisioned his Madame Wang’s (1981) as a satire of nonexistent American values and the decline of Western Civilization:

The huge Masonic Temple was a Greek temple, it represented past culture, and it was abandoned and lived in by derelict female impersonators. That was my take on Americans, especially Southern California Americans. They couldn’t care less about anything, except maybe getting up in drag or doing a punk rock show and screaming and throwing themselves on the floor. And the poor Russian agent comes from East Germany and says, “I’ve got to meet Jane Fonda, we’re taking over this country one day, and we have to have all of our operatives in place and I’m one of them.” And everyone says, “great, so what?”6

Morrissey gives the following explication of his comedy flop Spike of Bensonhurst (1988), in which his “pain in the ass” protagonist (Sasha Mitchell) “treats everybody like dirt, and does whatever he wants”:

The little switcheroo, which I thought was the point of the story, was that finally when someone disciplines him it turns out to be the best thing that happens to him. The idea that there are some standards and a sense of order in the world somewhere […]7

Like so many avowed conservatives in American politics, however, Morrissey’s work reveals his complicity in the projects of the culture destroyers even as he professes traditionalism. The mundane drugs-and-drag depravity of his classic oeuvre, while successfully illustrating the emptiness of the revolutions in sexuality and consciousness that had been engineered during the 1960s, also serves to normalize the ascendant dysfunction.

“Life is so second rate now,” Morrissey assesses.

And that idea that life has degenerated to a second rate position was part of the story to all those movies. I still don’t see that as a story element in any other movies – the obvious fact that life today is so much poorer than it was before. And I don’t think you can tell that story unless you’re aware that there’s a difference now. Most people don’t even know there’s a difference between today and before.8

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Endnotes

  1. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  2. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  3. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  4. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  5. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 20.
  6. Ibid., p. 21.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p. 19.
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