Rose McGowan – “Hateful” in a Flash

Rose McGowan got heckled by some insane transwoman the other day, and the video went viral. Apparently this was because McGowan had made some “transphobic” comments in an interview with RuPaul. Basically, Rose talked about how transwomen were different than other women because they didn’t have the same biological experiences (like periods, etc.) As these were obviously empirically true statements, I suppose it’s not surprising they caused such outrage. Of course transwomen are not the same as biological women. For one thing, they are born with penises. So that’s one difference right there. Anyone could have learned this much by simply watching Kindergarten Cop.

I mean how dumb/insane do you have to be to go after someone like Rose McGowan because she “doesn’t do enough for transwomen” or whatever. Even the great-hearted among us can only politely entertain this kind of stupidity with a straight face for so long.

In all honesty, this is exactly the kind of thing that pushes people over the edge. You go through life walking on eggshells, careful to be respectful and not offend others, but you discover it’s never enough. So you just stop caring and even begin to take pleasure in offending them. Others who haven’t had quite reached their breaking point yet (some perhaps never will) wonder how you can say such “insensitive,” and “hurtful” things. but they don’t realize how you’ve come to be desensitized. Tell people enough times that they are racist/sexist/transphobic no matter what they say or do, and they will eventually decide it’s not worth trying to appease the unappeasable. This doesn’t mean they will subsequently go out of their way to be huge assholes to everyone, but they might very well stop caring so much if sharing their honest opinion or joke causes people to think they’re huge assholes. Rose McGowan’s not there yet. She’s still under the illusion that there’s a place for “white feminists” within the intersectional community. There isn’t really. These people will never accept them as their own, and the behavioral demands and speech parameters will only get more unreasonable as time goes on.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen too many of Rose McGowan’s movies. I vaguely remember watching The Doom Generation, but since I watched it at a girl’s house with a few friends on some random night in 1997, I wasn’t really paying attention. It seemed like a movie that was trying too hard to seem hip and edgy. Rose also had a small role in the movie Encino Man, which I never realized until I noticed it in her Wikipedia (it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie.) Perhaps, in the case of Encino Man was just too preoccupied with Megan Ward, who had already left a lasting impression on my psyche with her demonic mirror seduction scene in Amityville 1992: It’s About Time. Oh, and I forgot that McGowan had a supporting role in Scream also, where she gets killed while trying to escape through a doggy door.

The only real Rose McGowan centric film I’ve seen in its entirety is Devil in the Flesh, a throwaway direct-to-video “erotic” thriller from 1998 where McGowan plays,a psycho teenage girl who becomes infatuated with her teacher and tries to murder his fiancee (after successfully killing several other people.) I recall being highly annoyed with this film as a young man, because it did not deliver any payoffs on the sexual tension building up in the plot. It fell clearly into the “more tease than sleaze” category. People who make these kinds of erotic thriller movies need to realize that the viewers aren’t rooting for the good guys (or the bad guys for that matter.) They’re rooting for sex scenes to happen involving the most physically attractive characters in the movie, prefaced by an underlying sexual tension within the context of a forbidden premise. The viewer wants to see the teacher succumb to his psycho student’s advances (after resisting at first.) The viewer doesn’t care about him being a good guy and saving the day by rescuing his cheesy fiancee. Not in this kind of movie anyway. As a side note, in the sequel Devil in the Flesh II (this time starring Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) the girl does manage to successfully seduce her teacher, (albeit with the same predictably disappointing ending) so in this sense it is the superior film.

Fast forward 20 years and these days McGowan has a shaved head because she no longer wants to be seen as a “sex object.” It might seem strange coming from someone who wrote the paragraphs above, but I can’t say that I blame her really. Even average everyday girls get hit on or have to fend off creeps in pretty much any situation where human interaction can possibly occur. I can only imagine that for an actress with a public image as a sex symbol, this kind of attention would be amplified to unimaginable levels. At some point a girl may want to be noticed for something else, anything else. Not only that, but McGowan herself has (allegedly) been subjected to actual abuse by Harvey Weinstein and probably a few others as well.

So she’s a hardcore feminist activist now and an icon. Good for her I suppose. As a cynical, somewhat apathetic guy I find her interviews painful to watch, with all the excessive, misplaced self-aggrandizement and melodramatic talk about “bravery,” “revolutions” etc. It all comes across really awkward and delusional to anyone outside of her own head. It is also pretty lame to use “Brave” as the title of your autobiographical book about yourself. Still, I can’t bring myself to dislike her. For all her bombastic bluster, she still seems like a nice girl and a sincere person. This is a girl that had a rough time and went through some bad stuff and just wants to break free of all the bullshit. Anyone that displays an ability to stop giving a fuck about conforming to groupthink on any level always has the potential to go further, even if they ultimately choose to just embrace a bunch of other dumb stuff instead.

A Cornflower By Any Other Name

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 film about a transient ephebophilic romantic entanglement between two diasporic Jews living in “northern Italy” (not otherwise specified) in the 1980s with a shared interest in European high culture and in the fact that they are both Jews. It is the type of premise that makes a typical person of These Circles™ apoplectic, and one could almost say that it was that, combined with simple curiosity, that made me watch it.

I am continually amazed by how many people flippantly throw about the term “paedophilia”. I recall Ryan Faulk remarking once that the word “racist” is useless because to brand someone with it tells one nothing about what he believes; it is used only to manipulate. Ditto here, it seems, when the younger person in the relationship is 17, which is fully four years removed from what clinicians would define as paedophilic territory. Equally amazing is how many people are saying, “But the age of consent in Italy is 14,” as if that even matters. Would this become a “paedophile movie” to these people if Italy’s age of consent were 18 in 1983?

Why Italy was chosen is indeed interesting (much of this may apply to the source material as much as the film) and segues into several other curious choices made in the film about what to show explicitly, implicitly, or not at all. Debates rage on whether Italy or Germany deserves to be called the heart of European civilisation, but it should be borne in mind that both are young countries, and the region of Italy in which the film is set was part of the same political entity as what is now called Germany for a significant chunk of its history. The two protagonists – Oliver (the man) and Elio (the teenager) – roundaboutly evoke these themes in a dialogue about classical composers, eg Bach (a German) and Busoni (an Italian).

If one draws a line, roughly, under Bologna, everything above is unambiguously white. Everything below is white too, but it is palpably not the same. Northern Italy is also the least Jewish part of the country, as Elio notes quite early on, to which Oliver says that he is from New England and is “used to being the odd Jew out.” Elio is plainly uncomfortable with his identity, which is one of the things that cause friction between the two at first. Oliver, though, is overbearingly confident and looks like a figure from a 50s film noir poster, just at the time America’s Anglo elite had begun its steady decline. One could easily believe that he was indeed a New Englander, and he spends most of his life absorbed in European cultural artefacts, but internally he cannot bring himself to abandon his apartness, his selectness, his (I dare say) chosenness. He also has five-pointed stars on his trainers, on which the camera at one point lingers for a few seconds – as if this were connected to the Star of David he wears on a discreet necklace. It is not, though. It really only puts one in mind, again, of old films, and of that place which is home to all things formless, superficial, and vacuous.

Elio is attracted to these qualities in Oliver, but when he tries imitating Oliver’s behaviour, wearing a Star of David round his own neck, it comes across as strange and hollow. His mother would apparently disapprove of it, because his family are “Jews of discretion”, but she never comments on it, which makes one wonder what was the point of even mentioning it in the first place.

Elio’s family, naturally, are odd. He sounds American. His mother and father sound English and American respectively, but it is still not clear. All of them speak at least four European languages, and they live in a bucolic Italian paradise, but it is apparently only one of their houses (do they have one for every season of the year?). They act almost as a mosaic arrangement of the clichés of European Jewry; deracination, neuroticism, feigning detachment from things.

Elio’s father, “Mr Perlman”, is an archaeologist, so the film is replete with discussion about classical antiquity, particularly their aesthetics. However, despite taking place in Italy, most of the names I remember hearing were Greek, which I found interesting because Greece had few settlements in that part of Italy – the northernmost outpost of Magna Graecia was at Adria, but it was very much an outlier. Mr Perlman waxes lyrical a few times in the film, the first time when he is showing Oliver a slideshow of classical statues and saying that they look as if they are “daring you to desire them”, at which Oliver gives a quizzical look. This comes on the heels of escalating tension between him and Elio – and afterward, his inhibitions seem to diminish. That is the explicit link to Hellenic pederasty. The implicit one is by far more interesting. Although both actors (Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet) are adult men, they could not have found two men who were more physically different. Hammer is above the 99th percentile in US male height and nearly as fetching as the Greek statues, whereas Chalamet is glabrous and gangling. Elio is at an ephebe’s age, more or less (he is played by Chalamet). He is cultured but rather unworldly and naive – and by the end of the film (like an eromenos, one is tempted to imagine), when he is inconsolably broken-hearted, one finally sees a change in his demeanour. By then he has come to terms with himself in multiple ways, not just with his incipient sexuality.

Neither one of these characters is straightforwardly gay; Elio has a girlfriend for the second half of the film with whom he copulates, and Oliver eventually ends up getting married. It is better this way, I think. If they were gay then their relationship would be that much less remarkable, since it would be the default for them both to be attracted to members of their own sex anyway. Since this is not the case, attention is drawn not to the same-sex nature of their attraction, but to everything else about them – their erudition, Oliver’s strange obsessiveness, etc. Oliver’s doctoral thesis, the reason he is staying with Elio’s family, remains a mystery except for the fact that he is assisting Elio’s father in some way, but that is never really explained either, and there are probably a load more things like that that I have missed. The performances of the two lead actors, who eat up >90% of the screen time, are among the most “real” I have ever seen in a film, and I do not recall any scenes that you would have to be gay to enjoy. There is also not a single histrionic outburst from anyone in the entire film about Elio and Oliver’s relationship, which stops it from falling into familiar(ly tedious and clichéd) territory, and Oliver even seems to remark on this towards the end when he says something to the effect of, “You are so lucky. My father would have had me carted off to a correctional facility.” In fact, the extent to which their relationship is even mentioned explicitly by any of the other characters is very limited even at the end.

So it’s worth watching, I think. But if you are the sort who would be put off by Robert Stark’s novel, this is probably not for you either.

The Experts

I reviewed the 1989 film, The Experts over at Aryan Skynet. I’m not sure this mediocre movie warranted having 1,300 words written about it, but hey that’s never stopped me before. The review can be found, here

Revisiting The Wicker Man

I first saw The Wicker Man about 15 years ago when I rented a VHS copy from Blockbuster Video, in the hope that it might feature some 70’s nudity. I think I ended up fast forwarding through most of it, except briefly for that Britt Ekland seduction scene which ends disappointingly. So yeah, as far as erotic horror goes, it’s no Stormswept. However, in spite of having almost no interest in the plot of The Wicker Man at the time, I could not bring myself to fast forward through the final scene, which was genuinely disturbing.

Unlike a throwaway fun flick like “The Wraith” that you that you can watch like 50 times whenever you want some background ambiance, The Wicker Man is one of those movies you regret watching, not because it’s bad, but because it files a traumatizing memory image into your brain that can’t be unseen. I would have been happy to never see or think about this film ever again, but somehow I roped myself into rewatching parts of it and decided it was worth giving a few thoughts on.

*Spoilers ahead*

The plot centers upon a Christian police sergeant who travels to a small Scottish island to investigate a case of a missing young girl. He soon discovers that the locals on the island have abandoned Christianity and are practicing a crude form of Celtic paganism. He is disturbed by their promiscuous behavior and what he perceives to be bizarre and superstitious activities (they utilize folk medicine like swallowing live toads to cure sore throats.) The people on the island make his investigation frustrating as they claim the girl he is looking for never existed. Eventually he locates the girl and saved her from a fate of being sacrificed as the “May Queen” (only she doesn’t appear to want to be saved.) The sergeant gets caught with her while trying to escape. He winds up being the sacrifice instead, and the film ends with him being burned alive in a giant Wicker Man, while the townsfolk joyously look on and sing “Sumer Is Icumen In.”

The leader of the island, “Lord Summerisle” (played by legendary actor Christopher Lee) resembles something of a neoreactionary figure. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, he manipulates the islanders into embracing traditional paganism (which he himself clearly doesn’t believe in) as a means to control them as well as to establish a harmoniously cohesive and functioning society. The island serves as a prototype for a mostly autonomous, rural “city state” which has deviated from modernity in favor of folklore and superstition. However, with people having wild orgies in graveyards, it is less prudish than the killjoy culture that “Little House on the Praireactionary” factions of neoreaction idealize. That being said, life on Pagan Island looks pretty groovy to me.

Anyway, near the end of the film when the police sergeant has been captured and is about to be sacrificed, he pleads with the villagers that their beliefs are a lie, and tries to convince them that sacrificing him to “their gods” won’t prevent the harvest from failing. The townspeople ignore his appeals to reason and gleefully carry out the sacrifice, burning him alive in a giant wicker man.

The irony is that for almost the entire duration of the event he is vocally professing the Christian afterlife beliefs, asserting that the Christian God he was brought up to believe in is the true one. As the flames slowly begin to engulf him, he desperately curses the islanders and recites Psalm 23, oblivious to the notion that his own prayers are no more or less likely to be answered.

What makes this film ultimately disturbing though is the way it mercilessly reveals the horror of being the odd man out among a mob of people swept up in groupthink. Regardless of what one believes, the viewer can relate the the movie to situations where they perceive themselves to be the rational individual caught in a world gone mad.

Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism

Cherry 2015 – If Loving A Fembot Is Artificial, I Don’t Want To Be Genuine

(this article originally appeared Nov 22, 2014 in Stepkid Magazine but has recently become relevant again)

One of the most prescient dystopian science fiction films of the 1980’s turned out to be the (direct to video?) 1987 movie, “Cherry 2000.”

The future depicted in Cherry 2000 is one where sexual encounters and relationships with real women have become complicated legal transactions requiring lawyers, and have been reduced to merely emotionless business arrangements. The women are typically aggressive, masculine, demanding and shrill. It leads to an environment where the rare romantic guy, who still longs for a traditional loving relationship, would actually find a courtship with a female android more emotionally fulfilling than one with a real live organic woman. It’s sort of a more sympathetic, less horrific spin on “The Stepford Wives” theme. In Stepford, the men killed their loving yet sassy wives in exchange for robot sex slaves who would do the dishes and clean the house without giving them any grief. They were portrayed unmistakably as as evil pricks. In contrast, the physically human women are the ones who display the robotic behavior in Cherry 2000, while the romantic men are forced to seek out the loving emulation of androids for any “meaningful” companionship. Of course the film sells out in the end, as the main character who sacrifices everything in a dangerous quest to replace his beloved, short circuited fembot (Cherry, played by Pamela Gidley) with the identical discontinued model, ultimately falls for the crass and bitchy, tomboyish tracker, “Edith”(Melanie Griffith) whom he’s hired to help locate the robot.

With the advent of “yes means yes” laws it doesn’t seem like it will be long before men will be required to get some type of verbally recorded or written consent to engage in sexual activity with a seemingly “turned on” girl, to shield themselves from litigation or criminal prosecution if she turns on them later. As if getting a girl pregnant or contracting an STD wasn’t enough to worry about, now we have bigger fish to fry. Indeed, there is already a phone app for sexual consent, called Good2Go.

Recent developments over the past two decades have lead me to conclude we’re headed towards Cherry 2000 style dating in America. Indeed, I’ve started to notice that the crudely annoying spambots on Tinder and Okcupid have been getting more sophisticated in their programming to the point where interacting with them can be more romantically stimulating than talking to actual chicks (which, if you’ve ever had an unfortunate exchange with one of these Tinderbots you would realize is more of a knock on the sorry state of the 21st century female conversational experience than it is one marveling in wonder at the advancements in artificial intelligence spam.)

Then there are video game characters. Back in a particularly isolated time period of my life in 2001 and 2002, when all I did was drink diet pepsi, eat microwave popcorn and play old Super Nintendo RPGs in my studio apartment, I would occasionally develop what I guess you could call “crushes” on some of the female sprites in the games (such as Rydia from Final Fantasy IV, Marle and Schala from Chrono Trigger, Paula from Earthbound, etc.) even to where I began to curiously research the technological possibilities of transferring human consciousness to a computer. I was thinking of course that if i could somehow hack a sprite that resembled me into the game’s ROM, that it might be possible to get something going. Yeah, it’s crazy but so what? Realized dreams are the work of madmen. I also saw Tron in the theater when I was a kid so perhaps it left a subconscious impression on me.

In any case, if that kind of emotion was possible to evoke in the days of 16 bit SNES pixelation, I can only imagine how real a romance could be in the context of modern video games which are now much more advanced in their elaborate overworlds, roleplays and simulations. Thousands if not millions of men and women find the virtual experience of video games more appealing than going outside and playing. It would be naive to think that organic human love would be any less vulnerable to competition from artificial intelligence than other components of our earthly existence.

Dust off your 1980’s JC Penney catalog and get your fembots on order, men! This scene is coming to a nightclub or campus near you.

Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism

Death Wish For Killer Whales

orca-the-killer-whale2

So I hadn’t seen Orca (1977) since it was on HBO sometime in the early to mid 80s. Even then I didn’t recall much of the plot (besides the obvious.) The only scene I really remembered is when the main character is trapped on the floating iceberg at the end, and the whale tilts it, sending the man sliding down it to his inevitable death.

I decided to revisit the film given that it was produced by Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis (who also produced Death Wish) and directed by Michael Anderson, who had just previously directed one of my favorite films, Logan’s Run. Anderson would also later direct the eeirly watchable TV miniseries adaptation of The Martian Chronicles in 1980, which I also enjoyed. Given this, I went into watching Orca probably with higher expectations than most people would when they sit down to view a 70’s horror movie about a killer whale that attacks people.

orca_-the-killer-whale

I’ll spare you the suspense, and just tell you up front that this movie is not good. I was prepared going into re-seeing this film to possibly write about how it was much better than I remembered it, maybe even better than Jaws and an underappreciated classic…but it just isn’t any of those things.  It is interesting though, which is partially what makes it so difficult to watch, because one can’t help but be dismayed by all the wasted potential (including a cast which boasts of such highly respected names as Richard Harris and Charlotte Rampling.) Charlotte you might recall was in the news recently when she was attacked by SJWs for stating the obvious about the lack of “diversity” at the 2016 Oscars .

The opening sequences and first 10-15 minutes or so are just beautiful, featuring an award winning musical score and leaving you with the impression you’re diving into a real artistic masterpiece. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much downhill (way downhill) from there until the last 5 minutes of the movie when it gets good again. In fact, if you were to cut about an hour and a half out of Orca, and just make a film out of the first 15 minutes and the last 5, you’d have a damned good movie.

The plot is actually very similar to Death Wish, only this time it’s the killer whale who is the vigilante seeking revenge for the death of his wife and child, whom were killed by a careless and emotionally troubled fisherman. The fisherman, having lost his own wife and child in a car accident with a drunk driver, feels guilt as well as empathy for the whale. He wishes he could communicate how sorry he is, but the killer whale apparently isn’t interested in apologies and terrorizes him, his crew and the entire town out of vengeance. Orca is based on the novel of the same name (which I haven’t read,) by Arthur Herzog.

Since killer whales are highly intelligent, conceptually the plot isn’t all that implausible on the surface. It’s not a stretch to believe that the creature could harbor complex emotions and be able to carry out elaborate revenge scenarios. At least it’s more believable than a great white shark doing these things, like in the awful Jaws the Revenge(which was probably a ripoff of Orca come to think of it.) Cinematically, Orca actually reminds me a lot of Tentacles, an Italian horror film which also came out in 1977 featuring another great musical score and preposterous plot (this time with a giant Octopus terrorizing a beach community and a couple of friendly killer whales teaming up with a man as the heroes who save the day.)

The problem with Orca though is that pushes the whale’s vengeance plot way past any point of believability,  to the point of absurdity. If they had just kept it reasonable to where it was simply the story of an intelligent whale that was upset over the loss of its family and neurotically began attacking local people and seeking retribution on the fishing boat crew he recognized as being the culprits, it could have worked and been profound. However, what actually happens is the whale terrorizes the fisherman and the town with such precision and specificity that it just makes the whole premise(which was already implausible) utterly ridiculous. For example, the whale angrily sinks every boat in the harbor, except the fisherman responsible, supposedly to torment him and to indicate he wants to have a showdown with the man out at sea. The local townspeople and everyone seems to just know that’s what the whale wants. They presume to know what the whale is thinking. The whale even somehow knows what house the fisherman and his crew live in and he comes by and knocks it into the water. The film even contains the stereotypical wise and spiritually connected Indian/native man, there to instruct the fisherman what he must do. I suppose in 1977, the prophetic and mysterious Indian character may not have been a tired cliché yet. At a certain point in the film I gave up and no longer felt any sympathy for or connection to the characters. The movie became so outlandish and unreal that I just kind of detached from the story…almost.

“If he [the orca] is like a human, what he wants isn’t necessarily what he should have.” -Rachel

orcaice

The ending though, is interesting. When Captain Nolan’s (the fisherman) wife and child were killed by the drunk driver, he just got really depressed. He didn’t really take any action. Because the whale is actively seeking revenge and on a grand scale, the Captain concludes that the whale loved his family more than the fisherman loved his own. Much like many humans, the whale ends up seeking a punishing revenge that’s excessive for what the crime against him warranted, while the captain wrongly assumed he and the whale might come to some kind of understanding and make peace. He hesitates when he has a clear chance to shoot the whale near the end. The compassionate gesture doesn’t appear to phase the whale, which proceeds to kill him mercilessly anyway.

orcaeye

The film ends with the orca swimming beneath the thick arctic ice, unable to surface. Having swam out too far in committing his last act of revenge against the fisherman, the whale himself seems unlikely to survive the ordeal. Some have interpreted this as the whale possibly committing suicide. Perhaps though it’s illustrative of how when righteous vengeance is taken too far, it can wind up consuming and destroying oneself. The whale stubbornly insisted on getting more revenge than he was owed and paid the price.

Captain Nolan: Can you commit a sin against an animal?
Priest: Why, you can commit a sin against a blade of grass. Sins are really against oneself.

The plot device is ironically relatable to the film itself, which overextends its whale revenge premise such that it strains the capacity of viewers to take any part of Orca seriously as a movie. If it accomplishes one thing though, it’s that it makes us think about how we treat these creatures, not because they might hate us and become bloodthirsty murderous maniacs if we’re mean to them (they probably won’t…even when we deserve it,) but because they’re worthy of more respect and compassion than we tend to give them.