….more jewelboxes to throw away! A box from Amazon just arrived containing the following three things:
Human Amusements at Hourly Rates: The best of Guided by Voices
TV on the Radio – desperate youth, blood thirsty babes
The Time – Ice Cream Castle
Thing is, I get cds for all the wrong reasons. You would think that anyone who bought as many of them as I do would be listening to music round the clock. In truth, I listen on the way to and from work, occasionally at home when doing chores and primarily when traveling. I tell myself that the small amount of djing I do justifies my expenditures but come on. I’ll buy a cd to hear what a band sounds like. And because I love getting presents (which is what those smiling amazon boxes still feel like even though I know where the money for them came from).
On a completely different note today’s New York Times chronicles the continuing bafflement of the Movie Industry in the face of the the ongoing success of Mel Gibson’s Passion. There is something quite delightful about the furious back pedalling and pandering that the executives are going through but what caught my eye were the following factoids:
“In the first days after its release on Feb. 25 (Ash Wednesday) “The Passion” drew large numbers from religious groups whose members had bought blocks of tickets. Since then exit polls conducted by the movie’s distributor, Newmarket Films, have found that young moviegoers have made up much of the audience.
“The R rating is limiting younger kids, but it is getting teens and college kids,” Newmarket’s president, Bob Berney, told Variety last week. The film has been promoted on horror-fan Web sites, and young men seem to be drawn by reports that the movie is gory.”
This of course is the demographic that Hollywood really cares about, but beyond that I was reminded about letters in the arts and leisure section on Sunday, arguing over the assertion of the film’s homoeroticism. One writer said that the film could not be homoerotic because it was clearly homophobic, given its androgynous Satan figure and nelly depiction of Herod. Something clicked into place in my thinking
It seems to me that this culture is engaged in a major reassessment of what Masculine sexuality is and this struggle is being enacted by trying to define the poles of hetero and homo sexuality. Images of male bodies in extremis are one of the major vehicles for this attempted definition.
I want to formulate this argument fully, but for now I’m going to just present a constellation of things: The Passion, Back Yard Wrestling, Jackass, Queer Eye, Punked, That reality show where the woman has to figure out which of her suitors are gay, 28 Days Later, the increasing visibility of “Kinky” sexuality on TV, and the gay marriage debate.
Like I say, this is just occured to me this morning so it is by no means fleshed out.
But here is one thought:
It of course is completely possible for something to be both homoerotic and homophobic at the same time; it’s a pseudo-Freudian cliche that homophobia is deployed as a defensive gesture toward one’s own homosexual desire. So in the Passion, our pleasure in watching the Christ’s torture is made clearly not sexual by the presence of figures who serve as sexual lightning rods: The physical disruption of Jesus’ body is clearly different from the sexual disruption of Satan’s so it and our involvement with it remains “straight”.
In the face of increasing proximity to homosexual experiences and voices, much of the culture will be engaging in such attempts in clarification (in the same way that 18th and 19th century culture used the notion of “Blackness” to bolster, and indeed invent, the identity of “White” people and thus to deal with guilt of slavery).
Much of my thinking around this is derived from Klaus Theweliet’s examination of Weinmar culture: Male Fantasies