Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Movies for Political People

I saw Tommy last night at Lincoln Center, for the first time in about two decades, and for the first time since Pete Townshend dismissed the accusations that he was looking for child pornography by saying he was investigating the subject, inspired partly by a fear he was himself molested in childhood.

And I must say, this movie would make a very convincing Exhibit A for his defense, since even beyond the overt molester Uncle Ernie, it seems that every character is engaged in child abuse of one sort or another — and I’d forgotten that the thing that shocks our young pinball wizard into becoming “deaf, dumb, and blind” is his oddly-sexualized mom (an adoring Ann-Margaret writhing curvaceously in baked beans) and his stepdad ordering him to stop seeing and hearing or ever speaking of the evil he’s seen.

It would make a good double feature (with discussion) with the far superior Pink Floyd: The Wall from five years later, since both focus on a British lad who loses his dad in World War II — but Tommy is threatened by male sexuality and responds by becoming a rocker/ersatz Christ figure, while Pink fears maternal smothering and his wife’s adultery and becomes a rocker/fuhrer figure, making the movies a sort of yin and yang of classic rock.

Less philosophically rich but still worth discussing for the right political factions this month are:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for neocons (the gung-ho prior film obviously having been made with ample military assistance and depicting our boys in the Middle East in a positive light)

Bruno, which features the faux-gay Austrian fashion reporter attempting to seduce Ron Paul, for paleos and people with a Euro/gay aesthetic streak (perhaps bridging the cultural divide between some fans of our Lolita Bar debaters last week, TakiMag editor Richard Spencer and Sanctity of Marriage handbook author Bryan Harris)

I Love You Beth Cooper for libertarians (well, this is really just a romantic teen comedy from Larry Doyle, but I knew his work even before meeting him [he was in my apartment and we had a mutual friend] and even before his work on The Simpsons, New York magazine, etc. because he used to be a comic book editor when the company First! Comics existed, and he edited libertarian Mike Baron’s excellent series Nexus — all of which makes Doyle’s next announced film project, a sci-fi high school comedy called Go, Mutants!, unsurprising)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for liberal anglophiles who value education and meritocracy

Watchmen: The Director’s Cut (in a few cities the weekend after this coming one) for anarchists

I may have to see them all — despite or perhaps because of the almost astonished-sounding and baffled negative reviews of Transformers: RotF — since I’ve in some sense been part of each of these factions. That’s why I should make an effort to ensure you hear less “party line” and more “plethora of notions” on this blog now. You may find yourself getting even angrier as you read it, though.


Jacob T. Levy said...


Since when?

Harry’s a very traditional fantasy hero– comes from humble *trappings,* but then discovers that he’s secretly from a magical and Very Important bloodline, and has inborn powers that he did nothing to earn and a destiny foretold before his birth and etc etc etc. “Not all glitters that is gold” but Harry like Aragorn secretly *is* gold, through no effort of his own. The meritocratic message is not, “no matter who you are, if you work very hard and are very virtuous you might someday be swept away to your secret destined life where it turns out you were a magical prince all along– to all of which your hard work will be irrelevant.”

For a very funny meritocratic *subversion* of all that, I highly recommend China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun.

Todd Seavey said...

Well, sure, it’s still the British class system, yet Hermione works hard and studies and is seen as admirable because of it — whereas China Mieville is a very gung-ho socialist (it’s a complex imaginary world). If Mieville moderates his views, though, maybe he can change his name to Canada Mieville.

Todd Seavey said...

On a related note, for those who neither have time to read Paul Fussell on the concealed but still relevant nature of class in America — or time to talk to me about why I feel slightly guilty about not being all that attracted to the women of my old hometown if they have feathered Bon Jovi-fan hair _nor_ some of the rigidly super-fancy and overly made-up of NYC — here is the best thing the Onion ever did about class conflict:

David said...

I saw the first Transformers movie at midnight at a drive-in at a US military base in Europe. As silly as the movie is, the military scenes take on a different cast when you’re surrounded by the guys who actually do those jobs (albeit not against giant robots from outer space (as far as we know)).

Jacob T. Levy said...

You borin’ me, old man.