Saturday, June 29, 2013

Spring Breakers and Dionysian Madness

The Pinnochio Theory has a brilliantly succinct analysis of the recent American film, Spring Breakers:

Spring Breakers

Audiovisually speaking, SPRING BREAKERS is utterly ravishing. It is so gorgeous as to negate or suspend the uneasiness one might legitimately feel about 1)the use of GIRL POWER as an alibi to empower a straight white dude’s jerk-off fantasy; & 2)the “wanna-be-black” fantasy by means of which straight white dudes compensate for (supplement, in the Derrida sense) their own feelings of impotent inferiority by adopting, with a vengeance, the most viciously racist stereotypes of “black masculinity” that our culture currently likes to circulate. I notice these things, but I am helplessly & successfully disarmed by Harmony Korine’s relentless audiovisual seduction: the sunsets, the colors, the slow-motion, the breasts, the throbbing but sublimated yearning of the electro score, the intellectual montage that layers Britney over thuggery, and gorgeous beaches over willful stupdity, the heartfeltspirituality of Selena Gomez’s voiceovers. with the mantra-like repetitions of her monologues and other fragments of dialogue… All this as an almost didactic demonstration of the way that, in our neoliberal culture, there is no distinction whatsoever between hedonism and self-help, or between transgression and hypernormativity.

I refused to watch it after seeing a few trailers, precisely because it is a self-conscious excuse to present pornography as film. The reflexive moment, had by thinkers, that the film intends to have that "you know that I know that you know" moment, doesn't mitigate the fact. In fact, I am tempted to think that the film might appeal because it demonstrates the chasm between the erudite who "get it" and the plebes who just skim across the surface. I have been on the lookout for such traps even since I was ... well ... Suckerpunched by a movie promising a feminist theme but was in fact yet another vehicle for "straight white dude" porn delivered in a manner that makes on feel righteous rather than regretful at breaking a taboo. Too many films operate on the grounds of giving us a pornographic or violent feast that we're not supposed to have because it's barbaric and potentially morally eroding, and then make it palatable with a hipster wink and execution by ironizing it.

This is decadence, a Dionysian madness whereas we'll shred our Apollonian strictures while still proclaiming their rightness. It is predation.

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