Friday, September 15, 2006

Lolita Nation


Since the advent of AMERICAN BEAUTY and that Pepsi commercial with Britney Spears (where you see even former presidential nominee Bob Dole drooling over her), we've been collectively in a spiral of youth worship. Men are encouraged to have mid-life crises, get that jet ski, quit their jobs and back out of their marriages (to shrill hellish Annette Benning-style wives) and go after the 18-23 year old of their dreams. Some of us have gone and done this, some of us have regretted it, some have married them and had a second batch of kids, THEN lived to regret it. Some just keep it a fantasy... and get unreasonably hostile towards girls that attract them in that way, and the other men who act instead of fantasizing.

But WHO grows out of it? Who transcends it? Was it always this way? What happened?

In my estimation, it all began with the death of John Lennon in December of 1980. Before that, America was a place with a lot more touching: parents and babysitters of both genders touched children, played with them, rolling around on the floor, tickling and sitting on laps, and so forth. Then Lennon got shot and the peaceful concept of "love" as a force that transcended sex and politics, love as a unity of all people of all ages and races rather than of sex partners and sex partners only, was put on the shelf.

Then came this scare in the early 1980s of children being molested at day care centers. Suddenly every kid was having recovered memories of being molested at their day care center. From then on, the panic over improper touching of children completely overrode the fact that children need to be touched, not sexually but like monkey-grooming style. Now sex seems to be the only way these lost girls can get their father back, symbolically speaking. Here in our fatherless society, these lost girls wear all this Bob Dole-approved sexy stuff in order to snare the attention of the older Peter Pan man, which they then spurn, because they don't really want the sex, so much as the love and attention, masked in the idea of the power of the tease. They oscillate, like a dangling carrot before the horny horse.

Male educators or others who work with young women on a regular basis sometimes unconsciously learn to parlay this need into a tool for getting the young women to do their homework. It's only when the man is going through a midlife crisis, sexually frustrated etc., that this otherwise positive father surrogate situation can run afoul of the law, or common decency.
This is brilliantly represented in the film, "Blue Car," for example, where a fatherless young girl befriends her English professor, who mistakes her need for a strong paternal force as a romantic crush which he is only to happy to equivocate. The film is devastatingly honest and beautiful and highly recommended.

A much less recommended film is "Hard Candy" wherein a little Red Riding Hood style disem-baller played by the able Ellen Page is forced to spout reams of unrealistic dialogue with this bland pedophile played by a bland actor's workshop type.

So now, everything is filtered through the sex looking glass... immature men run out on their daughters, then fall in love with a fatherless teenager in a musical chairs of pseudo-incest...but is sex the ultimate goal, or merely the healing "touch" of another human each would have gotten in the 1970s without having to feel guilty?

What kind of goal is sex, ultimately, anyway? The media uses it to sell soap, for God's sakes... but everyone whose had a post-orgasmic depression knows that ultimately it's a genetic con job. Don't fall for it!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Notes on Charlie's Angels




The man of masculinity has only a handful of choices as he ages -- the burly Kris Kristofferson on the farm route, the handsome dad who drives the babysitter home route, the wise old sage who coughs route and the fun fat guy who drinks route.

Bosley is great as this last one; he's been brain damaged by his connection to the lovely girls of the show. Their hormones have wreaked a genuine winged and whip-weilding fury onto his lowly testes. He has found his god too, and serves the mighty Charlie. Castrated and thrust into service of the invisible other, Bosley is the white version of all those wiley chauffers Mantan Moreland played in the 1940s, always doing what needs be done but making it look like an accident.

The mighty Charlie is an ingenious concept, for as long as he isn't seen, he's immortal and all male viewers like him. He's not competition for the angels attention because he's "far away" and surrounded by (always less attractive) bitches of his own.

Like the Wizard of Oz, Charlie also teaches us that the UNSEEN subject is the one with power. In this way CHARLIE is a WIZARD OF OZ with the luxury of not being uncovered by that infernal dog, Toto. The angels need no Toto. And it is important that he stay invisible to them as well, even though they tease about it and try to see him all the time. His visibility is their desire, the way Smith's breasts are to the viewer, things we are safe in longing for due to their remoteness. (If they did actually see Charlie, they'd inevitably feel some measure of disappointment, while if they never see him he stays eternally beautiful).

What we in our priest-spooked ignorance fail to realize when we try to overthrow these hidden rulers is that we LIKE the unseen ruler. The seen ruler is evil and odious because inevitably some aspect of him will remind us of ourselves, or our odious younger brothers, or oppressive fathers. Once Charlie is seen he becomes that smug artist in Hitchcock's The TROUBLE WITH HARRY now grown old and possibly paunched -- and certainly debauched. The good father is the unseen Charlie; the anal father is the visible Charlie. Thus, one must always keep they Charlie hidden, lest you give the game away.

This is also akin to a person not being able to stand the suspense of a novel and so cheating and reading the last chapters first. What the writer knows is that the ending is almost always a sad one, because it shuts us out of the future. The story continues in a direction we cannot know. If the book ends tragically we feel better in the long term to be in our own reality, while a happy reality's happiness is correspondingly short-lived. The ending is always a Medusa grimace, and the narrative apparatus once more turns to stone.

If we do not seek to look at Charlie we always dwell in smoggy but babe-filled Los Angeles, protected from on high by the mighty Aaron Spelling. If we look upon Charlie, he shall be as one who has jumped a mighty shark.

If we seek to gaze at Charlie we are dislodged from paradise. We snap from the narrative and behold our mate on the couch, sleepy and real, and the aches in our legs and our noses. We need to get back right quick, but all we can think of is how saggy were His eyelids, how white was His thinning hair, how skull-like and frail his human, failing smile.