Sunday, January 20, 2008
J'taime, Charlotte Gainsbourg: The good, the bad and the ugly-sexy
I love Charlotte Gainsbourg for her work in SCIENCE OF SLEEP, which I will insist once again is the CITIZEN KANE of the 21st century. Existing as an object of affection/alienation for the Confused Male Artist (CMA), she alternates adorable vulnerability, brokenhearted anguish, and swift vanishing into herself, oscillating from one to the other with a wondrous believability that you will perhaps only recognize if you've ever dated anyone who went off their bi-polar meds suddenly and without telling you. The daughter of perennially debauched and ugly-sexy Gallic musical genius Serge Gainsbourg and model Jane Birkin, Charlotte inherited enough of both their genes to be the supreme goddess of the ugly-sexy.
The sexy ugly is, by the way, that which all of us secretly prize more than the straight up or "ugly-less" sexy, which can be a bit bland after a bit (and tiresome, as you are always fending off other suitors). Gainsbourg has the face that alternately attracts and estranges. When there's the whole world in someone's eyes it can't all be pretty; you see a fractured, feral, fecund humanity that's more beautiful for its weakness than a thousand watt supermodel smile. That was the same strange allure her dearly beloved late father possessed in such ungainly abundance.
I mention this all to point out how much cooler the French are in areas of sex and attraction than we are in the states. They have the most beautiful girls in the world in Paris, but whom do they most desire? Charlotte Gainsbourg. (I'm listening to her album 5:55 right now, and right as I wrote that she whispers, "Nothing is taboo / here on the cutting edge of science.") I mention this because I see how in this country we flounder without tradition. We have to go looking to the movies and magazines to tell us what we deserve in aesthetically pleasing mates. Few in the USA's singles pool seem to realize the importance of finding beauty in those we hook up with, as opposed to those we don't. Though it exists worse here than anywhere, in America we stay blind to "attractiveness" class distinctions, this being a country built on equal ground. Thus do all poor ugly dudes think some hottie is theirs for the waiting, while the big ugly girl meant for them is shunned, and so both sleep forever alone. The French would never even consider such pointlessly self-inflicted abstinence. It would be unpatriotic! Do Americans really think anyone respects them one way or another for putting out or not putting out? Watch RULES OF THE GAME closely and note how all the classes co-exist and get it on without feelings of shame or regret or envy. Once you have a class system you function happily, because your naturally occurring anger and angst has something to rebel against, n'cest pas? In the states the only thing we have to hate is ourselves... and the people who are too stuck up to like us are considered true friends, while the geeks who love us are shunned like lepers.
I was lucky enough to be a kid in the 1970s, and to reap the benefits of a social fabric that was at the height of its permissiveness. Then the AIDS epidemic sprang through that party like a police dragnet. Now we can't imagine sex without guilt and anxiety, without labels and judgment, and bothersome condoms, can't imagine sex as just a natural outgrowth of love for all mankind, nothing to get hung about: strawberry fields forever not strawberry strawberry is the neighborhood ho. I know lots of people who were molested as kids, apparently in the 1980s, but I personally don't think victim mentality must--by some moral pejorative--be associated with casual sex. It wasn't in the 1970s or even 80s! Still, one person's repetition-compulsion disorder is another person's Don Juanism, as long as its consensual. What's the worst that can happen? Death? Welcome to the game, moron; you got to pay to play. Go complain to your mom if you don't want to die --she's the one who ensured you will. You got born to die and there's never been a better time / then right now. Moms aren't any closer to the universal truth than Manson or the Moonies. Let it all go, and realize your only error is the error of buying into the Stockholm syndrome-enforced notion you ever made an error in the first place.
What's ruining the fabric of American dating and sexuality? KNOCKED UP and SUPERBAD, that's what. No, wait.. wait, here me out. These sex comedies, man, wherein the dudes are all cast to look "normal," i.e. ugly, but the chicks they score are total foxes. How's a kid taking notes at these films going to deal when a girl comparable to him in looks sees fit to bust a move on him some day if he's lucky? When a beautiful face is made-up, lit and photographed by experts with endless bank, ain't no normal girl gonna compete.
This has all been written before, but it's interesting how the country with the biggest clout in fashion is also the one who can produce an irresistible chick like Charlotte Gainsbourg. What we are producing in this country is a generation of overweight illiterates conditioned through media saturation to have no tolerance for "beauty deficiency" in their women and so ignoring the girl next door in favor of the super airbrushed bimbos of Maxim. We can stare at the big ugly face of that fat kid in SUPERBAD on a giant screen no problem, but why can't he be paired up with a commensurately fat ugly girl who got lots of personality? When's these geniuses behind FREAKS AND GEEKS gonna learn to do right by their ungainly but goodhearted women? What the fuck, man...
In the Muslim society, the women keep their faces covered, so each man only knows the face of one woman, his wife (and family members). There is no one to compare them to on the street. You can't get envious that Hahmid has a hotter wife than you, because you don't know what Hahmid's wife looks like. Not that I condone the veil, but it's an interesting comparison to our culture where the guy can't look away from the computer screen even to say hello to his girlfriend. Of course if you're a 6+ on the 10 scale in the western way of doing things, you'll probably get by, but the below 5 crowd is stuck. They got the media keeping them from getting with each other, destroying their conception of themselves and others, so they genuinely believe, on some level, that Christie Brinkley is coming soon if they just hang on and keep the piano tuned. What they need to do is get together and watch Earnest Borgnine in MARTY. But they won't - they'll watch PROJECT RUNWAY and drift off into the wasteland of commodified desire. They'll sublimate and consume, after all, we need them to; they are the very MATRIX-ish batteries that power the wattage of big capitalism.
So in the meantime, grasp the enigmatic grace that is Charlotte Gainsbourg: she is the key to set us all free from the tyranny of conventional beauty.