Wednesday, February 01, 2012

CinemArchetype #3 - The Animus (the Daemon Lover)

"He gives the woman spiritual firmness, an invisible inner support that compensates for her outer softness." ~ Man and His Symbols ~ Carl Jung

 The Jungian archetype of the animus is a different beast, literally, than the ethereal anima. Like its feminine conscious twin it plays many parts - unicorn, daemonic lover or rapist, a symbol of the raw animal violence wrought upon a maturing girl's body by maturity, menstruation, sex, marriage, reproduction, and maturity. He can appear in dreams and films: as a lover, a son, a killer, a phantom, academic advisor, old Nietzschean shoemaker, father, brother, horse, pizza delivery boy, werewolf or a zombie prince, depending on the work you've done to exhume his corpse from the basement of your brain.

According to Jung, the animus-dominated female never questions the rightness of her opinion, presuming that her inner voice knows what it's talking about... because it's a man (standing in for her father or 'the' father) leading to difficulty with a real life man because if he has any balls he will object to beta male status, at the mercy of a phantom ideal. She will become like that hot blonde conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck. But then Hasselbeck surprises us by being pro-gay marriage, so there you go. Progress!

This is not meant to be sexist. Anima-dominated men tend to believe everything their animas tell them, too. Mistaking the inner feminine voice for some kind of holy madonna, these poor chaps become sensitive new age males, and they shack up with animus-dominated girlfriends who boss them around (see: Blue Valentine), even though the women are contemptuous of them and end up going for the guy who ignores everything she says because he's either at a way more primitive or advanced level of psychological development, so in a sense can become a projection screen for her animus while at the same time allowing her to recognize that he is his own person.

Jung's caught shit for sexist animus analysis, but we must remember he was after all a man of his time, and was it he who was dissing animus-dominated women or was the dissing coming from Jung's own bossy anima? Luckily female Jungians like Maria Von Franz, Demaris S. Wehr, and Ann Belford Ulanov have picked up the big phallic baton of the animus. In fact, as I was reading them to research this post, I gradually had a nervous breakdown. Suddenly I realized everything I've ever written totally sucks and stuff, and my ideas are way off, and I'm too negative, and stuff. In other words, anima bullshit! Direct hit!

In approx. ascending child-->woman order: 

1. King Charles as 'The Pi"
National Velvet (1944)
"Because it represents mind and spirit, Spirit, the Animus is often expressed in an abstract manner. As many young girls know, our sexuality can be quite involved with the horse and the rider. Many young girls learn to masturbate while horseback riding."(Nancy Fenn)
2. The Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion
Wizard of Oz (1939)

 Here the animus is just beginning to develop --as is where Dorothy should be at her age -- and so we find him not quite a lion, axe handle or horse and not yet a 'human' even in the case of the seven dwarfs, comically neutered and non-threatening. The dwarfs in Snow White and the tin man / lion / scarecrow / Toto /wizard all represent, if you will, the lollipop-gelded training wheels for the coming relationship with a more genuinely daemonic masculine energy, which is why they're so comical yet at the same time eerie --warnings not to try to grow up any faster than one's body, a refreshing return from the boy's birthday party to the stuffed animals upstairs, but not for long.

2.5: David Bowie as the Goblin King
Labyrinth (1986)

As the Goblin King, Bowie is half beast half prince, sexy and mysterious, sinister without being totally evil or hostile. His strength must be harnessed without becoming too dominated by it, in order for it to morph into the next state of healthy animus development.

"Jareth is in many ways a shadow cast by Sarah, reflecting her desires and fears, the worm inside the peach, the corruption behind the opulence of the ball. Human figures promenade around Sarah and Jareth, eerily playing at being goblins with masks that resemble death’s-heads and distorted faces." --Jess Elsaesser (Acidemic #3)
Here are some of Bowie/Goblin King's groovy animus song lyrics (note he's urging her, like any bad animus, to avoid real human love in favor of his dream lover pre-genital eroticism:
No one can blame you for walking away
Too much rejection
No love injection
Life can be easy
It's not always swell
Don't tell me truth hurts, little girl
'Cause it hurts like hell
But down in the underground
You'll find someone true
Down in the underground

Everything I've done, I've done for you
I move the stars for no one
You've run so long
You've run so far
Your eyes can be so cruel
Just as I can be so cruel
Though I do believe in you
Yes I do
Live without the sunlight
Love without your heartbeat
I, I can't live within you
It's a lie of course that bit about not being able to live within you. He is already and solely within her, the architect of her dreams, developing and evolving his own prison/castle/labyrinth to keep her enchanted and dependent (for were she to grow/mature she would outgrow him, he'd dissolve to be replaced by the next phase's figurehead).

3. Robert Pattinson as Edward
The Twilight series

Edward is an excellent dream lover/animus for the next stage because he's not projected onto some other man, like a father or teacher, but on--essentially--a tree, a wall, a window shade, the waves of the Pacific. The hostile backlash against the series is even explained by the nature of the animus, as Jung notes: 
"Not all the contents of the anima and animus are projected . . . many of them appear spontaneously in dreams and so on, and many more can be made conscious through active imaginations. In this way we find that thoughts, feelings, and affects are in us which we would never have believed possible. Naturally, possibilities of this sort seem utterly fantastic to anyone who has not experienced them himself, for a normal person "knows what he thinks." Such a childish attitude on the part of the normal person is simply the rule, so that no one without experience in this field can be expected to understand the real nature of the anima and animus. . . . Those who do succeed can hardly fail to be impressed by all that the ego does not know and never has known." (more
 4. The Beast / Prince
Beauty and the Beast (various)
"Belle becomes prisoner to a hairy surly Animus who has imprisoned her weak and impotent father (symbolically showing that the old model of the masculine will no longer do, but the new one is still rather rough at the edges).  Through the transformative power of love, Beast is released from the spell of his karma (his previous narcissism that invited the witch’s spell that would teach him empathy) and Belle is able to unite with her idealized masculine.  The fact that in the Disney film Beast is way sexier than his transformed and tepid prince charming self speaks to the stultifying effects of Disney on true individuation, while hinting that the “Magic Kingdom’s” trickster often comes up with truly dynamic characters (but usually the “bad” or “evil” ones) and the sexiness of the “bad” is a great clue to the real workings of the animus." (Bruce - Vampires: chick magnet, mirror or animus?)

5. Bela Lugosi
Dracula (1931)

Dracula is not just a demon lover -- he is a corpse, a bat, a ghostly mist, a dog running across the lawn (unseen by the camera - hence all the more mystical) -- but the inescapable incubus. The men think some wolf's bane and garlic hung in Mina's window can keep her safe, and then they all go downstairs to the study to drink and talk, leaving her all alone at the other end of the vast mansion, vulnerable to a myriad of dream approaches, guarded only be an easily hypnotized maid. Of course this is annoying - why can't they just all take turns sitting up with her while she sleeps or have her sleep on the couch? It's likely a violation of some Victorian code for a man to be in the same room as a sleeping woman. But even if they all sat up around her bed, escape would be impossible, for the dream lover is patient, waiting in the coming dark of aeons, simmering in the shadows until the Victorian repression creates an explosion like a backwoods whiskey still.

6. Michael Myers - Halloween (1980)

I was traumatized at 13 just by the preview for this film when it first came out and even years later as a teenager it disturbed me too much to watch, even edited on TV. Now that I'm out of the danger zone (i.e. old and not a virgin) I watch Halloween all the time (on DVD) and it's finally apparent that Michael really loves Laurie Strode and just likes scaring her, chasing her around, letting her stab him with hangers and sewing needles, and of course killing all her friends as biblical payback for their surrendering to mindless hormonal desires instead of making popcorn and watching The Thing with her. And like Marlon Brando at the end of Last Tango In Paris (who tries to be an animus, and eventually crumbles to vampire dust), Michael is shot right at the moment his mask comes finally off and the invincible bogey man is revealed (for all his automaton shambling) to be just a disturbed boy who looks like Mark Ruffalo. 

In that sense he's the ideal animus during the bloody process of mutating from virgin into woman-- the time when Edwards and horses and five-speed vibrational tin woodsmen just won't cut it anymore -- but she's nervous about ripping all the way open. Myers is the nightmare fantasy projection of the fear felt by Irina in Cat People, that her animus might kill someone if she ever let it out of the basement. Myers also fits what  Maria Von Franz calls 'the dark animus' which wraps its host in "a cocoon of dreamy thoughts, filled with desire and judgments about how things 'ought to be', which cut a woman off from the reality of life." And we might add, justifies her animus's Old Testament 'correction' methods.

7. Marc Wahlberg in Fear (1996)
"It could of all been different Mr. Walker. You should have let nature take its course... " 
 When good anima projections go bad, look out. This clever-enough-to-be-dumb mix of Fatal Attraction, Straw Dogs, and Looking for Mr. Goodbar is, to my mind, the unofficial Halloween 2, wherein our gamin has matured past the penetration anxiety represented by Michael Myers and is experiencing the giddy dread associated with dissolving ego boundaries which the first flush of real sexual pair bonding can bring. Wahlberg does a great job as a jacked psycho wooer and it all makes a zippy reminder that there are no shortcuts to animus integration. If a guy seems too good to be true, he's usually neither. Check under the hood, and secretly follow him home to spy on his skater squat. 

The above quote shows the tricky deals the animus is all about -'this could have been paradise but you fucked it up, and now you deserve the hurt I'm going to bring.' Naive women buy into that and think they deserve their bruises. Smart women know this is all just head games; the tricky old animus will say whatever it knows you are afraid you want to hear. After all, it created the wanting and the fear. The woman's job is to sort through the ultimatums and judgments, and not to mistake churlishness for moral authority.

8. Clark Gable /Leslie Howard split - Gone with the Wind (1939)

Scarlett O'Hara's refusal to choose her more potently realized animus, wild beast tamer Rhett Butler (in order to pine for hopeless Ashley Wilkes) shows her refusal to move from, so to speak, Camp Edward to Camp Wahlberg. Butler is a true daemonic male, with strange deep sexual currents that overflow the borders and boundaries of Scarlett's fading antebellum world; Wilkes is the pale prince of the old order, the David Manners. It's not until she can actually have Wilkes that his effete meekness repulses rather than attracts her, and only then is she finally ready to engage the contradictory impulses of her 'realized' animus, Rhett. And of course, that's Rhett's cue to move out--as if gone from the unconscious to seek a fitting new screen for his projection (an anima or animus seldom projects on a 'present' lover) and of course that makes him doubly desirable--the best of both worlds, he's become unavailable like Wilkes used to be, but is still virile--and her determination to win him back shows a dawning self awareness, a decision to finally take responsibility for her own 'dance of intimacy' just as Rhett always has.

9. Voice of Forsythe: Charlie - Charlie's Angels 

If we EVER would have seen Charlie's face the show would instantly lose its mystique; it would be the equivalent of a sexual awakening for better or worse... (but) while Charlie remains unseen, the show stays in a perpetual pre-sexualized utopia. The girls are all basically nuns with Charlie as Christ. They are devoted to him as an ideal of mature manhood in the abstract. He is always kind, assured, generous, displaying wealth, power, connections, and a sense of cool that doesn't preclude him keeping a string of bimbos (always less attractive than the angels) that only we see traipsing past his desk as he concludes his phone calls. If the angels could only see Charlie's face, they'd be disillusioned, scrambling to find other screens for their animus projection. But by so assiduously avoiding their gaze, Charlie maintains his all-important air of mystery, and the angel's collective moon animus neither waxes nor wanes, keeping them safe from molestation even by the sleaziest thugs. (Thy Name is Charlie - 2006)

10. Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy in The Black Swan (2010)
"While Leroy seems at the outset to be somewhat of a sexist, ready to take advantage of Nina, he doesn't. He only appears as the manifestation of the animus archetype, having a dangerous potential, but ultimately, his interest is more in bringing out the best of Nina in the performance. It is because of her refusal in the face of his advance that she reserves for herself his respect (...) while he demonstates his higher aspect when Nina falls for his seduction by rejecting her and turning it into a lesson. Leroy urges her to begin to discover her sexuality and thusly her darker side, albeit not with him. While it may seem harsh treatment, this is symbolic of the very real potential of the animus to induce change and growth as well as guidance in the psyche of a woman. Dr. M.-L. von Franz states, 'But if she realizes who and what her animus is and what he does to her, and if she faces these realities instead of allowing herself to be possessed, her animus can turn into an invaluable inner companion who endows her with the masculine qualities of initiative, courage, objectivity, and spiritual wisdom.'" (L. Ray Haines)

11. Harvey Keitel in The Piano (1993)  
"As it happens we do not observe the fourth stage of animus development in The Piano because Ada does not reach it. This final phase parallels the advanced evolution of a man’s anima. In it men and women consciously develop and share contrasexual traits in their relationships, so that each can love both the dominant and the subordinate gender characteristics in their partners. The man can admit to his feminine elements, the woman to the masculine in her. This then represents from the woman’s perspective the final stage of animus development with which we began. It enables her to escape from the third stage, fixation in which can mean self-loss because she risks sacraficing the momentum of her own development by never going beyond the patriarchal definition of the feminine role. (The Piano, the animus and colonial experience 73)
12. Alphonse Ethier as Adolph Craig in Baby Face (1933)

Abused and pimped out by her beer hustling father since the age of 14, Stanwyck's 1933 pre-code heroine could be forgiven for having a pretty crappy animus but actually she has a great one in the awesome German cobbler who drops by dad's second floor speakeasy to drink beer and read Nietzsche. Before she kills (?) her no good father and leaves for the city, Adolph advises her to "use men!" Later he sends her a copy of Nietzsche's Thoughts out of Season with this passage underlined:
"Face life as you find it, defiantly and unafraid! Waste no energy yearning for the moon! Crush out all sentiment!" 
The censors didn't want young women finding out about this kind of power so they edited out the shot of the page in later versions and inserted a letter from Adolphe instead saying she'd misunderstood his teachings and was a big disappointment for being so ambitious and super slutty. HarumpH!

The point is, the 'real' version has been found and restored! Animus triumphant! Even if she ends up wasting energy yearning for moon-faced George Brent, Babs' goldigger still has a first class animus in her ruthless cobbler, the only man in her life who hasn't hit on her and who therefore she can trust. Sorry, but old Adolph Craig just wants to instill some genuine revolutionary insight into a girl who, if our nation had its way, would just stay in the coal country where she 'belonged' and obey her father's brutal pimp edicts. I would say in this case Babs chose her animus wisely. Use MEN!


  1. I am a oldschool conservative (think Old Hollywood), but a huge fan of this page. I have read all of your archetype descriptions and they are spot-on. Not a single miss. Several hours of enjoyment. Thank you. - William.

  2. Robert Townsend as Charlie? Don't you mean John Forsythe? Bachelor Father! He had a Japanese houseboy, like The Green Hornet, but without the crime fighting. Robert Townsend was Meteor Man...

  3. Ghost la sombra del amor?


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