Sunday, September 19, 2010

Antichrist is to Horror what Dark Knight Returns is to Superheroes

So you read Batman comics and you start to notice it is the story of a guy who hides his identity and tramples over people's civil rights and beats them up till they do what he wants them to do, all in the name of a higher order of morality that the police are incapable of serving because they are inept or corrupt or whatever. Superheroes are sort of like the KKK. You start to notice that there is something politically questionable about all superhero comics.

Then Frank Miller makes the Dark Knight Returns and there is something just crazy about how the characters in the story are suddenly engaging in debates about whether Batman is the spirit of American heroism or just a crazy fascist psychopath. Meanwhile Batman is still totally being BATMAN: kicking ass with Batarangs and Batmobiles, and yeah its TECHNICALLY illegal but it's BATMAN for christ's sake. It's a superhero comic book made from theories about superhero comic books, and it leaves things maybe a little ambiguous, before Miller went more clearly conservative. The whole genre is pumped up to ELEVEN, which means it can read as a satire, or just a really hardcore version of what you have been loving this whole time.

You watch enough horror movies and you start to notice that these patterns emerge: nature is evil, sex is evil and will get you killed, women are connected to nature, violence is sexually charged, the reason and logic and science of men is overturned by cthonic forces they think they can control or understand, but can't.

Then Lars von Trier's Antichrist comes out and you have these characters totally talking about the theory of horror movies. The characters are talking about the conflict between Men-Reason-Good and Women-Nature-Evil, like something out of Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae, or one of Slavoj Zizek's pieces about the symbolic order of language barely covering up the horror of THE REAL. Or Nietzsche talking about Apollo vs Dionysus. And you totally get the stuff of a horror movie: extreme violence, sexualized violence, helpless people being chased through the woods by someone who wants to torture and kill them. It's a horror movie made from theories about horror movies. And it leaves things maybe a little ambiguous because the whole thing is so over the top. The movie is called ANTICHRIST and at one point a dead fox speaks "CHAOS REIGNS." Because it is so over the top it can be read as satire of the misogyny of horror movies, or just a really hardcore version of what you have been loving this whole time.


1 comment:

James said...

Clearly everyone was too sissy to see Antichrist (myself included). Enjoying the posts, Geoff.