Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mysterious Skin

Gregg Araki has given us a provocative look at the characters created in the novel Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim --who is not in Kansas any more. There is a remarkable review in Salon of this film at:

As Gay Pride celebrations take place world-wide, as Canada recognizes same-sex marriage equality, and as religious zealots attack gays as immoral and the end of civilization, this film offers a penetration into the complexity of personality, a delving into the heart and soul of individuals, that defies the stereotyping and the hype we find in the modern press, and in the preaching so often pouring forth from anti-gay and pro-gay sides. The four characters: Neil, Brian, Wendy and Eric, from whom we learn the story of a coach's child abuse and its after effects, reveal both our radical difference from one another and our common humanity. The way the characters reach a revelation of themselves and their own worth and values is fascinating.
That Neil knows he is gay from the age of eight, BEFORE the contact with the coach, is telling. The film is not about the horrors of child abuse, it is about how individuals deal with what happens to them in different ways, and how they grow, ultimately, despite the abuse. If there is anything from this film relevant to the ongoing debates over gay rights, it's that being gay is a part of ones personality, not something caused by some traumatic, negative, or random event, however damaging. What is especially wonderful about both the novel and the film is how the imagination is so critical to ones being. The fantasies of Neil about sex and the fantasies of Brian about alien abduction are central to who each is. It is in the presentation of these creative worlds of the characters that the novel and the film achieve so much.
I have to add that I find it strange how prominent a place pedophiles have taken in our consciousness. From pedophile priests to the Michael Jackson case to a paranoid fear of child abuse in schools, by relatives, by coaches and scout masters, the heightened awareness indicates to me a cultural disconnect. Our culture's growing fear and condemnation of sex, generally, of the denial of sexuality in children, of the fanatical religious suppression of sex altogether, all seem a part of the same problem. We must return to the attitude of the 70s, the view summed up by D. H. Lawrence's claim that ""Sex is the root of which intuition is the foliage, and beauty the flower."

No comments:

Post a Comment