Ok, I'm finally doing it, and not in the way anticipated. To begin this series of posts (with hopefully a good helping of commentary) we will be viewing the work of Kenneth Anger. Manhattan Offender posted this link to Kenneth Anger's Fireworks which opened the door of YouTube to me and gave me the idea that we could all start on the same (virtual) page.
So before we go any further, please take the time to watch these two short films. The first is Fireworks (1947).
The second is Scorpio Rising (1963).
So I guess the discussion I want is--
Do you find these films relatable?
Do you find them significant?
What images stick out in your mind?
What do you feel the relationship between fetishism and ritualism is?
How does that relationship fit into queer theory (as defined here)?
Ok, I'll go first. I think that both of these films are very relatable. Even today with an over-saturation of images, I still find Anger's work erotic. I enjoy the playfulness--like an erection turning out to be a statue. In Fireworks, I love the references to Cocteau. Blood of a Poet is my favorite film, and Anger alludes to it time and again (the hand statue, the hanging statue, compositions). I think the image of having a cigarette lit by a huge mass of flaming sticks and the image of fireworks in pants are unforgettable. In Scorpio Rising, I love the all of the pop-culture awareness--comic books, James Dean, and Marlon Brando--and, even more so, the choice of music. Obviously, filmmakers like David Lynch have taken much from Anger.
I find it pretty amazing that these films are around 60 and 40 years old, respectively, and they address fetishes that are still prevalent today. I mean, they're like Tom of Finland drawings come to life. Dictionary.com defines fetishism as
1. Worship of or belief in magical fetishes.
2. Excessive attachment or regard.
3. The displacement of sexual arousal or gratification to a fetish.
After reading a bit about Anger and his pre-disposition toward the occult, it is quite obvious that he views ritualism and fetishism as nearly the same entity--they both have the power to call forth a "god-like lover"(Meir) .
Now I haven't done all of my homework here, so I don't really know how this film was "distributed" or shown or any of that stuff, but ther is no denying his influence over future filmmakers--van Sant, Haynes, Araki, et. al.
So that's what I've got--how about you?
Actually, I lied. Anger's films are sometimes referred to as the "Magick Lantern" cycle. A major motif in Anger's film is light. So I'd like to point you to this short film from Sundance this year. It seems pretty easy to draw a line from Anger to Bugcrush.