Super Russ Meyer
This entry is littered with Supervixen spoilers, and really needs for you to have seen at least this, and preferably more Russ Meyer films to appreciate properly.
Not that he needs me to come to his defence, but it struck me, as I was watching Supervixens yesterday, that the erotic facets of Russ Meyer’s films undoubtedly, and unfairly, devaluate them even in the minds of people who would otherwise hail their actual artistic merits.
At best, Supervixens or Up! are films that are written off as ‘pseudo-porn’. A major disservice to the auteur-like magnificence of their surreal structure, hyper-sex and hyper-violence, not to mention the wonderfully colorful and absolutely caricatured characters who inhabit what can only be though of as the desert world of Road Runner, if but for adults.
And no, I can’t fully defend his gratuitous use of naked breasts, at least not without myself believing that it is in fact gratuitous. Hell, I don’t know if he could defend it himself. So it’s perhaps not without reason that his films are considered cheeky, campy and sexploitatious, well before they are considered masterpieces.
But dammit, I can’t help but adore these films for their brass. And no, it’s not just because they speak to my Y-chromosome, though that they also do.
I’m a fairly desensitized chap, when it comes to film violence. I ‘read’ it, but I rarely react to it. But the killing of Supervixen, in all its self-indulgence, brought home its violence in a way I haven’t felt since Alex in A Clockwork Orange.
Here it is for reference, and I’m not kidding you when I tell you that this isn’t a light-hearted scene:
And hey, being a hippie-liberal, I actually believe that nudity is good for me, you, society and the world at large.
Imagine a world, where Janet’s breast-‘slip’ triggered not a country-wide stand-still and public outcry, but smiles, giggles and… And you’d have Denmark. But I digress.
Yeah, it’s a sex film. So what? Hollywood saturates the world with violent films every day. And they may be cut for children, but what’s worse, eye-to-eye sex-glorification or subverted death-glorification?
Michael Bay, I’m a-lookin’ at you and that bastard of a film you call Bad Boys II…
Another thing was brought home to me, about the time (Super) Eula gets it on with a weightlifter who came running down a road (and who keeps lifting his weights throughout the whole thing) in the midst of the Arizona Desert, and followingly when Super Angel, who turned into Super Vixen, explodes into existence atop a mountain, bleeding, from which she then gains pleasure…
Russ Meyer is the ying to David Lynch’s yang…
Stay with me.
Because really, if you see through the layers of brooding evil and mystique that encapsulate a film like Lost Highway, and likewise downplay the cheekier parts (and fair enough, some redundancy) of Supervixens, they are eerily similar in their use of sometimes seemingly, and most often entirely, abstract montage elements.
David Lynch is actually trying to paint for us the insides of his dreams (or transcendental meditations as it were), and Meyer seems mostly to want to entertain—even if a move like Supervixens actually does drive home some points—but both use many of the same ‘tricks’, leaving large parts of the story unexplained, outside the pattern we expect as audience. And the rest is up to us to figure out.
As for empowering (or depowering) women, that’s another discussion entirely. I’ll take spunky half-naked well-endowed women from the 70’s, any day over the leading man-following woman-template Hollywood most often steps to. (No hate, I understand the business).
And yet another discussion, is why 70’s breasts are simply shaped differently (more voluptuous) from breasts of today.
Evolution, design or a question of casting?