Saturday, 19 July 2008

When Stupid Gets Scary

Look, up on the stage! There's a man there, singing through his mustache, but who's he singing for, and who's he singing to?
I saw a girl in the crowd,
I ran over I shouted out,
I asked if I could take her out,
But she said that she didn't want to.

I changed the sheets on my bed,
I combed the hairs across my head,
I sucked in my gut and still she said
That she just didn't want to.
He's ridiculous isn't he, even though he's Nick-fucking-Cave. As figures of male sexuality gone bad go, the Cave that sings 'No Pussy Blues' reminds me of this guy:

Yep, that's Stuntman Mike from Death Proof ("The FIFTH Film From That Lazy Bastard Quentin Tarantino!", the DVD box yells helpfully). Like Cave, Mike's look and profession point us to the fact that this guy was probably hot stuff with "the ladies" at one point. Actually, does being a handsome but goofy old stunt guy give you the same sex appeal as being a past it rock star? Probably not, but either way they're both pretty pathetic as we find them now. Okay so Cave is almost certainly not this pathetic in real life (even with his pseudo-ironic mustache), but roll with me for minute, cos Cave's horny yowling articulates what's behind the surface of Mike's whole shtick.

Mike's lame John Wayne-isms would be as absurd as everyone finds them if Death Proof ended before he got the chance to look out at the audience (which is to say -- at you!), smile, and bring the carnage. Is it reading too much between the lines to say this is all about frustrated male lust? Well, it's reading a little bit between the lines but not too much: he does linger around, take photos of, attempt to flirt with, sniff the feet of, and blag his way into a lapdance from the women of the movie, so... yeah, there's no stretching involved here.

(Oh, by the way, go read Noah Berlatsky's piece on Grindhouse -- it's sharp on both genre and gender in Death Proof, with a particular emphasis on the role that female friendship plays in the film.)

Anyway, what fascinates me right now is the way that both 'No Pussy Blues' and Death Proof flirt with the underlying menace of seemingly impotent males (Death Proof through mace-mashing, leg chopping motorized violence at the film's heart, 'No Pussy Blues' through its fuzzed-up guitar wigouts), while still making their male protagonists look feeble in the end. I mean, for all this flailing and howling, Cave's character still has the blues by the time the song ends, right? And while Mike's violence does have horrible consequences within the context of the film, when the second group of girls beat him down he starts whimpering like a freshly kicked dog, exposing his impotence in the face of retaliation.

For all that, there's still a certain lingering creepy menace in both of these pieces... I mean, did everyone read Miss AMP's Grinderman interview in Plan B last year? Best piece of music criticism I read in 07, no doubt -- it dramatized both the appeal of testosterone heavy music and the ways in can create a very threatening, all male environment in a way that was both urgent and witty. So go buy the issue, it if you haven't already, cos I can't find the piece online anywhere.

But... guys are weird, is what I'm saying. They can be laughable and frightening at the same time, and that's something that both Death Proof and 'No Pussy Blues' understand and amplify, in their own trashy ways.

And hey, while we're discussing male rage and sexual stupidity, I should probably point y'all in the direction of Lee Slattery's "Everyone Loves The Lizardman", which has plenty of male confusion and upset. Plus, you know, with extra added Lizardman:

Via the ever wonderful Eddie Campbell.

More tomorrow, unless my brain totally packs in again, which it just might do!

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