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Sunday, October 9, 2011

ECLIPSE: Review: Seeing Eclipse through Sontag's CAMP Sensibility

Eclipse is pure unadulterated "Camp". 

Totally wonderful and hilarious. It will be around in midnight shows for years, perhaps decades, to come. Why have all the reviewers who trashed it not seen this?

The first scene is Riley in the rain getting attacked, bitten by an invisible vampire, running and then screaming in agony as he lies on the pavement in the pouring rain. Nice choreography and seductive lighting, I thought.

Then the next scene is Bella and Edward in the meadow. The grass is verdant, surrounding them, brightly colored plastic flowers all over the field, the music 1940's Hollywood for romantic, and the two pretty leads declaring love for each other. Edward saying, "Marry me, marry me," in his beautiful voice and that was when I started laughing. A beautiful piece of schlock deliberately filmed with modern teens a la retro. Wonderful! So I began giggling, never expecting this sophistication, this blatant "camp" sensibility.

From Perdue University:

Definition: Camp

Aro Plays It As Perfect Camp In New Moon
CAMP: A sensibility that revels in artifice, stylization, theatricalization, irony, playfulness, and exaggeration rather than content.  As Sontag puts it, "Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It's not a lamp, but a 'lamp; not a woman, but a 'woman.'.....Sontag also distinguishes between "pure camp," which amounts to a kitsch that takes itself so seriously that we can now see it as hilarious (in other words, the camp sensibility is on the side of the audience not the author of the work), and "Camp which knows itself to be camp" and is, therefore, already making fun of itself. (Click here for Sontag's article.)
Sontag will say that the "best" camp is unconscious camp. Camp which knows itself to be "camp" is lesser. I am convinced David Slade knew his Eclipse was "camp" and deliberately made it so, which is what brought the huge audience in for this third film of the Twilight series. 

You can definitely take your boyfriend to this one!

I entered the twilight irruption (my blog) this way. At my multi-plex I saw Remember Me,(my post) because Chris Cooper was in it. I have followed his career for decades and he has never chosen a stupid script, a stupid director, a stupid movie or character in his entire film career, so that decided me on Remember Me.  In addition I got Pierce Brosnan who's work since 007 has been surprising, excellent and subtle. What is to lose here? I thought. Remember Me is a lovely little film, not made for Oscars, awards or splash, but just a wonderful, intelligent and sensitive movie and there are not many of them around at the multi-plexes. Well, I loved it, and thought Emilie de Ravin and Rob Pattinson were  excellent. So that is how I first saw Pattinson.

Not too long after Eclipse came to my multi-plex. By then I had seen the supermarket tabloids trashing a young actress named Kristen Stewart. Week after week. I finally read one -  I didn't say buy one. So sad, I thought, to do that to a really young girl. Why?

At my multi-plex I saw quite a number of theatres having Eclipse. Ah David Slade of Hard Candy is the director. That makes it really OK as Hard Candy is superb IMHO. I decided to see it to see what all the fuss was about. I saw Rob Pattinson's name was in it and I remembered him from Remember Me. Oh, I said again to myself. And I went in waiting to be surprised. A vampire teen flick is never my choice of film. You can tell I'm snobby because I say film a lot. And I spell theater with an re like this: theatre.

The "camp" never stops. Bella, Edward and Jacob with his bare chest and six pack standing in the street, and Edward saying jealously, "Doesn't he own a shirt?" From the Hollywood reporter, "Where the first film leaned heavily on camp........." and then Hollywood Reporter goes off on a different tangent, but it's interesting. The first Twilight is definitely unconscious "camp" as Hardwicke thought of it as a romance. But then she isn't too cool. She thinks she is, tho', cause every other adjective she uses is "cool".

youtube -  Jacob and Bella Kiss
The tent scene on the mountain top in the snow with the three of them is a howl! Written this way in the book, it still resonates with the violent sex tent scene in Brokeback Mountain. Whoa! The unacknowledged homo-eroticism between Jacob and Edward (Freudian especially with Edward's jealousy) and the "I'm hotter than you," line.  By then I was hysterical with laughter and so was the rest of the late show audience. The fight scene was funny, not scary, and Bella administering to Jacob in his bedroom kept me laughing and laughing. And of course the end, back in the meadow with all the bright colorful plastic flowers. An in-movie with referents to other movies. Cool.

Carlisle's Wig -  Esme's Outfit
I didn't mention the wigs, the make-up on the vampires, the tacky costumes, the body language, the proposal, all perfect "camp".

And in precession one can see Twilight and New Moon as "camp" because they are. And I can't resist seeing Hard Candy as "camp" either. Breaking Dawn for sure is going to be.

What an uplifting, amazingly original funny film I thought as I left to go home. David Slade is really good! And then I forgot about it.  Nothing to think about there, right?

Bella's Wig
And then my Foucauldian lightbulb went on. Up next:Eclipse as a visual presentation of Foucauldian Genealogy of Sexuality. Whoa!

Twilight too. Just pure "camp"!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Viewing Eclipse Through A Foucauldian Genealogy of Sexuality

Foucault and Lightbulb
Well, what my wandering mind dredged up to shimmer on the surface was Foucault's History of Sexuality, and, this is where the lightbulb went onOMG! Eclipse is a visual genealogy of sexuality! It's all there!

An object does not exist unless and until it is observed. - William Burroughs

Since my mind was and is interfaced with FoucaultEclipse drifted into it. The lightbulb went on. I had seen Avatar the previous January and thought of writing about it from its deep meaning on Foucault's take on Nietzsche's Inscription of the Body.

The previous nine months I had spent 24/7 reading and thinking about everything Michel Foucault had written that I had so far read. Lots of books, internet articles, interviews (hard because his French accent makes him difficult to understand in English on youtube) and nothing else, and nothing criticizing him until I felt grounded in his work. Reading him is like getting the inside of your head cleaned out with steel wool.

So I immediately went back to see it again. And again and again, until I felt I really understood it from a genealogical reading.

As Foucault has said, the method of genealogy is a tool, not a theory. Genealogy is not chronology. Genealogy is not linear, not progressive, not Hegelian, not historical. 

Genealogical "cuts" can be synchronous in time, occurring at the same moment in time, they are  "cuts" into the Dominating Discourse of history, psychology, language, economics, and the arts. A "cut" into all human behavior, knowledge and thinking and feeling, ideology and concepts.

Knowledge is not for knowing. Knowledge is made for "cutting". - Michel Foucault (The Archeology of Knowledge)
Foucault's Spiraling Powerful Prose Scouring Your Mind

Sexuality in Eclipse:

Courtly Love: Passion Love. - Cortezia - A ritual of sexuality originating in the 12th century in Western Europe, Southern France, the Languedoc region, in Eleanor of Aquitaine's court. Married and divorced from Louis VII, her court traveled to the British Isles when she married Henry II.  She took her troubadours with her. This is the romance of Edward and Bella that is based on Tristan and Iseult, true love, non- consummation, (chastity or abstinence), and unity in death.

Rape: This is James, present in Twilight, who is absent but present - in Eclipse -  through his avenging mate, Victoria.

Blood Lust: These are the newborns who fit perfectly into ancient warrior hordes who killed with lust. And raped of course as spoils of war. Caesar describes all this in his victorious campaigns if you have translated or read him. 

The newborns also are descriptive of Melanie Klein's work on orality which she divides into two stages: passive sucking orality and active, biting orality. As the infant 's teeth come in it bites the mother's breasts and blood is sometimes or often mixed with the milk. The unconscious phantasies of the infant are to devour all the goodness from the mother, leaving only a shell. Here we recognize Renesmee. Klein insists that the mother must remain with the infant after nursing, not just plunk it down to go to sleep.  It is required that the mother remain with the infant for the "period of "reparation", "restoration" so the mother can be seen as whole in spite of the oral aggressive, destructive phantasies. That feelings and phantasies are not real, and the mother is still intact. She will also go into the good and bad mother imagos.

The Stone Age infant confronts its 20th century mother. - R.D. Laing

Makes you wonder about the present and historical fascination with vampires, eh. 

Conjugal Sex: This is seen in the relationships within the Cullen family - Carlisle, Esme, Jasper, Alice, Emmett and Rosalie. Outside of  the Cullens in the parents of Bella's friends in Forks, the Quileutes, etc. Nothing much is explicit, although we are told in BD about voracious vampire sex between vampires, but we neither read nor see of any evidence of it. An example of normal, family sex from which undying passion is absent, as there is constant availability and consummation. Desire is inseparable from Lack  - in a matrix with lack. Lacan.

Homoerotic Sex: Only implied between Edward and Jacob in their triangular relationship with Bella. Discussed in Freud's case studies on male paranoia. We also see it in the Tribal relationship of the wolves. Again only implied. This cut in sexuality is unconscious in the Twilight Saga.

All of these "cuts" are synchronous in time, occurring at the same moment in time. "Cuts" are not chronological; therefore, not linear, progressive or historical. The modern temptation is to attribute levels of  consciousness to the different types of sexuality, but Foucault dispenses with the idea of consciousness and its raising. When you read him and he finishes with an idea or concept, it is time to give it up.

Eclipse is a film, and the film much more so than the book, makes the genealogy of sexuality explicit, and is a gem in elucidating "CAMP" and an aspect of post - modern theory. It is an introduction to Foucault's tool chest as he calls it.

Great "CAMP" Scene