Do you ever have the feeling that you are overly optimistic, unrealistically positive about the direction our country, and especially its young people, are going in… Well, I have a suggestion about how to rid yourself of that feeling for once and for all: go see this amazing new totally realistic, totally surreal, sociologically real, factual credible, symbolist movie about the collapse of America called “Spring Breakers.” Oliver Stone’s movie “Savages” last year was a happy walk in the park by comparison….
When a movie ends with the two young bottle-dyed-blonde “heroines” running upside down in florescent string bikinis and pink head-and-face masks with unicorns away from the scene of their mass murder of a greater number of gangsters than died in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 in Lincoln Park, Chicago—well, you know that the message of the movie is pretty clearly that the World has turned Upside Down (‘O Kosmo Gyrisi Pano Kato).
That was only the most graphically explicit scene to tell you the movie’s message, much more horrifying was the danse macabre of three fake-blondes wearing those same identical psychedelic swimsuits and the same pink head-and-face masks with unicorns on the forehead dancing to a Britney Spears tune outside under the Florida sky with gigantic (possibly unreal, merely symbolic) automatic assault guns of unclear brand name or identity (bigger and thicker than Uzis, AK-47s or Kalashnikofs, maybe a surreally souped up Special Operations Modification M-4?) held hand to hand in a triangular (with their guns, hexagonal?) round while the Devil plays the piano (rather well…).
Nothing in the inquisitorial imagination spawned by the Malleus Maleficarum, the 15th-17th century’s nightmarish visions of the Witches’ Sabbath or Walpurgisnacht comes anywhere close to this dance of the three girls and their guns, accompanied by James Franco and Britney Spears’…..
About 8-9 years ago I had a series of dreams wherein my tiny (also fake-blonde) Greek-born ex-wife either became or revealed herself actually to be a murderous Islamic terrorist name Aisha-Fatima—and in my dreams she looked just like these tiny little fake-blonde girls in Spring Breakers….similar masks and swim suits and all….
I highly recommend “Spring Breakers” as an art movie well-worth seeing—but only if you are spiritually prepared to explore Hell and the sins of the damned in much more detail than Dante ever managed in his journey to the Inferno in the company of Virgil.
But honestly, I can think of no more powerful nor meaningful movie to see during Holy Week 2013 than “Spring Breakers”. Salvation is pointless unless the world is doomed. 16 years minus just a couple of weeks since Rupert Giles pronounced, at the end of Season I of Buffy-the-Vampire Slayer, that “the world is doomed,” Harmony Korine has proved it is. I highly recommend my alma mater’s student newspaper’s review, even if its author does not go far enough: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/3/27/spring-breakers-review/. I fundamentally disagree with the Crimson review in only one regard, this movie clearly IS a masterpiece of Surreal and Symbolist drama.
Spring Breakers juxtaposes the horror of modern, degenerate, White Middle Class American Culture with its own ideals of beauty in a manner not seen since “American Beauty” in 1999. Unfortunately, it’s coming out way too early to be predetermined as candidate for next year’s Oscars, but it is worthy—oh yes, it is worthy. Another reason, aside from the timing of its release, that this movie probably has no chance is that Spring Breakers is just too real, too true, and too totally damning, with too many sophisticated inversions of racial and sexual stereotypes.
Yes, White Middle Class America is portrayed in this film as deeply degenerate and in desperate need of salvation, but headed exactly the opposite direction. The story even highlights the utter failure of conventional “pop” Christian religious teaching and culture to make any difference or have any influence, precisely because of its blandness and blindness and politically correct sensitivity to everyone’s desire to be evil.
Yes, indeed. I have been thinking for a long time that we needed the spiritual reawakening in America that could only be induced by severe shock therapy. I think Spring Breakers needs to be seen in every Church, every PTA, everywhere. There is not a single one of the Ten Commandments that isn’t broken repeatedly—no, not a single one, and all by extremely cute little American White College girls. I do not know whether the inversion of racial and sexual stereotypes in this movie reflects any actual or accurate trends in America today—I only know that I have now seen the movie three times—because the first time I saw it (on Good Friday, no less—it was perfect—on the first night Jesus spent in Hell—I visited there myself—it was GREAT for the soul…..) I was absolutely petrified with shock and horror. Tonight (April Fool’s Day) the Uptown College Crowd was back from their (simultaneous) Spring Break which coincides, at Tulane and Loyola at least with Holy Week in the Western Churches, including my own (the Episcopal, aka “Anglican” or “C of E”).
James Franco plays “the Devil” brilliantly—in his very first appearance, as a rapper entertaining the Spring Break Crowd—he’s wearing a cap with the simple inscription “HOPE”—which cynically reminds us of at least two Presidents in the past 21 years or so….and he speaks of achieving aspirations, of “finding yourself”, and, repeatedly, to live the American Dream—just like any good politician from the Dark Side would do…..
I have lived in both Pinellas County (I lived in Tarpon Springs at the north edge of Pinellas—the movie was filmed in St. Petersburg and Clearwater) and Cook County—near all the scenes in this movie and just about 12 blocks from the corner of Dickson & Clark where the St. Valentine’s Massacre took place—I know the Florida landmarks and cultural icons including the suspension bridge over Tampa Bay South to Sarasota that is one of the repeated backdrops of this movie…
My sincere recommendation is: imagine all you can of evil and sin, and think hard about the battle between good and evil, and then tell me if you are still not shocked and “grossed out” by what you see in this movie—all brilliantly presented so as to highlight the collapse of American Culture and Morality—if there ever really were such things— This movie is going to occupy my mind and imagination for a very long time, and the moral contrast between the entirely real world (surreally portrayed) of Spring Breakers and the morally imaginary world of metaphor portrayed so realistically in Buffy the Vampire Slayer just sixteen years ago—is something that should preoccupy all Americans who have any dream that we could ever again be a moral and righteous nation…..
In closing, the Harvard Crimson review (cited above) mentions the marvelous portrayal of the world as seen through drug-addled eyes. The song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, especially “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes” came to my mind here. I grew up too close to people who took LSD ever to have wanted to try the stuff myself, but I can tell you that the imagery is much like peyote experiences one can have among the Native Americans of the Southwestern USA, and it just isn’t a pretty sight at all.
Spring Breakers demands a national dialogue on the meaning of the American Dream, and the wide detour we have taken, and allowed especially several generations of young people now to take, including my own, on the way to finding that dram.