Friday, October 21, 2016

Transgressive Transylvania

Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that the remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was being released as a full-length feature film in movie theatres.  Last night, I felt a thrill when I realized it was on TV, and I hadn't missed it yet. 

At first, it felt like being with old friends--but then I found myself missing the original.  But why?  I wasn't one of those suburban kids who spent every Saturday night acting out the film in a suburban movie theatre.  I only saw the movie a few times in college, and then again in my early 40's in an arty movie theatre.

Still, I missed the original versions of the music.  Laverne Cox's voice grated on my last nerve, and I wondered if she always talked like that, or if it was part of how she was playing the character.  Given the recent consciousness raising masquerading as a political campaign around sexual assault, I found some of the sexual stuff troubling:  the outsiders stripped to their underwear and later seduced/assaulted in their beds.  Did I not notice these elements when I was younger?  I did, but no one else seemed bothered, so I thought it was just me, being freaked out by what everyone else saw as OK.

Or more likely, we didn't talk about it back when I was in college--the transgressive elements would have been what we focused on:  men dressing in women's clothes!  Men in make-up!  Who's dancing with who and why do we care so much?

Now those elements don't seem quite as transgressive.

Last night, in one early scene, a tombstone was Mary Shelley's, and I saw the storyline in a different light last night.  Now it was less about sex, transgressive and otherwise, and more about how we care for others--the family-like structures we create, the strangers who appear at the door, the outsiders who don't fit in, the life we create.

Let me hasten to add that I'm not saying that this movie shows us the correct way to care for each other.  The characters fail miserably at that.  Last night, as I watched most of the characters being horribly mean to the newly created Rocky, as I watched Brad and Janet handled in all sorts of inhospitable ways, as one character was turned into dinner--that's what left me cold.

How much more transgressive this Transylvania would have been if any of these characters had truly cared about each other.  

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