Posts Tagged ‘John Wayne’

One of my all time favorite movies is Midnight Cowboy, for reasons that go beyond being a mere devotee of the acting of Dustin Hoffman, or  the music of Henry Nilsson, a fan of the young Jon Voight, or practitioner of  deconstructionism. Or the fact that  it only got a showing at the seedy theaters in my town when it came out.

It is one of the best, most insightful scripts I have ever read too, and in fact the background guys–like song writer Fred Neil, and script writer Waldo Salt, who survived and thrived after being blacklisted during the red scare of McCarthy–are more incredible than the actors .

Here’s the intro clip:

Midnight Cowboy is the only X rated film in history to ever receive an Oscar. Maybe it was the “gay theme” or maybe it was because it was one of the rare films in all of history to examine the issue of women who sexually abuse young boys; and how women are complicit, if not instrumental  in shaping the sexuality of children (no pun intended–but you will see what I mean). Here is a bit of Joe Bucks nightmare:

Zoom close-up -- Anastasia screaming soundlessly...
... thermometer under Little Joe's tongue... 
... Sally Buck shoves chocolate in her mouth... 
... bewigged poodle licks her fingers... 
... Sally Buck hangs enema can on bedpost... 
... Ratso leads ratpack chasing naked Anastasia... 
... corona of flashlights...

I still remember the run-down, dirty white theater fronts that had it up on the marquee in blue letters, or red; and everything about cowboys fascinated me in that era.Certainly everything about the forbidden letter X fascinated me too.

Being stoic, self reliant, silently suffering  cowboys was what they taught boys to be back then, and to think about being when we got older–little men running around with guns that go *BANG!*,  fighting the bad Indians, and the ‘bad men’ who were-apparently-everywhere. And certainly, we were taught to always tip our hats for the ladies–even if they were sticking enemas in our asses.

But by the time I was old enough to watch it myself, some fifteen or years later, it showed me some things about cowboys that John Wayne and the other cowboy as uber-man posturing of that era never did, and I liked that too.

But I like Midnight Cowboy because it’s just plain old, incredibly good film, full of stunningly complex images that are explained to us with remarkable simplicity.

Midnight Cowboy

Original Movie Poster

Very few films address sex and gender imbalances in ways that are inclusive of the recognition that men are engendered in certain ways that women cannot, or will not understand, even when they see it in action. Women as a rule are either not equipped to understand the male experience, or because of the nature of woman is equipped only to stare at herself, and issues that reflect herself constantly–or something like that…;-)

In the case of Joe Buck, the intrepid male prostitute, our character learns that the world is not equal, and we, as an audience, learn a bit about what creates false constructs of sexuality in the mind of a young boy. And how those constructs lead to poor choices.

In one scene we have the gang rape of a woman who could aptly be called “the town pump”, and Joe Bucks inability to stop that rape–of the woman who he thinks he loves; in another scene, aptly a nightmare, we have Joe Buck being anally raped by his grandmother; and the all too obvious conclusion that male sexuality is undervalued, or disposable to women.

It’s a film about the awakening of America to issues of  the human body as a commodious object, and the reality of under-valued male love. It’s a gay film in as much as it has a theme of men, loving each other, or men who are used by other men, but it’s a human story beyond that.

If you haven’t seen it, rent it, and if you have seen it, rent it again. Or just have a good read tonight--here’s the script.

 

What do John Wayne Gacy Jr. and Sufjan Stevens have in common?

Gacy as "Pogo The Clown"

That other John Wayne: Gacy as Pogo the Clown.mon?

No–it isn’t songwriting, or sympathetic followings, per se–it is secrets, hidden underneath their floor boards.  And their polar opposite reactions to being sensitive men or sexual men in a society that has a problem with sensitive, sexual men.

Is Sufjan Stevens gay, or just very very homo-romantic?  I don’t know–what really matters is that he, through the feat of human compassion,  brought my attention to an obscure fact about a serial killer, the effects of  labeling theory, and the self fulfilling prophecy of criminalizing male sexuality, and rendering men as demons–before they actually become demonic.

Sufjan Stevens’ Ballad of John Wayne Gacy

Another thing they have in common is that neither  men ever knew this other man, Harold Wayne Lovell,  who was long thought to be  one of Gacy’s eight unidentified victims. Lovell was recently found alive living in Florida, and his surviving family members are overjoyed at their reunion.

“Tim Lovell and Theresa Hasselberg hadn’t seen their brother, Harold Wayne Lovell, since he left their family’s Chicago home in May 1977 in search of construction work. At the time, Gacy was trolling for young men and boys in the area. He was a contractor, and he lured many of the 33 young men and boys he killed by offering them work.” More story here

Youtube is full of videos about Gacy, but here is one with footage that I actually remember from that time:

The Gacy story touched me directly when I was young, because I grew up in the windy city, not far from where he was stashing bodies like a squirrel stores nuts for the winter– young male bodies, underneath his floorboards;  and he was one of the first “boogiemen” that I was actually afraid of. The city went into ‘evil gay boogieman overdrive,’ when his victims were discovered.

But it was the song by Sufjan Stevens some decades later that made me LOOK AT Gacy differently, to actually see part of him that I was not even made aware of: Gacy himself was sentenced to ten years in prison, essentially for being a gay man, and it wasn’t until  later, after he got out, that he became a serial killer.*

Such are the effects of sexual repression and oppression of the rights of human beings to have consensual, or private  sex;  and the effects of social mechanisms that selectively enforce the way our bodies are categorized, objectified, labeled, used, and abused by society. Such are the effects of mis-directed rage.

If Gacy was wiser, maybe he would have just taken a shotgun down to the local police station and aimed for a few heads. Silent complicity is still silence when it comes to oppression.

And American prisons are rape factories, with some 216,ooo reported rapes or sexual assaults per year. American prisons are routinely cited for human rights  violations by Amnesty International.

I am not a criminologist, or anything other than an amateur profiler, yet neither do I trust the profiles in any sense other than confirmation bias, as the constructions or the constructors and their interpretations of social reality are almost always devoid of causal factors that deny us insight into the society that creates them. We give the jobs to those who uphold the norms, not to those who challenge them.

Mugshot taken of John Wayne Gacy, taken follow...

Gacy Before society applied the label of deviant, and ...

I do not condone homicide or rape, or the rape of men and boys. However, it is not a stretch that one could  imagine that Gacy’s crimes were preventable, had society not criminalized homosexuality at the time. And the deaths of 33 men and boys could have been prevented.

I remember the first footage I ever saw of the scene of the crime, and I remember thinking “that could be anywhere; I could have been under those floorboards.”

But, now, looking back, I realize that Gacy buried a piece of himself under those boards as well, because it takes quite snap of the mind and lots of rage to do something like he did. I also takes a society that criminalizes male sexual urges as well.

Oh: what did John Wayne Gacy look like in his last booking photo?  What did he look like after his wife left him, he was imprisoned, and he lost everything that he had ever worked for? What did he look like after being imprisoned for consensual sex? AFTER the label of deviant stuck?

He was smiling that last time, in his last arrest– a strange, ironic, almost relieved and painfully annoyingly smile–the smile of an ‘anti-social sociopath.’

After the label stuck: The Smiling Sociopath

Personal notes for later thought: 1) The name John Wayne carries a lot of masculine baggage 2) False expectations on men cause sexual deviance , re: the diathesis stress model 3) society has a need to create a criminal class, and then, to police that class. 4) scapegoating males begins early, and often until they become monsters 5) I am against the death penalty even more now.

Below is a short list of how normal deviance is pushed by ‘normative’ social forces into becoming abnormal deviance.

* From Wikipedia: “On December 3, 1968,[27] Gacy was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years at Anamosa State Penitentiary, located in Jones County, Iowa.[27][28] The day Gacy was sentenced, his wife petitioned for divorce[29] and requested possession of the couples’ home, property and subsequent alimony payments.[30] The Court ruled in her favor and the divorce was final in September 1969. Gacy never saw his first wife or children again”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wayne_Gacy