May 25, 2016

Sex Murder Art: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Uncle Adolf and Love Teutonic Necrophilia

While my taste in cinema has naturally become more cultivated as the years have passed and I have become somewhat more increasingly unrepentant in my prejudices, some things have certainly remained the same, especially in regard to my great affection for the truly singular cinematic oeuvre of Berlin blond beast Jörg Buttgereit. Indeed, Buttgereit’s four feature-length arthouse-splatter films—NEKRomantik (1987), Der Todesking (1989), NEKRomantik 2: Die Rückkehr der liebenden Toten (1991) aka NEKRomantik 2 - Return of the Loving Dead, and Schramm (1993)—are longtime personal favorites of mine that I revere for a number of reasons, but mainly because they were the first films that I had ever saw that I felt immaculately reconciled my childhood love of horror and exploitation with my later adult appreciation for mostly melancholic European arthouse cinema.  In short, Buttgereit's films made me realize that it was not exactly insane to be a fan of both Rainer Werner Fassbinder's In a Year with 13 Moons (1978) and Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust (1980). As a result of the generosity of Dutch-born filmmaker and film distributor Nico B (Pig, Bettie Page: Dark Angel), I recently had the splendid luxury of re-watching all of Buttgereit’s films in HD after receiving the excellent Cult Epics Blu-ray box-set Sex Murder Art: The Films Of Jörg Buttgereit where the Teutonic enfant terrible  auteur justly receives the Criterion Collection-esque treatment. A four Blu-Ray and two CD box-set that includes an informative 40-page booklet and a wealth of mostly imperative extra features, Sex Murder Art not only includes the director’s first four features, but also the soundtracks for all four of the films, audio commentary tracks and introductions, fairly lengthy vintage making-of featurettes, the medium-length absurdist pre-NEKRomantik anti-romance Hot Love (1985), and other short films and music videos, among other things that can hardly described as mere junk filler. Seeing as I have not seen most of these films in a couple years, it was a somewhat nostalgic experience devouring this entire boxset over the course of one single weekend while coming to realize that I love Buttgereit’s films just as much as I love the cinematic works of my favorite ‘legitimate’ arthouse directors like Fassbinder, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Werner Schroeter, Carl Th. Dreyer, and even Ingmar Bergman.  On top of everything else, I must confess that I have come to the conclusion that I sincerely believe that Buttgereit is the greatest German ‘horror filmmaker’ since F.W. Murnau.

Of course, re-watching all of these films reminded me of the quite dejecting fact that Buttgereit completely gave up filmmaking when he was in his prime after his masterful serial killer flick Schramm because he felt burnt out and was tired of having no money to work with. Indeed, while Buttgereit did indeed return to filmmaking in a sense in 1999 to direct an episode of the Canadian science fiction TV series Lexx and he would go on to direct various documentaries like Monsterland (2009), the goofy filmed theater piece Captain Berlin versus Hitler (2010), the superlatively silly stageplay triptych Monsters of Arthouse (2013), and one of the three segments of the horror anthology German Angst (2015), none of these films aside from possibly the latter contain the same distinctly Teutonic seriousness, innately instinctual and visceral artsy, unrelenting obsessiveness, gorgeously grotesque clarity of vision and all-around idiosyncratic economic filmmaking that epitomizes his four feature-length works.  While Buttgereit discussed in an interview with Loris Curci in Shockmasters Of The Cinema (1996) about how he was working on both a film about a TV show host and a much anticipated cinematic work entitled NEKRomantik 3 (apparently, he even penned two different scripts for the latter), neither of these projects ever came to fruition. In short, Buttgereit more or less committed suicide as a cinematic auteur, which is somewhat ironic considering that he is currently at the height of his international popularity and even has such a loyal following that a number of these fans have demonstrated their dedication to his films by vandalizing their own bodies with NEKRomantik and Der Todesking tattoos

 While New German Cinema unofficially ended in 1982 when the movement’s figurative ‘heart’ Fassbinder died under somewhat dubious circumstances that hint towards subconscious suicide, Buttgereit would ultimately transcend their objective in terms of creating a truly subversive non-commercial underground cinema that would put the works of the most controversial filmmakers of that era like Ulrike Ottinger and Rosa von Praunheim to abject shame. Indeed, quite unlike Ottinger and von Praunheim, Buttgereit did not have the convenient excuse of being ‘campy’ or gay to get away with his truly transgressive themes and imagery. In fact, in terms of his distinctly German Romanticism and keen obsessiveness with Germany’s dark past and stark present, Buttgereit is also somewhat ironically the most German of German filmmakers, even though he was mostly influenced by American sources. As a filmmaker once made a short mocking his own father entitled Mein Papi (1981), Buttgereit also follows in the post-WWII German tradition of depicting a figurative “fatherless society” and a homeland with no true “Heimat” where a true German identity has become intangible due to the ghosts of the Second World War. Notably, while watching the audio commentary for his short Horror Heaven (1984), Buttgereit made a point to recognize that he, like many West Germans of his era, grew up on American trash culture as opposed to traditional German culture, yet amazingly the Teutonic essence of his artistry bleeds through every single frame of his four features as if he was under the subconscious influence of Wotan in a fashion not unlike how Nietzsche was described by C.G. Jung in his 1936 essay on the Aryan war god. Indeed, while Buttgereit might not be aware of these figures, he is indubitably an heir to great German artists of the aesthetically pleasingly grotesque, including bisexual Satanic novelist and screenwriter Hanns Heinz Ewers and Expressionist poet Gottfried Benn, who both became more or less unofficially blacklisted after World War II due to their temporary support of National Socialism, even though both men would eventually be persecuted by the regime.  Without even knowing it, Buttgereit would demonstrate a certain solidarity with Ewers and Benn early in his career by daring to direct decidedly iconoclastic films like Blutige Exzesse im Führerbunker (1984) aka Bloody Excess in the Leader's Bunker, which depicts a sort of mad scientist Uncle Adolf attempting to regain power with the help of Eva Braun and the director himself. Notably, Buttgereit was so disinterested in appeasing the authoritarians of political correctness that the filmmaker once dared to screen the short alongside concentration camp footage.  Of course, more obviously, Buttgereit is an underground heir to the great German Expressionist filmmakers, especially F.W. Murnau, as well as the German emigrants that came to Hollywood and influenced everything from horror to film noir. 

 If you listen to the audio commentary tracks featured on the Sex Murder Art Blu-Rays, it becomes quite clear that Buttgereit has a certain latent German pride, but I have my suspicions that he has a special affinity for famous American serial killers of German descent, as if they act as a sort of special imperative link for him between his homeland and the country that culturally colonized his nation after the Second World War. Indeed, aside from the fact that Schramm opens with a quote by serial killer and sadistic sodomaniac Carl Panzram—a sort of Nietzsche of serial killers who had his own personal unhinged Übermensch philosophy of hatred and misanthropy whose parents were from East Prussia—Buttgereit has demonstrated a lifelong obsession with Aryan-blooded macabre momma’s boy Ed Gein, whose both maternal and paternal grandparents were German Lutheran immigrants. In fact, not only did Buttgereit pay tribute to Gein with an entire true-crime-tragedy play entitled Kannibale Und Liebe about the necrophile that is set during 1957, but he also actually traveled to his unmarked grave in Plainfield, Wisconsin in July 2012, which he documented with his rather respectful and quite literally titled 2-minute short A Moment of Silence at the Grave of Ed Gein (2012). In an interview with in September 2013, Buttgereit would rightly remark regarding the real-life ghoul and his overall importance on the horror genre as a whole, “I think Ed Gein is the first American Horror-character. Monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula or the Mummy came from the outside. But Gein came from the inside of America […] I love PSYCHO, TCM and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Every film deals with a different aspect of this weird character.” Notably, Buttgereit was not the first Teuton to develop a deep interest in the infamous real-life necromantic, as Bavarian wild mensch auteur Werner Herzog met up with Hebraic documentarian Errol Morris in 1975 in Plainfield to work on a film where they planned to dig up Gein’s mother’s corpse to test their theory that the cross-dressing proto-Leatherface had already dug up his mommy. Unfortunately, Morris wussed out, but Herzog ultimately paid tribute to Gein in his own special way by filming part of his masterpiece Stroszek (1977) in the infamous cross-dressing killer's hometown. 

 Undoubtedly, one of the most intriguing yet commercially and critically deleterious aspects of Buttgereit’s films is that they feature a completely seamless incorporation of both arthouse and exploitation/horror elements. In other words, many braindead glue-snuffing gorehounds find his films to be too ‘boring’ and ‘artsy’ while mainstream film critics and academics find them to be too obscenely offensive, politically incorrect, and repugnant to take seriously. Indeed, not surprisingly, German film critics acted like timid little uptight bitches when Schramm was screened at the prestigious Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival, or as David Kerekes explained in his book Sex Murder Art, “Some are convinced that SCHRAMM promises a bright, blood-free film future for the director, but not so the critics at the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival. Buttgereit tells the author that it’s nothing short of a scandal for a film such as his to be playing a ‘serious’ festival like this. Sure enough, the consensus is that Buttgereit has nothing to say, and his whole film just an excuse to present meaningless violence.”  Naturally, it should be no surprise that Austrian one-time-auteur Gerald Kargl's arthouse-horror piece Angst (1983)—a truly masterful serial killer flick if there ever was one that would ultimately have a huge influence on the overall style and aesthetic of the films of Gaspar Noé—was also poorly received upon its release, as if most people in the German-speaking world cannot handle films about serial killers because it reminds them too much of the sort of cartoonish genocidal Nazi maniacs depicted in Hollywood films.

Of course, arguably more obviously and rudely than any other German filmmaker of the post-WWII era, Buttgereit has unwittingly demolished kosher commie and tiresome Teutonphobe Theodor W. Adorno’s decidedly dickheaded dictum (translation: goy golden rule), “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” in a most deliciously savage fashion, as an auteur that managed to create, among other things, erotic cinematic poetry in the form of a voluptuous Aryanness wearing a Hitler Youth outfit while in bondage as depicted at the very conclusion of Schramm. Additionally, Buttgereit’s wickedly darkly humorous satirizing of Nazisplotation trash like Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974) in Der Todesking would have probably so severely irked dildo Adorno that it would have possibly inspired him to write another extensive esoteric essay on the ostensible innate evilness of krauts and how they should spend the rest of eternity repenting for their sins against Judea. 

 While Adorno would have certainly loathed Buttgereit's films, his shabbos goy protégé Alexander Kluge (Abschied von gestern - (Anita G.) aka Yesterday Girl, Der Starke Ferdinand aka Strongman Ferdinand)—a lawyer turned cinematic auteur that is arguably the most overtly ‘intellectual’ filmmaker in German history and who was one of twenty-six signatories to the Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962, which more or less marked the launch of the New German Cinema and a renaissance in German cinema—had enough appreciation for Der Todesking to include the infamous Nazisplotation castration in his 20-minute short Das Goldene Vlies, which won the prestigious Adolf Grimme Award. In fact, Kluge caused a scandal of sorts when he managed to get the short screened on television, though a dubious “freak weather accident” conveniently resulted in five minutes of the film to being blacked out, including the infamous Nazi castration scene.  Somewhat interestingly, it seems that Kluge saw some genuine talent and inspiration in Buttgereit, as he not only had him on his talk show, but also hired him to direct at least three documentaries. Undoubtedly, for Kluge to work with Buttgereit would be somewhat akin to Godard working with Jean Rollin or Woody Allen collaborating with Jim Van Bebber, but then again I personally believe that the Teutonic auteur clearly has more genuine artistic talent and originality than his French and American counterparts.  Indeed, had Buttgereit not been brought up on a steady diet of American trash culture and instead was exposed to traditional German culture, one could argue that he might have evolved into a sort of Franz von Stuck of cinema.  After all, Fassbinder also received a similar American cinematic education as demonstrated by his imperative influence from Hollywood auteur filmmakers ranging from Raoul Walsh to Douglas Sirk.

 A somewhat prominent figure of the 1980s Berlin punk rock scene, Buttgereit started out directing goofy anarchic Super-8 shorts like Der explodierende Turnschuh (1980) aka The Exploding Sports Shoe, Der trend - Punkrocker Erzählen aus ihrem leben (198) aka The Trend - Punkrockers Speak About Their Lives, and Manne the Mowie (1981) and even co-directed the feature-length doc So war das S.O.36 (1985), which features a number of important Neue Deutsche Welle, Punk, and Industrial bands of the time like Einstürzenden Neubauten, Lorenz Lorenz, Betoncombo, Die tödliche Doris, Malaria, and Die Gelbs. In fact, a good percentage of the people that have appeared in Buttgereit’s films are from the Berlin music scene. Indeed, only in a Buttgereit film like Der Todesking will you see weirdo black-haired kraut musician Hermann Kopp naked and committing suicide in a scene that he actually composed the music in a scenario that was based on the dubious death of disgraced West German politician Uwe Barschel. In short, Buttgereit is a true D.I.Y. artist and thankfully he does not go around bragging about this fact as if it were some sort of grand virtue like certain posturing leftwing scenester wimps tend to do. Also, it should not be overlooked that Buttgereit has ties to the queer avant-garde in the form of his handful of collaborations with Michael Brynntrup, who looks like he could practicably be the filmmaker’s twin brother (incidentally, Brynntrup claims on his website bio that he had a identical twin brother that was stillborn). Arguably the two most archetypically Aryan looking filmmakers that have ever lived, Brynntrup fittingly contracted Buttgereit to direct the crucifixion scene for his rather ambitious 35-episode experimental Super-8 epic Jesus - Der Film (1986). Ultimately, Buttgereit returned the favor by having Brynntrup play a less than merciful Aryan Christ at the end of Schramm. Notably, like Buttgereit, Brynntrup also has a sort of reluctant nostalgia for Germany and his family as indicated by his short DER RHEIN - ein deutsches Märchen (1983) aka THE RHINE - A German Fairy Tale, which tells the sad and somewhat sentimental story about how he never got the opportunity to meet his pretty boy uncle Karl-Anton because he was senselessly killed during the last days of the Second World War when he was just 18 years old while defending a toll castle on an island in the Rhine called Pfalzgrafenstein Castle.

 From the comic book heroes of Jews like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (e.g. Superman) and Stan Lee (e.g. Marvel Comics) to the sub-schlocky exploitation films of Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman like Blood Feast (1963), Buttgereit is somewhat ironically a product of the very same kosher cultural colonization that Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels so often warned of during his rather eloquent propaganda speeches, yet he has managed to take these virtually aesthetically worthless ingredients and sire something inordinately cultivated and singular, sort of the way that Hans-Jürgen Syberberg managed to do the seemingly impossible by combining the distinctly Teutonic Romanticism of Richard Wagner with the audience-alienating cultural Bolshevikism of kraut commie Bertolt Brecht. Of course, also like Syberberg, Buttgereit has also remained a controversial figure that will probably not get his total due, at least while he is still alive (incidentally, Buttgereit once stated, “If you show an American film in Germany then it’s not so interesting, unless you’re dead like Fassbinder, then it’s okay,” thus underscoring modern degenerate Germany’s sad, pathetic and innately irrational loathing for its own great living artists). Of course, it can be argue that, also like Syberberg, Buttgereit has attempted to symbolically salvage German kultur from the Nazi. Indeed, not unlike Syberberg in his mammoth magnum opus Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977), Buttgereit's Captain Berlin versus Hitler is an example of a filmmaker exorcising Hitlerite demons and reclaiming German history and culture. 

 As his films, especially NEKRomantik and NEKRomantik 2, aggressively demonstrate, it is like Buttgereit has taken the title of Syberberg’s decidedly damning 1977 essay “We Live in a Dead Country” quite literally, as if the auteur subconsciously came to the conclusion that necrophilia would be the greatest metaphor for spiritual and cultural decay that plagues many modern-day Teutons. Notably, as Syberberg quite accurately remarked in his essay, “German cinema is finished in its present structure and the rats are leaving the sinking ship. This country is not only dead, it is not even a country any longer. Centerless. Without a spirituality identity […] A country deserted by the Jewish intellectuals of film and nevertheless with such a large mafia? In my book I speak of a mafia of the subconscious. Our filmbuffs [sic] are grotesque in their refutation of the efforts of the anti-Semites. The Jews left, the mafia remained.” Of course, Syberberg is speaking of the sort of ethno-masochistic kraut philo-Semites that incessantly kiss kosher ass as an ostensible means to atone for the holocaust, as if that will every change the fact that Hollywood and the majority of Hebrews in general have a totally visceral undying hatred of all-things-Teutonic. Naturally, only the underground could have sired a German filmmaker as subversive as Buttgereit who, not unlike Syberberg, is not afraid to reveal the present necrotizing state of the German Volksgeist. If we are to believe National Socialist philosopher Alfred Rosenberg when he wrote, “Every race has its soul and every soul its race,” then I think it is safe to say that, as far as post-WWII directors are concerned, Buttgereit’s films embody the most visceral and uncensored expression of the German collective unconscious. Indeed, in their collective unwillingness to reproduce and open embracing of innately hostile aliens with primitive savage religions that are turning their cities into third world hellholes, the Germans long for death as both a nation and people and one could certainly argue that the passing of this truly great race began with the capitulation of the Wehrmacht 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad (indeed, it is no coincidence that Stalingrad is a major motif in Kluge's films, as if it represents a sort of very real reoccurring nightmare for both him and his nation's clearly haunted collective subconscious). 

 In his fairly short but immaculately sweet autobiography My Last Sigh (1983), great Spanish maestro Luis Buñuel, who had a fairly big influence on some of Buttgereit’s films, wrote regarding the imperative influence that his Catholic upbringing and Jesuit education would have on his life and art, “Ironically, this implacable prohibition inspired a feeling of sin which for me was positively voluptuous. And although I’m not sure why, I also have always felt a secret but constant link between the sexual act and death. I’ve tried to translate this inexplicable feeling into images, as in UN CHIEN ANDALOU when the man caresses the woman’s bare breasts as his face slowly changes into a death mask.” Judging by Buñuel’s rather bold confession, one could argue that Buttgereit has a somewhat similar outlook and that he totally transcended the Spanish surrealist maestro into terms of cinematically expressing the innate link between sex and death. Of course, life begins with sex and ends with death, hence Nietzschean anarchist Georges Bataille’s remark, “Death is really the opposite process to the process ending in birth, yet these opposite processes can be reconciled.” When it comes to necrophilia, there is no potential for reproduction, thus highlighting its sort of potential poetic appeal for a filmmaker like Buttgereit who seems to loathe his family (or at least his father) and who lives in a suicidal national where antinatalism—an anti-life position that was notably endorsed by Teutonic pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer about a century before it became vogue—seems to be a sort of rampant metaphysical affliction that will only disappear when, somewhat ironically, the last German disappears.  In fact, aside from Japan, Germany has the lowest birth rate in the world.  Indeed, while a mass suicide wave that hit Germany in 1945 when the Red Army began invading the country during the final days of the Second World War (for example, on May 1, 1945, hundreds of people committed mass suicide in the town of Demmin as a result of the Soviets invading the area and committing atrocities, including mass rapes and destroying 80% of the town in a mere three days), one could argue that this disturbing trend still lives on today, albeit in a sort of passive and largely antinatalist form. Of course, Buttgereit’s darkly delightful cinematic Danse Macabre Der Todesking—a truly one-of-a-kind piece of cinema that is arguably the director’s greatest contribution to the medium—is probably the most potent example of Germany’s tragic tradition of post-Nazi self-slaughter and possibly the most poetic celluloid reminder that transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is real and that virtually every single contemporary German has arguably been accursed with the wartime traumas of their ancestors. In fact, I would not be surprised if all of Buttgereit’s four features were the unconscious expression of inherited traumas, but I digress. 

 Undoubtedly, in some ways I am a hopeless luddite of sorts as demonstrated by the fact that I only just recently got a Blu-ray player, but I certainly do not regret it as it was put to great use for Sex Murder Art, which will indubitably become one of my most used and abused box-sets. If there was anything that I immediately realized after re-watching Buttgereit’s films, it is that, quite unlike a lot of the horror movies I loved when I was younger, my appreciation from them has only grown all the more as the years have passed as it is easier for me to see the German auteur's imperative experimental and arthouse influences. Indeed, only Buttgereit could make a film like Schramm that was heavily influenced by a fairly underrated and largely forgotten French arthouse flick like Claude Sautet’s Les Choses de la Vie (1970) aka The Things of Life starring Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider. Likewise, only could Buttgereit not only pay sort of post-punk tribute to Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre (1981) in a romance film about necrophilia, but do it with a sort of superlatively surreal twist that even outdoes Buñuel in terms of absurdity. In terms his mastery of poetic cinematic oneiricism on a beggar’s budget and seemingly innate and discernibly Germanic talent for decidedly grim Gothic horror, Buttgereit is like a punk F.W. Murnau, albeit seemingly more sexually perverse and nihilistic. Additionally, Buttgereit has probably come closer than any other contemporary horror filmmaker to being a Jean Cocteau of the genre, as his quite clever and creative special effects and camera tricks, as well as shockingly delectable use of dream-sequences, certainly make his films an excellent choice to watch alongside the French poet-cum-filmmaker's singular Orphic Trilogy. 

 As far as I am concerned, Buttgereit, not unlike the late great Christoph Schlingensief (Terror 2000 - Intensivstation Deutschland, United Trash), succeeded in many ways where the would-be-revolutionary filmmakers of New German Cinema failed by concocting an intrinsically subversive and aggressively anti-commercial style of insanely idiosyncratic auteur filmmaking that still manages to fall in the grand Teutonic tradition of irrational Romanticism. Indeed, instead of falling into the sort of commie ghetto of conformity that has severely dated many of the cinematic works of popular New German Cinema filmmakers like Volker Schlöndorff and his bitchy ex-wife Margarethe von Trotta, Buttgereit embraced a distinct punk Weltanschauung that inspired him to break all taboos, including those relating to Germany's Nazi past, albeit in a keenly cultivated fashion where it is apparent that he is not just out to shock people.  In fact, as Buttgereit explained to Kerekes regard to his utilization of real animal-killings and sort of anti-exploitation approach to gore, “I thought it important to put the rabbit sequence in because there has to be a scene that people are positive is not faked – that it isn’t fun anymore. That’s why I don’t understand this ‘Glorifying Violence’ argument leveled at us, because every time we cut something up it’s a mess. When somebody gets killed, it’s a mess. It even takes hours to dig up a grave.”  While people can say many things about Buttgereit's films, there is no denying that his features lack the sort of sensational pornographic thrills featured in exploitation films that seem to arouse certain gorehounds, hence his lack of popularity among various horror fiend philistines.

Notably, in an interview with Marcus Stiglegger featured in the book Caligari's Heirs (2007) edited by Steffen Hantke, Buttgereit remarked in regard as to why he specifically sought to parody Nazisplotation cinema in Der Todesking, “I think of this as an act of liberation, an homage to all those things that were kept from us in Germany presumably for our own good. Once you discover that these things exist, you are equally horrified and intrigued. ILSA was punk rock for me—same thing as Sid Vicious with his swastika.”  While some might interpret Buttgereit's attitude to Nazism as reckless or immature, it is indubitably more healthy than the seeming majority of contemporary German filmmakers, who seem to bask in their own completely shameless ethno-masochism and patently pathetic post-holocaust guilt despite the fact that they were not even alive during the Third Reich.  Of course, it is most likely this sort of spiritual necrophilia regarding long dead Jews that the NEKRomantik films even exist.  As the films of the somewhat mysterious pseudonymous auteur Marian Dora (Cannibal, Melancholie der Engel)—Buttgereit's virtual cinematic heir—demonstrate, it seems the post-shoah metaphysical affliction has only grown darker and more hysterical and irrational in Deutschland since the release of NEKRomantik, but that is probably to be expected in the era of globalization where Hollywood cultural colonization has guaranteed that Germans and whites are general will be incessantly bombarded with sickeningly sensational big budget agitprop of the holy holocaust oriented sort where the big bad goyim is expected to pay tribute to the glorious six million while ignoring both the many great Hebraic mass murderers of the pasty century like Lazar Kaganovich (who carried his own little holocaust against the Ukrainians called “Holodomor”) and Genrikh Yagoda and Israeli's staunchly Zionistic longtime ethnic cleansing campaign.

While Hollywood continues pouring salt onto old Aryan wounds by incessantly defecting out fictional holocaust film after fictional holocaust film, Buttgereit has intriguingly used the most critically maligned film genre as a means to create the most visceral and curious of Trauerarbeit pieces, as if the auteur had been engulfed in the darkest corners of the German national psyche and felt instinctively compelled to artistically express the morbidly melancholic spirit that was eating away at his soul (notably, Buttgereit eventually developed a stomach ulcer from the stress of filmmaking).  After all, arguably the most offensive aspect of Buttgereit's films is the surprising seriousness and inordinate pulchritude that he brings to these totally taboo themes.  Of course, in a once proud nation where a good percentage of the people hate themselves so much that they suicidally welcome their own displacement and genocide by refusing to reproduce and embracing the colonization of their country by hostile medieval-minded Muslims that think that all women that do not wear towels on their heads are dirty whores, it is only natural that beauty would come in the form of the moribund, grotesque, and eclectically unnatural.  Undoubtedly, it should be noted that the murders in Buttgereit's films more resemble ritualistic sacrifices than mere killings, which is interesting when one considers Bataille's words, “It is the common business of sacrifice to bring life and death into harmony, to give death the upsurge of life, life the momentousness and the vertigo of death opening on to the unknown. Here life is mingled with death, but simultaneously death is a sight of life, a way into the infinite.”  Indeed, judging by Bataille's remark, one could argue that Buttgereit's single greatest philosophical feat as a filmmaker is that he has managed to make cinematic works about corpse-fucking that are strangely life-affirming.

-Ty E

May 15, 2016


By most accounts, it seems that Warren Beatty was the most masterfully manipulative male whore working in Hollywood during the 1960s through 1980s, so it is only fitting that one of his greatest acting performances would be as a super slutty stud that knows how to tell women what they want to hear in a film project that he produced, co-penned, and was largely in control of. Indeed, Shampoo (1975) directed by Hal Ashby (The Last Detail, Being There) stars Beatty as a curiously rampantly heterosexual male hairdresser that fucks virtually every single women in his life yet, despite being a flagrant man-whore that probably puts a Thai tranny to shame in terms of moral bankruptcy, the character somewhat ironically has the total opposite mentality as the actor that portrays him as he is a somewhat passive and self-destructive male bimbo that is routinely sexually used by women as opposed to being the scheming user and abuser like the legendary Bonnie and Clyde star. In fact, despite the film being a sexually-charged farce that lampoons the epidemic lechery of Los Angeles bourgeois during the beginning of the end of the so-called sexual revolution, Beatty portrays one of the most pathetic and tragic characters of his career as a perennial pretty boy player that may incessantly pound premium grade posh pussy but he is ultimately too much of a weak and intemperate fuck-up to ever maintain a lasting and meaningful relationship, thus resulting in the sad stud coming to the bitter realization that he will be forced to wander from needy uptight twat to needy uptight twat for eternity.  While most other men need lots of cash if they want grade A Hollywood gash, the film's haplessly horny hero does not even need to hunt for cultivated cunt, as he constantly has women practically incessantly rubbing their asses and pussies in his face.  Of course, being a virtual gigantic walking and talking hard-on has its quite glaring negative sides as it means most women see you as nothing more than a disposable dildo that can simply be thrown away or washed and used again every so often.

As a film set on November 4, 1968 during the election eve before Tricky Dick took the White House, the film naturally has the sort of lame ass mainstream Hollywood white liberal message that one has come to expect for a political retarded hypocritical celebrities like Beatty who seem to believe that getting involved in shallow and superficial dogooder activism will somehow exonerate them for their sinful lives of debauched hedonism and greed, yet thankfully its political message is, at least artistically speaking, secondary to its sardonic assault on the counterculture zeitgeist and sexual liberation. Indeed, instead of blaming the Manson Family for the death of free love and hippie (anti)values like the mainstream media, the film marks the election of Richard Nixon as the date when finally began to give up on their unhinged utopian delusions, though thankfully it also rips vogue bohemian mores to shreds. Somewhat curiously, it should also be noted that one of the most sympathetic characters of the film is a middle-aged conservative businessman who wants to trade in his whore of a wife for a much younger and fresher piece of high maintenance female flesh. 

 Undoubtedly, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, aspect of Shampoo is its fiercely farcical critique of the so-called fairer sex, which is depicted as trading in motherhood and marriage for senseless hedonism and unofficial prostitution, among other less than noble things that tend to be typical of many contemporary post-feminist broads in the West. Indeed, not only does the film make women seem more sexually voracious and shameless than men, but it also takes place in a sort of Hollywood high-dollar whore microcosm where every single female character engages in hypergamy and is with a man simply because of the size of his bank account, with the lead protagonist being innately incapable of keeping a woman around because he refuses to settle down and make something out of himself. Despite the film’s sometimes absurd tone, it was actually based on various real-life characters in Hollywood, as co-writer Beatty and Robert Towne based the story on Ashby’s then-wife Joan Marshall's Hollywood friends (considering how recklessly lecherous the women in the film are, it should be no surprise that Marshall died of AIDS related causes in 1992). In fact, Marshall, who has a small role in the film, was so upset about how her friends were depicted in her hubby's flick that it more or less ruined her marriage with Ashby and friendships with Beatty and Towne.  Of course, as Shampoo clearly demonstrates, marriages in Hollywood are about as sacred as a bowel movement, so I doubt that Ashby—a lapsed Mormon and pathological pothead that had a curious fetish for tall and flat-chested blondes—considered it much of a loss.

 Somewhat charitably described by puffery-plagued fangirl Pauline Kael—a well known starfucker that was regularly courted by Betty and Towne at the time (as Beatty’s bud Buck Henry once stated, “Towne had Kael wrapped around his finger”)—as a sort of reworking of both Jean Renoir's classic comedy of manners The Rules of the Game (1939) and Ingmar Bergman’s arthouse sex-comedy Sommarnattens leende (1955) aka Smiles of a Summer Night, Shampoo is a sort of satirical tragicomedy disguised as a risqué counterculture romp where so-called ‘free love’ is ultimately revealed to have a hefty emotional and even metaphysical price, even if you're a morally challenged male bimbo. Borrowing its general storyline from William Wycherley’s anti-puritan Restoration comedy The Country Wife (1675) about a rake that pretends he is impotent so that a group of married gentlemen will not be suspicious of the fact that he is fucking their wives, Ashby’s film follows a lovably dopey and compulsively charismatic yet hopelessly dysfunctional and self-destructive dimestore Don Juan that works as a hairdresser who pretends he is a homo so that a potential business partner does not suspect that he is screwing his wife, mistress, and even daughter, among various other lecherous ladies that make up a conspicuously cunty community of rich Los Angeles bitches that think it is perfectly fine to engage in adultery to get the much needed sexual thrills that their opulent yet less than orgasmically sound sad-sack-of-shit cuck spouses lack. In short, the wicked yet wanton women featured in the film use their cunts like currency and the only man that gets to penetrate their pussies for free is a buffoonish Beverly Hills male bimbo who knows how to satisfy a woman with his famous gravy-giver. As if he has some sort of magical erotic powers that distinguish him from all other men, the hairdresser protagonist merely has to touch a woman’s hair to let her know that he can cause various eruptions of ecstasy in her spunk-pot.  Indeed, the character might be a piece of shit who has no qualms about fucking men over by routinely fucking their wives, but he also might be the only flagrant womanizer in cinema history that the viewer comes to feel sorry for, thus underscoring Beatty's singular talent for emotional manipulation and seduction.

 As Paul Schrader once stated regarding Beatty and his mastery of manipulating females, “If she was a twenty-two-year-old starlet, he would get her in one way. If she was a sixty-year-old film critic, he would get her another way.” In that sense, Beatty is a lot different from the character he portrays in Shampoo, as the protagonist has a fairly one-dimensional agenda and is pretty much interested in only one thing: warm, wet vagina.  While the less than heroic hairdresser claims that he dreams of owning his own beauty salon (which might as well be a one-man gigolo brothel), one suspects that he is not even really serious about that, or at least that is what the viewer is led to believe as a result of his incessantly reckless behavior. Notably, the film stars Beatty’s then-longtime-girlfriend Julie Christie in an unforgettable performance where it is quite clear that her chemistry with her lover was still quite intact, even if the actor dumped his beloved for Mamas & the Papas member turned actress Michelle Phillips during production.  As a proud feminist of sorts, Christie naturally loathed the film's script and only agreed to star in the film as a favor to her best beau. While Beatty was used to everyone kissing his kiss, Christie had no problem telling him he was a hack that created garbage films, or as Peter Biskind reveals in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (1998) in regard to what the actress said to her ex-beau while they were filming an important scene in Heaven Can Wait (1978), “in the film, romantic music is swelling up on the soundtrack, drowning out their conversation, wherein Christie was saying, in her clipped British accent, ‘I can’t believe you’re still making these fucking dumb movies when, I mean, there are people all over Europe making fabulous films, about real things, Fassbinder and so on, and you’re still doing this shit,’ and then she’d smile at him as if she had honey on her tongue.” 

As far as I am concerned, Christie was completely right as Beatty is more of a devilishly charming opportunist than a serious artist and the films he later personally directed (e.g. Reds (1981), Bulworth (1998)) reveal him to be the worst sort of deracinated and clinically narcissistic WASP white liberal traitor who has led the way for the cultural, moral, and racial decline of the United States, yet Shampoo is the one film where I will give him his due as a true auteur, even if he was not actually credited as the director.  While he originally planned to direct the film himself, he was concerned about the fact he had no directing experience, so he eventually opted to contract a passive director-for-hire that he could control, or as Biskind speculated as to why the actor ultimately chose Ashby, “Beatty knew him slightly, and liked him.  Ashby was a stoner; he smoked dope morning, noon, and night.  Not only did this not bother Beatty, it may have been a plus, since it would quickly become apparent that he did not intend to let Ashby do much in the way of directing, anyway.”  Indeed, Beatty had so much control over the film that there were times during production that he actually kicked Ashby off his own set, but of course it all worked out in the end as Shampoo is easily one of the Harold and Maude director's greatest and most iconoclastic films.  While the film might not feature an eccentric love affair between a young wealthy suicidal wuss and an eccentric elderly holocaust survivor like in Ashby's overrated cult flick, it features more irresistible ingredients like Ms. Christie talking about how great of a cocksucker she is and Carrie Fischer accusing Beatty of being a fag, among other things.

 As a man that has penetrated an eclectic assortment of famous fancy-bits, including those belonging to Natalie Wood and her elder sister Lana, Isabelle Adjani, Cher, Twiggy, Madonna, Brigitte Bardot, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Vanessa Redgrave, Daryl Hannah, Jane Fonda, Margaux Hemingway, JFK’s widow Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Brigitte Bardot, Maria Callas, and Liv Ullmann, among countless others, Beatty does not exactly seem like he has the appropriate credentials for what might be described as a stereotypical misogynist, but Shampoo certainly indicates otherwise and reveals the actor turned auteur to be a fellow whose contempt for the minds and habits of women is only transcended by his love for their cooters and hooters. Indeed, arguably the closest thing to a cinematic equivalent to German-American sage H.L. Mencken’s classic ironically titled text In Defense of Women (1918) in terms of being a magnificent piece of satirical American misogyny that takes a rather suave and stylish approach to mocking the vainest, most materialistic and morally bankrupt of female creatures, the film manages to expose many rather unflattering aspects of the so-called fairer sex via a seductive brand of satire that demonstrates why Beatty is one of the most talented glorified hustlers to have worked in Hollywood. While annoying mischling Jewess Carly Simon may have been able to get her revenge against Beatty with the uniquely obnoxious song “You're So Vain,” the actor-cum-auteur effortlessly assaults every-women-he-has-ever-fucked-and-then-some with Shampoo, which is a film that ultimately reveals that women are just as untrustworthy and duplicitous in the bedroom as they are in pretty much every other aspect of their social lives and that, if it were up to them, women would have at least two male companions: a happily cuckolded perennial bank to pay for stupid shit like shoes and a sort of human-dildo to satisfy insatiable sexual needs. Of course, as the film rather rudely and crudely yet nonetheless somehow eloquently reveals, most women prefer to marry an old and sexually pathetic cuckold than a handsome hunk with big junk, as material wealth and security always trumps true love and sexual satisfaction for most chicks, especially glacial bourgeois broads.  In short, Shampoo depicts a world where women are fully exposed and not wearing their very carefully applied figurative makeup.

 To go back to Mencken, he once delightfully defined a ‘misogynist’ as, “A man who hates women as much as women hate one another,” though there are a couple scenes in Shampoo, namely a feud between character played by Julie Christie and Lee Grant (as well as Grant versus by a rather nubile Princess Leia, who portrays her busty yet bitchy daughter), that hint that women actually hate each other more than any heterosexual man ever could. Naturally, a Hollywood Casanova like Beatty that spends a lot of time in the company of needy hot chicks that are used to getting whatever they want is likely to form some sharply negative opinions of women as a whole, or like the great Viennese anti-Semite semite Otto Weininger once noted, “No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them.” Undoubtedly, Beatty and his kosher co-writer Towne (who was the actor's longtime bitch and was even described by mutual friends as Beatty's “shadow” since he followed him around everywhere) spent a lot of time philosophizing on the curious habits and psychology of female kind during the eight long years that they spent writing (and constantly rewriting) the screenplay and thankfully the results are devastatingly hilarious, especially in regard to their incendiary insights in regard to the power of pussy and the oftentimes preposterously petty behavior of those individuals that have one. For instance, in its depiction of a group of women who only seem to think about fucking and/or hating a certain fellow that they believe has fucked them over, the film recalls Weininger’s keen observation, “Woman is neither high-minded nor low-minded, strong-minded nor weak-minded. She is the opposite of all these. Mind cannot be predicated of her at all; she is mindless. That, however, does not imply weak-mindedness in the ordinary sense of the term, the absence of the capacity to ‘get her bearings’ in ordinary everyday life. Cunning, calculation, ‘cleverness’, are much more usual and constant in the woman than in the man, if there be a personal self end in view. A woman is never so stupid as a man can be.” Unquestionably, Beatty’s character personifies this specific male stupidity that Weininger speaks of, as he has the potential to totally reinvent his life and  become very rich yet lacks the self-discipline it takes to keep his pecker in his pants long enough not to fuck the wife, mistress, and daughter of the nice and generous businessman that could give him everything he needs to achieve his goals. Likewise, the conservative businessman played by Jack Warden suffers from his own form of male stupidity, as he is somehow totally oblivious to the fact that his wife is carrying on a lurid love affair with the protagonist even though he himself has a mistress and thus should be aware of some of the general warning signs of adultery.  Unflattering depictions of both genders aside, Shampoo also demonstrates that men and women truly cannot live with or without one another, especially when the pesky crippling emotion of love is involved.

 Beginning with a nearly pitch black domestic lovemaking scene that would later be put to abject shame by Aryan Kaganof’s nihilistic romance The Mozart Bird (1993) in terms of lack of visual clarity where the viewer listens as a cheating rich bitch named Felicia Karpf (Lee Grant) forcefully tells protagonist George Roundy (Beatty) how to move his member so that she can best reach sexual climax, Shampoo immediately establishes a bitingly raunchy yet delicious romp tone that is made all the more joyously humorous by its inclusion of the classic Beach Boy song “Wouldn't It Be Nice,” though this same tune will be put to ironic use when it appears again during the film’s surprisingly sad and bitterly melancholic conclusion.  Marvelous man-whore George—a character that was apparently inspired by real-life Hollywood hairdresser Jay Sebring who, with his ex-girlfriend Sharon Tate, was infamously brutally slaughtered by the Manson Family during the summer of 1969—is a seemingly lucky man with a distinctly unmanly job who has a steady flow of premium grade posh pussy, even though he is technically in a relationship with a borderline braindead blonde bimbo model named Jill (Goldie Hawn), who is so dumb and childlike that she is fully willing to accept all of her serial cheater boy toy's rather lazy lies and cheesy compliments. In fact, at the beginning of the film, George is so preoccupied with pussy that he has to bullshit his way out of leaving his own apartment just so that he can see his girlfriend because hyper horny human feline Felicia seems to suffer the delusional that she is the only one that he is currently fucking. While Felicia seems like a dumb bitch that only cares about her hair and her hairdresser, she is certainly right when she remarks to George that his “problem” is that he “knows too many sick ladies.”  Of course, George is sick too, but that is just not a fact that he is willing to recognize because if he has anything to be proud of in his life, it is that he has fucked every single women he knows, or so he proudly explains to his girlfriend after he is forced to come clean about his debauchery towards the end of the film.

 Although it is never made exactly clear why George and Jill are even in a relationship with one another since the two are never even depicted fucking, the viewer suspects that the protagonist is with her simply because she is too dumb and naïve to even consider that she is in a relationship with an unrepentant womanizer that has literally nothing to offer her except phony shallow compliments like “you’re great” and ludicrous excuses about how he one day plans to get his shit together and open up his own super chic beauty salon. Indeed, as the film clearly reveals, George was dumped by past girlfriends due to his incapacity to settle down and get serious about his life. In fact, Jill’s best friend is George’s ex-girlfriend Jackie Shawn (Julie Christie), who states regarding her reason for dumping the protagonist and later getting with an old and less than sexually appealing businessman, “It’s really great to wake up in the morning with your rent paid. I’m afraid George was just too much of a gypsy for me.” After wising up and realizing that intense multiple orgasms do not pay the bills, Jackie got herself a rather conveniently unwitting conservative businessman sugar daddy named Lester Karpf (Jack Warden), who also happens to be the much resented husband of George’s MILF mistress Felicia. Ultimately, the main plot of the film is ignited when Felicia makes the unwittingly foolish mistake of offering to hook up her fuck-boy George with her hubby Lester as a potential business partner for a beauty salon, thus leading to the protagonist being inadvertently reunited with his great old flame Jackie. Of course, as soon becomes quite clear to the viewer, George and Jackie are still very much in love with one another.  Indeed, if there is one pussy that George would be willing to settle on for the rest of his life, it is Jackie.  As for Jackie, she is a rapidly aging beauty that values security most and thus seems to love money more than George, but that does not stop her from potentially risking everything by riding the protagonist's seemingly world famous fuckstick.

 As many other ordinary men would also probably assume, Lester assumes George is a gay boi upon first meeting him since he is a fashionably dressed longhaired hairdresser who asks him for money to start his very own hair salon. Since it is November 4, 1968 on the eve of the presidential election, businessman Lester plans to attend a Republican Party election night soirée and he wants ostensible homo George to escort his mistress Jackie to the event since his wife Felicia will also be attending. As demonstrated by her venomous remark, “Oh, I just can’t wait to see Lester with me and that cunt in the same room,” Jackie seems especially excited about the Nixon party as she will finally get the opportunity to confront her equally connivingly cunty rival, but of course the event turns out to be a abject disaster for all those involved. Before the big night, George reacquaints himself with Jackie and makes it quite clear that he is not happy with her new beau by remarking, “I don’t fuck anybody for money. I do it for fun,” thus underscoring the innate differences between the sexes in general. When the two finally get done expressing their long festering post-breakup resentment towards one another, George eventually agrees to go to Jackie’s house to do her hair since it makes her look like a “hooker.” As can be expected from two ex-lovers who are still very much attracted to each another, it does not take long before George and Jackie proceed to reacquaint their genitals with one another, but Lester unwittingly cock-blocks the protagonist by randomly showing up at his mistress’ humble abode with a present.  While George pretends to act extra faggy so that George is not suspicious since the businessman walks in on them while his mistress is wearing nothing but a small towel, the ex-lovers will be considerably less lucky after they both get drunk later that night. Needless to say, it will not be the last time George and Jackie risk getting caught literally with their pants down. 

 Naturally, as a considerably cute young woman whose boyfriend never fucks her and is constantly hanging around other women, Jill begins having serious doubts about her relationship with George.  At one point, Jill even casually expresses an interest in having children by randomly remarking, “You know what I read in COSMOPOLITAN? If you don’t have a baby before you’re 30, you’ll have a Mongolian idiot,” but George simply ignores what she says and changes the subject. When Jill is offered an important photo shoot job that will require her to be away in Egyptian for weeks, she cannot decide if she wants to accept the assignment since it would mean that she would have to be away from George for such a long period of time. Needless to say, when George expresses total disinterest with the fact that she might be away for a couple weeks, Jill serious doubts about their rapidly stagnating relationship only get worse. Unbeknownst to Jill, George has similar concerns about the future of their relationship, as he confesses to Jackie in a somewhat pathetic fashion, “I don’t know…I can sense these things. She needs to be with somebody that can take care of her.” When Jill eventually decides to verbally berate George for his incessant immature behavior and lack of reliability, the protagonist completely breaks down and confesses to her while on the verge of tears, “You’re right. I just want us to have a normal life, like everybody else. Jesus, I just can’t take it anymore. All I want is to get up early, run my own business…take you out to a movie on the weekend. I’m trying, honey. I just can’t get out of my own way.” While Jill is moved by George’s rare moment of impassioned vulnerability and attempts to comfort him by lovingly caressing his body, her attitude soon changes when she subsequently finds a female earring in his bed and thus assumes her beau is banging some other dumb babe. At this point, Jill begins considering dating a dorky commercial director named Johnny Pope (actor, director, and producer Tony Bill) who will conveniently be working on the same Egyptian photo shoot that she has been offered. Indeed, Jill may be a hopelessly infantile shit-for-brains dingbat with the emotional and intellectual maturity of a hyper sensitive toddler, but like many women she is already preparing the way for a new boyfriend before she even dumps her current one. 

 Before the big Republican party, George stops by the luxurious Karpf mansion for a quick fuck with Felicia and he finds himself mounting her extremely nubile (and assumedly underage) daughter Lorna (Carrie Fisher in her film debut) instead. Indeed, almost immediately after first meeting little Lorna, whose nipples are noticeably quite hard, she begins baiting him by asking him highly evasive questions like “Are you gay?” and “Are you queer?” and by stating extremely degrading things like, “Do you have a thing about older women? That’s sort of faggoty, isn’t it? […] Beverly Hills hairdresser. You might as well be a faggot.” Of course, being a perennial peacemaker that avoids conflict at all costs, especially when it comes to delectable dames, George practically begs Lorna like a sensitive toddler, “Can’t we just be friends?,” to which the inordinately fiesty teenage replies after thinking for a moment, “Ok. You want to fuck?”  Naturally, George cannot turn down those large teenage titties, so he engages in a little bip-bam-thank-you-ma'am lechery with Lorna in her bedroom. Needless to say, when Felicia finally gets home and realizes that her big bosomed daughter has just gotten banged by her personal fuck toy, she decides to get her revenge against her pernicious progeny by immediately fucking George while the doors to her bedroom are open so that everyone in the house can hear their inter-generational humping. Now that he has already fucked his wife and daughter behind Lester's back, it is only natural that George eventually concludes the day by screwing the businessman’s prized mistress. 

 In what ultimately proves to be a majorly moronic move that reveals that he does not really care about his beloved, George agrees to allow Jill to bring Johnny Pope as a date to the Republican dinner, thus giving his girlfriend the opportunity to bond with the mensch who will soon be her new boyfriend. As soon as they arrive at the event, Jackie immediately begins drinking and hitting on George, who tries his damnedest to keep the peace while acting like a pathetic little groveling ponce. When Lester finds himself in the supremely awkward situation of having to introduce his mistress to his wife, the negative feminine energy practically engulfs the entire room and both Jackie and her rival Felicia begin individually expressing their hatred for the hapless businessman while the protagonist tries in vain to keep the almost murderously jealous women happy. When the dinner eventually begins, an elderly Jewish businessman of the shamelessly sleazy sort named Sid Roth (Hebraic schlockmeister William Castle) attempts to hit on Jackie by telling her that he could get her whatever she wants. Naturally, the sleazy semite is somewhat taken aback when Jackie points to George and states, “Most of all…I’d like to suck his cock.” At this point, Jackie demonstrates that she has lost all control by asking George, “Who’s the greatest cocksucker in the world?” and then proceeding to attempt to prove that she is the international champion of cocksucking by going under the dinner table and beginning to suck the protagonist off in front all of the party guests. Naturally, when Lester notices this, he tells George to immediately escort Jackie from the building, but before he can the horny heroine informs her sugar daddy that he is a “phony asshole.”  Rather absurdly, Lester somehow does not realize that George is not actually gay even after Felicia gives him head under the dinner table, but luckily the protagonist will make it quite clear that he is far from a limp-wristed cum-guzzling queer later that night.

 After the decidedly disastrous Republican dinner, George and Jackie head to a gigantic Bacchanalian orgy of a party that is full of voluptuous unclad hippie chicks covered in crude body-paint, super fly dope-smoking Jimi Hendrix wannabes, exceedingly effeminate white hippie wimps, and other counterculture rabble that seem to think that listening to the Beatles while smoking and drinking is a revolutionary act (indeed, during this scene, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” rather fittingly plays loudly in the background). After mutually admiring the legs and asses of some nude chicks, Jackie reveals to George that she always used to get mad at him when they were together because, as she confesses to the somewhat surprised protagonist, “you’re always so happy…about everything. I found it rather unrealistic.” Upon entering a small guest house away from the party, George breaks down and states to Jackie, “We’re kidding ourselves. You know, last night I had a dream. I was 50 years old…and I was supposed to meet Jill at the shop. Boy, it scared the hell out of me. I can’t imagine being with Jill when I’m 50 years old. I can’t imagine not being with you.” Needless to say, the two begin to make love in what is undoubtedly the most passionate sex scene in the entire film. Unfortunately, Lester, Jill, and Johnny end up going to the same party and all three of them happen to catch George and Jackie sharing carnal knowledge. Indeed, when Lester sees George and Jackie having sex, he initially does no realize who they are, so he gestures for Jill and Johnny to watch while crudely remarking, “That’s what I call fucking. Am I right or am I right?” Of course, the three eventually realize it is George and Jackie and Jill reacts by immediately leaving the party with her new beau Johnny, but not before throwing a chair throw a window and hatefully calling her (ex)lover a,“ bastard” and “son of a bitch.” After trying and failing to chase Jill down, George ultimately leaves the party alone on his motorbike after Jackie also leaves without him.  Had George not betrayed her by leaving her naked and vulnerable in the guest house while he was chasing after Jill, Jackie might have possibly considered getting back with the protagonist, but he is an eternal fuck-up and loser that somehow manages to always make the wrong decision in every single situation.

 The next morning when George finally gets home to his dirty apartment, he is quite startled to find Lester and two thug bodyguards in fancy suits waiting for him. Somewhat surprisingly, George manages to get out of the potentially highly deleterious situation without getting his ass beat after coming clean and more or less telling Lester the truth.  While Lester fears that he has something personally against him or that he is some anti-establishment degenerate that hates businessmen, George manages to calm most of his fears and insecurities by explaining that he did not plan to fuck Jackie. In fact, in the one insistence during the conversation where the protagonist seems to be lying, George even foolishly tells Lester that Jackie genuinely cares about him and that she is not just some cheap tramp that is simply using him for his money, thus giving the old businessman the incentive to rekindle things with her (indeed, Lester may be cheating on his wife, but he does seem to greatly love and care about Jackie, hence why he is willing to believe George's lie). George also gives Lester so much needed advice about women and how all they think about his how some guy fucked them over, stating, “That’s all that’s on their minds. That’s all I ever hear about […] Face it, we’re always trying to nail them and they know it. They don’t like it. They like it and they don’t’ like it.” At this point, it becomes quite clear for the first time that George does not exactly love and respect women as the viewer might have originally assumed.  Indeed, George may be a sexual stud, but he is hardly an authentic alpha-man, as he is essentially a weak pussy-addicted moron that is not beneath groveling to members of the opposite sex who long ago realized that catering to female insecurities was the quickest way to get a woman in bed.  While somewhat goofy, Lester, who is indubitably George's exact opposite, is a real alpha-male as a self-made businessman and born go-getter who is not afraid to grab life by the balls and achieve his goals, hence why he, and not the all-too-passive protagonist, ultimately walks away with Jackie in the end.

When George decides to pay Jill a visit, she predictably tells him that their long disintegrating relationship is over and then sternly demands to know how many women he cheated on her with since she believes it will her “help” because she’ll then know for sure that he’s “incapable of love.” After stuttering for a brief moment, George gets the gall to triumphantly boast to Jacki, “Let’s face it. I fucked them all. I mean, that’s what I do. That’s why I went to beauty school. I mean, they’re always there, and […] I don’t know what I’m apologizing for. So sometimes I fuck them […] It makes me feel like I’m gonna live forever […] I don’t have any regrets […]maybe that means I don’t love them. Maybe it means I don’t love you, I don’t know. Nobody’s gonna tell me I don’t like them very much.” While George does not seem particularly heartbroken about his breakup with Jill, he unfortunately does indeed seem to love Jackie. When George randomly shows up at Jackie’s house, she begs him to leave and then decides to get in her car and drive away when he refuses. In what is indubitably one of the weakest and most lackluster yet strangely passionate and heartwarming chase scenes in cinema history, George speeds after Jackie on his motorbike until the two eventually symbolically end up at a dead-end on a small cliff overlooking her neighborhood. While George immediately emotionally declares his love and devotion for Jackie and explains how he will do anything for her, she tells him in a sincerely somber fashion that “It’s too late” because she is leaving very soon to go to Acapulco with Lester and that they plan to be married since the businessman has finally left Felicia. At this point, George begs while on the verge of tears, “Please, honey. I don’t trust anybody but you,” but Jackie simply embraces him for a second while crying and then quickly leaves to go meet Lester back at her house. In the end in what is a somewhat surprisingly melancholic lovesick conclusion, George stands on the edge of the cliff overlooking Jackie's house and watches as his great love leaves with Lester. Of course, if one considers that George was apparently partly based off of real-life Manson Family victim Jay Sebring, the conclusion of the film seems all the gloomier and disheartening.

It should also be noted that the film comes full circle in the end and concludes with same exact Beach Boys song that is begins with. Of course, considering the merry optimistic lyrics of “Wouldn't It Be Nice,” the image of George staring into what seems to be eternity as he bitterly confronts his harsh reality of his midlife despair seems all the more poignant, as he will never be able to achieve what these seemingly simple and old-fashioned desires express: “Wouldn't it be nice if we were older, Then we wouldn't have to wait so long…And wouldn't it be nice to live together, In the kind of world where we belong […]Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up, In the morning when the day is new…And after having spent the day together, Hold each other close the whole night through […]We could be married, And then we'd be happy.”  Indeed, in the end, George finally comes to realize that his life has reached its peak and that the best he can hope for is that he will be able to maintain his position as a virtual bourgeois gigolo for another decade or so before his handsomeness evaporates and his sexual potency fizzles.

 While nowhere near as popular and influential nowadays, Shampoo was so popular and successful upon its release that it inspired a typically pathetic blaxploitation rip-off entitled Black Shampoo (1976) aka Sex at the Salon directed by exploitation hack Greydon Clark (Without Warning, Skinheads). Considering its almost shockingly unflattering depiction of women and various sleazy Jewish caricatures (e.g. William Castle as ‘Sid Roth’), there is certainly no way that such a playfully incendiary and iconoclastic film could be made in Hollywood nowadays and, in that sense, I feel it is more important (not to mention more clever and thoughtful) than popular ‘American New Wave’ classics like The Graduate (1967), Head (1968), Alice's Restaurant (1969), Easy Rider (1969), and even M*A*S*H (1970), and I say that as someone that generally loathes Beatty. In fact, before watching the film, I assumed it would be the most insufferable sort of mindless and would-be-hip celluloid counterculture crud, yet it ultimately proved to be one of the most mirthfully misogynistic films ever made and a rare example where Beatty’s shameless and seemingly sociopathic charming talents have resulted in something truly positive and artistically merited.  As a special added bonus, the film also manages to highlight the fact that the dubious spirit that inspired the so-called ‘Summer of Love’ had completely burned out and that the only thing left of that zeitgeist were the self-destructive qualities like meaningless sex, drug addiction, and vulgar fashion senses.  Of course, with his largely shallow and soulless Mercedes Marxist movies like the epically banal pseudo-Lean-esque bolshevik melodrama Reds, Beatty would ultimately prove that he was more interested in narcissistic virtue signaling and phony political posturing than actually contributing something new and intriguing to the art of cinema. Considering Beatty’s greatest talent was conning extremely rich, beautiful, and powerful women into helping him further his career and allowing him to invade their naughty bits, it is only natural that his greatest artistic achievement would be creating a film that proves that women are just as shameless and sexually voracious as men, though the fact that their greatest currency is their cunts means that they have to use it wisely lest they get stuck in a relationship a man who can only offer them orgasms and lazy excuses.  To Beatty's credit, quite unlike his character in Shampoo, he eventually gave up womanizing, married and had four children with Annette Bening, and unequivocally demonstrated that his family was more important to him than his singular career in Hollywood.

 Considering her shallow feminist pretenses and initial moral opposition to even being in the film (notably, when her career began to fizzle out, she appeared in Sally Potter’s low-budget feminist experimental drama The Gold Diggers (1983)), I find is especially satisfying that Julie Christie gives arguably one of the greatest performances in her career in Shampoo and that her real-life ultimately proved to be similarly soulless to that of her character.  Indeed, like so many brainwashed beauties of her era, Christie is barren childless woman who decided having a career and various unreliable boyfriends like Beatty was more important than reproducing her clearly excellent genetics. While I might be a man and thus lack maternal instincts, I find very few things sadder than when a beauteous, intelligent, and/or otherwise talented woman neglects to reproduce and pass on her legacy, especially considering the fact that we live in a decidedly dysgenic world where corrupt Western government subsidize the existences of alien untermenschen that breed like rats and only exist largely due to Occidental medicine and the involuntary generosity of mostly white taxpayers that typically cannot afford to have that many kids themselves.  In that sense, Christie's role as the highly successful yet severely unhappy eponymous sexpot who suffers the eternal regret of having an abortion and cannot seem to find a decent man in John Schlesinger's scathing satire Darling (1965) seems to have been eerily prophetic. Of course, one must also give credit to Beatty for getting his proud feminist girlfriend to savagely salaciously state that she wants to suck his cock in a movie that millions of people would ultimately see.

Not surprisingly, Beatty did not just exploit his then-girlfriend as he was prone to suavely harass all of the women he worked with, including sensitive virgins, or as revealed in Biskind’s Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America (2010) in regard to the Hollywood star's behavior on the Shampoo set, “Carrie Fisher had her own problems […] She remembered that as the producer, Beatty would do whatever he wanted with her, ask her to try on this bra, that bra, no bra. She felt he was just messing with her, treating her like a doll. Even though she felt objectified, she found it hard to be offended because Beatty’s manner was so playful. He was having fun, if she wasn’t. Beatty teased her for being a virgin in front of the crew and cast, embarrassing her, making her feel like a moron. She recalled, ‘He offered to relieve me of the huge burden of my virginity. Four times.’” Although I am not a professional psychologist, the above description of Beatty suggests that he might suffer from some serious form of narcissistic personality disorder, but of course that is ultimately what makes him so intriguing and what makes Shampoo especially enthralling.  After all, while it is obvious to anyone that has a brain and is not a social justice warrior that Beatty's insufferably lame pseudo-altruistic leftism activism was nothing more than moral posturing and a patently pathetic publicity stunt to obscure the fact that he is one of the most supremely self-centered and narcissistic leading men of cinema history, the film is a rare look at the real man, whose womanizing goes hand-in-hand with his covert misogyny.  As Shampoo reveals, not all woman-haters are virginal wimps that jerk off to Sapphic Hentai in their grandmother's basement, as there is a somewhat rarer pedigree of misogynist of the alpha-stud oriented sort that has no problem exploiting female weaknesses and insecurities just so that he can get to that special warm and wet place in between her legs.

 As the great Teutonic philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once wrote in his classic essay On Women (1851) regarding the innate immaturity of the fairer sex, “The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and slower it is in arriving at maturity. A man reaches the maturity of his reasoning powers and mental faculties hardly before the age of twenty-eight.; a woman, at eighteen. And then, too, in the case of woman, it is only reason of a sort – very niggard in its dimensions. This is why women remain children their whole life long; never seeing anything but what is quite close to them, cleaving to the present moment, taking appearance for reality, and preferring trifles to matters of the first importance […] In their hearts women think that it is men’s business to earn money and theirs to spend it – if possible during their husband’s life, but, at any rate, after his death. The very fact that their husband hands them over his earnings for purposes of housekeeping strengthens them in this belief.” Of course, things have gotten much worse in the West since Schopenhauer originally wrote these words, as women still expect their husband’s earnings but are less apt to clean the house or plop out a kid or two, as man-made (emphasis on “man”) technology and birth control have given them the power to artificially survive on their own without the need of a man, thus instilling them with a completely delusional sense of independence and self-confidence (which of course is further compounded by feminist brainwashing) that has influenced them to make greater demands of men while at the same time completely neglecting traditional female duties, hence the surplus of single childless women in their mid-20s through 40s who have fucked too many men and who have become too insatiable in their material greed and quest for optimum personal comfort to ever become decent wives or mothers.  While Schopenhauer, who had no problem carrying on carnal affairs with street urchins and prostitutes despite his intellectual prowess and cultivated background, paints a rather unflattering portrait of women in his eassy, Shampoo more or less makes women seem like sexually savage social parasites that, whether it be sex or wealth, see men as a means to an end and nothing more.  In short, one should not feel too bad about fucking another man's wife or girlfriend, as the woman certainly does not, but then again, if you're like me, you would avoid such lecherous ladies at all costs.  In fact, if you are interested in a woman and want to audit her for moral defects, it might be a wise idea to have her watch Ashby's film and then have a conversation with her about the characters and their behavior.  Needless to say, if she describes Beatty's character as a “stud” or Christie's character as “chic” or “empowered,” run for the hills!

-Ty E