May 30, 2011

Iconoclast


I have been following the work of  so called "Occult Fascist" Boyd Rice for many years now yet I wouldn't call myself a true fan. Quite honestly, Rice's antics annoy me more than anything. When I first discovered his work years ago, I felt as if I had finally found a modern artist with testicular fortitude, but I soon realized that I was sorely mistaken. Although Rice is a man who has no problem butchering sacred cows nor violently stirring politically incorrect controversy, his lack of genuine idealism and inconsistent belief system(s) just goes to show that he is first and foremost a conman who reinvents himself anytime his routine begins to be boring and no longer alluring. During his unconventional career, Rice has played the role of a Satanist, pseudo-fascist, Mansonite, satirical social Darwinist, artsy fartsy noise musician, promoter of Tiki Bar Kultur, and many more other controversial roles, yet he has neglected to stay truly committed to anything aside from his Carney and contrarian nature. Had Mr. Rice lived in a time when fascism was vogue, he would have most promoted the Marxist or anarchist line, but, instead, he grew up in an era where racial elitism (of the Aryan persuasion) is purely taboo, hence his ambiguous attraction and flirtation with it. Of course, anyone that knows anything about Boyd Rice is aware that the self-proclaimed iconoclast developed many of his greatest friendships over the years with Jews and people of Jewish descent, thus those that think he is an antisemite of sorts know next to nil about the subversive showboat showman. Despite his lifelong aversion to Christianity, Boyd Rice has also spent sometime attempting to prove he is a descendent of Jesus Christ himself. In the 4 hour long "tour de force" documentary Iconoclast directed by Larry Wessel (I will leave it up to the reader to figure out this filmmaker's racial character), Rice's life story is unraveled in a sentimental manner worthy of a Joseph Goebbels' style propaganda flick on a modest budget. Despite his self-proclaimed elitist philosophy, Rice is a proud high school dropout who stated of his rather successful but marginally notable artistic career that it, "is a testament to the idea that you can achieve whatever the hell you want if you posess a modicum of creativity, and a certain amount of naivete concerning what is and isn't possible in this world. I've had one man shows of my paintings in New York, but I'm not a painter. I've authored several books, but I'm not a writer. I've made a living as a recording artist for the last 30 years, but I can't read a note of music or play an instrument. I've somehow managed to make a career out of doing a great number of things I'm in no way qualified to do."




After watching Iconoclast, I have to admit that the documentary neither fell short nor exceeded my relatively apathetic expectations. After all, I see Boyd Rice's body of work as nothing more than a dubious but sometimes entertaining collection of novelties. By his own admittance, Rice has shown pride in his lack of skill in each artistic medium he has dabbled in, like a dilettante who is oddly more interested in monetary success than the artistic outcome of his experiments. In my opinion, the individuals that Boyd Rice has had the honor of collaborating with over the years have always tended to be much more talented and equally more dedicated than he is. For example, Boyd Rice has collaborated with Douglas P. of alpha-Neofolk group Death in June on a number of occasions.  In my opinion, all of the Death in June albums Rice worked on are infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than anything NON (Rice's main musical project) has ever produced. Michael Moynihan - the humble protégé of Boyd Rice - has also completely outdone his former teacher. Although Rice has bitterly stated some not so nice things about Moynihan's Neofolk/Post-industrial musical group Blood Axis in the book Art That Kills: A Panoramic Portrait of Aesthetic Terrorism 1984-2001; the project certainly puts the non-musical nature of NON to shame. Moynihan has also shown that he is a far more literate and serious writer than Rice; producing translations of works by aristocratic Sicilian philosopher Julius Evola, an excellent occidental pagan kultur journal (Tyr: Myth—Culture—Tradition), and various other notable works (Lords of Chaos). Although Boyd Rice wrote some interesting pieces for RE/Search Publications on forgotten/bizarre films and pranks during his early career, his writing skills have never really advanced since then. A couple years ago, Rice released his noticeably thin book "NO"; a collection of essays and personal insights. Although NO is a clever book that is certainly worth checking out, the work can be quite annoying in parts, especially when Rice (who is now a middle-aged man) belittles his own father in a totally petty and immature manner. In my opinion, NO is quite symbolic of Boyd Rice in general, as it is a work that shows evidence of a witty fellow who seems to be somewhat lazy due to his obsessive misanthropy, hence his less than serious body of work.  Accordingly, in the documentary Iconoclast, Boyd Rice makes it perfectly clear that he is a lifelong jokester and prankster with an incapacity to take anything too seriously, thus it should go without saying that one shouldn't take the iconoclast himself too seriously.




During his lifetime, Boyd Rice has had friendships with some of the most hated men in the United Sates of America. Rice was friends with Church of Satan founder and High Priest Anton Szandor LaVey until the good Doktor's death in 1997. During Iconoclast, Rice joyfully recollects his personal experiences with LaVey. Rice also discusses his quasi-friendship with Charles Manson; a brief relationship that eventually turned bitter. The only segment of Iconoclast that offers any criticism of Boyd Rice is from Manson who describes his former friend as a poser rock star that likes to play dress up in military uniforms but is incapable of following orders nor respecting others. I have to admit that Manson's criticism of Rice was quite hilarious and undeniably true. For whatever reason, Rice neglects to mention his only son Wolf; a boy that apparently suffers from some type of debilitating physical disorder (so much for Rice's topnotch Christ-like genetics). Instead, it seems that Rice's only real family are his carefully selected friends and followers. I must admit that I was quite happy to see footage of Rozz Williams (lead vocalist of Christian Death and Shadow Project) featured in Iconoclast that was taken right before his suicide on April Fool's day.  According to Boyd, Rozz Williams used to pathologically stalk Rice around Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, Rice also inspired Marilyn Manson and his pseudo-fascistic Carney cabaret routines.  Out of all the friendships Rice has developed over the years, his cordial relationship with Christian Televangelist Bob Larson (which spans over two decades) seems to be the strangest.  Of course, Rice and Larson are not total opposites as they are both talented showman who have an knack for spellbinding lesser beings.  Anyways, if you expect Iconoclast to be in anyway an objective portrayal of Boyd Rice and his unconventional life, you're probably looking for a film that will never be made. At the most fundamental level, Iconoclast is a celebration of Boyd Rice's life with the subject as the somewhat unreliable narrator. Boyd Rice is a man that most people either love or love to hate, although I find myself fitting into neither of those groups. That being said, Iconoclast is the kind of film that the viewer will either love or hate, but it is doubtful that anyone will find it to be forgettable.




As mentioned in Iconoclast, Boyd Rice once created a painting of a primitive looking skull using the vaginal blood of a thirteen year old virgin girl.  During the last hour of Iconoclast, Rice proudly admits that he learned from such mentors as Anton LaVey and Charles Manson that one must "break-in" a girl (like a pimp) before another man gets the chance to do so.  Call me a puritanical prude, but I found Rice's interest in virtual preteens to be, to say the least, quite deplorable. Of course, that is just one of the many things that I found to be repellent regarding Boyd Rice's life and philosophy. Personally, when I hear the word "iconoclast", I think of people like German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and German-American sage journalist H.L. Mencken, as both men left a penetrating, highly influential, and an ultimately erudite body of work. I would certainly never put someone like Boyd Rice in the same league as a Nietzsche nor a Mencken, but, instead, in a category with nihilistic punk rock frontmen like Darby Crash of The Germs or subversive filmmakers like Bruce LaBruce. Of course, we live in an era where the general public is increasingly less literate and gravitates towards the primitive and highly sensual, thus keen literacy and complex creations are not as important in the present day. As Rice has freely stated in a totally braggart manner, he is quite proud of his limited artistic skills and less than minimalistic creations. After all, most American's easily fall prey to gimmicks and scams; two things that Boyd Rice indubitably has a (albeit, unconventional) talent for.  Although I am far from flabbergasted by the fact that Rice cites Ray Kroc's Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's as one of his favorite books, I do find it extremely odd that he also referenced National Socialist philosopher Alfred Rosenberg's tome The Myth of the Twentieth Century and Francis Parker Yockey's magnum opus Imperium as major influences, as both works seem to fall out of line with the aesthetic terrorist's mostly materialistic weltanschauung. Indeed, Larry Wessel's Iconoclast is the most "epic" exposé of Boyd Rice's career, therefore, if you're looking to learn about the non-man; the documentary will provide you with a comprehensive portrait of his seemingly incomprehensible life. If you're already familiar with Boyd Rice and his career, you will find Iconoclast to be at least somewhat entertaining, yet it is doubtful the documentary will provide you with any new revelations regarding the film's subject.  The most unusual aspect of the documentary is that it is an atypically sentimentalist look at an emotionally cold "Occult Fascist" musician, thus — more than anything — Iconoclast is a tribute to Boyd Rice and his loyal fans/supporters.  Iconoclast is a testament to the fact that even Occult Fascists have feelings.  For more info on Iconoclast, checkout Larry Wessel's official ICONOCLAST MOVIE website.


-Ty E

7 comments:

peregrine fforbes-hamilton said...

Yeah, but i bet for all that Boyd Rice's biggest regret (as it probably is for millions of geezers around the world if truth be told) is that he wasn`t the lucky bastard who broke into the Ramsey house on Christmas day 1996 and bummed off JonBenet before strangling her, although i bet Rice would`ve had the sense to kidnap her instead then he could`ve still been getting his knob up her bum to this day and every day since `96.

Daurade said...

Like Ty E, I've followed Rice's work for several years and have some ambiguous feelings about it and his persona. That said, I think you've come done a little hard on the harsh side of ambiguous! Still, I'm glad to read something critical of Rice which doesn't trot out the same tired PC line. It's usually either that or blind adoration, both of which miss the mark.

For all that, I have to respect a high school dropout who seems to have done exactly what he wants to in life, on the margin of the margin and make a living at it. No excuses. he may be a dilettant, but he's out there publishing work and music, performing, etc. Not just fucking about at his home and publishing in vanity presses, or blogging for that matter (mea culpa)!

I think he's a more serious artist than you suggest, but no doubt there's a lot of the carny huckster in him. Which I doubt he'd deny!

peregrine fforbes-hamilton said...

As long as he enjoy's shoving his knob up little girls bum's he's fine by me.

rod said...

A review with pictures here: http://fluoglacial.free.fr/index.php?2011/09/15/1058-iconoclast-2010

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Anonymous said...

Ty E, I think your impression of Rice is best reflected at the end in his performance with Douglas P. He takes a song that was about a hatred for humanity and a return to the natural order, and makes it about hating people who are no fun. He's gone from a Nazi Satanist to a groovy beatnik. Ironically, the whole Nazi schtick would probably be even more controversial today in this liberal imperium.

Soiled Sinema said...

Anon: I concur. Nowadays Rice seems to be suffering from a midlife crisis and has reinvented himself as a sort of too-cool-for-school beatnik pseudo-twink.