Oct 31, 2012

I Only Want You To Love Me

Although originally only intended as a television production, and certainly one of his lesser-known films, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s thoroughly anti-capitalistic I Only Want You To Love Me (1976) aka Ich will doch nur, daß ihr mich liebt likely resonated with viewers, as it did with myself, not simply because of its vivid rendering of the adverse effects of unbridled capitalism and its far-reaching, sometimes deleterious effects in late 60s Germany, but more so because it so acutely portrays and diagnoses the modern archetype of pussy-whipped males (many of whom I’ve personally known) and the burgeoning black hole from which they can never escape (a hole that is inevitably dug deeper once an ill-thought out marriage, inevitable baby, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt are thrown in the mix). Indeed, like so many of Fassbinder’s films, it is very hard to not feel some excruciating, aching sense of empathy for the characters portrayed in I Only Want You To Love Me—specifically for Peter Trepper, the delusional, and emasculated main character—a man whose intense, overarching desire for love and recognition goes crushingly unfulfilled. Like Erwin/Elvira Weishaupt, the mentally nullified nullo tranny in Fassbinder’s In A Year of 13 Moons (1978) and sweet, Mother Hubbard-like Emma Küsters in Mother Küsters’ Trip to Heaven (1975), Peter Trepper’s unwavering devotion and yearning for the acceptance of those he loves goes ever unreciprocated; but instead of opting for especially ultramodern panaceas to his problems, as is so typical of Fassbinder films—such as pursuing an irreversible sex change or joining the German Communist Party—Peter instead finds himself hopelessly seduced and ultimately destroyed by money and its often complicated relationship with human (specifically female) desires and emotions. 

 Told in a non-linear yet remarkably fluid, easy-to-follow manner, I Only Want You To Love Me follows the constant ups and downs in the tumultuous life of Peter Trepper, a shy, emotionally retarded and undoubtedly unpopular young man not yet in his mid-20s. Indeed, the title of this working-class melodrama, I Only Want You To Love Me, perfectly sums up Peter’s on-going quandary and sole impetus behind his entire existence as the unloved son of middle-class Catholic Bavarian parents. As ever, Fassbinder’s acute eye for chillingly portraying fascistic family relationships and dynamics is spot on in his portrayal of Peter’s mother—a cold, distinctly unmotherly mother who psychologically castrates Peter from the time he can fit into his first pair of lederhosen, and his father, an inattentive, money-driven businessman who is so disinterested in his wife and son that he is impelled to both house and bed multiple whores in other cities, a move that results in his wife becoming pathologically jealous and vicious to all around her, least of all her young son (yet she cannot bring herself to leave Peter’s father as all of her material comforts are easily provided for her). Eventually, Peter meets his future-wife, Erika (a decidedly puggish and homely Bavarian babe, and certainly not deserving of a man of Peter’s caliber, not least of all in the looks department) whom he eventually weds, erroneously believing, like so many hopeless and emasculated beta males, that marrying the first woman to give him the time of day is the magical cure-all he’s been searching for all his life. 

 Following a lukewarm wedding reception completely void of any congratulatory tone, Peter’s thoroughly antagonistic progenitors give up the home that he lovingly built for them from scratch at the beginning of the film (an especially tough blow to take considering that Peter and his young wife and future baby factory, Erika, could really use a place to hunker down as they embark on their ill-fated marriage) and are all too happy to see him set off to Munich to begin a new and promisingly lucrative, yet punishing construction job through which he hopes to support himself and his seemingly happy wife. Riding high on his success at having attained a new wife (albeit a rather stout, homely and piggish one—but the first and only woman he’ll ever penetrate), a sweet new apartment in one of Germany’s poshest big cities (replete with Turks and Moroccans on all sides, as even the landlord quietly admonishes), and a career in construction for which he seems to be richly rewarded (not realizing that the pipe-smoking Bavarian overlord of the construction company intends to cut his hours), Peter brazenly spends every back-breaking penny he’s earned and then some, going as far as to max out credit cards and take out new loans in order buy his never-satisfied and soon-to-be gestating wife the latest in minimalistic, IKEA-esque furniture, a factory grade sewing machine, designer clothes, and an antique gold bracelet (the latter of which being the equivalent of what is today known as a “push ring”—an extravagant and costly piece of jewelry lovingly bequeathed upon a spoiled alpha female as reward for successfully birthing a child). Of course, it is very easy to see where all of this is going—for a man such as Peter, whose wife and parents are his pathetic, sole sources of both emotional support and intense mental anguish and through which money becomes his only means of attempting to acquire the love and approval of either—his already frayed edges and fragile ego cannot help but bring him to one day snap and commit a characteristically pathetic murder. 

 Admittedly, I Only Want You To Love Me is much less interesting than Fassbinder’s other works, (which are typically and entertainingly replete with sordid tales of homosexual liaisons, trashy tranny escapades, and debauched interracial love triangle romps), but this film is no less important than Fassbinder’s other films in the respect that it again very keenly illustrates the fascistic psychological interplay that exists in male and female gender role relationships (whether documenting the denigrating mother and emasculated son, pussy-whipped husband and spoiled wife, or dominant bear daddy and twinky boy son, etc.), in this case bringing money into play as the central, driving force of upheaval in an already meaningless or befouled relationship. Furthermore, some academics would go so far as to claim that Peter Trepper’s behavior was born not out of a lack of self-esteem or confidence which drove him to spend non-existent money, but instead from a Freudian-derived sense of narcissism; such a theory seems to me like a bunch of hyper-pseudo-intellectual, meaningless claptrap because—let’s face it: some men are just born with an innately submissive, overtly female essence, and Peter Trepper won’t be the first or last who couldn’t resist purchasing his plump, spoiled wife a brand new car for completing their first wedding anniversary (something of a feat indeed, considering the times in which we live) or bestowing her with a “push ring” for popping out a child who will most assuredly be christened Jayden, Kayden, Brayden, Aidan, or some other modern, sickeningly common variant thereof. Indeed, I Only Want You To Love Me should be required viewing for any young, emasculated male who is considering taking his girlfriend for a walk down the aisle—especially with the ever-present, unabashedly Semitic-inspired mental effluvia surrounding television programming such as Bridezilla or The Bachelor irreparably altering the already fragile, malleable minds of young girls who, in turn grow up to idolize celebrity women who intentionally leak their dispassionate sex tapes so that legions of otherwise impotent beta-males can masturbate while their celebrity-obsessed soon-to-be wives dream of subserviently sucking Kanye West's supremely sour spade blade while sporting the latest pair of Uggs.

-Magda von Richthofen zu Reventlow auf Thule

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