Oct 23, 2012

It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives

Despite its ludicrously longwinded title, the groundbreaking underground homophile flick It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971) aka Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt directed by Germany’s most hysterical auteur queen – the always rabble-rousing Rosa von Praunheim (Tally Brown, New York, A Virus Knows No Morals) – is not exactly the most flattering tribute to the Fatherland’s sodomite subculture, but more of a condemnation of how these gay boys tend to live their lives; strutting, sucking, and fucking with not a care in their minds, except how well they dress, dance, and debate petty cultural sentiments. No stranger to hostile homosexualist controversy, but instead, a perverted provocateur who loves to wallow in it, von Praunheim attached the taunting tagline, “This is our Holocaust, New York City is our Auschwitz, Ronald Reagan is our Hitler” to his documentary Positive (1990) and launched a libelous account against fellow German New Wave queer Rainer Werner Fassbinder with his shamelessly sensational documentary Fassbinder's Women (2000) aka Fassbinder Was the Only One for Me: The Willing Victims of Rainer Werner F, yet the pseudo-aristocratic auteur also proved that he could also lash out at his own sexual compatriots with It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse…; a work that is what modern political Zionist founder Theodor Herzl’s political tract Der Judenstaat (1896) was to international Jewry. While Herzl’s purported to have an answer to the Jewish question, prissy von Praunheim ultimately proposes in his documentary that, "Let's work together with the blacks and women's liberation. Get involved politically. Being gay is not a career"; a strategy that seems to have been militantly followed by mainstream gaydom if one were to go by the fact that America has its first homophiliac, mulatto president. Indeed, It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse… is indubitably a gritty celluloid pity party with vindictive victimhood sprinkled throughout, but it is also a call to cock-sucking arms that condemns the individualistic homosexual for not adopting a collectivist quasi-bolshie-buggerer stance.

Part pseudo-docudrama and part filmic manifesto, It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse… follows a novice homo named Daniel (Bernd Feuerhelm) as he endures a rite of passage of anal penetration of sorts in his new hometown of gay Berlin. Unschooled in the unofficial laws and mores of proper sodomite society, Daniel has no inkling as to the emotional and physical abuse that he will endure at the hands of more aggressive and predatory elder gays. Although attempting pseudo-matrimony with a more experienced sexual invert named Clemens (Berryt Bohlen), the relationship only lasts a mere four months, thus leaving Daniel emotionally vulnerable to packs of bestial leather fags, rich old queens, and other assorted narcissistic poofers with unsavory intentions.  Eventually, Daniel begins to learn the tricks of the cock-teasing trade, henceforth becoming one of the hottest twink bachelors in Berlin-Gaydenberg and securing a job at a hip gay bar, but it will take him a lot of random sexual encounters in bars, tearooms, and drag shows to realize there is more to homosexuality than pompous haircuts and backroom blowjobs. In It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse…, von Praunheim describes quintessential gay marriage as a poor and rather pathetic imitation of heterosexual marriage where mutual duties are replaced by idealistic and totally unrealistic love that is really about ‘self-love’ and idol worship. Inevitably, the homosexual wedlock falls apart because of self-centeredness and mutual competition. Due to their innate megalomaniacal self-worship, many homosexuals are doomed to, “loneliness, and a vast void…cluttered with new imaginary and vain dreams.” It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse… even goes as far as stating of gay men that, “they are stuck at an infantile level,” thus concurring with the theory that some homosexuals merely never reached sexual maturity, hence their proclivity towards the same sex aka fucking one's self.  While the 'leather fag' is presented as the gay subculture whose, "masculinity is damaged the most," the repellant flaming queen is portrayed as the most honest homosexual, if to a most exaggerated and society antagonistic degree. Needless to say, It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse… is the sort of 'politically incorrect' vintage portrayal that mainstream propagandists from various so-called “LGBT” special interest groups would absolutely disdain and condemn, had the film been released recently.

Undoubtedly, Rosa von Praunheim is the most infamous/famous gay activist filmmaker in German history and very possibly in the entire world, thereupon making It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives mandatory for serious cinephiles and queer kultur aficionados alike. With its positively piss poor cinematography, mundane melodrama, and inciting off-screen narration, this undeniably interesting (if for all the wrong reason!) and curiously captivating work makes for an oddball cinematic odyssey that is akin to being an active voyeur in early 1970s Berlin seedy sodomite scene, except without having to deal with all the real-life effete drama. Due to its less than graceful direction, rather contrived scenarios, and overall absurdly awkward aesthetic and thematic essence, It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse… oftentimes feels like a cracked cross between a cultural anthropologist documentary and a Mondo Cane movie that is poorly patched together with an assertive narrated political rant. Of course, as expressed in the film, von Praunheim would be the first to admit that the supposed artistic superiority of the homosexual is an old wives' tale as aesthetic interest is merely a way to make the miserable homo’s life more endurable, so one must not look down on the activist auteur for the creative ineptitude of It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse…; a work that will make you laugh, cringe, wince and feel embarrassed due to its unabashedly honest projection of homosexual lifestyles. If Rosa von Praunheim has a single greatest attribute as a filmmaker, it is his Aspergers-like audaciousness as a patently peculiar propagandist of perversity and his early work It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse… is certainly no exception. 

-Ty E

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