Sep 12, 2013
Undoubtedly, German homosexual supremacist auteur Rosa von Praunheim (Army of Lovers or Revolt of the Perverts, Neurosia: 50 Years of Perversity) has always been better at being an audacious agitpropangdist than a narrative filmmaker, as demonstrated by his first early celluloid manifesto It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971), a work that manages to enrage both homos and heteros alike in its uniquely unflattering depiction of kraut cocksucker subcultures. Not surprisingly, in the 1980s Praunheim became obsessed with AIDS and began churning out eclectic works about gay cancer, starting with the deranged satirical musical A Virus Knows No Morals (1985) aka Ein Virus kennt keine. A couple years after the release of A Virus Knows No Morals, von Praunheim started an AIDS documentary trilogy, which includes Silence = Death (1990) aka Die Aids-Trilogie: Schweigen = Tod - Künstler in New York kämpfen gegen AIDS, Positive (1990) aka Die Aids-Trilogie: Positiv - Die Antwort schwuler Männer in New York auf AIDS, and Fire Under Your Ass (1990), the latter of which the director never released for whatever reason. Out all the films in von Praunheim’s partially aborted AIDS trilogy, the second documentary Positive—a work chronicling New York City’s gay community’s hysterical response during the rise of gay cancer during the 1980s that depicts how pissed off homos (and later lesbians) organized themselves and took matters into their own hands after they felt the government was doing little to help them—is undoubtedly the most politically-charged, ‘important’, and ultimately mundane work that essentially depicts how the deadly disease was largely responsible for spawning the powerful LGBT community in the United States today. Rather unconventional for a von Praunheim documentary, Positive is a rare doc where the debauched and attention-starved director is seeming invisible as he had the late NYC-based HIV-positive journalist/filmmaker Phil Zwickler—a man who attempted to promote safe-sex via condom-core porn flicks depicting contraceptives as sexy—act as the producer and host of the film. Advertised with the absurd tagline “This is our holocaust, New York City is our Auschwitz, Ronald Reagan is our Hitler,” Positive, being a NYC-centered work, is also a fairly Philo-Semitic work featuring a number of homo Israelites, including novelist Larry Kramer, lesbian activist/novelist Sarah Schulman, and gay activist/professor Arnie Kantrowitz, as they hysterically attempt to described the silence regarding the AIDS epidemic as having parallels to the Nazi holocaust, especially indicting former mayor of New York City Ed Koch, himself Jewish and believed to be a closest homo, as allowing tons of poofs to perish as a result of his supposed apathy and political inaction. A work that attempts to blame politicians and the Christian right for the fact that fags were dying off because they were practicing promiscuous unsafe sex in tearooms and whatnot and, quite naturally, obtained AIDS as a result, Positive is ultimately a work that shows the roots of how the so-called LGBT community got so out of touch with reality and demanded they be treated as special citizens and make Christians and other religious people recognize the fact they loved sucking diseased cocks. Unfortunately, Positive is nowhere as interesting as it sounds as a work that is essentially nothing more than an overextended celluloid whine-fest of the agitated abberosexual variety.
Beginning with the peculiar introduction of HIV-positive host/producer New York filmmaker and journalist Phil Zwickler, who discusses his worries and concerns about allowing a weirdo like Rosa von Praunheim (who he describes as making “voyeuristic and nightmarish films”) exploit him for a film, Positive immediately starts to lose some steam as a work that is ultimately one long and sentimentalized poofer propaganda piece. One of the most focused on subjects of the documentary is playwright/novelist/gay activist Larry Kramer, who proclaims, “I’m sick of guys who can only think with their cocks” in an emotionally erratic manner and discusses how his anti-tearoom novel Faggots (1978) was inspired by the fact that he was pissed at a lot of his fellow poofs for being in the cocksucker closet, namely former mayor Ed Koch. Originally called “Gay related immune deficiency” (GRID), AIDS hit the gay community like the plague in the early 1980s and as singer/songwriter/AIDS activist Michael Callen (who later appeared in small rolls in films like Philadelphia (1993) and John Greyson’s AIDS musical Zero Patience (1993)), who lists a long laundry list of STDs he has, describes in detail, like many of the subjects of Positive, how becoming HIV positive totally changed his life and how he spent a good portion of the rest of his life promoting AIDS awareness via protest and aesthetic propaganda. Avant-Garde singer/composer Diamanda Galás, whose sole brother Philip-Dimitri Galás died of AIDS, also weighs in with her two cents, describing how as someone from a long tradition of dirge singers, she declared a sworn oath against the person(s) responsible for the death of her beloved brother. Naturally, Galás hardly holds her brother to blame for the promiscuity that led to his premature demise and like most of the people in the documentary, she is talking about the federal government and politicians, and joined Larry Kramer’s group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) when she speaks of her sworn oath. Indeed, if nothing else, Positive is largely about gays ‘acting up’ against the government, which has indubitably become a tyrannical tradition among the queer community since the release of the documentary.
Featuring dubious tributes to gay icons/AIDs victims like gay pornographer-turned-filmmaker Arthur J. Bressan, Jr. (Daddy Dearest, Buddie) and homo BDSM photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Positive is not exactly a work that depicts the AIDS-ridden community in a positively ‘positive’ light, but instead as a bunch of whiny perverts who expect the government to be responsible for their reckless and irresponsible behavior, as if politicians forced them to have unprotected anal sex with ten guys a night in a slimy, semen-soaked public bathroom. It should be noted that filmmaker Arthur J. Bressan, Jr. glorified pederasty in his film Abuse (1983), a rather mundane melodrama about an abused boy who chooses to be in the company of a gay documentary filmmaker as opposed to his violent parents. Basically, Praunheim’s Positive employs the same sort of logic-bending message as Bressan’s Abuse by blaming others for certain gay men’s own sexual weaknesses. With curious quotes from protestors like “the government has blood on its hands,” “killed by Koch,” and “hands off stonewall, liar,” Positive portrays a pathologically prissy and pissed poof community that demands the majority be concerned with the self-induced problems of a sexually subversive minority who is responsible for being the biggest spreader of AIDS in the world. Ultimately, virtually all of the subjects featured in Positive, especially hysterical Hebraic homo Larry Kramer, are radically repellant characters who are exceedingly hard to emphasize with. While Positive would probably be revered as one of Rosa von Praunheim’s most important works among cultural critics in the gay community, I found it to be one of his least artistically ambitious and entertaining works, as if it was directed by some TV hack from MTV. Only recommended to Rosa von Praunheim’s completists, gay agitators, and those interested in seeing how the queer community became so politically powerful and shockingly arrogant, Positive is ultimately a piss poor poof propaganda piece with stupid sentimentalist overtones that lacks the sort of obscenely outrageous and provocative essence typical of a von Praunheim work. That being said, I doubt Positive prevented anyone from becoming HIV-positive as the typical tearoom demon semon would probably have a hard to time getting through this asinine piece of would-be-audacious and flagrantly Philo-Semitic agitprop, thus this deluded doc should be totally written-off as a sociopolitically nasty byproduct of HIV hysteria of the heeb far-left sort as directed by a culturally cuckolded kraut.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 8:33 PM
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