Aug 15, 2015
Call me old fashioned, but there are few things more lame and impotent to me than blaming one’s failure in life on their parents, especially when the same culture-distorting people and institutions, like teachers and MTV, telling people to loathe their parents are also the same Occident-hating parasites that are part of the malefic mainstream entity that would love nothing more than to see the world transformed into a horribly homogenized raceless and cultureless void where everyone is ‘equal’ in their social enslavement, destitution, sexual dysfunction, and cultural and spiritual retardation. Indeed, the patently pathetic baby boomers—the most superlatively spoiled and pampered generation in all of human history (at least, up until that time period)—got bored with their pampered and all-too-comfortable lives and decided to mindlessly rebel against their parents and disrespect their fathers as a result of being provoked by everyone from retarded drug-addled rockers John Lennon and Mick Jagger to anti-Occidental German-born kosher commie agitators ranging from Wilhelm Reich to Herbert Marcuse, thereupon eventually resulting in the proliferation of racial and cultural chaos, the welfare state, sexual dysfunction, single-mothers and rampant bastardization, and malignant miscegenation, among various other socially and culturally apocalyptic things that had previously been quite rare and/or taboo in the Western world. Of course, a lot has changed since Reich and Marcuse penned their patently preposterous pro-pedophile psychobabble and anti-parent/anti-parent sentiment has now more or less reached the intellectual prowess of Beavis and Butt-Head as reflected by the rise of corporate ‘punk’ stores like Hot Topic and the popularity of pre-packaged pseudo-rebellious cum-dump pop stars like Miley Cyrus. Of course, the underground has become no less sterile and moronically generic than mainstream when it comes to pseudo(meta)political assaults against family matters. Arguably, the most unintentionally hilarious cinematic example of senseless self-pitying anti-parent sentiment is the (in)famous Cinema of Transgression short You Killed Me First (1985) directed by photographer and gutter auteur Richard Kern (Goodbye 42nd Street, Submit to Me Now). Apparently a response to President Ronnie Reagan’s 1988 farewell address where he self-righteously stated, “And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do,” Kern’s truly ‘reactionary’ 11-minute celluloid rant is ultimately a testimony to the circular intellectual bankruptcy of the Cinema of Transgression movement and related NYC post-punk movements, yet it is also strangely endearing as a work where an AIDS-ridden queer artist, David Wojnarowicz, is given the opportunity to take out his rectal-reaming rage by enacting a sort of fairly eccentric performance art exorcism on both his abusive biological father and American cuckservative paternal figure Reagan, who he partly blamed for the proliferation of gay cancer as depicted in kraut alpha-queen Rosa von Praunheim’s doc Silence = Death (1990). Sort of like a post-punk mutation of Father Knows Best as directed by the heterosexual hatechild of John Waters and Curt McDowell meets My So-Called Life as penned by the left-wing philistine stepchild of Paul Morrisey, You Killed Me First ultimately feels like an autistic agitprop flick that serves no real political purpose aside from inciting the viewer into mindlessly hating their family and ancestral origins, thus making for a work with a mind-numbingly idiotic message that is not all that different from the one spread by American public schools. Luckily, Kern's short-but-(un)sweet film is slightly more interesting and entertaining than any teacher I have ever had.
The superlatively stupid story of a discernibly dirty and unkempt proto-emo teenage skank and born-loser with seemingly slimy black hair who sadistically murders her entire family because she suffers from the delusion that they figuratively ‘killed her’ first due to their American pie style values, You Killed Me First unsurprisingly had its genesis in a somewhat abortive drug binge, or as auteur Kern described in an interview featured in the book Deathtripping: The Extreme Underground (2008) by Jack Sargeant when asked if it was originally part of an installation with David Wojnarowicz: “The whole idea was conceived when me and David went out to buy some heroin one day and we got burned, so we got back to the apartment and we shot up this stuff and got these big welts on our arms instead of getting high. I said: ‘I’ve got some ecstasy in the other room, let’s shoot that up, fuck it’ and then we started talking ‘we’re really good friends man’ [laughs]. You know how ecstasy works.” Indeed, seeing Wojnarowicz portraying the less than proud conservative father of a greasy-haired teenage social outcast led me to seeing the film as the sort of Cinema of Transgression equivalent to Reefer Madness, albeit actually fairly humorous and thankfully brief. In fact, when Sargeant proposed that “YOU KILLED ME FIRST, again, to me, was a straight John Waters’ style film, I think a lot of people see that as your best film,” Kern replied, “That’s what other people told me…that it was the most concise.” Of course, the film also benefits from lacking Kern regular Lydia Lunch, though the flick’s star ‘Leg Lung’—a sort of short and scrawny Lydia clone with a giant round head full of messy tangled black hair that seems more than a little bit mentally challenged as indicated by her bizarre speech patterns, unnervingly fidgety behavior, and tendency to botch simple two syllable words, among other things—is not exactly much of an improvement as far as leading ladies are concerned. A kind of unintentional satire of the sort of mindlessly nihilistic suburban youth rebel archetype that became especially vogue after the release of Nicholas Ray’s CinemaScope classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Kern's film is so shockingly stupid and childish as a result of its kindergarten aesthetic anarchism that I still cannot believe it exists and I say that as a fan of Nick Millard's Criminally Insane (1975). Naturally, You Killed Me First lacks the beautifully seductive romantic rebellious spirit of Ray’s film, which has been replaced by a sort of viscerally vulgar infantilism plagued by festering blood-and-semen-stained teenage cunts and braindead glue-sniffers, among other rather repellent things that remind one why Warhol Factory filmmaker Paul Morrissey described the counterculture movement and liberalism as a “toilet culture.”
Set in “New York City: 1985” as indicated by a glittery gold inter-title that seems to be in the style of the furniture that you might find at a Hebraic-owned Manhattan pawnshop, You Killed Me First opens with a stereotypical white suburban mother (portrayed by degenerate third-wave feminist ‘performance artist’ Karen Finley of Harvey Keith’s Mondo New York (1988) and Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia (1993)) serving her seated family members a baked turkey and declaring, “It’s my pleasure being a mother to do this for y’all.” The ‘black sheep’ of the family is the youngest daughter Elizabeth (Kern regular Lung Leg) and her mother instantly rebukes her for refusing to wash her hands before eating while her father (David Wojnarowicz) complains regarding her deadbeat boyfriend, “That guy stunk from here to tomorrow” and “I don’t want that slime in this house anymore.” While Elizabeth’s parents resent her and her unfortunate choice in men (as Elizabeth proudly explains, she found her boyfriend on the street), they love her happy overachiever sister Debra (Jessica Craig-Martin) and the “nice young man” named Nick (Nick Cooper) that she dates. For a nearly incoherent bitch that complains that her parents treat her like a prisoner, Elizabeth is allowed to get away with a lot of bombastic bullshit spewing, as she soon dominates the dinner table conversation and begins violently screaming at her parents while slurring and botching her words like an inordinately aggressive toddler with Down syndrome, “You know, you have given me nothing but pain—pain, pain—ever, ever since you were born.” As demonstrated by her remarks like, “You got the nerve to pray for me…holier-than-thou […] you’re just as disgusting as I am,” Elizabeth cannot stand that her parents hold her to certain generic civilized standards like bathing. Indeed, as she states, Elizabeth cannot stand how her supposedly hypocritical parents are, “pressuring me to be holy or something and you’re fucking made of shit. You don’t even know…You don’t even know what goodness is. You’re fucking as evil as sin. I hate you, I’ve always hated you.” Being a vehemently anti-logical little lunatic, Elizabeth eventually decides that familicide will be the only way for her to cleanse herself of her family’s ostensibly evasive influence. After all, one cannot tolerate family members who incessantly nag you about getting a haircut and dating nice boys.
As a perennially infantile teenager who does not seem to realize she bleeds out of her gash and should probably take a shower every once and a while, Elizabeth likes spending her free time doing curious things like sticking her tongue out at creepy stuffed animals, playing with barfing puppets, and drawing goofy pictures of demonic monsters with magic markers. When Elizabeth introduces her scumbag boyfriend ‘Cheese’ (Montanna Houston) to her parents, she seems less annoyed with the fact that her dad calls her beau a “son-of-a-bitch” than the fact that her mother calls her by her real name, bitching, “Hey, don’t call me Elizabeth anymore. My name’s Cassandra.” Indeed, like most criminals and weirdos with identity issues, Elizabeth refuses to be called by her real name and spends the rest of the film bitching every time anyone addresses her by her real name. It seems that like a lot of contemporary American morons, Elizabeth confuses superficial things like haircuts, names, tattoos and personal hygiene as genuine forms of individuality, thereupon failing to realize that she is not different from the average ostensibly ‘misunderstood’ teenage goth or emo-fag loser. Indeed, Elizabeth is just as much of a conformist as her much hated family members, albeit she just belongs to the losing team. Of course, Elizabeth would never figure this out because she is the most fierce of petulant philistine children.
After Elizabeth shockingly allows her mother to give her a new hairdo, the giddy matriarch joyously declares, “Elizabeth, I am so happy that you’re letting me do this. It is going to be the windswept look just like in Mademoiselle magazine, you know, the new wave look like Liza Minnelli,” while she predictably whines, bitches, and moans. Meanwhile, Elizabeth's sibling Debra tries in vain to give her some sisterly advice by stating, “You know, Elizabeth, you should really try to be nicer to mom and dad. They’re only trying to help, you know. And mom’s really worried about you. She’s thinks you’re never going to catch a husband. Even Nick said you could be pretty if you just made a little effort to be more feminine. And, you know, no sorority in America is going to accept you the way you look now. I can’t believe I have this big zit on my face for my date with Nick,” but the anti-heroine does not bother to even take a single second to consider her sister’s fairly reasonable point of view. When her mother buys both her and her sister new sweaters, Elizabeth reveals that she is a insufferable ingrate by immediately bitching, “how dare you buy this ugly thing for me. I don’t want it. Take it back.” In one of the most humorous lines of dialogue in the film, Elizabeth’s mother reacts to her obscenely ungrateful attitude by stating, “That’s why I got you one that was cheaper because I knew that you wouldn’t like it. Why don’t you cut it up and write ‘fuck’ or ‘anarchy’ on it?!” Of course, being an assumed punk rock true believer, Elizabeth probably thinks that intentionally tearing up your clothing is what posers do and probably prefers wearing authentically dirty and worn-out clothing with holes in it that she has not washed in weeks.
When Elizabeth’s less than dear daddy catches her smoking cigarettes, he demands that she sit down so they can have a little father-daughter chat where he rants, “You know, I don’t understand you for a minute. Elizabeth, your mother and I have given you our brain and you have made no use of it absolutely whatsoever. I mean, you constantly disregard the fine examples set by your sister, you turned your room into a zoo, you’re threatening to do it to the rest of this house, and that goddamn rabbit of yours has been defecating all over this house all week long. You don’t even change its water. It tries to climb into the tub while I’m taking a shower.” After stoically declaring, “You need to be taught a lesson,” the patriarch whips out a paper bag containing Elizabeth’s strangely lifeless pet bunny rabbit and bludgeons it to death with a mallet while she screams in horror, “That’s my bunny.” Needless to say, Elizabeth’s trauma is only the more compounded when she decides to do a little bit of investigating upon hearing her mother loudly moaning and then discovers her daddy penetrating her mommy doggy style. Of course, Elizabeth is lucky to have parents that still love one another and regularly fuck like bunny rabbits, but she does not see it that way as she hates her mother and father with a passion and cannot stand seeing them happy.
After her cutesy white bunny rabbit is beaten to death and witnessing the passionate ‘primal scene’ between her parents, Elizabeth decides to release some stress by handling what seems to be a sort of ‘puking voodoo doll’ that barfs when she squeezes it. When her father later walks in on her watching some degenerate TV show and scolds her for watching such “filth,” Elizabeth retorts, “It’s no worse than watching you make mom moan all night,” so her daddy shuts her up by giving her a much needed smack across the face. When Elizabeth’s mother dares to rip up the childish demonic monster drawings that she created with magic markers, the oh-so angsty anti-heroine finally loses what little self-restraint she has, decides enough is enough, and proceeds to retrieve a small revolver from a small dresser table in her parent's room that her father recently bought and proudly showed off by unloading a round in his living room. In the end, the film comes full circle when Elizabeth meets her family at the dinner table, says to her mother, “You’re about as pretty as a donkey’s ass, man,” and then declares to her big sis while waving her weapon, “I’m going to get rid of you first” and “I can’t believe you’re alive. You don’t deserve to live. I hate you.” After putting bullets in the brains of both her sister and father, Elizabeth declares to her mother, “You gotta go, too.” After her mother once again dares call her by her real name, Elizabeth declares with a good healthy dose of seething hatred, “My name is Cassandra. You killed me first” and then shoots her in the head, thereupon causing her brains to splatter across the wall. Although the viewer never learns what becomes of the anti-heroine, I think that it is safe to say that Elizabeth will probably hate prison or an insane asylum even more than she hated living with her parents, thus her excessive actions were certainly, at best, in vain and a great example of her mental handicaps and sheer and utter incapacity to think things through.
Somewhat unbelievably, You Killed Me First has become such an iconic influence that it has inspired a number of West Coast graffiti artists, who have tagged the image of Lung Leg aiming her weapon around various buildings in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. With that being said, it is somewhat fitting that such a stupendously stupid and senseless cinematic work would influence the most stupendously stupid and senseless of gutter artists, especially considering that Kern's film defiles the mind and spirit and so-called street artists defile their urban habitat, thereupon making for the perfect match in pre-apocalyptic aesthetic hell. Personally, I think Ms. Leg is one of the most particularly pathetic of iconic anti-heroines as a dirty dipshit chick that looks like she could possibly have a dick and makes the Manson Family chicks seem like iconoclastic scholars and deeply devout spiritual leaders by comparison. Indeed, if Lung Leg did not seem so glaringly retarded and pathetic in You Killed Me First, the film would probably be as banal as hell as most of its potency lies in its seemingly unintended humor, which David Wojnarowicz also contributes a great deal to by trying in vain to absurdly pantomime a Christian cuckservative as opposed to the AIDS-ridden junky faggot and ex-hustler that he actually was. Indeed, as is typical of people that attempt to mock another group of people, Wojnarowicz and the gang demonstrate that they lack any innate understanding of the typical American suburban family, thus exposing their own innate degeneracy as people that clearly did not have the choice to be alienated from mainstream society, which is as alien to them as Norwegian black metal is to American blacks. Speaking of American negroes, Leg almost outdoes the slave-morality-ridden Black Lives Matter beastesses in terms of her hysterically hostile and obscenely obnoxious performance. In that sense, Leg's character personifies everything that is repugnant about young Americans, as anti-heroine Elizabeth is a ludicrously self-righteous, self-pitying and entitled little bitch who sneers at the thought of things like personal responsibility and accountability, among other things.
Not surprisingly, Lung Leg is apparently almost as unhinged as the character she portrayed in You Killed Me First, or so it seems if we are to believe Nick Zedd, who claimed in his work Bleed that the Cinema of Transgression diva believed that she was tortured by a “communist war goddess” named “ninny” who could transform people into folding chairs and radiators and was planning to destroy Christmas by turning it into “a German holiday” (I guess Ms. Leg does not realize that the popular Christian holiday is of largely Teutonic origins). Despite her fairly idiosyncratic brand of good old Teutonophobia, Lung apparently had an unhealthy infatuation with German musician Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten, or as Kern stated in an interview with Jack Sargeant, “…Lung was totally convinced that Blixa was her soul mate. She went to Germany and sought him out and found him, and I imagine had sex with him – at least once probably – and was convinced she was gonna be with him forever. Somehow it didn’t work out.” Of course, as her long awaited comeback role in Jon Springer’s rather botched pseudo-arthouse horror flick The Hagstone Demon (2011) starring Mark Borchardt of American Movie (1999) demonstrates, Leg is far from the marginally cute art school dropout that she was in You Killed Me First.
While horrendously edited, the merrily morbid familicide flick was apparently in even worse shape before Kern had it remastered and reedited for DVD, yet some of the film’s fans had the gall to complain that the new ‘director’s cut’ was inferior because it lacked the sub-Warholian essence of the original cut, but as the filmmaker himself stated, “if anything, the remastering makes YOU KILLED ME FIRST more watchable. The movie is still very rough but the distracting problems with some of the edits and sound dropout are gone. I felt that the problems I took out constantly reminded the audience that the movie was a movie and a shittily made one at that.” While I am far from any sort of Kern groupie, I think I can agree with many of his fans when I say it is easily the director’s greatest film, which is somewhat ironic considering it is also one of his least sexually graphic works. Of course, aside from possibly sexually schizophrenic rapists and high school emo girls with intricate rape fantasies, I doubt many people can truly appreciate a film like Finger (1986) where an insufferable sidewalk skank like Lydia Lunch screams, “make me fucking cum, you fucking filthy cock. Do it!,” while being violently finger-fucked by some longhaired tattooed degenerate that looks like the retarded blue-collar brother of Rozz Williams. Described by alpha-hipster Thurston ‘Sonic Youth’ Moore in the documentary Blank City (2010) directed by Celine Danhier as follows, “YOU KILLED ME FIRST was the great dysfunctional family film,” Kern’s thankfully unpretentious short is basically a no bullshit micro-exploitation flick that cuts all the fat and only leaves the sordid and sick elements that make people gravitate towards celluloid trash in the first place. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Kern would pay tribute to the great works of (s)exploitation with his early work Goodbye 42nd Street (1986). I think Kern summed up You Killed Me First and the rest of his oeuvre best when he stated regarding his (anti)artistic Weltanschauung, “I didn’t feel I was making art. I felt like I was being a lunatic. Doing anything I wanted. Nobody could tell me what to do. Fuck you to everybody. That was the whole attitude.” Indeed, while Kern's film probably deserves to be relegated to the semen-soaked urinal of avant-garde cinema history, I have to admit that You Killed Me First has more replay value than the average Godard flick.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 5:14 AM
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