My blog had minimal interest when I started 16 months ago – maybe a dozen visits a day, and most of those by my loving partner. And then I blogged about Hurricane Sandy and interest spiked, up to 80-100 hits a day. I tried to keep interest up with my thoughts on gun control and my Top 5 Lists. Interest slid back to 10-20 hits, and I reminded myself that the purpose of the blog was to focus on my writing process. And so I stuck to that.Interestingly enough, people have been visiting more over the past few months – with hits exceeding the days of Sandy, not that this means anything, especially when I admit that most searches are the same: Kesha naked, Nadine Velasquez and Jane Fonda Barbarella.
A tantalizing contradiction seems to exist in the sex symbols of the 1960s, a sexuality that simultaneously offers lust and innocence. Paul McCartney used this iconography on the Out There tour as a stage backdrop for his performance of Paperback Writer.
The Dandy Warhols used similar imagery while playing Good Morning.
The images are provocative – more so than most graphic visuals of today – as they tiptoe along the line of what might be allowed.
Late last night, we decided to visit Christian Marclay’s 24-hour art installation The Clock at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was a kind of insomnia, a filmic one, reminding us we were awake when most others weren’t.
The piece chronicles moments in film in a full 24-hour loop, focusing on a specific time, thus operating as a virtual clock. We arrived at 10:45pm and expected to watch shortly thereafter until 2:00am or so; however we were told that it would be a three-hour wait. Unbelieving, we went ahead and were oddly heartened when we found the wait was to be only 2 1/2 hours. We moved slowly, very slowly and envied those in front of us who had planned ahead; they had magazines and books.We mused, checked our messages – there were none – took turns going to the bathroom, thrilled at the incremental steps and stared at the slowly looming sign.We finally arrived, yes, three hours later at 1:45am. We were sleepy as soon as we sat but the film was good. More than that. It was exhilarating. We were in a cinematic world at an alluring hour…trapped in the frame with lovers, drunks and confusion.
A woman beside us kept turning on her phone, and I had had enough. I leaned over, “Please stop playing with your phone.” She glared back. “I’m not playing. I’m texting my son.” What was she thinking? She was missing it! These were the witching hours of celluloid, the time of transition, from darkest night, lost in thought, to the realization of the approaching day. This was the time of winding clocks, standing naked by the window and watching emus walk through the bedroom.
The man beside me, a vague mix between Andy Warhol and John Cale in pale sunglasses and what looked like a tea cosy draped on his head, was fully reclined and began to snore; it was 4:00am. We considered staying longer – until 5:00am and beyond – but thought it better to come back another time, whenever the event may be staged again. We would just have to go to bed early and have Marclay’s film as our virtual alarm clock for another day.
Barbarella offers everything in Science Fiction film-making, all that is bad, and equally so, the good. Widely known but little seen, the 1968 film directed by Roger Vadim, is notorious for Jane Fonda’s sexpot character in various stages of undress. There is more to this film than vague eroticism; the costumes and sets – including Barbarella’s shag-lined spaceship – are awkward and clever at the same time, yes, campy, wildly so. The lines of dialogue are equally outrageous; the characters are vapid and the plot pointless and confusing. At one point, Professor Ping (played by Marcel Marceau) tells Barbarella that the angel Pygar no longer has the will to fly and so cannot get her out of the labyrinth of evil in which she is trapped. Barbarella solves that by making love to him; and off they go. It’s as simple as that. The film begins on a fantastical note, mocking the violence of man: “Why would anyone want to invent a weapon?” Barbarella is genuinely confused; after all, anything is possible in science fiction. The answer is overtly stated throughout the film – all you need is love – and resolved in the same way. Pygar rescues not only Barbarella from certain death but also Tyrant, the evil queen. His explanation, much like the logic of Chihiro in Miyazaki’s anime film Spirited Away, is that, “An angel has no memory.” Barbarella herself is enigmatic. She repays everyone who saves her life with sex. The President prefers to share matters of state when she is naked. The Mad Doctor tries to destroy her with a sex machine – only to be foiled by Barbarella’s remarkable sexual threshold. She dresses like a space whore, but she isn’t. Why, you may ask, does she not do battle with clever tricks and big guns? As trite and misogynistic as it might sound, she is above it all. She is an innocent who wants to help mankind. Rumor has it that a remake is in the works with a budget of $80 million and Rose McGowan to star. I am dubious about a 21st Century Barbarella. I envision a multitude of bikinis and an excess of CGI. Fonda’s half-begotten Barbarella, in all of her wide-eyed stupor, is sure to be lost.