Quantcast

Video of the Day

Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Live and Active Affiliates
Search TR


follow us in feedly

Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Entries in molly lambert (100)

Tuesday
Feb222011

In Which We Teach You How To Be A Woman In Any Boys' Club

Can't Be Tamed: A Manifesto

by MOLLY LAMBERT 

for Kathleen Hanna, Kim Deal, and Kim Gordon

Here are some rules about how to be a girl in a boys' club. This works for any world you're in or want to be in. Pretty much everything in the world is still a boys' club.

Befriend The Other Woman: Always. Seriously. Even if she sucks (expansion on "if she sucks" follows below). Otherwise you will be "jokingly" put into competition with her constantly, and you will be encouraged and generally provoked by some dudes to do this for their entertainment to take focus off the fact that they are in homosocial competition with each other. Befriend her and press your boobs against the glass ceiling together (copyright Kristen Schaal). She is not the enemy. She is never your enemy. The enemy is always any guys who are creating situations that limit the number of females allowed. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. 

What If She Sucks?: Well, there could be a lot of reasons for this. But if she's being a real scary bitch to you, it's probably just because she's threatened you are going to take her spot as "the girl that is cool enough to hang out with the guys." Defuse this by being really super friendly no matter what in order to demonstrate the above: you are not enemies because you have a common enemy and the enemy is exclusionism. This gets easier the more girls there are. One to one situations are especially harsh, because Black Swan. But it's not usually that hard because most girls don't suck.

What If She Actually Sucks? This does happen. It's not unfeminist to admit that some women are assholes, just don't make it your focal point or judge any other situations according to how the all time worst one went down (this is a good rule in general). Some people just actually suck. Definition of sucks: steals, lies, or otherwise tries to ruin your life in an undeniable way. Feel bad for her and then back…the fuck…away…

What If She's Cool But I Still Feel Competitive? Sometimes cool funny girls are initially cunty to other cool funny girls because they are afraid the presence of another cool funny girl will dilute or diminish their own coolness or funniness. But it won't. It just makes you both even cooler and funnier. Forgive yourself for feeling insecure and think about the way you feel around your best friend. Generally the more intimidating you initially find another person the deeper your eventual love will end up being. 

Why Do Dudes Think You're In Competition With The Other Girls? Because if you're in competition with the men, you might be better than they are. And a lot of them can't handle this, and even more weirdly it's like it doesn't even really occur to them. They just automatically compare you to other girls and not other men, even though you obviously compare yourself against everybody in your field, not just the women.

Why exactly they can't handle this is something that I understand but can't really sympathize with for obvious reasons. The sinister underlying idea is that men are always going to be naturally better at everything than women. That the best man will always be better than the best woman, and that women should expect and accept this.

The truth is that most kinds of talent aren't gendered. Sometimes women will be the best at things and other times men will. The implicit fear is that women are going to take spots formerly reserved for men. THIS IS SO STUPID. The most talented people take the top spots. There are no gender quotas. Tina Fey coexists peacefully with Will Ferrell and Danny McBride. They are just all the best at their specific talent (comedy).

Ferrell isn't threatened by Fey because game recognize game. And clearly I'm really aiming for this to catch on, but it's not emasculating if you like it. And a lot of dudes like it. And a lot of other dudes secretly like it but are afraid of what their dude friends will think. Not caring about what other people think is attractive to oh, everybody.

What If I Love Being The Only Girl In The Boys Club? Megan Fox Syndrome, aka Wendy from Peter Pan. It is the delusion that you can become an official part of the boys' club if you are its strictest enforcer, its most useful prole. That if you follow the rules exactly you can become the Official Woman. If you refuse other women admission you are denying that other women are talented, which makes you just as bad as any boys' club for thinking there would only be one talented girl at a time.

You will never actually be part of the boys' club, because you are a woman. You are Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. You are not Italian, therefore you are never going to get made. And you don't want to be a part of the boys' club, because it is dedicated to preserving its own privilege at your expense. Why wouldn't you want to know and endorse the work of other women who share your interests? How insecure are you?

Drive It Like You Stole It: Be the best. That is, assuming that you are the best. Be the best you can possibly be, whatever that means to you. Absolutely do not step down in order to not threaten people. Don't apologize. If you genuinely fucked up fine, you are allowed to apologize once but then stop apologizing. Think about how much you hear women apologizing for themselves for no reason, or being self-deprecating or self-abnegating out of habit. What the fuck are you apologizing for? For being too good?

Complain And Explain: If somebody says or does something fucked up, call them out on it. Don't pretend like fucked up things never get said because you are afraid of getting exiled from the kingdom of being Angie Dickinson in the Rat Pack. It makes people uncomfortable to get called out on their bullshit, and they get weird and defensive (John Mayer), especially since they know they were bullshitting to begin with.

But it's a function of not thinking about how fucked up it feels when fucked up things get said and nobody else thinks it's fucked up, because they just don't knowwwww. They're not always trying to be assholes, they just literally sometimes do not get it. It is better to engage than to roll your eyes. Some guys will keep trolling you until the very last second. You can almost always get them to admit that they're just trying to push your buttons and don't really believe the thing they are arguing in favor of.

Guys will feel REALLY BAD when they get called out, and usually react by either getting really loud and angry and defensive, or really sad and quiet and weird. This might make you feel bad or like a bully but don't. Some conversations are uncomfortable but also necessary. They are so uncomfortable because they are so necessary. Discomfort is not death. You will be fine after, I promise. And then you will feel fucking great, because trying to protect other people from reality is for morons and chumps.

Non-normative guys who still secretly consider themselves the most macho guy in their friend group get totally freaked out when confronted by real actual bros, because it forces them to face the ultimate self-truth that they actually hate bros and they actually do respect women. They're just still embarrassed that they're indoor kids who are not good at sports, because athleticism is to men what beauty is to women. 

What If I Complain And Get Laughed At And Dismissed? Well this might happen 99% of the time, because that is how men are socialized to react to being uncomfortable. The other option is that they get quiet and squirrelly and weird and constipated about talking. It sucks to have to call people out. But it is important, because that is the only way anything is ever going to change. Women have done everything in their power to conform to the existing power structures (even though those structures generally run and ruin our lives). Straight white men are the ones who have to change. They have to.

You know in Shampoo when Warren Beatty says that when he does women's hair all they ever do is complain about all the horrible bullshit men put them through? All I ever witness is straight men showing me how miserable they are with the expectations placed on them as men, how much they hate trying to live up to this impossible standard and how unhappy they still are if they manage to succeed. They have a hard time acknowledging there are other modes of being because they are fucking terrified to deviate from the known, even though the known is horrible and hurts them.

"Masculinity" is as damaging to men as "Femininity" is to women. Neither is something to aspire to. Women who understand this are called feminists. Men who understand this aren't called anything yet, but maybe they can just be called feminists too. 

Lowered Expectations, The Double Edged Sword: When men demonstrate or betray surprise that you know a lot about something or have mastered a skill that they care about, it unfortunately just shows that some guys still don't expect women to care about anything. Except being pretty and shopping and having thoughts that are somehow completely unlike male thoughts in any way. They think we don't like dumb obsessive information hoarding. They think our brains are wired differently. They are wrong. Sasha Baron-Cohen's brother is wrong (man u so fucking wrong Simon). 

The flip side of exceptionalism for anyone from an oppressed group is the realization that you are only considered exceptional because the system is sooooooo fuckkkkkked uppppppppp. The idea that it's fair and you just worked your way in because you're so hyper-talented is a useful seeming illusion that stops benefiting you the moment it fucks over somebody else. When men are like "wow you're so cool, you're not like most girls" it always begs the question oh my god what do you think girls are like?

Some people will never want to talk about the way things are or how and why they got that way. if you end up exiled or excluded from the boys' club for not towing the party line, start your own fucking club. I'll come! I'll bring a lovely bottle of orange soda.

Allies And Enemies Some guys will hate you for being superior to them at the thing they care most about being good at. They are Paul Kinseys. This generally looks like it sounds, and involves sputtering. Cool guys will respect you and your hustle without being personally or professionally threatened. The coolest guys (Ken Cosgroves) will be secure in themselves enough to respect you specifically because of your hustle. 

Most cool girls are totally fucked up because they are used to guys telling them they are "cool" or "funny" or "smart" and they assume it's a euphemism for "not hot" because they already feel like dudes with boobs. But that's okay because a hundred percent of cool guys are fucked up too and secretly feel like girls with dicks. Straight men are sooooooooo pink inside. They just can't tell you or anyone, because they have been socialized expressly not to. But I just told you you, and now everybody knows.

The idea that men will be turned off by ambition or success is just another part of the big lie. It is meant to scare you and keep you from questioning the system. The only men who are turned off by ambition and success are men that are insecure about their own talents and success or lack thereof. You don't really want to know those guys anyway, because they suck and they will constantly attempt to undermine you, and even if you are secure enough in yourself not to care it's still really fucking annoying.

Everyone feels like the worst awkward looking junior high version of themselves at times and has conflicted feelings about whatever demographic they usually date. The best thing you can do is team up to fight all the lame assholes of both genders. 

If You Are A Straight Guy Who Figured Out Girls And Gays Are The Most Fun:

- Of course you can join, but you have to shut up. I mean, you can talk, obviously. But you have to realize and recognize that traditional male privilege becomes your liability in these situations. The same thing that puts you at the top of the pecking order in most social situations (glass elevator) puts you at the bottom of this one. Get used to bottoming. Realize it can be the best. Think about how intense it is to be a woman.

- If anybody makes fun of straight dudes and the lame bonehead things they sometimes do, you are not allowed to get defensive and say that you never do any of those things. Relax, we're aren't talking about you. We're just talking about privilege denying dudes in general, and admitting that they exist is not the same as being one. The best first step to demonstrating that you are not one is to admit that they exist. 

How About When You're The Privileged Person In The Situation? Golden rule. Don't deny that the privilege exists or that while some people might have it, certainly you are not one of those people because blah blah blah. Nope. Don't do that. Admit that the world is unfair, that there are ideologies and systems in place that benefit some people and hurt others, often one at the expense of the other.

Accept that while you didn't create and don't directly control these systems, you have definitely benefited from them at one time or another. Equality isn't about fucking anyone over. It's about learning how not to do that. Listen to what other people have to say. Do not mistake your personal lived experiences for universal truths or cite them as if they were such. Genuinely listen. Pay attention. Listen. 

Things That Might Happen While You Are In The Boys' Club:

- it will be suggested that you are only considered talented because you are a woman, implying that even if you are talented, you are just "talented for a woman." Untalented men jealous of your skills will cling to this even when it becomes clear how blatantly untrue it is.

It involves the idea that being beaten by somebody who is "lesser" is emasculating and humiliating. But that women should be happy, even excited to be beaten by men in all situations, because women's egos are always discounted as being secondary to men's. 

- Whatever you look like, it will be used against you. If you're attractive it will be used to suggest that men are just pretending to care about what you think in order to try to fuck you. If you're unattractive, it will be used to discount you as a human being entirely, on the grounds that a woman who is not physically attractive to heterosexual men is a completely useless entity, no matter how smart or talented she is. 

- You may be praised in a way that is so backhanded and/or condescending you're not really sure if it still counts as praise.

- The conversations will all be oriented around straight men and their desires. 

- Boys' clubs exist to protect and preserve the right that some people believe they have to make no allowance for anyone else. That is privilege.

- If you dig too deep with some people it will come out that they genuinely do believe that women are less interested in things than men are. That women who have interests are outliers or unusual cases, This is part of a larger heterosexual male narcissism wherein it is assumed that all of women's interests are related to men: that if a woman is a record nerd, it is because she learned about it from a guy or she hopes to meet men through it rather than because she just genuinely enjoys music. 

This is obviously total bullshit. Women have interests because they have their own interests, because they are human beings. They are interested in things. And you can have those independent interests and still want to fuck Mick Jagger, and it doesn't discount the authenticity of your fandom for the music of The Rolling Stones. It's not like men don't equally want to fuck Mick Jagger. That's the whole point of Mick Jagger.

Women don't just like things because some dude turned them onto it. You like things because you turn yourself onto things, because you like finding out what you like. 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of her writing here.

digg delicious reddit stumble facebook twitter subscribe

"Rich Kids Blues" - Lykke Li (mp3)

"Youth Knows No Pain" - Lykke Li (mp3)

"Silent My Song" - Lykke Li (mp3)

Monday
Feb212011

In Which I Can't Deny It I'm A Fine Hyna Got Your Boyfriend Jockin Me

FIRME ROJAS

by MOLLY LAMBERT

This is a passion project that I started working on while making the Kenny Powers mixes. I was digging for Mexican rock stuff for Volume 5 of my Eastbound & Down mixtape series, and a lot of Mexican American rap kept coming up. I really wanted KP v. 5 to be primarily rock to match 3/4 of the other KP mixes, but I downloaded a ton of rap songs just in case I changed my mind. KP 5 did end up being mostly rock and some techno (Tribal Monterrey!) but I kept adding more things to the rap playlist.

I love rap, and I love microgenres, so naturally I love the microgenre that is Latina Rap. There's a really great radio show in LA called Pocos Pero Locos, and that's where I was first exposed to Latin Hip Hop. Now obviously every microgenre is gigantic, and this is by no means meant to be a definitive survey of Latina female rappers. At a certain point I stopped adding new songs (although I never stopped finding them) because I had been working on it for so long already and otherwise it might have been endless.

The songs I picked mostly fall under the heading of Girl Gangsta Rap, an even smaller genre within the genre. It reminds me at times of 60s girl groups, with which it shares themes like car culture, gang violence, sex, love and heartbreak. I also love it because it is essentially feminist. These artists are cool, tough, fully sexually realized, funny, sweet, sometimes achingly sad (Amanda Perez!), and occasionally dangerous killers.

And I like that a lot of sounds like it was recorded on home computers, because I like jankiness as a musical quality and I enjoy things that sound good on shitty car stereos. I love musicians who just have to make music, who have things inside that they just need to get out. They can't help but express themselves to us, and even when the delivery is not technically perfect the pure intensity of feeling still comes across.

 

It might come across even more because of the technical imperfections. Imperfectness is really a matter of subjective opinion. I don't want to overintellectualize it too much (too late) but as it gets warmer I hope you will listen to Firme Rojas in your whip/on your porch/in the park with a michelada and think fondly of your friend DJ FUCK YALL. 

Regarding cultural appropriation: It is equally as far-fetched for me to personally identify with SoCal girl gangsters as it is for me to identify with Southern cock-rockers, and yet I identify equally strongly with both. I grew up in Los Angeles, where a lot of these artists are from, and I love West Coast Rap and West Coast funk style beats. The idea that you ever would/should only listen to music made by people whose cultural identity is exactly the same as yours is what keeps idiots assuming that a caucasian woman like myself would only listen to Joni Mitchell and Joanna Newsom and Robyn. 

No real rapper only listens to rap. Big Boi and 2Pac love Kate Bush! Music is music. People who love music, like me, want to hear everything there is out there. There are no more "I listen to everything but rap and country" people left, because the mp3 economy and widely free access to all kinds of music has rendered that stance and all similar genre-excluding stances irrelevant. I was once limited by the amount of money I could spend on records, and now I am only limited by my patience, which is infinite. 

DJ FUCK YALL PRESENTS: FIRME ROJAS

dedicated to K-Swift and Magnolia Shorty 

Naybahood Queen - JV

Love Confession - Miss Lady Pinks ft. Amanda Love

Take You To School - Miss Beautiful 

I Just Wanna Fuck - Celocita

Ms. Sancha Live Dot Com - Ms. Sancha 

Can't You See - Esa Wicked Chula

Classy Soldier - Classy Ladys Entertainment

Up In The Hood - Underground Maniatikas

Love Me Not - Lady Teardrop ft. Nene Baby

cursory web research suggests Ms. Sancha may be Diamonique's alter ego 

Get It If You A Rida - Ms. Sancha

We Ride Like Soldiers - Doll E Girl & Lady Synful

We Stroll - Sleepy Loka

You Want Whores - Baby Wicked

Mexicana - Diamonique

Top Knotch Biatch - Miss Beautiful

Gettin Luchi - JV

Mas Vale Sola - Ms. Krazie & Sleepy Loka

Sorry For My Wrongs - Doll E Girl

Ride On My Enemies - Ms. Sancha

Snitch - Coketa

Te Quiero - Mz Gatiz

Dem Ladies - Mz Kasper

Most Hated - Davina

Why - Amanda Perez 

You Never Mattered - Mz Krazie

Somebody Please - OG Traviesa

Oh How It Hurts - Baby Wicked

Nobody Can Love Me Like You - Coneja Loka

G String - JV

California Gangsters - Sleepy Loka 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She last wrote in these pages about Dennis Hopper and The Hot Spot. She twitters here and tumbls here.

Wednesday
Feb162011

In Which We Can Never Stay Out Of Trouble When It's Baited With This Much Tramp

I Found My Level And I'm Living It

by MOLLY LAMBERT 

The Hot Spot, 1990

dir. Dennis Hopper

Once there were three friends who took it upon themselves to overthrow and destroy an old guard system they knew they could clearly improve upon. They had grown up on the work of the people whose jobs they now had to take. They realized it was a funny way to thank them. But when it came down to it, the old legends had succeeded because they were so much a product of their time, and new times required new products. It was necessary to invent Easy Rider/The Social Network/This Recording

The new sixties Alpha Male sensibility ultimately didn't turn out to be any different from the old Alpha Male sensibility. It was exactly the same with long hair. The new Alpha Male may have even preached a good game on gender politics (although just as often not), and then not followed suit in his personal relations with women. It might seem difficult to reconcile masculinity with feminism, BUT IT'S NOT. Only an insecure man/person has to always be right or in charge all the time. Traditional masculinity is a cool looking hot rod with a shitty engine that stalls in middle age. It is a lemon.

Nothing is worse than a guy who thinks he is a revolutionary because he reads foreign newspapers and Al Jazeera's twitter feed but who can't seem to fully renounce male chauvinism in his own life because of course he loves the perks. There's an economic principle that these perks come at the expense of another group, in this case women.

nothing in her way except THE FUCKING PATRIARCHY

The Privilege Denying Dude meme caught on because it was so true. It is only heterosexual white men who ever believe that we live in a post-anything world. Romanticizing traditional masculinity is like romanticizing the Confederacy or the Nazi regime. Great uniforms, accessories, and anecdotes. But your politics fucking blow. 

Straight white dudes often want to believe we are past these problems because the alternative is that they are the villain in the movie called World History. But I mean, it's true that they are the villain. And like any legacy sullied by genocide and imperialism, no one is asking them to claim all the responsibility for it but it is absolutely required that it be acknowledged. To refuse to acknowledge the continued dominance of racism/sexism/homophobia/socially exclusionary practices is to reinforce them. 

Here's the thing about unconscious biases. They are unconscious! So when people say "I am not a sexist/racist/homophobe" they are being well-intentioned about meaning it, but just saying it doesn't automatically make it true. It is about deeds, not words. And thoughts are not deeds. They are not even words. A person may think a tremendously offensive thing, and then feel as though this is an intrinsic betrayal of their real sexist/racist/homophobic feelings. But it's not. Necessarily. It also can be.

You have been conditioned, and then encouraged not to think about it. Often rewarded for not thinking about it. But you must think about it. True self-analysis is a revolutionary act. And unlike revolutions in other countries where you are just sympathizing hopefully with the proletariats, it is a revolution you have a shot at being an actual part of. The personal is political. Women are the universal proletariat

The individual has the most power over itself. More than any outside group can influence, and more influence than it can have on any outside group. It is impossible to renounce dominance in all its forms because dominance can be incredibly useful. Dominant behavior exists in nature to such an extent that it is often conflated with "nature" (although of course nature is equally a pond as much as it is a tidal wave).

The desire to dominate exists in the self, but why is it so rarely felt as the desire to dominate the self? To subordinate and win control over one's worst urges and tendencies? It spins outwards instead. Other people seem easier to take control over than oneself, because other people appear static and one's self is always shifting. 

Which brings us back again to gender. To see "women" as a foreign country you must conquer is the definition of denying them personhood. To assume that to fuck a woman is to take something from her, to degrade her as a person in some way, or alternately but equally insidiously, that it is to promise commitment. Yo she might just want to get laid. To assume anything about "women" as a body: that single women are lonely, that married women are happy. That you can make any universal statements about what "women" are like. You can't make any universal statements about what any group is like, because then you are denying individuals their differences. You are perpetuating your privilege. That is how stereotypes work. They are useful! It is scary!

Everybody is different. Women are not automatically Taylor Swifts just like men are not automatically whores. Believing that all men are whores/assholes/dogs is just as damaging and untrue and fucked up as believing that all women are Taylor Swifts. Even Taylor Swift is not really a Taylor Swift. Everybody is a whore sometimes.

The Nice Girl is really a Slut. Likewise, the Slut is really a Nice Girl. It works exactly the same for men. The Nice Guy is also an Asshole. The Asshole is also a really Nice Guy. There is only one type of person, and that person is a person who can be different ways with different people under different circumstances. Nobody is always nice or always awful. People are not monolithically good or bad. Everyone is capable of both. 

I never really gave too much credence to the whole virgin/whore thing because like most of the most horribly misogynist aspects of life I chose to ignore it and pretend it just didn't/would never be applied to me for as long as possible. Then in the past six months I got called a slut by three different dudes, none of whom I knew well at all.

All three of whom took it upon themselves to tell me and my female roommate (unprompted, naturally) what kind of girls we are. More specifically in one case that she is a "sexy uptight librarian" and I am a "fun bar slut." All three times I was so baffled that I didn't even react appropriately and punch them in the fucking face. 

Later I kept going back over why exactly I didn't. I think I probably didn't want to betray that it had any effect on me whatsoever. They are just words, after all. But it did have an effect on me, and the effect was "WAIT WHAT?" Because my roommate wears glasses and I am a ginger? I also wear glasses, and my roommate is really hot. You actually believe there are two different kinds of women, and they are "sexy uptight librarian" and "fun bar slut"? Was that a neg? Has that ever worked to get you laid?

But the truth was that it haunted me, because nothing is funnier than the phrase "fun bar slut." I saw it chiseled on my gravestone. "Molly Lambert: She Was A Fun Bar Slut." I don't even go to bars that much! I just thought about the episode of Laguna Beach where douchebag Stephen Coletti yells "Keep dancing on the bar SLUT" at Kristin.

That only happened on Laguna Beach. Things like that only occurred on reality television. That would never happen to me. But then it did, three times, all equally unprovoked. All sort of attempts to pick me up, I guess under the false auspices that a strong negative reaction from someone is better than no reaction at all (WRONG). 

The virgin/whore trope plays heavily into film noir. I took a film noir class in college but all I remember is that I wrote a tight paper about the sound design in The Long Goodbye and got really mad at my friend Jon when he criticized Barbara Stanwyck's wig in Double Indemnity ("IT'S PURPOSEFUL ARTIFICE!!!" I may have yelled). There are always two women, and one is a virgin and the other is a whore. One is Janet Wood and the other is Chrissy Snow. The whore is always more interesting and usually dies. 

The first time I recall my awareness of the concept of virgin/whore dichotomy was musical theater, in West Side Story. Maria is the lead. She has great songs. But Anita is so much cooler and stops the show. Maria is boringly good and humorless. Anita gets to be funny. Maria is a soprano. Anita is an alto. In chorus I sang as an alto because there were always less of them. Most girls tended to want to sing the "pretty" i.e. soprano parts rather than the less glamorous harmonies assigned to altos and men. 

I sometimes envied the sopranos, but I also found them cloyingly sweet. I thought it was ridiculously narcissistic to think you should always get to sing the lead parts. Both were within my range, and I always thought about how arbitrary it was that I considered myself an alto. I could equally have sung the soprano parts, I just happened to be singing alto. Shouldn't I be rewarded for being able to do both?

In The Hot Spot, Jennifer Connelly is a sexy uptight librarian and Virginia Madsen is a fun bar slut. Don Johnson is the fucking dude. Don Johnson is so hilariously cool in this movie. So flawlessly masculine. It's dumb as hell. Is there a term for the way male directors dehumanize their male antiheroes into overly perfect idealized objects of desire? The narcissistic male gaze? Christopher Nolan has made it his life's speciality. 

Dennis Hopper drains most of the ambiguity from the Charles Williams book and screenplay. This despite the fact that what's so great about Charles Williams is how he questions pulp's genre conventions. His femme fatales are usually the smartest characters in his books, not judged for wanting to have sex in crazy places. Rather than die at the end she wins the hero's heart and rides off into the sunset with him.

The emotionless drifter/private eye is an archetype like James Bond. Like James Bond it doesn't exist in real life anywhere. It's an ideal, seductive and imaginary. The same way the "Nice Girl" is an imaginary ideal of a woman who would never get upset about anything. The slut might get mad. She might leave you or fuck someone else. It is even possible she will murder you, since film noirs are hysterical masculine fantasies

The Hot Spot's gender politics are more than decent in the end. Virginal teenage dream Jennifer Connelly also takes topless photos and flirts with her blackmailer. She is the one who gets Don Johnson to murder someone. So much for the Nice Girl. Meanwhile Fun Slut Virginia Madsen murders her husband (while fucking him, LOL) and asks Don Johnson to fuck her in all kinds of "deviant" ways that aren't really deviant so much as they are incredibly silly. So silly that when he ends up with her it doesn't really matter (although it's a nice twist), because the love triangle feels so weightless.

I have seen The Last Movie. It is unwatchable. And I say this as somebody who will watch anything. It's incredibly boring and not shot well. You can see that the budget was spent on drugs. The Hot Spot is fucking hilarious, but one thing it is not is unwatchable. It is totally watchable. It is the kind of movie you watch on Cinemax until 4am (as I did) and wake up the next day not sure if you just had a well-lit dream.

The lighting is a character, falling somewhere between David Lynch and Zalman King, and tending towards blue and pink. What is this kind of lighting called? Erotic thriller lighting? Overlapping with neon noir? It shows up in Showgirls and Bad Influence. It calls to mind 80s porn, Miami Vice, and Cocktail. It definitely feels extremely 80s. 

Oh yeah the 80s. They were not always kind to the Easy Riders and Raging Bulls of the 60s and 70s. But then again, those guys weren't very kind to the 60s and 70s were they now? Never assume you can just rest on your past glories. Let's do a body count:

Jack Nicholson: He made some of the best movies of his career and peaked on testosterone poisoning. He starts the decade with The Shining (80) and Reds (81) and ends with making The Two Jakes (90) which presumably was the beginning of the deflation of the hubris that he was unstoppable. It's too bad, because one of the things I love about Nicholson is his extreme versatility. I like that he wrote a bunch of scripts. I liked Drive He Said. I will also point out that after Reds Jack Nicholson stopped being hot. Much like Brando he became sort of actually disgusting. He was just coasting on the idea of his previous hotness and became a dirty old man, which is why I was so confused when I found out he was actually hot in the seventies.

Dennis Hopper: Blue Velvet, Hoosiers. But Jack Nicholson still fucked your wife!

Dustin Hoffman: no1curr

Warren Beatty: Oh Warren Beatty. So much privilege to spend. Reds is one of my favorite movies, so for that alone Warren survives the 80s with his dignity intact. If Jack Nicholson is Don Draper, Warren Beatty is Roger Sterling; never taking himself seriously enough to accomplish anything truly great as an actor. And I guess there was Ishtar. Although like Heaven's Gate, Ishtar is one of those movies that is more "legendarily bad" than it is actually bad. They are both more like legendarily bloated and long, but not without their fans and moments. Beatty makes Dick Tracy the same year Jack Nicholson makes The Two Jakes. They both find out they are actors.

Bob Rafelson: After making The Postman Always Rings Twice ('81) everything on Rafelson's IMDB starts to have the word "Erotic" in it. Sorry Bob. Was it Head?

Peter Fonda: OOF.

Robert DeNiro: Jake LaMotta. DeNiro was never a partyboy. He staged Scorsese's intervention after The Last Waltz and is supposedly very mild mannered IRL, nothing like a "DeNiro character." He's just an incredible actor. He puts all his crazy in there.

Al Pacino: Scarface, the ultimate cool 70s becoming the shitty 80s movie.

Roman Polanski: You know how in every group of guys there is one guy who is the biggest asshole/fuckup and every other guy is secretly like "man, at least I'm not THAT guy" even though they are first to goad him on at parties? Roman Polanski. The guy that Jack Nicholson compares himself against when he wants to feel better about his choices. Like, cheat on Anjelica Huston? Reprehensible. Rape a child? WORSE!

Martin Scorsese: Raging BullAfter Hours and The King Of Comedy. Scorsese hustles

Francis Ford Coppola: Lost his damn mind in the jungle. But hey The Outsiders and Rumble Fish and I do enjoy Peggy Sue Got Married, especially Nic Cage's part.

Toni Basil: Hey Mickey!

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. You can read more of her work here. She last wrote in these pages about painting. She twitters here and tumbls here.

digg reddit stumble facebook twitter subscribe