Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Painless" doesn't begin to describe it

The thesis script I'm writing this year has as a prominent character a suicide-obsessed young girl who is intended (everything's okay with good intentions) to personify the muddy, 1990s, post-Cobain notions of ascension-through-nihilism that we can lump in under the general banner of "suicide chic". This is a phenomenon that has fascinated me since it was prominent: put simply, for a while in the 90s, suicide was sexy as all get out.

I was worried that a character personifying this notion might be regarded negatively by some, and then I saw the new Rhapsody advertisement.

Oh, I see now. Suicide is, in fact, awesome. Also: still sexy.

Other sexy suicides:

Rules of Attraction: It's hard to express how much I hate the final shot of this scene. It's like for a second, this was a wrenching, gripping scene, and then you had to remind us that it was being directed by King Dickwad Roger Avary.

The Royal Tenenbaums: This scene either proves that Wes Anderson (a) has a really good music collection; or (2) can make anything sound good. I suppose the test would be to substitute any other background music and see if it still sounds good. (Yakketty Sax would be cheating).

Pretty much the exact same scene happens in Empire Records, but this scene (as well as having better music) realises that you don't actually NEED to have a suicide scene AND a haircut scene; you can just use the haircut as a suicide metaphor. Clever!

Heathers: The only actual successful suicide in teen-suicide satire Heathers is that of the antagonist, JD. It's cleverly covered: while the character is a snarky, articulate suicide-bomber, his actual suicide occurs offscreen and is robbed of its intended meaning or gravitas. JD is a devilishly sexy antagonist, but his final act is one of intended self-aggrandisement (witness the Jesus Christ Pose @ 1:57) that backfires into just looking stupid in front of Winona Ryder and vanishing ignominiously from the consciousness of his intended victims.

Last Days: Finally, a fictionalised depiction of the suicide that defined its generation. An effective deterrent for any would-be self-slaughterers by virtue of being one of the tritest, least-interesting, head-slappingly obvious scenes ever committed to film. Remember, kids: teen suicide is just another spectacle that's been co-opted by the Man and wrung dry of meaningful content, so why bother?

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