Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 12, 2017

I Love You, Daddy

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 11:18 pm

As a credentialed film critic, I had the dubious distinction of being among the privileged few able to see Louis C.K.’s “I Love You, Daddy” that was supposed to premiere this month until the masturbation story broke. After saying something about the film, I’ll offer some thoughts on Louis’s downfall and those of other A-List celebrities.

While the film has the look and feel of Woody Allen’s 1979 “Manhattan”, being shot in black-and-white and never straying far from the one-percent lifestyle of its characters (the Hamptons, Upper East Side, etc.), it is much more of an extension of C.K.’s FX cable TV series “Louie” in terms of its dramatic focus. He plays the same basic character—a hapless single dad trying to cope with his daughters’ wayward behavior. The only difference is that the daughter in the film is a 17-year old that is on the verge of becoming the girlfriend of a 68-year old director that has made a habit of dating teens. If you’ve seen “Manhattan”, you’ll remember that Woody Allen’s character was dating a 17-year old (Mariel Hemingway).

Despite the very contemporary feel of the FX show that has been canceled just like the film, it is in many ways a throwback to the situation comedies of the early 60s, which frequently depicted a father trying to figure out how to solve a problem involving a teen daughter or son. “Father Knows Best”, “Leave it to Beaver” and “My Three Sons” were typical. The big difference between then and now is that “Louie” had no pat solutions to a family crisis, like when his 11-year old daughter Lily is caught smoking pot. Unlike Robert Young in “Father Knows Best”, Louie smoked pot when he was her age as well so lecturing her from on high was out of the question.

C.K.’s character is Glen Topher, a highly successful TV comedy writer and producer but with the same exact foibles as his much more economically insecure stand-up comedian avatar in the FX series. The Woody Allen character is named Leslie Goodwin and played faultlessly by John Malkovich in his characteristic reptilian manner. He is not a neurotic Jew but a Christian sybarite after the fashion of Vicomte de Valmont in “Dangerous Liaisons”.

When Topher and his daughter China are invited to a party in the Hamptons, Goodwin slithers up not long after spotting her. Within days, he has invited her to come to Paris with him as part of a group of young admirers. It seems that everybody is in awe of Leslie Goodwin, including Glen Topher whose first reaction was to scrape and bow before the legend. After all, he was a mere TV comedy writer while Goodwin likely amounted to another Ingmar Bergman in this fictional world as is the case with Woody Allen in the real world.

From this scene onward, the film consists of father and daughter confronting each other over her stubborn refusal to stop seeing Goodwin or Topher and Goodwin having words over the same issue. When Topher reminds Goodwin that he would be having sex with a minor, he replies “a minor what”. Since none of you will likely be able ever to see the film, it is no spoiler to point out that China is hardly damaged by the encounter, no more so than the Mariel Hemingway character in “Manhattan”.

As might be expected, some of the critics have savaged the film as Louis C.K.’s veiled attempt to defend his perversions. Richard Brody of the New Yorker Magazine wrote:

The result is, in effect, an act of cinematic gaslighting, an attempt to spin the tenets of modern liberal feminism into shiny objects of hypnotic paralysis. The movie declares that depredation is liberation, morality is tyranny, judgment is narrow-mindedness, shamelessness is creativity, lechery is admiration, and public complaint is private vanity.

I strongly suspect that if Louis C.K. had not been outed as a sick exhibitionist using his clout in the industry to force himself on women, these words would have never been written. Indeed, a New Yorker profile on Louis C.K. written in 2013 compared him to the great Russian novelist Gogol:

If C.K. is a feminist, or has a contribution to make to gender theory, it may be in his studies of the body. More likely, this relentless exploration of physicality is his rendition of Gogol. In a recent “questionnaire” for Vanity Fair, he named Gogol as a favorite author. This choice is particularly suggestive when you consider that, of the literary moralists he tends to favor, Gogol is the only one who’s also a comedian (his other favorites: Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Richard Wright).

I have to admit that if I had heard nothing about the masturbation scandal, the film would have evoked nothing but a big ho-hum. The truth is that despite being billed as a comedy, there is not a single minute that is funny. Like the FX show, it is bogged down in lead-footed dialogs between the major characters and is reminiscent of the “problem dramas” you see on the Lifetime cable network. Or, for that matter, despite being a warped homage to “Manhattan”, it is much more like Woody Allen’s later movies that are ponderous morality tales such as “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. Louis C.K.’s greatest crime after forcing women to watch him whack off is losing his sense of humor.

On almost a daily basis lately, there are reports about some Hollywood celebrity or another being called out for sexual offenses. It reminds me quite a bit of the Catholic Church scandals of the 1990s. If the priests took advantage of children as authority figures, in the TV and film industry it was the ability of men like Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Brett Ratner to affect the careers positively or negatively of female actresses that kept the lid on the abuses for so many years.

In a way, it is the mirror image of the scandals at Fox News that involved rightwing gentiles. This time it is liberal Jews that are getting nailed. What do they have in common? Power.

The “casting couch” has been around forever. Ever since the days of silent films, men like Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack Warner and Howard Hughes slept with starlets in exchange for helping them get cast in a movie. Although I am no expert on this aspect of Hollywood, I can’t imagine such figures masturbating into a potted plant like Harvey Weinstein did while blocking the door. It makes you wonder if sex was the purpose of such behavior. It is possible that the sole purpose was to punish women for ever having rejected Harvey Weinstein or Louis C.K. Considering the way Weinstein looked and C.K.’s needy persona, they must have had their fair share of women telling them no—not ever.

The best analysis I have read of this aberrant behavior is an interview with sex therapist Alexandra Katehakis titled “Why Men Force Women to Watch Them Masturbate”:

What are the psychological motivations behind it?

I don’t know what it’s like to hold a penis and do that. But from what I know about men, it does make them feel powerful. He’s got his prey in the corner, which provides a kind of a gratification. There’s also something inherently really primitive and childish about forcing a woman to watch you masturbate. It’s almost like “Look at me.” And there’s the possibility that he feels wanted, as disordered as that might sound. He might feel like she’s here and she’s seeing me and she wants me. But the fact that she’s also scared and humiliated makes him feel powerful and aroused. There is a sense of power, plus a hostile revenge. That combination is what creates the high for this particular act.

Another element to consider is the nature of the entertainment industry itself, which has managed to sidestep the affirmative action that has become universal in corporate American and enforced by Human Resources departments anxious to avoid bad publicity and hefty legal fees. A place like Goldman-Sachs, where I used to work, had a glass ceiling for women but you’d never see Robert Rubin jerking off into a potted plant.

Despite its liberal pretensions, Hollywood is a place with deeply reactionary social relations. Just keep in mind that the most respected liberal director in the industry is one of the most backward as was pointed out in a comment on my blog:

[Oliver] Stone’s films are noteworthy for the machismo that runs through them, all the way back to “Platoon” and “The Doors”. “The Doors” provides some great insight here, given that the subject, Jim Morrison, is not political, revealing the hypnotic machismo that Stone centers at the heart of American culture. The movie comes across as a love letter from Stone to Morrison. Stone’s personalized political vision is one where mass political organization and radical feminism have no place because the ultimate objective is the empowerment of a hypermasculine leader capable of positively transforming society from above.

So, it’s predictable that Stone would be seduced by Putin. He’d probably make a movie about Putin if he could find the financing for it. The flip side of Stone’s political homoeroticism is the hostile gay stereotypes that he presents in “JFK”. He would also present women in the same way if he found a place for them in his movies.

Oh, did I mentioned that Stone has been caught up in the web as the NY Daily News reported just a month ago?

While Oliver Stone defended Harvey Weinstein amid more than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and assault, a former Playboy Playmate accused the “Platoon” director of sexual assault.

Carrie Stevens, who was best known as Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in June 1997 but also had several small movie and TV roles, claimed Thursday that Stone had grabbed her breast at a party.

The 48-year-old model told the Daily News that she was at a party at producer Ted Field’s home in honor of Stone more than 20 years ago when Stone walked up to her standing by the front door.

“He was really cocky, had this big grin on his face like he was going to get away with something,” Stevens, who was 22 at the time, told The News.

At that point, Stone “reached out and…honked it like a horn,” she said, describing him as “an immature guy in elementary school who snaps your bra.”

 

1 Comment »

  1. I’m not sure of this, but recently I’ve been wondering why moralists on the U.S. pseudo-left reach such heights of hysteria about “pedophilia,” defining the term to include, without a distinction, both the actual rape of infants and five-year-olds and liaisons between adults and sexually mature (or at least sexually functioning) adolescents.

    Rape and sexual harassment are what they are–and the sterling examples of Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein and others should send everyone scurrying in the opposite direction. Even if sex between consenting adults and at least some adolescents could be justified biologically, there is a) no reason why a “normal” person so inclined can’t look elsewhere for gratification, and b) in any case rape is rape, and near-rape is harassment or attempted rape. Men using power to coerce sex is a social evil that must be rooted out. Donald Trump, the pussy-grabber, has demonstrated the truth of this for all to see.

    But I can’t help noticing that much of the self-exculpating excitement circles around white adolescent “children.” Those Kipling called “lesser breeds” just don’t seem to get into it to nearly the same extent.

    I suspect that the inviolability of ‘white” “children” and the white famliy lends wings to the otherwise justifiable outcry. Is it any accident that the Jew Polanski, situated as he is on the shifting border between whiteness and otherness, is marked for death by the American left and right alike?

    The only way to be sure about this is to peer into people’s unconscious minds, which is a hugely problematic enterprise at the social level, if not downright impossible. If what I am saying is true, those guilty of this cunning displacement of outrage are likely to lie about it not only to others but more importantly to themselves–they may not even be aware of their own unconscious tendency.

    Nevertheless, without distracting from the need to oppose sexual harassment and rape even if it means diminishing sexual “freedom” (whatever that may mean) a deeper examination of the cynically constructed god Serapis called “the white race” certainly would have to cover the myth of holy childhood as defined in the ideology of whiteness, and this will include the propensity\ of those enjoying white privilege to erect a firm defensive perimeter of women and children around whatever vile hypocrisy they are bravely defending at the moment.

    This may be a case in point of the need to think rather than simply putting a minus where the Weinsteins and Trumps of the world put a plus.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — November 13, 2017 @ 12:41 pm


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