Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Soft Readings of Hard Pulp or Sometimes a Carrot is NOT just a Carrot

imageShoot’em Up is a subtle critique on the preponderant narcissism of violence and sex that is ubiquitous in the movie  industry by being painfully over-the-top.  It intrepidly parries violence with violence, originating from two different discursive modes, by setting the traditional "shoot em up" tropes over and against the violence done towards good “film sense” utilizing ludicrous, and on one level, mindless camp. Clive Owen's performance is so awkwardly pultaceous that it exposes the internal paradox within the movie, which is further highlighted by his child-like obsession with carrots. The carrot is really a semiotic exchange, the value of which in this symbolic economy represents the trade-off between action movie spectacle and a desire for narrative and aesthetic cohesion. In other words, the heteronormative obsession with violence will only be sated (temporarily) at the cost of a more neutered and dispassionate appreciation of film craft. The deployment of a gendered discourse is made clearer through an analysis of the gun and carrot, which are the phallocentric images that drive and divide the movie towards its climax. The close-up of the no-man Smith biting a carrot has an eerily Freudian implication. Those implications become fully realized psychoanalytic themes as we are introduced to pregnant and lactating prostitutes, a symbolic merging of feminine archetypes irrupting unexpectedly (the sort of unexpectedness a prostitute might experience if she was, in fact, expecting) into the hyper-masculine universe of the film’s gun-toting milieu. Furthermore, these symbols swirl around the simulacra of a public figure, whose images on TV are phantasmagorical projections concealing the decaying body politic as metaphorically exhibited by the suffering/conniving politician. Of course, the revelation of the connection between the dying Senator and the infant offers a further nuance to the previously considered juxtapositions-that of the interplay between Thanatos and Eros. Also, Monica Bellucci is smokin’ hot in this.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Sometimes a carrot is just a carrot.

Also, get out of my brain. I just watched this yesterday.