Despite my liking for Andy Warhol’s work, I am by no means Gay.
I’m extremely certain of this fact. My not being Gay, that is. I’m happily married, and still find the contents of my wife’s underpants as attractive now as when we first met.
So I’m most definitely not Gay.
I like women.
I don’t find men in the least bit attractive. Transsexuals? Okay yes, Very. But that’s because they look (and act) like women. So I’m not gay in the least.
At least I don’t think so.
Which brings me to the weird Japanese enigma called Funeral Parade of Roses.
A 1969 black and white masterpiece by Japanese director Toshio Matsumoto.
Loosely a Gay reworking of the Oedipus myth (you remember, the dude who killed his father and married his mother? Invert that and see what you get!), it transcends that story by degrees of levitation.
There’s an obscene beauty to this movie.
I had no idea what it was about when I began watching it (even the Oedipus linkage only became apparent afterwards when I read online reviews) but I couldn’t stop watching.
And I’d happily watch it again. More than once even.
Which brings me to a point. Most ‘minority/interest group’ movies generally end up ruined because rather than simply tell a story, the writer and/or director is trying to make some kind of point, usually in favour of the interest group depicted. (Black directors make black-empowerment movies, Lesbian directors make Lesbian empowerment movies etc . . . It’s all gotten a bit unempowering . . .)
I can think of any number of Blaxploitation flicks which do nothing for me because of the amount of ‘anti-white’ emotion/messaging they project at the audience. AND I’M BLACK!!!. Watching some of those movies, you imagine the producers simply decided not to bother with plot or quality–a strong ‘race empowerment’ ‘message was deemed sufficient to sell the films to their target audience i.e. the African-American community.
You might say the times have changed. Maybe they have, but I still watch ‘Superfly’, ‘Foxy Brown’, ‘Coffy’ or the first ‘Shaft’ movie today, and enjoy them, for the pure QUALITY OF THEIR STORIES, while I simply can’t stand many of the others.
What’s my point? That cinema isn’t a vehicle for getting your point(s) across to the audience. It’s entertainment, not propaganda.
It’s odd how few filmmakers seem to remember that nowadays.
Toshio Matsumoto didn’t however . . .
So back to Funeral Parade of Roses. It’s a story about people. Gay people, true–but PEOPLE nonetheless. The characters aren’t victims (like they’d be in a Hollywood flick). They’re shown living their lives, warts and all, with no attempt to make them into ‘ideal’ or ‘better’ Gay people, so we’ll be more accepting of our homosexual neighbors.
And that in itself is the movie’s strength: we do see them as people, people like ourselves.
Okay, but remember it’s an Oedipus trip, and very few of us will EVER go as far as our hero/heroine, the young transvestite Eddie does, but still . . .
So why am I so vehemently protesting my ‘not gayness’? Because this is a disturbingly sexy movie if you’re straight. From the very first scene you’re submerged in it’s eroticism. And it never let’s up. Particularly because the lead character is so impossibly beautiful, you’re hooked and reeled in like a fish into his homo-seductive underworld.
I mean this seriously.
Funeral Parade of Roses should come with a Government Health Warning: Danger, This Film Might Make You Gay’, or something like that.
At the very least, it’ll make you wonder. It made me wonder.