Saturday, March 8, 2014

Harry Potter's Hairy Bottom

Poor Daniel Radclilffe. He just can't escape the curse of the major franchise. As long as he continues in his present boyish phase, he will always be affectionately known to us as Harry Potter, no matter how many diverse roles he undertakes. His most accomplished acting performance to date is in the very interesting gay themed movie, Kill Your Darlings. It recounts the sexual awakening of the very young gay poet, Alan Ginsberg and the true life story of his relationship with young 18 year old, Lucien Carr, who would go on to 'murder' his homosexual friend and 'stalker,' David Kammerer. Carr would eventually be arrested for the murder and would plead 'honor killing' as his defense, the right of a 'straight man' to resist to the point of killing, the advances of any homosexual 'predator'. A heinous defense which is no longer accepted in the law courts (though the twinkie defense of Dan White in the killing of SF supervisor Harvey Milk comes close). The film is a very interesting exploration of gay sexual awakening and represents young Mr, Radcliffe's most mature acting work so far (I've never been impressed with his acting skills, but this film began to change my view). I know little about the real Lucien Carr (who spent a mere 18 months in a reformatory for the killing and went on to be married twice and fathered three children), but the film suggests at least (whether fairly or accurately or not) that he was dealing with some repressed homosexual tendencies of his own which were causing him considerable self-loathing and which eventually led to his murdering his gay friend. Interesting point of view that simply reflects the common opinion of psychologists - no, not that all people are partly gay - but that sexual orientation is a complex matter and human beings are spread all across the spectrum. Edmund White's protagonist, Will, is 'completely straight,' with nary a whisper of interest in another man. The film version of Lucien Carr less so, which leads to tragic consequences - only highlighting how destructive any repressed and unacknowledged sexual tendencies can be, particularly in a culture which fosters self-loathing through its own homophobia.

Daniel Radcliffe and his love interest in Kill Your Darlings. 


Yes, there is the much touted sex scene (how wearisome the hype), in which young Harry Potter raises his legs in the air to allow his hairy bottom to be penetrated by a casual pickup, thereby losing his virginity for the first time. Not a very romantic encounter, more's the pity for a first time. Fortunately for us and for young Mr. Radcliff, he positions his fingers adroitly so we are spared any view of his dangling participles. This may be a disappointment for some of Radcliffe's fans, but it was a relief to me. I had seen enough of Daniel's bouncing parts in his London stage debut in Equus. Sitting first row with a lesbian friend who had bought me the ticket as a birthday present, we both noticed that during the nude scenes, every time Radcliffe turned his back to us, he pulled on his willy, attempting no doubt to increase its diminutive size. Unfortunately, this action only served to make the Potter Penis ever more bashfully shy, withdrawing into the security of Radcliffe's groin, until it was the size of a modest mushroom. A lesson to be learned there, for as Daniel said in a subsequent interview, "Not one of my shining moments."

He's come a long way since then, and his recent film is a decent, valuable exploration of gay themes and the difficulties of coming out to oneself, let alone to others, though one does get tired of all of these straight boys playing gay characters. It simply doesn't quite work!

One final note, "Kill your darlings," is a line of advice from famed American writer, William Faulkner and it refers to the need to scrap from your writing all of those embellished purple passages of which you are most fond, but which only clog up the work and prevent it from being honest, direct and true. Kill your darlings. But this could just as well be a bit of spiritual advice, Buddhist first, Christian perhaps second. Kill all of those attachments and aversions that prevent you from centering yourself upon the interior peace of your inner being, the inner sanctum of joy, that can only be reached by radical but balanced self denial. Those darlings may be your penchant for sensual pleasures, but they may also be your addictions to institutions of power with which your ego has identified for its own self aggrandizement. And they may also be your addiction to hate this or that group of people you view as outside the pale of normalcy and beyond the sacrosanct boundaries of your tribe. Kill your darlings, that you may love freely and radically in peace and joy. 

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