Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki, 1995)

For once I'd like to see a Skinny Puppy reference that is actually pertinent to the film being "discussed" on this site. Oh, really? And another thing, I'm getting tired of this, "Oooh, I liked Skinny Puppy in the '80s, I'm so cool," schtick of yours. All we want from you is for you to describe, in intricate detail, of course, the delicate smoothness of Soledad Miranda's thighs and that's pretty much it. We don't want to hear about how the killer in some bargain basement slasher flick reminded you of a super-obscure Skinny Puppy side project that you and maybe five other dweebs know about. Okay, you make some salient points. But what if I told you that the film I just watched features a cameo by the members of the actual group? Get out of here. No, it's true. They were in it. Well then, I guess you have no choice but to mention them. That's all I needed to hear. To the surprise of virtually no-one, Skinny Puppy make their acting debut, credited as "Skinny Puppy," in Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation, the rectal-obsessed road movie that defined a decade. Wait a second, I don't think this film necessarily defined any decade. If anything, it's anti-grunge, pro-Cocteau Twins stance was the complete opposite of what the decade in question eventually stood for. Yeah, I know. It's just that I've always wanted to attach that almost alliterative tag to something, and why not gently lick its festering bottom and stick it to this flick. Just in case you don't know what decade I'm referring to, I'm talking about the 1990s, the caustic puke stain of numerically labeled chunks of time. Oh, please. You loved the '90s. Whatever. Eat my fuck.
Oops! It looks like I let the "eat my fuck" out of the bag earlier than I originally intended. Well, since it's already running around inside your brain like a verbal typhoon, I might as well mention that, "eat my fuck," the infamous line uttered by Rose McGowan during the film's first, of many, convenience store scenes is probably one of my favourite expressions ever. While people were trying to figuring out how Donnie Darko would go about "sucking a fuck," Rose McGowan was telling folks to eat her fuck five years before any fucks would be sucked by anyone who was a real fuck-ass.
"Eat my fuck." It has a certain disorienting dignity about it. I can only imagine what a kind of damage a phrase like that might do to the psyche of the person unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of such a perplexing remark. And make no mistake, it will flummox, hell, it may even discombobulate, those who hear it, especially those who haven't heard it before.
Nowadays, people use fuck in all sorts of different and creative ways. Why, just the other day while riding the subway, I heard a little girl call her mommy a "fucking fuckface fucker." Which she probably got from Brittany Murphy in Spun. But where did Spun get the courage to mix it up fuck-wise? You guessed it, they got it from Gregg Araki, a man who sees crass insults not as flavourless mush to be spread on the whitest bread sixty-six cents can buy, but as an opportunity to stretch his linguistic muscles.
Most writers view vulgarity through a narrow prism, Gregg Araki on the other hand approaches language with a playful zeal. Sure, it can come across as pompous at times, some might even say it sounds forced in places. But it's obvious, when you listen to the dialogue carefully, that a real effort has been made to make sure each word comes across as a unique ray of oral sunshine.
The film opens on Rose McGowan's gorgeous face bathed in red light as "Heresy" by Nine Inch Nails blasts over the sound system at some lame ass nightclub. Hey, why are you calling it "lame ass"? What are you kidding? I don't want to hear Nine Inch Nails. Okay, I'll tolerate "Sin," but I don't want to hear angst-ridden lyrics sung in a voice that hasn't been distorted. Anyway, Amy Blue, the name of Rose McGowan's character, agrees with me, and tells her mentally-challenged boyfriend, Jordan White (James Duval), that she would like to vacate the premises immediately. Only, she doesn't say it in such a calm and rational manner. In fact, nothing Amy does in this film could be construed as calm or rational.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Gregg Araki is a huge Slowdive fan. Since my favourite Gregg Araki film, Nowhere, starts off with a Slowdive song, "Avalyn II," it only makes sense that he include "Alison" during Amy and Jordan's drive-in sex scene. Well, they sort of have sex. What I'm saying is, they don't fuck at all. In Jordan's defense (who currently feels like a gerbil smothering in Richard Gere's butt-hole), I would have been too distracted to have car seat intercourse with Rose McGowan as well. Oh my god! You better be making one helluva point, because what you're saying so far sounds downright stupid. Don't worry, it's not. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. I couldn't focus on penetrating Rose McGowan's pussy because I would be too tempted to pet her bangs every time I attempted to mount her utilizing my primary thrusting platform. Just for record: my p.t.p. has been humping vaginas since the late 1960s. See, I told you. That wasn't stupid at all.  
"Wake up, cocksucker! Time to die!" Whoa, did Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy just quote Brion James from Blade Runner? Let me check. Holy crap. He did just quote Brion James from Blade Runner. Sure, he put a little mustard on it (Brion James doesn't say, "cocksucker"), but it's essentially the same line. Oh, and in case you're wondering why he said that: The members of Skinny Puppy assault Xavier Red (Jonathan Schaech), a cum-licking reprobate who will test the horizontal fortitude of Amy and Jordan's long term relationship (they have been together for three months). Finding refuge in Amy's car, Xavier escapes their murderous rage. Why did the members of Skinny Puppy want to kill Xavier? Well, as we'll soon find out, I doesn't take long for someone to get to the point where they want to do harm to Xavier's organic structure. What can I say? He brings out the worst in people.
If you thought Amy Blue was disagreeable before, you should see her when she's has X breathing down her neck. Oh, and he's now called "X." Why? Um, let's just say Jordan found the name "Xavier" to be way too complicated from a letter arrangement point-of-view. After making one too many crude references to her genitals, Amy kicks X out of the car.
Hearing her girlfriend's birth canal called practically everything listed in the Big Book of Cunt Euphemisms has made Jordan a tad peckish. In order to alleviate this peckishness, Jordan suggests they head to the nearest Quickiemart for some grub. It's at this point in the film when all your taint hairs should be standing at attention. Why's that? What do you mean, "why's that"? Isn't it obvious? Rose McGowan is about to say, "Eat my fuck."
Told by the Quickiemart clerk, Nguyen Suk Kok (Dustin Nguyen), that there's no smoking allowed in his store, Amy obliges and throws her cigarette on the floor and extinguishes it with one of her black Doc Marten-adorned feet. When the clerk insists that she put the improperly discarded butt in the trash, Amy, without hesitation, tells him to, "Eat my fuck." I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. It's probably one of the most inspirational moments in the history of cinema. Forget about, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" or "Here's looking at you, kid." "Eat my fuck." is the greatest movie quote of all-time.
When Jordan and Amy discover they don't have the 6.66 to pay for his disgusting hot dogs and slush-based beverage, Nguyen Suk Kok pulls out a shotgun and points it at them. Don't worry, X shows up just in the nick of time and blows Nguyen's head off; much to chagrin of Mrs. Suk Kok, played by Margaret Cho. After that act of violence, The Doom Generation morphs into a kind of demented road movie, where X, Amy and Jordan become fugitives. Well, sort of.  There's not much of a police presence in this movie. But their violent antics, or, I should say, X's violent antics (Amy and Jordan don't actually do anything wrong) do make the evening news; anchored by Lauren Tewes and Christopher Knight.
Hopping from one cheap motel to another (cheap, they may be, but the interior design of each room is stunning), and consuming a lot of bad food, X, Amy and Jordan fuck, kill and eat their way across America.
My favourite encounters during their cross country journey being their confrontations with Amy's ex-boyfriend, a Carnoburger cashier played by Nicky Katt, and Brandi (Parker Posey), Amy's secret lesbian lover. The highlight of the confrontation with Nicky Katt, besides his Devo-inspired Carnoburger uniform, was when Nicky says the line, "My pearly dewdrops drops." Now, I don't know if Nicky Katt knew where that line originally came from. But the fact that characters in this movie use the names of Cocteau Twins songs as dialogue is pretty awesome.
Besides John Hughes, are there any other filmmakers out there who come close to touching Gregg Araki when it comes to music? I don't think so. And I'm not just saying that because his obsession with industrial music and shoegazer bands of the early '90s eerily reflected my taste at the time. Okay, maybe I am. So what? You still can't deny that his music choices add a lot of unexpected appeal to his movies. In addition to that, I also like the fact that he prefers to include remixed or extended versions of the songs he uses.
The act of heading downtown to buy, oh, let's say, the latest Nitzer Ebb 12 inch, is something that I miss greatly. And The Doom Generation, strangely enough, manages to capture that sense of loss perfectly. Watch closely, as you can see it in the face of Rose McGowan as she stares longingly at "1983–1991," the This Mortal Coil box set, during a stop at a record store.
When Rose says, "I miss my records," I nodded slightly in agreement. In fact, I agreed so much, that after the film was over, I went and spent some quality time with my records. Sure, I have nothing to play them on, but I nestled each one gently against my bosom.
Just when you thought this film couldn't get any more relatable, Jordan tells X all about that time they lost his mom's car while attending a Thrill Kill Kult concert. It's true, I didn't lose a car at the Thrill Kill Kult concert I attended way back when. But I do remember the band being four hours late, and that my shoes (creepers with skull buckles) were killing my feet. Didn't you have some shoe issues at that late '90s Sisters of Mercy show? Hey, you remember that. Cool. Yeah, I always seem to experience shoe problems whenever I go to concerts. You try to look your best, and what happens? You either end up standing there for hours on end (my shoes weren't designed for standing) or some guy would step on them (I'm looking you, white guy with dreadlocks at the Spooky-era Lush concert).
Anyway, enough of my jibber jabbing. Just like Nowhere, I seemed to enjoy The Doom Generation more the second time around. I don't know, the reoccurring 6.66 gag didn't seem as lame, the belt buckle scene was adorable (Jordan "tards out" over X's holographic rodeo themed belt buckle), the Heidi Fleiss cameo was better than expected (she says "6.66" the best - half asleep with an air malice), the sex scene between Rose McGowan (whose skin is immaculate in this film) and James Duval (who was at the height of his cluelessness) set to "On" by The Aphex Twin was hotter than I initially remembered. Oh, and, of course, "Eat my fuck" will never lose its appeal.


  1. Hi. How's your mayor doing?

    You know what I learned today? There is a Canadian Four Corners border!

    Apparently, it's in the middle of freaking nowhere, and the border marker doesn't even mention Nunavut. Bastards.

  2. I think the mayor's busy telling people he's not a crack addict. In other words, same old, same old.

    Doesn't it say the border marker was from the early '60s? Remember, Nunavut wasn't a thing back then. Anyway, not only did you learn something, I learned something as well.

    Oh, and Chalk Circle play Lee's Palace on June 7, 2013.

  3. So SKINNY PUPPY are only in the film for around a minute?

    I just got the new album. Will listen soon.

    I always thought Nine Inch Nails was completely lame. I continue to stand by that.

  4. I wish they [Skinny Puppy] were in the movie for around a minute. No, I would say they're onscreen for no longer than ten seconds.

    As Seinfeld would say, they're "quite lame!" I like the Johnny Cash cover of "Hurt." :D

  5. When I was a teenager from mars I rented the Unrated version of this and after I watched it, put it in my parent's VCR so they could do the same. I hid close around the corner, giggling to myself as my pops got more and more pissed off by the film's filthy nature. He spewed curse words at the screen, calling the movie garbage... but it wasn't until X licked his own jizz of his hand after masturbating to the bathtub fuck scene that I heard the loud scream of "HELL FUCKING NO Turn this shit off now!" And so out came the VHS. I guess that was his breaking point.

  6. A classic example of teenage tomfoolery done right. :D

  7. So when will we get back on track with the delicate smoothness of Soledad Miranda's thighs and SKINNY PUPPY references? All this reference to non-Spanish goddesses and sub-standard industrial is making my migraine act up.

  8. Vapyros Lesbos and She Killed in Ecstasy will have to be consumed to accommodate the former. As for the latter. I have a couple of Skinny Puppy references coming in the not-so distant future. Maybe even another a;GRUMH one.

  9. Today, I can't stop listening to the Big Supreme's "Don't Walk." I found the 45 when I was doing some spring (summer?) cleaning.

    Poor Nunavut. I know when the monument was erected the province did not exist, but I would think that some Canadian would care enough to amend the monument--Sharpie? Post-it Note? Wait--is Nunavut a province? Or a territory? Would Rob Ford know the answer to that question?

    Along with that awesome Chalk Circle news, Arkells and Joel Plaskett are playing something called TURF? I might seriously make the trip if it weren't our independence holiday.

  10. Loves me some Big Supreme.

    I came across two pristine copies (well, the jackets were pristine) of Strange Advance's The Distance Between while browsing Sonic Boom the other day. I would have bought one (4 bucks), but, like I said in this review, I don't have a turntable. :(

    Forget about TURF, grab your backpack and head up to Nunavut and amend the shit out of that neglected monument. ;)

    Our leggy lesbian premier probably knows the answers to all your Nunavut-related queries. ;)

  11. I want to re-watch this one for my 90's blog a thon next month!

  12. I've found that the film gets better after the fifth viewing. ;)

  13. You're one helluva blogger. I like it. The 90s ..... and the cool industrial music that went with the indie films of it's era. Cool.

  14. I have a 'doom generation' mini comic book that was handed out at the screening of the movie- anyone know what its worth?