We’ve given our slaps, we’ve thrown our punches, and now it’s time to finish things once and for all with a heart-stopping, face-crunching roundhouse kick. That’s right–today we close this chapter on those cultural criminals most deserving of a knockdown, drag-out, barroom fight.
This metaphorical throw down has been just that—metaphorical. It was and is this writer’s passive aggressive attempt to make a stand for the arts community and culture in general.
Arts matter, folks. Most of you already know that; hell, most of you are the artists who are making it matter. And so when I roll up my metaphorical sleeves and give one cultural curmudgeon or another a bloody nose, I’d like to think you’re standing right there with me, broken bottle in hand, ready to pounce the moment I hit the ground like a bag of wet cement.
In the first week, we gave Prime Minister Stephen Harper a slap for ignoring the over one-hundred letters that novelist Yann Martel sent to him. We figured you didn’t care about the arts, Mr. Harper, but now we know.
Last week, we sucker punched comedian Russell Peters for co-hosting Charlie Sheen’s “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option Show” during its Toronto dates. Sheen is funny only because he’s crazy, but crazy isn’t comedy, and so in supporting Sheen’s antics, Peters did a disservice to his profession.
Which brings us to our third and final candidate.
ROUNDHOUSE KICKED: Tom Six
The infamous roundhouse kick is one of the most powerful kicks you can deliver; its affect can be devastating. This is why we reserve such punishment for only the worst of our cultural con men. And I can think of no one more deserving than Dutch film writer and director Tom Six.
Granted, he’s not a household name, though he has directed several films, such as Gay In Amsterdam and Honeyz.
If you’ve heard of him, though, it’s most likely because of the film he released in 2010.
And that film is none other than The Human Centipede (First Sequence), a movie that gained considerable notoriety among horror fans, and quickly became the-movie-you-see-just-to-say-you’ve-seen-it.
In a nutshell, the story follows a German doctor who kidnaps three tourists and surgically transforms them into a human centipede by joining them mouth to anus. You can view the trailer below:
Before we go any farther, I’ll state outright that I’m not opposed to the film’s premise. The horror genre can be a powerful conduit for exploring and deconstructing society’s fears, taboos, anxieties, and even desires. The exploration doesn’t need to be directly stated; in fact, the subtler the commentary, the better.
The problem with The Human Centipede (First Sequence), however, is that it’s a dumb movie. The plot is a mess, the dialogue is grating, and the logic is non-existent. Simply put, it is plain old bad storytelling.
If it succeeds at all, it’s at being mildly disturbing. And if that’s all I was looking for, I could just as easily google “2 Girls 1 Cup” or “BME Pain Olympics: Final Round.”
But it didn’t have to be this way. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) could have offered a means of exploring, for example, how we define our physical selves, how that conception can be broken down, and how our fears and anxieties over maintaining that sense of our physical selves very much defines us as humans.
Instead, Tom Six gives us crater-sized plot holes, girls eating poop, and a German mad scientist.
And for that most maddening of cultural infractions, writer and director Tom Six deserves (and thereby receives) a walloping roundhouse kick to the head.
Rowing For Pleasure is a weekly opinions column written by Z S Roe. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.