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The skin he lived in

Friday, January 06, 2012


In the devastating film SHAME by Steve McQueen, the flat one-dimensional view of a man shatters when a “virus” disables his full access to his obsessive skin slapping portals. Instead of his usual release rate, the possibilities for discharge are diminished creating a bump in his clockwork behaviour and his dreadfully stiff suit.

The subject matter of this desolate, almost documentary film might hit closer to home than some of us might like to admit. This is not an exceptional behaviour. With internet connections as common and accessible as the fridge door, there are more options for more people of every circle, square and feather. The nature of your thrill is just another variable in the infinite sadness of another.

The protagonist can afford, without difficulty, so many deluxe packages of sexual diversions that he can barely afford the time or energy for enjoyment. Moments of pleasure are meagre due to his tightly wound hard drive and the high stress levels of a hide and seek lifestyle. The motions he goes through are sought out by a habit and profit-seeking mechanism. Like a robot following a string of commands, he puts his body in an almost constant state of tension. When he is not hard at work in front of the company computer, swell in a bathroom stall or sticking it to a piece of furniture in a hotel room, he’s on the prowl for his next hit.

His precious privacy and secret sex sphere are cracked open when his sister comes to town. This woman, who turns out to be a useless piece of flesh, invades his obsessive zone by simply being a spectator of his life. It becomes impossible for him to practice his shameful activities in the presence of a woman, a sister, a needy creature with an abyss he cannot satisfy… he is unable to appease her in any way. He is unavailable physically and emotionally. Like a zombie, he doesn’t follow a code of ethics, rules of engagements or honour system. He answers to impulses only. When he is cornered into confronting emotional unrest, he runs away, physically and emotionally, leaving the virus to multiply itself in the space in between.

The film is light on dialogue but it goes straight to the point and around it, you feel the weight of every silence and stare. The only way you could sit comfortably through this film is by being detached of any kind of social consciousness and its fragile raison d’etre.

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posted by Primessa Espiritu
7:18 pm



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