I’ve recently watched Spring Breakers and was very surprised. I was writing down a couple of thoughts when I saw João Henriques’ post about that image with Madonna, so I decided to make a post, since the issues have a lot to do with one another. It’s about pop culture, for sure, about contemporary icons, about guns as symbols of power and masculinity (and about their phallic symbolism of course), but it is also about these female heroines in Korine’s movie and what is happening with the feminist movement or should I jump ahead and call it pseudo-feminism?
First and foremost it should be said that Harmony is his own master. He almost comes forward as authentic. Apart from Kids (1995), which he wrote and Larry Clark directed, his other movies were really far out experimental, subjective and visual trips. But then there’s this.
Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is a pop poem (in his own terms). I’ll add it is a poem of the best kind, it is art. In being a poem it is not about the words that make its form or its content but about the sound that makes the linguistic understanding once it is read, listened or seen by the receptor’s mind. In “Art, Inactivity, Politics” (2007), Giorgio Agamben asks: What in fact is a poem if not a linguistic operation which renders language inoperative by de‑activating its communicative and informative functions in order to open it to a new possible use?
Spring Breakers, besides being about that alien-like holidays the americans have while “we” are on easter break, it’s about a rite of passage of 4 girls who, along with James Franco’s gangsta character, Alien, are the main characters of the movie. Selena Gomez plays one of the four, Faith, the one who has a religious education and turns out to be more quiet, afraid ans super-ego friendly than the others. In a scene where she’s at church we can hear someone saying that temptations present themselves with a way out. It seems like her character was enlightened by it.
Soon in the narrative we know the girls are badass, since they robe a store to get money to go on Spring Break. While on holidays, partying hard, smoking, drinking, doing drugs, they get arrested. They wear bikinis thru out almost the entire movie, even when they go to court. Alien bails them out. He is a proper gangsta with golden teeth and all, big house, fast cars, lot of cash, lot of guns, babes, and he even has the ATL twins working for him. Except for Faith, the other 3 girls stick around and then Korine’s fantasies come to life. He puts the 3 in bikinis and wearing pink ski masks (Korine’s iconic take on pussy-riot, no mistake here), holding big guns, standing next to Alien at a sunset-side piano and singing Britney Spears’ ballad “Everytime”. It’s fucking unforgettable! It’s hyper-stylized! It’s superficial! It’s about hipper-aestetization and superficiality, about the look of things, about the idea of power, how easy it is to grab someone’s attention and make him/her feel submissive, as if the one giving the statement is always in a higher moral position to lead the way.
Being that the theme is superficiality, lets go ahead and introduce the simplest idea ever of what feminism is by repeating what the majority of the media are saying: that chicks with guns is an exercise of female empowerment. Could it be more literal? Yeah, yeah, the guns stand for the guys cocks, so it’s like they’re holding their weapons which, per se, should be read as saying that the only important thing in a man is his sexuality and that a woman isn’t good enough if she is not in control of her own body and his. Gender equality? Forget it. Just see Feman. Feminism, so they should think, is not about gender equality in social, political, emotional, private and public opportunities and affairs, it seems to be about showing that women are the greatest. As I see it, that’s what Madonna stands for. Unfortunately for them, things are much more complicated and this is getting too big. Just watch the movie if you can, it’s a breath of fresh air to say the least.