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2013 04 04 I’m paused in Divergent: a preposterous distopia. As in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World the population is stratified into specialties. Instead of Greek letters in a Greek order, it’s English names specifying social roles: Either you’re intelligent and know everything; Or you can husband things, grow food; Or … you’re Dauntless: soldiers, cops: you fight each other: for peace. But: like in George Orwell’s 1984 there’s good reason not to believe a single thing the authorities say. We’re told that the population is “lucky” to live in the city; in the great war everything else was destroyed …
Do we falsify this? Do we inspect the whole world? see that all is rubble? How would we know we had seen everything? Wouldn’t we be using maps from the authorities? They all look like a bunch of sadistic Nazis to me, but we’re supposed to suppose that these Nazis “serve” … We’re told that this system keeps the peace, or is supposed to: is there any reason for us to swallow such a claim? Societies don’t keep peace; they swallow permanent war-time economies, just like in Orwell, just like in the US.
I noted this title when it was released. I actively disliked Shailene Woodley in The Descendants (2011); but, there’s something there that’s attractive. The poster for Divergent
centers on her hips. Her bottom looks like a black lantern, her ass shines darkly. Some stud is perched nearby, his face practically nosing her bum. We all have bottom-feeding potential, it’s no accident that we can’t take our eyes off that poster; but the movie is repellant, stupid. Enough of her already.
I’m ready to get off on Huxley, out of Orwell; but this movie doesn’t get off, or get on.
Oh, another thing about this fantasy, this social fiction: two other things:
When my son went to college he hadn’t been a freshman for more than a week or so before he and some others trucked into Philly. The kids in the movie get tattoos: gang behavior. My son got one ear pierced. Wore a single earring thereafter.
When I was teaching college the institution was already unrecognizable to me: it didn’t relate to the society my sister and I had been raised in. Our society agitated to protect girls’ virginity at almost any cost: females to be preserved as property, property to be used by a single ruling male. Virginity is for God to pop, not you n-word (Bowdlerizing K. 2016 07 31) -slaves. That was the 1950s. In the 1960s girls and boys were in the same dorms, pooped on adjoining toilets. How’d that happen?
Regardless, a big part of Divergent is like going off to college, getting humiliated, getting fucked, get gang-tattood.
When I was at Columbia there was a thing in the school paper fantasizing a vengeful girl sneaking into her friend’s dorm room, screaming rape, getting him expelled. One of my best friends was expelled from Notre Dame for sticking his head out of the air-conditioning vent in the girls’ dorm in nearby St. Mary’s. When I was teaching the students were reading The Harrad Experiment. What happened?
Now kids go to the movies. What do they get? The Harrad Experiment. In 1984.
Sampling further: The writing is real shit-for-brains:
Tris says: “If you ever come near me again I will kill you.”
Then she adds: “Please stay away from me.”
Reminds me of the student protesters in 1969: “We demand” blah, blah … “Please, give us” blah blah. Not a clue how pathetic they look, and sound.
I’m within minutes of the end. Actually, however dumb, I like it. We can add Woodley to those actresses who are good to look at, no matter the plot, the character, the requisite “acting”.
Trouble with watching, pausing, writing, watching some more, pausing and writing some more, everything can turn into a mess, real fast. Now I’ve watched all of it, now I’m a Shailene Woodley fan, now I think she can well justify the camera on her for two hours. But I have something to add:
This is a chick fantasy. We’ve filled theaters with male fantasies, and kleptocracy fantasies, and fantasies of the self-elected Saved since cinema was born, well now the teeny chix are getting a turn. Fine. Trouble is this movie Divergent casts established alpha-male-sacrifice-themselves-for-society types like Ray Stevenson. At the climax chickflick etiquette requires them to just stand there, wait for the females in the script to do the heavy lifting for everybody. Here Kate Winslet, the marvel, is the frozen-blond alpha-male: Shailene Woodley is the soft-tressed alpha-male-in-waiting. All that manifest testosterone: unemployable.
Meantime, throughout, the poster guy who plays Four plays male-on-hand very damn well.
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