Atomic Revels, Rebels, and Boom!

October 1, 2007 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

Rebel Without a Cause (1955) brings the a-bomb home. Anxiety is everywhere. See my friends Raccoon and Unscrambled‘s accounts. Given the fear of apocalypse, the film casts restlessly for a hero, or rebel, who has sufficient cool in his American youth to get us through dinner. Stark Dean has every cause: he’s worried about masculinity–where is daddy’s rocket? Mommy’s seems to be bigger. He’s on the prowl for surrogates be they shrink/cop or thug. And there’s even a pistol-packing junior whose misaligned adoption fits the guilty adaptation of the heteronormative Oedipal yoke. “Why do we do this,” he asks.

Judy Wood likes men. Strong daddys of all sorts. The big bang in abeyance (nuclear family, nuclear bomb) needs to get/go off, after all. Is Stark Dean her man?

Is he ours? The film’s anxiety is the impossibility of rebellion. American escapism and exceptionalism have brought us the bomb. We can learn to love it, and that seems to be all. That’s why Daddy in an apron is so disconcerting. You’ve gone and built a bomb to end the world. Techno pre-emption of Revelations. What a hoot! And there you are on your knees? WTF?

We can go superman or batman, and Stark Dean is a little of both.

Like Superman he’s a regular cold warrior. Stark can give away his coat because his undies are insulated in red, white, and blue. He’s trying to keep his family together and meanswellreally. But he’s better able to exit cars and dodge bullets (faster than a train, able to dodge a speeding bullet) than the average Joe. And his extraordinary ability carries Wood. You need skills to keep US safe.

The abandoned mansion is a metaphor for the old nuptial pre-nuke regime. There’s room in it for?

Batman. Cave-enabled Oedipal activist. Once daddy’s offscreen, out of picture, dead, there’s nothing to do but become Daddy. In the mansion (Wayne?) Stark can bide his time, secure former friends, and aid the police.

Uh-oh, the police? Well, it seems the cause has been co-opted. The old guard is still in control. And the vanguard, has only ably demonstrated its ability to approximate the old. Somewhere, out there, the apocalypse still hangs time. The next “un-natural” generation is already dead. And there’s something impotent and inexorable about the whole rotten business. Having driven off the nuclear precipice, we’re bound to crash.

Rebel Without a Cause could be called Too Late, or my personal favorite, Futile Lucubrations. It’s a great symptom-film. The end credits read: end is near.


Entry filed under: Film, James Dean, movie, Natalie Wood, Rebel Without a Cause, thurs afternoon. Tags: , , , .

Kucinich on Leno 9/24/07 Anette From Nightwish!!

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