I realized today that I never reviewed this book on the blog, even though I quite enjoyed Ellis’s writing style. He’s clearly talented but I’m honestly not intellectually equipped to understand his very detailed and probably profound analyses of Hollywood movies. I haven’t watched any of the movies he talks about, not even American Psycho, and have no plans to do so. Neither do I know any of the music he enthuses about.
The idea of creating a narrative of gay male Bildung on the basis of the movies one watches is definitely valuable but one has got to have some familiarity with the reality Ellis inhabits to get what he’s talking about.
From what I understand, the book received a lot of attention because Ellis makes fun of the idiotic Resistance in it but it’s just dumb to reduce the book to that. Yes, Ellis despises the drama queens who have been rending their garments over the election for two years, but who doesn’t? He says eminently reasonable yet deeply uncontroversial things that somehow did manage to create controversy anyway. To give an example:
One could certainly dislike the fact that he’d been elected and yet still understand and grasp why he was elected without having an absolute mental and emotional collapse. Whenever I heard certain people losing their shit about Trump my first reaction was always, You need to be sedated, you need to see a shrink, you need to stop letting the “bad man” help you in the process of victimizing your whole life. Why would they do that to themselves?
Well, duh. I feel exactly the same and find it confusing that anybody should find Ellis’s words more shocking than the Trump-induced insanity we’ve been witnessing for several years now.
What’s funny is that I’m obviously from a different planet than Ellis. I don’t get a single one of his cultural references except for a brief mention of James Joyce (whom I don’t even like). But I experience the same stunned incomprehension of the pussy-hatters or the Resisters as he describes in the book.
One more quote, and it’s longish but it’s exactly how I feel:
This wasn’t the usual disappointment about election results—this was fear and horror and outrage that it seemed would never subside and not just for members of Generation Wuss, like my partner, but also for real grown-ups in their forties and fifties and sixties, so unhinged that their team hadn’t won they began using words like “apocalypse” and “Hitlerian.” Sometimes, when listening to friends of mine, I’d stare at them while a tiny voice in the back of my head started sighing, You are the biggest fucking baby I’ve ever fucking heard in my entire fucking life and please you’ve got to fucking calm the fuck down—I get it, I get it, you don’t like fucking Trump but for fuck’s sake enough already for fuck’s sake.
Again, obvious so not life-shattering. What I did find curious, though, is that Ellis’s analysis of the movie Moonlight, which I’ll never watch, kept me interested for pages and pages. That’s talent, folks. I usually go to sleep immediately after somebody mentions the word “movie.” Reading the book for political content is just weird because there’s a lot more to it.