Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film, entitled Brazil, comes to its conclusion soon as the protagonist Sam Lowry informs his girlfriend, Jill Layton, that he has reported her dead to the authorities. As a result, she no longer has to fear detention. Relieved, she kisses her would-be hero and responds, “Care for a little necrophilia?” After the two spend an evening together, a black-bag, goon squad kicks in the doors and hauls off both of them to a secret detention center where they are tortured until they lose touch with reality. Since Sam has already reported Jill as dead, Brazil’s totalitarian government will have no difficulty in doing away with her because she is already legally dead.
The whole notion of necrophilia came back to me back in December when Playboy released it much awaited photo spread of Lindsay Lohan, the bumbling alcoholic actress who has spent more time in jail, drug rehab and community service than Paris Hilton. Despite her inability to hold down a job other than that of court-imposed morgue attendant, she was still able to pocket a cool million for her nude pictures for Hugh Hefner and his crew at the Mansion.
Although the magazine was widely promoted, the photos were leaked by a group of Russian hackers who had found their way onto someone’s hard drive. Instead of a series of a nubile twenty-five year old, this collection recreates photographer Bert Stern’s famous “Last Sitting” photos of Marilyn Monroe, a collection of 2,500 boozy shots taken six weeks before her death from a drug overdose. The images in Playboy show nothing of the talented actress that appeared in Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, and A Prairie Home Companion. In place of a young attractive body is a wax museum statue, airbrushed, and rendered cartoonish and macabre.
To recreate the Monroe shoot, Playboy called in eighty-three year old celebrity photographer Bert Stern, the same photographer that sat with Monroe for three days in a Los Angeles hotel room. While the Last Sitting back in 1962 was an intimate encounter between Monroe and Stern, the recreation entailed an entourage of hundreds of bodyguards, lawyers, makeup artists, directors, lighting specialists and set managers. This doesn’t include the technicians who went wild with the Photoshop airbrush to blot out Lohan’s tattoos and cigarette-stained teeth.
Although the Hollywood gossip pundits lauded the shoot as a tribute to Monroe, nobody seemed to sense the perversity of the entire scene and its context. The photos of Monroe and Lohan are classic soft-core: just enough make the (male) viewer think that there is a person in there, a person in need, vulnerable, a void that needs filled, someone to rescue. The fantasy that is evoked in the voyeur is completely different from that of the Betty Page-style bondage and sado-masochism.
To be continued…
Cross-posted on My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthropy: http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=774