Sunday, April 25, 2010
I watched the animated, and X rated, 1972 film Fritz The Cat, a creation of R. Crumb's. I was not prepared for this film. I'm just going to write about it and hope something coherent comes out.
I loved this fucked up little film. I was also at times shocked and horrified by it. It doesn't hold back and doesn't care who it offends. It is a merciless parody of the 1960s which is psychedelic, pornographic, and disturbingly violent, yet filled will philosophical social commentary. Fritz is all about sex and drugs, but starts to get idealistic, starts a race riot, characters get killed, characters get raped, he gets involved in terrorist activities, and in the end he's still all about sex and drugs. It's a comedy.
Fritz himself represents a 60s college student, a poet, and is very socially idealistic. Which means he's an ignorant, cliche revolutionary, who just wants to get high and fuck. That's they way Crumb realizes the character, with only "a little" cynical truth to it. It's a very unforgiving look at the wanna-be college hipster types.
The way the film, and Crumb, comment on racism is very interesting. All blacks are represented as crows, which is a way to mock the Disney stereotype caricatures of films like Dumbo. The main focus of the racial commentary is on white people's pretentious attempts to identify with blacks and "act cool" by idealizing and acting out white perception of black behavior. Fritz even gives a little speech about white guilt. It ends with Fritz exciting a riot between the crows and the pig caricatured police and getting a lot of crows and pigs killed.
Sex is everywhere in this feature, as it is central in Crumb's work. Fritz is a sexist, and views women as sexual objects or bitches. The only time he seems to sympathize with a woman is after he sees her get beaten and raped. I do believe the film is critical of sexism, yet it does celebrate sexuality from a sexist male perspective. The women are rarely seen as positive, independent, or strong characters. So it's criticism of sexism comes off very weak.
I did enjoy the films irreverent take on 60s characters, and I also loved its biting analytical criticism. There were things which genuinely disturbed me, and jokes I just couldn't laugh at. I think this is an important cultural film, and I think intelligent people should watch it, think about, and have fun with it.