Monday, May 25, 2015

Film Review: Frat Boy Humor Dons Eyeliner and Goggles

Corvs linked me to this series of short films and asked if I wanted to review it on the blog. That was three years ago. Better late?

Content notes: too many to list. Everything that sheltered men with no empathy for anyone outside their own experience finds funny, beginning with the title, and o, be prepared.


For the series of videos bears the following title: the League of Extraordinary Industrial Retards.*


Yep. Sigh. Onward.

Summary: two industrial enthusiasts set out to save industrial music, devising a plot to murder VNV Nation's Ronan Harris. Textually, the moral of the story, as put into the mouth of a non-rivet character, is that industrial fans have unreasonable expectations on the bands they follow and on other fans in the scene. Point. Indeed, the central characters are barely a parody on real, and highly vocal, specimens within industrial scenes. It is they who determine the approved and acceptable bands to like and which to abhor based on popularity or some other factors known only to arrogant pompous chumps. Such a chump introduced me to the scene as a tender teenage girl, established himself as industrial authority, and literally told me what I could and couldn't listen to. I am well situated to acknowledge that fucks like this are a real problem, an alienating one, and an anti-social one designed to keep out newcomers and prevent building community, whatever the fuck community is.

And yet the filmmakers choose to frame their critique of exclusionary scene pricks in a fairly gruesome and exclusionary way. Above all, it is horrendously misogynist, framing women as vapid interlopers on the masculine sanctity of the scene. And in we go.
Trailer: 1:29

Begins with "The following preview has been guaranteed to piss off uptight goth/industrial fans." Because recognizing the ways in which the film creators parrot the dominant culture's bigotries to engage issues of subcultural purity means there's a problem with socially conscious viewers, not the self-proclaimed infallible creators. Got it.

We are introduced to protagonist DJ Anorexia, presumably named by someone unaffected by the ravages that eating disorders cause on a mass scale. He establishes his industrial authority, decries scenesters and poseurs. As he spits out the words "poseurs" and "scenesters," we are shown images of women. The trailer, which is scored with a Nine Inch Nails tune, ends with DJ Anorexia's denunciation, "if you are listening to VNV Nation right now, you are POSEURS!" Which again, point; the real life equivalent of these types would be far more upset to find me enjoying a VNV track than to know of my fondness for mid-century country music, Nicki Minaj, or weird tonal Western concert music.
Part I: 6:47
In the three years since Corvs brought this to my attention, I've actually shown this introductory bit to a few people (after warning them of the obnoxious commentary), as it illustrates the splintering of the subcultures into punk, goth, emo, and industrial. From there, we are taken to a next-level industrial trivia contest at a record store. DJ Anorexia is teamed up with Bob Vengeance, versus the lead singer of "Velour Corrosive Savior," whose failure to list every Skinny Puppy side project leads to the hortatory pronouncement, "wannabe Nazi Death in June fans, take him away!" possibly the only good line in the whole series.**
Part II: 8:54

The protagonists conclude they need to save industrial, but concede they need help. Bob proffers, "there is someone who knows as much about the scene as we do. Her name is DJ Razor Suicide Demon Slave."

They go to the goth club to catch her set and seek her help. DJ Anorexia, seeing that she is a woman, asks, "Hold on a second, this isn't just one of those goth DJs that everyone says is super talented, but they only say that because she has a set of tits, is it?" Shortly after reassurance that she is talented, she puts a disc on top of another disc, thus leading to a clanging din followed by silence and an affected Valley-Girl-esque inflected explanation from DJ Razor Suicide, peppered liberally with "likes" and "oh my god"s. A man from the crowd reassures her, "It's ok, your breasts render us incapable of realizing what a dipshit you are!"

Bob and DJ Anorexia sit down with her at a booth and tell her they need her help to save industrial. She is standoffish, and although they're not actually giving her much to work with conversationally, they experience her distance as deficiency on her part, whereupon some man jumps into frame and suggests, "If you want any answer not given in single syllables, just ask her about herself." Bob then asks some total nonsense pseudo-philosophical question about black holes, which any right thinking person would respond to as DJ Razor Suicide did, but man jumps into frame again and clarifies, "Just ask her about something not intellectual that only pertains to her self-centered insipid little universe." So they ask her about her DJing experiences on the scene, whereupon she begins to rant, again peppered liberally with "likes" and "oh my god"s. The manly men get up from the table in disgust and retreat to their brainstorming bedroom, where DJ Anorexia suddenly is only capable of speaking in a 2nd rate Zoolander imitation. Bob Vengeance reveals his plan to save industrial: they must murder VNV Nation's Ronan Harris, which they can accomplish with the help of Ronan Harris sex passes Bob has managed to acquire (the passes actually read "VNV Cock Pass"), despite their intended distribution to goth girls. The video ends with the identification of another person whose help they'll need.

Part III: 7:18

In car sales lot, the salesman/industrial drill sergeant impugns the dedication of the protagonists to their cause and barks at them that in pursuit of their objectives, they must be "absolutely retarded." He tells them that they must have a car (wtf why are cars) that conveys their love of industrial music, that it must have the correct band stickers, for there is a chance that "a goth girl will pull over to the side of the road and have sex with you based on your musical taste." Zoolander DJ Anorexia points out this is unlikely, whereupon the salesman strikes him down, "FOOL! Don't you know anything about goth girls? A goth girl's sexual appetite is based on three things: 1. how much a guy looks like a chick 2. how many buckles their boots have, and 3. how many bands they have in common." "Sit in this baby and feel your little dicks grow." They depart and we find ourselves in the outtakes reel, followed by a fundraising call.


Perpetuators of busted "comedy," when confronted, manage to become still more obnoxious. They say comedy is supposed to make fun of things, without examining why they feel the need to have their fun at the expense of people our culture already stigmatizes, marginalizes, and destroys. You've heard of truth in jest? The comedy people make demonstrates their values. This series takes direct aim at the status of women on the scene, throws in some anti-gay sentiment, and just for funsies subsumes it all under a title to the detriment of people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. Fuckin classy, and sooooo subversive.

This series was made by men who clearly have issues with women. The treatment of the DJ Razor Suicide Demon Slave character is most unnerving for me. DJing is already such a male-dominated and male-mentored field that it's incredibly difficult for women to get into DJing at all, and when they manage to get a foot in the door, they are subject to gendered scrutiny that no one would ever leverage against a subpar male DJ. In the world of Extraordinary League's creators, women have no legitimate place on their scene, having crept in as heterosexually carnivorous nannygoats,*** with multiple references to women's desires for "cock" and status-seeking sex.

The language the creators choose reinforces cultural biases against women, whether calling women bitches, bitchy, compounding swearing with "tittyslapping," and especially using cunt and pussy as pejorative- I've always found it revealing that purportedly straight men think women's genitals are bad. Meanwhile the men responsible for this film, while presenting a heterosexual veneer, are obsesssssed with peens, which, gross.**** From imagining a goth girl's glee being "mere inches from cEvin Key's cock" to Ronan Harris cock passes, to the above passage from the sales lot about cars making their dicks grow, or to the outtakes, these men have cock on the brain. "Done with that cocksuckatry" a performer says shedding his wig. "It's like an old man with a hard on," says another commenting on his costar's de-wigged hair. Not that they approve of man-on-man action; the map they unfurl, probably in reference to some geek shit, reads in part, "here be industrial gaywads."

There's also some cognitive dissonance evident in the values revealed by the "comedy" of the creators. When local news is covering the industrial trivia event in part 1, sub-headlines appear the bottom of the screen, including, "KMFDM to write powerfully shitty song about politics to honor event." OK, so politics are silly and an unworthy expenditure of intellectual energy. Yet twice in part 2, the word "intellectual" is used with positive connotations, as a state worth aspiring toward, and a quality which non-protagonists on the scene, not least DJ Razor Suicide Demon Slave, lack.

Conclusion: subculture dudes may look funny, but their values are abysmally, if unsurprisingly, in line with those of the dominant culture.

*As if it needs to be said, perpetuating language that further stigmatizes people with cognitive and developmental disabilities is backwards and cruel, very much in line with the dominant culture, and can claim no countercultural cred.
**Because it's funny to make fun of Nazis. Cuz they did bad/harmful things. Most of the comedy in this series is designed to make men feel more comfortable and supported in their suspicion and exclusion of women.
*** "sexually carnivorous nannygoat" is a term I got from Sybil Lamb. Also mad that the Extraordinary League creators can't conceive of lesbian or otherwise non-heterosexual goth women. Every gothing I've ever gothed at, in something like 7 or 8 cities, has had a pretty dece showing of gay women, thank fucking christ.
****Before anyone tries to righteously claim that's transmisogynist, have you ever met a trans woman with anything nice to say about men's peens? Cuz I sure as shit haven't.


  1. This excellence (and I expected nothing less) summarizes so much of what is troublesome about not only these specific videos, but also darker music at large.

    "Perpetuators of busted "comedy," when confronted, manage to become still more obnoxious. They say comedy is supposed to make fun of things, without examining why they feel the need to have their fun at the expense of people our culture already stigmatizes, marginalizes, and destroys."

    Yes. All of the nachtmahrzicombichristians and their ideas that racism, homophobia, misogyny, and rape are somehow edgy things show just how dull this stuff has become. I'm awaiting the Michael Bay directed version of this show and more brodustrial music videos. It's the next step.

    Also relevant, this sorta reminds me of how gamer dudes do similar exploitation and silencing of women and queers and so on because "hey we are nerds and are bullied and therefore oppressed" and while I do wholeheartedly believe this to be true, as a person bullied far more for nerdiness prior to gothiness and dykeyness, these experiences only opened my eyes to the wider issues affecting people other than myself. In short, growin up is kinda cool.

    Thanks Anarchiteuthis. PS I have to copy and paste your name every time I try to write it.

  2. <3 <3 <3
    Re: Anarchiteuthis, I told you I composed the above on ladylove's computer over the weekend every time she left the room. She read your comment to me and was like, "Anarchiteuthis?" And I was like yeah! It's like anarchy and architeuthis, the giant squid! With an air of mischief, she suggested, "Or perhaps just that you're not a giant squid." OR, I said, that it's an anarchist teuthis, a regular squid! She shook her head at me, "you are not a giant squid."

  3. Thank you for writing this, and for rendering it unnecessary - through fine commentary - to actually view it and give them hits.
    I immediately thought of the so-called "GamerGate", the not-so-surprising misogyny and phallocentric narratives upheld by many 'boys' in cultures that once were para- or sub- but are now porous and diffused (hence the vitrolic policing of "their" (non)borders), not to mention the Sad Puppies (I won't link in a comment box, but if unfamiliar to you, the Mary Sue has some good write-ups of the Puppies and the Hugo Awards).
    Again, thanks.