DW Mault approaches Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, perhaps necessarily, from the blind side…
Forget everything you’ve been taught. Start by dreaming.
F Scott Fitzgerald claimed that there are no second acts in American life; this, alongside his claim that the rich are different than you and I, are perhaps the steps from perfection that only his friend/rival Ernest Hemingway spotted. Like Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard, these two are the inverse of Jungian ideas of the duality of the psyche, one a sentimental drunk and one a truth teller who claimed not to care for anyone’s gratification (but proved with his finality that this was a huge lie that he no longer could live with).
The passion of destruction is a creative joy.
Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is a curio that had me undecided on what it was that I had witnessed nearly 18 hours earlier… It finally came to me after a mixture of various moments of clarity that engulfed my dream life and the post-coital embrace of my unconscious. What Korine has given us is the ideal of the possibility of change, the American ideal of what can be; the threat of change and how we are all just masks floating in the wind of a nocturnal haze awaiting the next period in this life less ordinary.
Meanwhile everyone wants to breathe and nobody can and many say, we will breathe later. And most of them don’t die because they are already dead.
Spring Breakers has been Harmony Korine’s most financially successful film, it took more money in NY and LA in its first weekend than all his other films combined. The very idea that this cinematic prankster has gone mainstream is laughable and should not be entertained at any point; he takes four loved tween stars and throws them to the wolves of an achingly lurid reimagined version of Pleasure Island that threatens to engulf Pinnocchio and gangster mystics.
Don’t beg for the right to live — take it.
There is something quite unnerving about Spring Breakers, an itch that cannot be scratched. If, like many, you expected Korine to create a film that panders to the voyeuristic, leering at post pubescent nubile women, well you’ve come to the wrong film. What you will find is a film of refrains, echos of the collected unconscious of the social media generation who are lost in what Ariel Levy labelled ‘Raunch Culture’, and the need to exist in what they perceive to be a sexual manner learned via osmosis from the constant saturation of living in a post-porn cornucopia (Eden has well and truly fallen into the hands of the great unwashed, and this is why Spring Breakers is the anti Tree Of Life).
Our hope can come only from the hopeless.
It is of course possible to be alive/awake while dreaming, Jung talks about how your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. Well our four protagonists of Spring Breakers: Cotty (Rachel Korine), Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Faith (Selena Gomez) haven’t made it there yet, they’re still looking outwardly and therefore dreaming. They appear to be stumbling on the idea that a form of happiness is at once theirs and not the previous generation’s; that age old idea that happiness is new and fresh. It isn’t of course, it’s a crock; a nature of transience that has to be savoured and kept fresh, but only exists because it’s opposite: Sadness dwells inside us always.
Down with the abstract, long live the ephemeral.
Jung argued that the persona is a mask for the “collective psyche”, a mask that ‘pretends’ individuality, so that both self and others believe in that identity, even if it is really no more than a well-played role through which the collective psyche is expressed. This is my aforementioned idea of America as the great idea of second chances; of multi-masks that allow us to repeat and change who we used to be. This interplay masks the future ideal of who we are supposed to be and makes the lucky/unlucky escape from duty, and society’s sick attempts to make us play ball and be good. Jung’s “persona-mask” mediates between individual consciousness and the social community: it is “a compromise between the individual and society as to what a person should appear to be”. But he also makes it quite explicit that it is, in substance, a character mask in the classical sense known to theatre, with its double function: both intended to make a certain impression to others, and to hide (part of) the true nature of the individual.
Imagination is not a gift, it must be conquered.
This is the crux of Spring Breakers, this is why at first it completely threw me; it’s of course a meta-narrative of cross society fertilisation that makes cultural mongrels of us all, but at its heart is the dreamlife of a teenage wish fulfillment that could go either way. Does Spring Break exist? Yes, but are the protagonists there in spirit? No, it’s a reenactment of their desires and fantasies. It’s proto-play, a huge what if that follows the archetypes of the girls’ collective unconscious: whether that be James Franco’s Alien, Gucci Mane’s Archie, or the surging high of cold hard ultra violence and a violent sexuality that gives us the emotional connection of a stylised wet dream manifested within our unknown unknowns.
Every view of things that is not strange is false.
We look at these creatures that become the archetypes that hold us to the effects of the possibilities of what, and we are confused because they are the cyphers that reside in our/their dreams; like Jung attempted to explain regarding the ambiversion of the self, we are simultaneously extroverted and introverted, but show out at moments that appear to be unfocused. This is why we are all Candy, Cotty, Brit and Faith; and they us. We must leave reality and dream a nightmare not of our own making; but of our collected perverse consciousness. We have nothing to lose but the ideal of normalcy and societies hectoring idea of what is our usefulness. As Nietzsche says: You must bear a chaos inside you to give birth to a dancing star. And that is the answer to all my/our dreams/nightmares that will reinvigorate society far more than the consumer lie that is cathedrals of capitalism that reside in every one-horse town to mega super cities. Remember what we learned from Les événements‘ 68: Sous les pavés, la plage/Under the paving stones, the beach.
Live without wasted time and enjoy without hindrance.
All quotes in bold are from Situationist graffiti in Paris during Les événements‘ 68.