Does Wednesday’s piece regarding The Death of Death Long feel…incomplete?
The time the movie spends focusing on trying to derive yucks from watching maladroit dunderheads stumble and bumble their way out of the claws of the po-po — been there, done that, and better — could’ve been replaced by an exploration of the novel ideas latent in the premise. Instead of conforming to its characters’ desires to ignore the bestiality amongst them, charging into it headfirst had the potential to trot fresher intellectual ground. The insights laying in wait atop this fertile soil:
Examining our devotion to pets almost inherently sheds light on the nature of human relationships, and humanity itself. What enlightenment can be gleaned from comparing the intimacy between two-legged creatures (AKA: us) to that between people and animals, juxtaposing the communicative power — and limitations — of the language of words to the power — and limitations — of the wordless language of the body? Without being able to figure out shared truths by hashing them out in dialogue, how much of our conception of these relationships involves projecting unprovable interpretations of external behavior onto the four-legged, with no recourse to refute our perspective?
Similar sentiments hold true for intraspecies relations. Couples may be convinced they’re on the same page, even while a bulk of their understanding concerning their commitment is left unsaid. Pets cannot disrupt our perception of who they are, because they can’t speak to us. Romances often exist in this sort of grey area; how well do we really know our significant others, especially when we refuse to own up to feelings considered untouchable taboos, preventing any nuanced, measured, meaningful conversations pertaining to what’s going on inside us?
And that’s before even delving into the carnal component of this juxtaposition. The guys repeatedly referencing movies — I Know What You Did Last Summer! Pulp Fiction! — suggests that pop culture, in lieu of a probing discourse on such matters, can breed rampant objectification and an animalistic approach to sex, warping us into believing non-humans can sub for venereal partners, bolstered by the murky lines drawn between “civilized” and “acceptable” making-love and generally frowned-upon fucking. Manifesting this concept to its satirical extreme, divorcing the two — thereby adopting society’s preached puritanism — can lead one party to pursue the latter pleasure from a trusty steed.
This eroticism could’ve recontextualized — thereby becoming a commentary on — movies like Mustang, and the whole western genre’s preoccupation with man’s (platonic?) tenderness with his horse (if Marlboro “machos” got their panties in a tizzy over how Brokeback Mountain “tainted their image”, wait until they get a hold of this one).
And since the town in The Death of Dick Long views these horse-fuckers as pariahs, they basically treat them in a manner reminiscent of how bigots handle “newfangled” diversity. The movie wouldn’t liken these lifestyles to bestiality, obviously; it’d be a satire of how they’re all the same to the woefully ignorant and intolerant.
And I’m just tipping the iceberg here, which is why it’s so unfortunate that The Death of Dick Long simply passed by the more interesting paths it could’ve roamed.