Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peaches Does Herself (2012): Rock Show as Meta Examination

Peaches Does Herself (2012)
Dir: Peaches

Fuck the pain away...

So goes the chorus of Peaches' most famous song. Couple that with the knowledge that the frame next to this paragraph is the closest I could get to a provocative image without featuring frontal nudity, and you have an idea of what you're probably in for when you see Peaches Does Herself.

Peaches is an electroclash musician who is a provocateur and sexual pioneer and exploiter.  Her sexuality has always dominated her art, and her persona has always been about the liberation and acceptance of sexualities from all sexes and all walks of life  She's also lewd, crude, and in your face.  And, her fans wouldn't have it any other way.

In Peaches Does Herself, she doesn't disappoint with shock value, message, or music.  It's chock full of full frontal nudity, sex toys, simulated love and sex, giant vulva costumes, strippers, transexuals, and gender crossing.  Even as you're done being shocked, it still manages to give you one last twist of the knife.  It's a full on art show posing as a concert, or a concert posing as an art show.  And, Peaches Does Herself is the concert film of that show.

Peaches Does Herself is Peaches' life story.  She tells the story of her sexual and musical development from when she was a teenager learning how to diddle herself to the end when she's destroyed all her experimentations to become something new to show the world.  Along the way, we meet all sorts of people, from an aging stripper comfortable in her brazenness to a transsexual who had top surgery but not bottom.  All of these people have profound influences on how Peaches develops.

At one point, Peaches, in her discover, tries on a giant gold cock, and makes it part of her self.  She dons an outfit of gold, with a gold phallus, and exposed golden breasts.  She takes on this masculine and feminine sexuality in order to give possess the agency that she, and culture, perceives men as exclusively possessing.  She wants to be the objectifier.  She wants to be the one in control.  Peaches, thus modified, meets her mirror, the slim and graceful Danni Daniels, whose height is accentuated by exceedingly tall heels, giving Danni an even greater difference of appearance.  She's the model for Peaches to embrace, until she isn't.

It's these combinations of breasts and cock that makes the most interesting commentary on society.  But, addressing female sexuality, male sexuality, and trying to give women the sexuality that men have without denigrating men or women is something profound.  It shouldn't be.  But, Peaches is saying that women have the power to embrace their own self and give themselves everything they see men as having, if they want it.  It's empowering without destroying.  Even in the ultimate scene of demasculinization, Peaches seems to be saying that one doesn't need to look like a man to have the agency of a man.  And, she hits the road, leaving the theater, while changing "fuck the pain away" showing off her new self to the wilds of Berlin.

Peacher Does Herself is hilarious, and rude.  And, it's everything you expect with a greater message of accepting non-traditional walks of life.  Its also of being comfortable and owning your own personhood and sexuality.  And, it's generally a blast.

But, it isn't perfect.  For a show that seemed to have amazing visuals designed for the stage, the cinematography only showed flashes of genius but was otherwise amateur to inept.  Most of the camerawork is flatly presented with the framing of a high school student.  Once in a blue moon, it has flashes of striking genius, but it really falls flat in a show that is designed to be heightened in visuals.  It ultimately distracts more than it stays invisible (which I think was the goal), and it definitely doesn't heighten the experience.

In the end, Peaches Does Herself is more like a purer, undiluted, less commodified, less commercial Lady Gaga that isn't ready for the masses, despite its need to be seen by the masses in its purest form.  

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