Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Doom Generation (1995): The Downfall of Generation X, Part 2 (Murder)

The Doom Generation (1995)
dir: Gregg Araki

The Doom Generation is the second movie of Gregg Araki's Teenage Apocalypse trilogy. Instead of being a documentary made by teenagers, The Doom Generation uses a put-upon style of a student fictional film made by the students. While the production values are clearly higher, as in there are extensive sets, loads of guest stars, and seems to be shot on something better than a home camcorder.

But, student films don't hold up as well as documentaries. As such, The Doom Generation doesn't hold up nearly as well as Totally F***ed Up, nor is as entertaining as Nowhere. The only way The Doom Generation actually works is as the middle entry of the Teenage Apocalypse trilogy. It's decidedly average as a standalone b-picture.

Araki fashioned The Doom Generation as a road movie...though it is a road movie without a destination. The opening scene occurs in a goth bar with the opening shot saying "Welcome to Hell" cut out of metal and backed by fire. At the end of the scene, the characters say they're going to Heaven, an abandoned drive-in populated by skaters and teenagers intent on having sex, and that's the second scene.

The remainder of the movie is the journey away from...something. Anything. It actually isn't TO anything, nor is the goal made obvious. Our hapless characters never arrive at a destination, nor is there a goal that is achieved by the end of the film. It's a journey that goes nowhere fast.

The action of The Doom Generation centers around Amy Blue (Rose McGowan), her boyfriend Jordan White (James Duval), and the bashing victim they pick up in Heaven, Xavier Red (Jonathon Schaech). The whole movie centers around four repeated actions: Sex, Food, Misidentity, and Violence.

Sample sequence: after picking up Xavier, and dropping him off on the side of the road, Amy and Jordan try to buy food but have lost their wallets. When the clerk pulls a shotgun on them, Xavier saves the day by blowing the head off the clerk. They go on the run, and get a motel room where Jordan and Amy fuck in the bathtub while Xavier jerks off outside the door. And then they try to get food at a fast food drive-in where the clerk thinks that Amy is his long lost love, and pulls a shotgun on them. They take off, and then Xavier bangs Amy in the back of the car.

Summary: food, violence, sex, food, misidentity, violence, sex. This occurs practically ad nauseum in the course of the 83 minute movie (for the uncut version). In the vein of every teenager I have ever met, the movie pushes the envelope in every offensive way you can imaging. Amy knows every insult and way to say "fuck" I've ever heard. Xavier and Jordan fawn over each other without ever touching each other. Both fuck Amy repeatedly, even to the point where Amy flips a coin for who goes first. And, everywhere they go, there is violence of every kind.

The Doom Generation is bookended by gay bashings. The first might be a misunderstanding, or not, but Xavier is repeatedly called faggot by the gang of guys who are beating his ass bloody. The movie closes when three guys, led by somebody who also mistook Amy earlier in the movie, attack Amy, Jordan, and Xavier, rapes Amy with a Virgin Mary statuette and cuts Jordan's dick off.

The majority of the violence in The Doom Generation happens to others. The Asian convenience store clerk, the redneck at the drive-through, there is a guy in a hippy dippy bar who gets a sword through the cock. It's all violence to others, and it's over the top and comic. But, then there is the accidental running over of a dog, which is considered tragic and treated with respect. And the final gay bashing and rape sequence is harrowing and horrific. Violence is horrific when it is personal, or happening to helpless people. It's funny when it is done to those trying to oppress you.

The sex in The Doom Generation idealizes more of a fluid sexuality with a polyamorous bent. Unlike Totally F***ed Up, which Araki had dubbed "Another homo movie by Gregg Araki," The Doom Generation was dubbed "A heterosexual movie by Gregg Araki." And, up until the final menage, the boys do everything but touch. They stare, fawn, and flirt...but they never ever touch. Even in the menage, it's never clear if they touch when Amy's in the room, but they don't touch when she isn't in the room. Even Jordan says "my woody is starting to droop." But, the polyamory of the group is presented as idealized. Sure, Amy is fucking two guys, but it doesn't mean that she isn't in love with Jordan any less.

Teenage Apocalypse Part II

As the second film in Araki's self-dubbed Teenage Apocalpse trilogy, Araki is continuing the destruction of the subcultures of Generation X. The world that Araki presents is far more commercial and commercialized than the world of Totally F***ed Up. The world is populated by cameos from the likes of Parker Posey, Margaret Cho, and Perry Ferrell. That's not to say every secondary character is now populated by the B-List celebs. There are also the requisite D-listers, like Dewer Weber was the leader of the final gay bashers, whose most outstanding work up to that point would be as the bookending truck driver in Showgirls.

The commercialization in The Doom Generation is still on the antagonistic outside. James Duval is the staple of all three movies, Rose McGowan had only been in a cameo in Encino Man up until that point, and Jonathon Schaech was in four episodes of Models Inc. These were not celebrities yet. Yet, they made up the center of The Doom Generation while the rest of the movie was populated by all kinds of celebrities. This is a metaphor for the oncoming commercialization of the Gen X subculture. They're all preying on our heroes both physically and emotionally. They want to suck up the Gen X subculture and eradicate the aggression, while our heroes fight back with all they can. Of course, all is for naught because, in the end, Xavier asks Amy, "Want a Dorito?" An innocuous line, except this is the first brand name that has been mentioned (though the brand Death cigarettes was featured prominently for its Jolly Roger casing). Commercialization is inevitable. We all give in to the advertising that we're surrounded by.

And, so, Gen X is being attacked and defeated by America and religion. The final attack is being held in front of an American Flag, while the star-spangled banner plays by all-American cornfed white boys with backwards swastika's painted on their chests. And, yes, the swastikas are confirmed to be painted backwards, but dripping with red. The stupid inbred white power groups are intent on breaking the subcultural teenagers and bringing them back to the American fold of patriotism, heteronormativity, and Christianity.

In making The Doom Generation a road trip to nowhere, with a meaning of whatever, we're also seeing how the alienation which caused Duval to kill himself in Totally F***ed Up is seen as desirable in The Doom Generation. Amy is full on intent on escaping from everybody by Jordan. In the bar Hell, her whole intent is to get out of the bar. Her first instinct with Xavier is to ditch him. She wants to leave every character that invades her privacy. They constantly go towards more and more isolated locations, moving from the city/suburbs to an abandoned warehouse in the desert headed to nothing completely visible in the distance. Earlier, I stated that The Doom Generation is a road trip without a real destination. I kind of lied. The destination is nowhere. The goal of The Doom Generation is for the characters to get away from everybody who wants to do them harm. The characters go towards more and more alienating and backwater locations in search of a life with as few people as possible. But, it is a futile attempt. You'll always need somebody, or something, commercial. Like a Dorito.

In Totally F***ed Up, we watched the beginnings of a self-destructive subculture which has been populated by the teenagers. In The Doom Generation, we see the kids as they see themselves, and also watch as they're being destroyed by the random and nonsensical forces of commercialism and nationalism.  And, in Nowhere, we'll see how Hollywood finally co-opted the subculture, and how alienation is actually physically manifested to finish the job.

Ed's Note: There are two versions of The Doom Generation that exists. An Uncut DVD which runs 83 minutes, and a censored R-rated version which runs 72 minutes. Any movie that has 11 minutes (almost 15 %) excised from it, beware.

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