Monday, October 31, 2011

Special Guest Post: A Gay Man's Take on Michael Myers

A Gay Man’s Take on Michael Myers
A Special Guest Post by Jimmy S. Retro

It took me years to admit what my family knew to be obvious.  Playing with my sisters’ dolls, and even sometimes dressing up as them, it was clear that I wasn't going to become a chick-swooning quarterback. That being said, it took a long while to feel comfortable in my own skin.  In fact, I still periodically hide behind a pointless veil of sexual ambiguity just to avoid awkward situations. This leads me to Michael Myers and the expressionless mask behind which he hides.

I think back to the first time I watched the opening to Halloween.  Even upon subsequent viewings, I’m still haunted by the mere shock of the killer being a masked child. It’s a truly classic horror scene.  If those first five minutes were redone in a modern-day flick, it would still pack a huge shock-value punch.  Not only does it show the unthinkable act of a murderous child, but it’s also stunning to see what a child could so brutally do to his own sister.

Throughout the rest of that movie and its many sequels, it’s easy to simply regard Michael Myers as a crazed, demonic, surreal serial killer. We see him as a masked grown up, with no verbal skills and a stoic, zombie-like presence.  The focus tends to be more on the poor victims trying to get away rather than caring about who, exactly, Michael really is.  Other than seeing Michael as a child in the opening scene of the first Halloween, we only know of Michael through what Dr Loomis tells us he is.  Beyond that, he might as well be a knife-wielding robot—and who knows?—maybe that’s who Michael will turn out to be in Halloween 34: Reboot.    As it is, he has to be pushing 60 now, and yet he’s still walking up those attic steps and slanted roofs like a youthful Cirque du Soleil superstar.

I find that opening scene of young Michael especially poignant, however, not because of the astonishing revelation that our killer is a child; but because, in an odd way, I feel like I can relate to Michael’s humanity. Don’t worry. You don’t have to hide your kids and hide your wife (actually you’d only ever need to keep your husband away from my paws).  Let me explain: This was the only time we really see Michael in his most vulnerable, human state.  Realize too, that just a moment previous to this scene, he was likely perceived to be a normal little boy; and then something snapped.  This is the closest of all times we see him as “normal”.

Now perhaps this family knew this kid was a tad whacked—just as my family probably knew I was a big ‘mo.  But clearly they didn’t realize he was so unstable that they should have kept the sharp kitchen utensils hidden, and Michael under constant observation.  For all intents and purposes, we can assume he was just a fun-loving kid in a clown costume.  Come Halloween of ’63, he decided to try out killing for a change of pace (like how I decided to try out making out with my He-Man action figure that one adolescent summer day.  Hmmm, I can still taste that glistening lemonade).

There’s no question this Myers fellow is completely bonkers. And I don’t know whether his biggest crime is all those murders or his severe lack of fashion sense.  I mean, hello?  All-black, Michael? An absolute fashion taboo!  Thing is though, I too have suffered from bad fashion sense.  All who know me can’t forget my suspender phase or my horrible sweater-vest Fridays.  And personality wise, I’ve been on dates with near-catatonic guys that would make Michael seem like Pauly freakin’ Shore.  At least Michael may have a kinky side to him with the whole masked thing.  Although, my first preference would be Zorro.

Oops—sorry—I'm on a horrible tangent! My point is, in the least psychotic way possible, I feel I can relate to Michael a bit.  At the very least, I’m suggesting that the audience have a bit more understanding of him.

Being a gay man, who too masks myself from people at times, I “get it”.  With no family to speak of (of course that’s because he clearly likes to kill them), he wanders the world with a solid mission to repeatedly relive that puzzling moment that compelled him to stab his sister—just as I repeatedly relive in my mind what compelled me to like guys more than girls, and to question whether it’s nature or nurture.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have a loving family. Being gay, however, disconnects me from the rest of my straight family members who all have heterosexual counterparts, their own children, and interests like the Broncos and the Rockies.  Michael, too, is a loner who also has the same mystery surrounding him of nature versus nurture. Did environmental forces lead him to who he became, or was there something genetic and chemical behind it all?  As horrific as his first crime was, he was just a kid after all; and aren't kids protected by the innocence of youth?   Perhaps being immediately locked away and drugged in a sanitarium for years wasn’t the best treatment for him.  Maybe it kept him in a suspended state of murderous action.  He may have thought he was playing a game.  Just as I thought the hair I cut off my sister’s Barbie would grow back.  If I was immediately locked away and drugged the first time I dreamed of sodomy, I might still find New Kids on the Block “hip”.

Michael committed his first act of insanity in 1963.  This was the era of Twilight Zone and fantastic rumors of space exploration.  His life was made up of childhood whimsy and fanciful playthings.  He may have been confused as to what his sister’s boyfriend was doing to her upstairs in the bedroom. Maybe he didn’t understand quite what was going on.  Feeling neglected, he might have thought, “hey this dude is penetrating her, so can I!  And, I mean, who can blame him?  What you can see of this bombshell, gay or straight, she’s definitely a delectable screw!  So with penetration on Michael’s mind, he may have not known the difference between pleasurable penetration and the hurtful kind and simply thought, “Looks fun. Now where’s that butcher knife?”

I submit that he looked at it all as confusingly playful.  What did Michael pick up and push aside right before he stabbed his sister, after all?  A toy!

Flash forward past years of being shunned and now he lurks in dark corners, without the ability to make any legitimately loving human connection.  Kind of how I feel at a techno club or during a bad hair day.  If the best years of my life were taken away from me by being locked up and drugged, I would be in a murderous rage too!  It would be like if I were forced to stay at Catholic school beyond my elementary years, while I really just wanted to go out and get pounded. (Actually, on second thought, I should have stayed at Catholic school. I’d show ‘em all something else that’s “holy”, if you know what I’m saying.)

My point in all of this is that it’s easy to disregard Michael as anything but a murdering hellion, just as it’s easy for society to look at me as nothing but one raging flamer.  But, digging a little deeper will reveal two things:

1) I like deep-digging; and,
2) Michael may have some humanity in him, if only a small glimmer.  Perhaps he just needs his    own Annie Sullivan to get him to retreat mentally to a time before he went all stab-o.

For those who don’t know, Annie Sullivan was the teacher to deaf and blind Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing after an infection.  Annie was the miracle worker who was able to get this practical child-animal to go within the recesses of her mind, to a time prior to her debilitating infliction, to recall the word “water”.  Once Helen recalled “water”, she was able to be a human again.  This unlocked her ability to learn to read, write, and make some intelligible verbal utterances.

The same might be possible for Mike.  Dr. Loomis wasn’t quite an Annie Sullivan.  He gave up on Michael instead of leading him to that proverbial well.  If taken back to a time and place prior to whatever influenced him to kill, maybe Michael could have been restored to normalcy.  Heck, maybe he might fancy me for being so understanding and would be able to put that knife down and ask me out for a date.  At which point I’d have to politely decline.

I like my tricks and treats; and as good as this would seem, he’s too much of a stiff.

--Jimmy S. Retro

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