6 Artists Whose Weird Fetishes Defined Pop Culture
It doesn't take a cinema genius to catch that most of Martin Scorsese's movies feature violent sociopaths. And you don't need to be a horror/geography wunderkind to notice that every Stephen King book is about an unexplainable evil being evil in New England. Those trademarks are part of the reason we like the work of those guys.
But what's really interesting are the artists who have been flaunting their bizarre fixations in our faces for years but have never been called out on them. Until now ...
Joss Whedon Clearly Has a Foot Fetish
If geek fandom was a high school, Whedon would be its resident golden boy jock. Some might consider him an asshole, but he does have a lot going for him, like Buffy, Firefly and Dr. Horrible. And now, he's even directing the Avengers movie, which in this metaphor is like scoring with the school's entire cheerleading squad. At once.
The secret trademark:
It's definitely a creepy foot fetish.
When you really think about it, it's not that often that you see bare feet on the little screen. Unless you're watching a Joss Whedon joint, in which case there seems to be all sorts of opportunities for his lady and gentleman stars to shuck footwear. Like in the space western Firefly, where society has apparently abolished all shoes other than the sandal:
To be fair, most of these do belong to Summer Glau's character, River, who was supposed to be the show's psychic warrior dancer of sorts (you know how all dancers hate shoes). Besides, how do we explain the fact that Whedon's most famous series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is virtually feet free? Easy. He was just saving it all for Buffy's spin-off series, Angel, particularly with (but not limited to) Amy Acker's character, Fred, who never met a floor surface her feet didn't like:
But don't go thinking that just because we saw only women flashing their toes, Whedon's supposed hard-on for feminism is bullshit. Perish the thought! Nothing gets Whedon hotter than gender equality, and that's why his next series, Dollhouse, even featured barefoot guys! (Among the dozen or so women constantly running around with no shoes on.)
Man, feminism is easy!
Stanley Kubrick Has a Thing for Bathrooms
Here at Cracked we've already talked in great detail about the hidden messages in Stanley Kubrick's movies, everything from the oppression of Native Americans to Freemasonry to faking the moon landing. So you might be wondering, is there really anything surprising left to say about Kubrick's filmography?
What else can we say about such glorious codpieces?
The secret trademark:
Bathrooms. For real, bathrooms.
Stanley Kubrick, ladies and gentlemen.
Let's get right to it: Almost every major Stanley Kubrick movie includes a pivotal scene that takes place in a bathroom or toilet. We'll go through them chronologically, but be warned, you will never look at these movies the same way again. And before somebody jumps into the comments and says, "He made lots of movies! You could probably do this with any room in the house!" we say, try it. Go through and collect all of the big scenes that take place in, say, kitchens, and see if you come up with anything like this list:
Dr. Strangelove (1964) -- The insane general Jack D. Ripper orders a nuclear attack on the USSR that can be called off with a code only he knows. To not give up the code, Ripper shoots himself in the bathroom.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- During the movie's finale, the protagonist David Bowman gets mysteriously transported to a strange apartment somewhere in outer space. One of the first things he does is inspect the bathroom.
And it's gorgeous!
A Clockwork Orange (1971) -- Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is staying in the house of the man whose wife he and his friends raped earlier in the film. The man finally recognizes Alex after he starts singing in the tub.
The Shining (1980) -- Bathrooms galore. It's where we first see the psychic kid use his powers, where the ghosts tell Jack to murder his family, even where the famous "Here's Johnny!" scene takes place.
Full Metal Jacket (1987) -- The first half of the movie (i.e. the only part you remember) ends with the insane Private Pyle killing the foulmouthed drill sergeant and committing suicide in the unit's toilet.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) -- Near the middle of the movie, Tom Cruise finds himself in trouble after crashing a ritual sex orgy but is then saved by a mysterious woman. It later turns out that they actually had met at the beginning of the film, when Cruise helped her after a drug overdose ... in the bathroom.
Of course, we don't have to tell you that the roundness of the toilet seats and the yellowness of urine are clearly hidden representations of the Masonic sun symbol. Anyone can see that.
Alan Moore Loves Woman/Monster Sex
It's pretty much an established fact that comic book artists and writers use their medium to explore their own weirdass sexual fantasies (as we'll see), but leave it to Alan Moore to take it to the next level. And really, what else would we expect from a guy who seriously believes he's a magician and used to write under the pseudonym Translucia Baboon? Hard nut to crack, that.
Holy shit, somebody gave Rasputin a comic book.
The secret trademark:
Moore likes his young, hot heroines having sex with grotesque monstrosities. Moore likes that a lot.
The first pairing that probably comes to mind for most of us is Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. Silk Spectre is just a regular person, and Dr. Manhattan is a blue ... reconstructed ... quantum superhuman god ... thing, and clearly not the same species as Silk Spectre. Still, they get it on:
"Two of you? Oh NOW it's just weird!"
Surprisingly, that little bit of awkward sandwich was actually left in the movie. Usually, movies based on Moore's comics cut out all the weird sex scenes, presumably so the audience doesn't collectively throw up popcorn all over the theater. So non-comic-book geeks might be surprised to learn just how much wrinkly/bizarre dick action they missed out on. Like in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, unlike the movie, the roughly 70-year-old Allan Quatermain actually gets to hook up with Mina Harker, the visually 20-something victim of Dracula.
And just to make sure we're all very clear on how far he can take things, Moore done upped the sick ante to a jillion with Lost Girls. It's kind of like Lost Boys, except instead of featuring a teen vampire gang, it's the story of an elderly woman (Alice from Alice in Wonderland) who takes on two younger female lovers (Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Wendy from Peter Pan). So ... pretty close.
Goodbye, what was left of our childhoods.
A more straightforward example comes from Moore's Promethea, which allegedly explains the author's beliefs about magic. Apparently in order to learn it, you have to bang a wrinkly septuagenarian sorcerer, which is what Sophie, the book's protagonist, ends up doing. Yeah, that's exactly where we thought Moore was going with the whole "magician" shtick.
But all of the above pales in comparison with Vol. 2 of Moore's Swamp Thing where the titular character (a sentient, animated piece of swamp) has sex with the human character Abby. OK, maybe "sex" isn't the right word here, but until someone comes up with a shorter version of "a sexual acid trip after eating psychedelic vegetation growing on a monster," that's what we'll go with.
Guillermo del Toro Is All About Slime and Bugs
Prior to 2006, the Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was mostly known for Blade II and Hellboy, but he quickly gained international attention with the release of his dark, fantasy masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth. And for a man with such a sprawling imagination, it always seems to come back to two things with him.
The secret trademark:
Guillermo is all about bugs and slime. And anytime he can combine the two, del Toro's in del heaven-o.
Seriously, no one has ever used that line before. Can you believe it?
The obsession goes all the way back to his first movie, Cronos (1993), which tells the story of a scarab artifact housing a magical, slimy bug that secretes immortality juice. Because what's the point of immortality juice if it's not coming from the innards of an autonomous insect, right? You might as well find yourself a vampire and call it a day.
Four years later, del Toro took the idea of horrifying insects and injected it with a million horror steroids. In Mimic, he invented genetically modified cockroaches that evolved to sort of mimic the appearance of humans. So they could eat them.
The movie also vastly increased the amount of on-screen slime compared with Cronos, probably because it mostly took place in the sewers.
Or was it an adult theater?
Not only did the following, non-sewer-oriented, del Toro movies continue this trend, some even utilized the exact same visuals as Mimic, specifically the "gunk on bottoms of shoes," which has appeared in both Hellboy and Hellboy II.
And it didn't end there. What del Toro's Hellboy franchise lacked in bugs, it more than made up for with buckets of slime, supplied by the slobbering demon Sammael in the first movie and a slime-bleeding plant monster in the sequel.
It all came down to a powerful if kinda gross crescendo with Pan's Labyrinth, a movie that fully delivered on all of del Toro's trademarks, notably with the stick-bug "fairies" and the slime/golden key-vomiting giant toad. By the way, the fact that that last sentence made sense to a whole lot of people will probably keep us up tonight.
Nothing confusing here, apparently.
Comic Book Legend John Byrne Likes Brainwash Rape
Even if you're not intimately familiar with the name John Byrne, you are definitely familiar with his work, since he's worked on almost every major American superhero since the 70s.
And whatever was going on here.
Picture the Superman you're familiar with -- the one who never dressed in blue spandex as a kid and never owned a super dog named Krypto. That Superman is courtesy of John Byrne, whose 1986 Superman reboot The Man of Steel single-handedly erased the kiddie stuff like Superboy and his Superdog from the entire Super mythos. For a while, at least. X-Men fans can also thank Byrne for co-creating the highly acclaimed Dark Phoenix Saga and the entire world can hire him a garbage truck full of hookers for saving Wolverine from being killed off by the studio.
The secret trademark:
John Byrne kind of has a thing for sexually exploiting brainwashed women. Sorry, correction: His characters have a thing for sexually exploiting brainwashed women.
Let's go back to the Dark Phoenix Saga for a bit. It was a 1980 X-Men storyline involving the telekinetic Jean Grey gaining godlike powers and going a little crazy. It later became the basis for the third X-Men movie, though naturally, some parts of the comic had to be cut out -- like, say, Jean Grey's rape.
Major Mutton Chops up there is the villain Mastermind (Jason Wyngarde) who used a mind-tap device to make Jean believe she was her own distant ancestor and Wyngarde's lover (later wife). Though Mastermind's ultimate goal was simply to put Jean under his control, it gets downright kinky when you see the outfit and nickname he gave Jean:
"Behold, the Black Queen! We're totally just friends!"
Byrne would revisit this theme in Action Comics No. 592-593, where the mind-controlled Superman and the superheroine Big Barda are forced to make a porno together.
Byrne claims that the above setup is a porno only if you THINK it's a porno. So, the reaction of Barda's husband after seeing her porn tape is probably just a projection of our sick minds.
"My God, her acting in this re-enactment of 'Othello' is appalling!"
Another reason we're calling bullshit on Byrne's explanation is the fact that the villain behind this sleazy scheme is a guy actually named Sleez, whom we saw earlier keeping Barda captive in the sewers as his mind-controlled stripper (and possibly something more).
Even Sue Richards (the Invisible Woman) felt the stinging tip of Byrne's pen in Fantastic Four No. 280-282, when she was brainwashed by Psycho-Man and briefly became the villainess Malice.
Who dressed like a samurai hooker.
Sue later compared the experience to having her soul raped.
In case you were wondering whether Byrne simply hates DC/Marvel superheroines, we assure you that's not the case. You can find even creepier rape scenes in Byrne's original comics, like Next Men, where the character Sathanas (Hilltop) messes with the mind of the jail-baiterrific Jasmine, making her believe they're married. And that being married somehow means you have to sleep with the other person.
David Cronenberg Has Something Against Motor Vehicles
David Cronenberg's film career has spanned more than four decades and dozens of movies, each a little more disturbing than the last. Take, for example, his horror masterpiece The Fly, or the aptly titled A History of Violence, or his 1981 sci-fi horror Scanners, which the official pictorial representation of the Internet comes from:
"Wait, you said it's full of free porn?"
There's no doubt the guy knows his stuff when it comes to horror films. But there's also no doubt there's something else going on in his head when he makes his movies.
The secret trademark:
Cronenberg is straight-up obsessed with car accidents. In movie after movie, car accidents are either what propels the action forward or are awkwardly shoved into the plot somewhere, as if Cronenberg just couldn't help himself. "So what?" you're probably thinking, "Car accidents are dramatic. There are worse things to claim as a trademark." Maybe. Or maybe David Cronenberg is an accident freak and needs some help.
Yeah ... we're leaning toward the latter.
It started in 1977's Rabid, where a woman gets into a motorcycle accident and undergoes experimental surgery (which leaves her with a vampiric stinger under her armpit.) Weird, but whatever. Certainly not "obsessive weird." Next up for Cronenberg was Fast Company, one of his rare nonhorror movies about -- guess what? Race car drivers.
... who often exploded. Fair enough. We'll chalk that up to subject matter. OF COURSE a movie about race car driving is going to have some car explosions. Moving on. Next up was Scanners, the head-explodin' horror about killer telepaths, that only truly kicks off after the renegade psychic Revok escapes the people pursuing him by crashing their car with his mind:
Okaaay. In The Dead Zone (1983), Christopher Walken crashes his car and falls into a coma, developing psychic powers in the process, as coma patients often do.
Clearly, a pattern has emerged. And he's just getting started. In 1991, Cronenberg adapted William S. Burroughs' book Naked Lunch into a movie, which was all fine and good until Cronenberg injected a new piece of dialogue detailing the fatal car-related accident of a homosexual clown named Bobo. And with that, everything starts to make sense.
Finally, David Cronenberg's car crash complex came to a gushing orgasm in his 1996 movie Crash. Don't get it confused with the 2004 movie about race, urban life and disconnect in the modern world. This Crash is about people who are sexually aroused by car accidents. No, really:
A million bucks says Cronenberg had an actual visible boner while filming every one of those scenes.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance online writer and Japanese-English-Polish translator. If you pay him, he will write words for you. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The secrets don't stop here, learn more in the Cracked.com book.
For more pop culture secrets you didn't know about, check out 5 Absurd (But Mind Blowing) Pop Culture Conspiracy Theories. Or check out some directors that went nuts, in 9 Awesome Directors Who Temporarily Lost Their Mind.
And stop by Linkstorm to see what Jack O'Brien's secret fetish is.
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