Sunday, April 5, 2015
Julia (2014) and Socializing Vengeance
There are three ways to make your way out of Trauma. The first is to become oblivious to your own pain by becoming numb. The second is by failing to integrate the trauma you come under the sway of madness. Lastly you can find a way to live with yourself. Enjoy your symptoms. Find a way to make sense out of what happened in such a way where you can rekindle your sense of self in the world. The film Julia is about a woman’s journey to return to herself after becoming the victimized by four men. Rather than tell the worn out tale of rage let loose, the film plays with the idea that in order to free yourself from victimization one must depersonalize the crime. Think beyond the cruelty that happened to you and strike at the core of the power structures in which reinforced and allow the continuance of male supremacy.
Julia begins as a tame nurse working at a plastic surgery clinic. She had long brown hair and bangs. She gazes at the world with worry and fear. Hypervigilant and shivering at sudden movements. Julia is a what is left after her humanity was gutted. Employed as a dental tech she meanders between work and home. Finding herself overhearing a conversation at a bar about a non-traditional therapy for victims of severe abuse. Her anger awakens her hope. Julie goes in search of treatment.
The treatment centers on depersonalizing her pain, generalizing the problem and weaponizing her body. Of what use is depersonalizing the sets of feelings associated with oppression? Let’s Julia’s knee-jerk reaction to her victimization. Lacking an interpretative matrix that would allow Julia to locate the source of her pain outside herself, she internalizes her victimization blaming herself for being raped. Only finding release is cutting, or rather torturing herself for immediate yet temporary absolution. Through self-harm she identifies with her aggressors by enacting a judicial ritual, confirming supposed righteousness of the aggressor.
Maladaptive as this pathology is, there is a sense of power that comes with identify with the aggressor. A spiritual and moral (albeit evil) clarity that defines with ruthless force what roles each actor plays and the system that contextualize the roles. Julia is, from the aggressor’s standpoint, less than human. Not even meeting the basic criteria of a social a social contract. Undeserving of acknowledgment. Identifying with the aggressor she takes on the power that her aggressors use on void her existence.
The therapist urges Julia to depersonalize her pain. Stating that she must follow his rules completely, or there will be consequences. What purpose does depersonalizing rape serve in therapy? Let’s review the average revenge story. A woman is robed her dignity, her children are murdered, her husband is castrated, filled with rage she find a clarity that inspires a plan. She wants revenges. So she broods and orchestrates a scheme of varying complexity in order to reestablish justice in the world to rewrite some wrong. She focuses sometimes directly ono the specific actors who hurt her, or sometimes takes on the entire system that organized her victimization. If she is confronted with a gang she works her way up the hierarchy, gutting henchmen, disemboweling middle management, and eventually eviscerating the CEO who funded or directly ordered her pain. With everyone dead, justice is forced back into the universe. Many of these films end with the hero dead as well. A kind of double negation of the dead. As if to say that the original trauma deserved the revenge, but the intensity of the revenge was a greater wrong because it negated a greater good. That it is the state, and the state alone, that holds the power to right wrongs and enact its laws. When the hero takes the law itself into her own hands, she urges the state to take its revenge on her.
The problem with this form of revenge is that it is reactionary, it leaves larger systems still intact, and intense personalization of trauma avoids considering the trauma outside the harm to the individual. The therapist urges Julia to distrust her first instinct to destroy and view the larger picture. Giving into the rage unleashed in her subjective is acting from a place under the power of the aggressor. Take a deep breath. Train yourself to see your power and use it. The therapist tags Julia up with a kind of malicious pick-up artist named Sadie. There is a key scene where Sadie demonstrates her power to seduce a man in a bar away from his girlfriend without saying a word. Sadie uses her gaze and a suggestive body language to pull the man into her trap. In a follow up scene the male follows Julie into an alley where she makes out with the guy until his girlfriend catches him in the act.
In generalizing her anger, training herself to recognize the structures of oppression and take actions on these points of production her revenge steps outside conservative individualistic politics and creates a communist form of revenge. Think! Don’t act! Identify the social conditions that allowed your victimization. Attack at critical points of production, cause as much damage as you can. And, quickly retreat! Is this not the procedure that Mao recommended in his little red book?
Many people think it impossible for guerrillas to exist for long in the enemy's rear. Such a belief reveals lack of comprehension of the relationship that should exist between the people and the troops. The former may be likened to water the latter to the fish who inhabit it. How may it be said that these two cannot exist together? (Zedong, 2015)
Also, looking at the larger picture. The therapist is developing an army of warriors using social engineering and networking guerrilla tactics to deal with the real enemy – masculinity. Not masculinity as a localized concern about one man’s performance of manhood, but striking at the very core of man’s relationship with the world. There is a very real oppression that a woman may feel as she is walking home at night, wearing something scandalous in the club, or flirting with abandon. That some fictitious tiger will stir in a man’s groin, with the causality of a bullet firing from a gun, inspiring the necessity of a completed deed from erection to intercourse. In these situations that male is reactionary, personalizing the flirtation as if there was a direct transmission from a woman’s cleavage to her desire to be ravaged. The fear of this broken causality haunts the women of this planet. Due to a history as long as the human race that totalizes blame whatever victimization a woman experiences to her behavior, way of dress, temperament a priori to the event.
The therapist’s self-replicating terror cell seeks vengeance not on the individual male for his failure to actually reason causality, but strikes to reverse a history of fear. Incorporating just as much or more fear of reacting impulsively to presence of a woman as a woman has in walking down the street and suddenly hearing foot steps behind her.
Mao Zedong - Wikiquote En.wikiquote.org,. (2015). Mao Zedong - Wikiquote. Retrieved 31 March 2015, from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong