Since I am a fan of Megadeth, a so-called “droogie”, it is part of my journey, as a fan, to watch A Clockwork Orange.
I have heard many things about the movie; mostly bad things about its violent story and images. My partner has on various occasions suggested I not watch it when I have felt the urge. My grrrl friend, who is a very critical thinker and hard core feminist, suggested I not indulge for the violence being too gratuitous. Fans of Megadeth take on the nick name of droogie, with love and affection for each other and for the band. So, how bad can it be?
The movie begins and I already see it as something comical and over the top. The visuals suggest the meaning and message of the film: this is an exploration into the effects of hegemonic masculinity, group dynamics and power. The phallus springs very quickly to mind.
There are symbols of the phallus everywhere. Jean-Joseph Goux, The Phallus: Masculine Identity and the “Exchange of Women” explains the phallus as the “object of a true cult in the ancient world”. The phallus of the Osiris myth “comes “in place” of the missing penis. Not only is it a replacement organ that “stands in place” of the one definitively lost, but that place holder has, in opposition to the real and missing penis, an artificial existence”. Here is where Goux’s work gets interesting; “the phallus is a fabrication. It is a constructed model. It is an artefact that stimulates what is missing, at the same time rendering it sacred and larger than life to make it a cult object”
The phallus in this film is a cult object. It is not real, it does not actually exist per say, but the image of the phallus is everywhere. It is shown in the costume of the droogies; the white pants with the emphasized jock strap created for masculine exaggeration. The phallus exists in the scene with DeLarge and his droogie; DeLarge’s crotch in his droogie’s face playing with the image and representation of the phallus, causing the audience to wonder about homosocial (erotic?) tendencies with the male dominated group and its participation.
The phallus is so prominent in the murder scene I couldn’t help but say aloud “someone must have written about this. Someone must have deciphered this”. Maybe not for this movie, but it has been done in theory and I was sure that the huge phallus entering the mouth of Delarge’s victim symbolized much more than murder. What of the phallus as a weapon? It greatly intrigued me.
And what of us heavy metal fans that call ourselves droogies? The use of music is throughout the movie. DeLarge loves Beethoven. There is a similarity here. Heavy metal fans are very snobby with our love of music. Metal is the be all, end all. It is a way of life for us. It is a form of expression. It is our brotherhood, our alliance, our means to get through the hard times. Imagine someone would taint that love? Imagine someone would use it to turn us against our music, the one thing that keeps us together and strong?
There is much more to this. And I use terminology that is sexist perhaps, calling us a “brotherhood”. Well, I mean it in the most affectionate of terms. I mean it in the sense that I am included and I am female. I am part of this group of droogies and yet I feel more of a connection with Delarge? Why you may ask? DeLarge is a leader, not a follower, and yet he is a droogie. Or is he?
What of our “faithful narrator” our “humble narrator?” How can you evil narcissistic droogies like such a hateful creature? Being a literature major and a true lover of novels and reading I will tell you why we love Alexander DeLarge and it is not because of the ultra-violence. (If you would like to read critiques of the film in relation to it’s problematic visuals, you can find it online. The material is abundant.) Alexander speaks to us like we are his friend. When he commits violence and pays for the violence he commits, we are with him. We are meant to connect with the leader and this is why it is so interesting, compelling, problematic, lasting, and thought-provoking. DeLarge, the protagonist/antagonist addresses us, the audience, the reader, the friend, the true droogie, and we respond. We are with him for the ride as the “faithful” droogie.
This, my friends, is a technique that works for the audience and reader. Like the work of Dexter, we side with the bad guy due to his loyalty and honesty to us as a narrator. The moral complications do not matter as much as the faithful, loyal relationship that exists between the audience and the leader.