All the Jocks, Queens and Foxes: On the Fringes of the Male Hetero-Heterotopia in Von Trier’s “Depression Trilogy”

Rafał MORUSIEWICZ


Abstract:

While heterosexual sex turns to be the frequent driving force and the litmus test of characters’ actions in Lars Von Trier’s “Depression Trilogy”, it is rarely given subjectivity. At least part of the blame lies in the filmmaker’s tendency to draw female protagonists as emblems, burdened with the task of channeling oft-multi-layered yet still mostly symbolic meanings. Such is also the function of sex the female characters undertake and represent. Posited in a binary opposition to what Von Trier deems to be the dull idiocy of the bourgeois family life, their sexual activity is a destructive force, feeding them with an illusion of liberation, which irrevocably results in their failure. In Antichrist, She’s sexual activity, climaxing in her multilating both her and her husband’s sex organs, is closely connected to her son’s tragic death; it is through sex that She channels the trauma of her loss, negligence, and guilt. In Melancholia, Justine’s random fling, happening instead of the anticipated marital honeymoon sex, is paired with the ascending doom, both internal and external, which looms in the literal form of planet Melancholia, dancing the “dance of death” with the Earth. Even Nymphomaniac Part I and II, which revolves around Joe’s sex-driven narrative peripetia and quagmires, uses sex to portray the protagonist’s ultimate moral descent and degradation. Despite its binary-driven gloominess, the largely heteronormative and dualist sexual world reveals a few cracks, through which lurk potentialities of bliss. The aim of this paper is to take a closer look at the third-tier characters in the “Depression Trilogy,” the “jocks”, the “queens”, and the non-humans, breaking the sex narrative binarisms with the never fulfilled promises of sexual bliss.

Keywords: heteronormative heterotopia, sexual bliss, gender / sex binarisms, depression, post-traumatic sex activity, queer

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