IT: chapter II - Pennywise the clown is so #cancelled

Jmz_33

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It: Chapter Two’s Gay-Bashing Scene Exploits a Real-Life Killing for a Cheap Shock
The horror sequel recreates the death of Charlie Howard but has no idea what to do with it.
By JEFFREY BLOOMER

It: Chapter Two opens at a town fair in Derry, Maine, as a man gleefully beats a little girl in a carnival game. Another man, apparently his friend, scolds him as he collects the prize instead of the girl, and he quickly hands it over to her. She beams. The man then kisses the other man, a moment that’s meant to be a coy reversal: These aren’t boisterous small-town jerks; they’re lovers. Then, suddenly, the movie cuts to a few local teenagers who see the kiss. The teenagers taunt the men. The lovers taunt them back and walk away. But as the lovers try to leave the fair, the teens catch up to them, then mercilessly attack them. One of the victims is asthmatic and can’t breathe. The teens shove away his inhaler, pick him up, and throw him over a railing into a shallow creek below. Screaming for help, his boyfriend runs down to the side of the creek, only to find Pennywise, the murderous shape-shifting clown, holding up the man’s battered body. Pennywise smiles and then begins eating him.

Fans of Stephen King’s novel It will recognize the slain man as Adrian Mellon, who suffers roughly the same fate in the book. (He’s played in the movie by wunderkind Québécois filmmaker and actor Xavier Dolan, well known to gay cinephiles and critics.) People from Maine, especially Bangor, King’s hometown, may recognize him instead as Charlie Howard, a 23-year-old asthmatic gay man who was beaten by three teenage boys in the town in the summer of 1984, before he was thrown off a bridge into a stream 15 feet below and drowned. One of the teens later told the police they just wanted to beat up a “faggot.” They were charged as juveniles and released from prison by the time they were 21. The case did not earn the level of national attention of, say, the murder of Matthew Shepard more than a decade later, but it left an enduring scar on Bangor, and it affected King. He included a barely veiled version of the case in It two years later.

It features many horrors, some supernatural and some all too grounded in the real world. The first movie opened with a 6-year-old boy’s arm being bitten off in the clown’s jaws. This new one features brutal domestic violence and an attempted rape in the first 30 minutes. The various human evils that fuel and are fueled by Pennywise are essential to the story, and often, the brutality makes sense. But what director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman do with this opening murder—not to mention a bizarre subplot that appears designed to counterweigh it—exploits a ghastly real-life killing for a cheap shock, delivered without context or any clear thematic underpinning. It’s obvious they failed to fully reckon with what they’ve put on the screen, and the results are grim.

Perhaps Warner Bros. or someone close to the production knew they had a potential problem on their hands with the sequence, because before almost anyone had seen the movie, Muschietti and star Jessica Chastain were out to the press to frame it not as exploitative but as “important.” “It was very important to me because it is of relevance,” Muschietti told Variety. He went on:

“I probably wouldn’t have included it if it wasn’t in the book, but it was very important for Stephen King. When he wrote it, he was talking about the evil in the human community. He was talking about how dark humans can get in a small American town. … For me, it was important to include it, because it’s something that we’re still suffering. Hate crimes are still happening. No matter how evolved we think society is going, there seems to be a winding back, especially in this day and age where these old values seem to be emerging from the darkness.”

Chastain, the movie’s female lead and an outspoken critic of screen depictions of sexual assault and violence against women, offered a very similar defense, right down to using many of the same words. “I think you need that scene because [King] writes about the darkness that’s under the surface, the dirt under the fingernails of these small towns or of mankind,” she told the same reporter. “That’s what It represents. It’s the darkness of human behavior. I think it was important to see Adrian’s scene and not to change it from what it is in the novel because we’re living in a time right now where it is very much a part of our culture and part of our conversation and we haven’t moved past it.”

These explanations—that it was part of the original source material, and that anti-gay hate crimes still happen today, so it was “important” to depict this particular one—suggest a half-baked understanding of what calls for different kinds of violence on screen. Yes, as Muschietti says, anti-gay violence remains “of relevance,” and it was a major moment in the original novel. But the fact that King was moved enough by a hate crime in the 1980s to memorably explore it in the book does not mean it automatically has a place in a much different medium (especially in an adaptation that frequently picks and chooses which parts of the book to include) or that it functions the same way in this severely truncated form. And that a type of crime still happens in real life does not mean extremely graphic depictions of it are always justified.

The murder in the book takes place in the summer of 1985, one year after the event that inspired it, and the novel includes an extended description of the victims, the teens, their motives, and the police investigation that follows (“The guy was a fruit, but he wasn’t hurting anyone,” says a sympathetic district attorney), along with a brief but evocative read of the town’s gay milieu. It imagined far greater consequences than the real-life boys received. Even the Pennywise element, which plays out similarly, became a crucial point in the novel about how the town’s residents perennially ignore the real threat they face.

In It: Chapter Two, the murder takes place in 2016, and then it’s never mentioned again—unless you count the brief reappearance of Adrian as a swishy, flirty zombie who shows up to torment Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), one of the grown-up kids now back in Derry. The brutality plays as a stand-alone moment, nothing more than a sign that Pennywise has returned from his hibernation. Crucially, the movie’s assorted other horrors, including a scene of sexualized violence involving Chastain’s character, are part of its long arc about abused outsiders who each fight individual and collective battles against their tormentors in town and at home. They avenge the crimes against them, turning each of their threads into a survivor’s story, which is probably why an outspoken actress like Chastain is starring in this movie rather than crusading against it. Adrian Mellon’s arc, such as it is, is far from a survivor’s story. Instead, as filmed, the sequence trades on the profound anxiety borne of real-life hate violence for the sake of shock value.

I can’t tell if Muschietti and writer Dauberman sensed this disparity, but a different subplot, heavy on suggestive close-ups and implication, appears designed to offset it. When Adrian does reappear and startles Richie, there’s mention of something Richie has kept from the group, and perhaps from himself. In a fit of panic, Richie tries to flee town rather than face it. What is this great secret? As in the novel, Richie has a special bond with Eddie, another member of the Losers’ Club. In fact, some enterprising fans of the novel have long surmised that Eddie is gay and in love with Richie (a dynamic played up in the 1990 It miniseries, which notably excludes the hate crime). It: Chapter Two seems to reverse this subtext and then make it more explicit. In this version, Richie has grown up to be a stand-up comic who makes sexist jokes, but it seems he is gay and in love with Eddie, a suggestion that grows somewhat louder in the movie’s epilogue. With the camera somberly trained on Richie’s face, a voice-over implores him to be “proud” as he looks on from a carving of his and Eddie’s initials together. The scene is, frankly, ridiculous, not least because of how it asks him to be “proud” while being too timid to say what precisely it means out loud. Why is this even here? Could it be an answer to the earlier violence, a tenuous attempt to extinguish it the way other characters directly confront their own abuse? Regardless, what does it say about this movie that it feels comfortable depicting every crushing blow and desperate cry for help from gay men as they’re being bludgeoned but then relies on a retro, coded treatment of its only apparently gay principal character, who never even gets the dignity of saying who he is?

Movies—even (especially!) genre movies—can and should show the worst things people do. That can include echoes of real-life violence. At their best, they summon their power from projecting real horrors onto a fantastical monster, so that we might exorcise them. That’s not what It: Chapter Two does with this opening. Instead, it reduces a particularly vicious attack into a swaggering signal that no brutality is out of bounds and a self-deluding bid for “relevance.” The scene is savage and ugly, but not for the reason the movie thinks.
You know... it’s not like Pennywise is a VILLAIN or anything.
 

Ruin

#respectskeltins
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The original novel had Pennywise assume the form of Bev's father's rotting reanimated corpse and rasped in vivid detail of how he was going to bring her to orgasm by sucking on her clit.

The movie is tame as fuck compared to the book and all these "sensitive" hipsters need to get the fuck over themselves.
 

Nekromantik2

Just give us your toilet paper and walk away.
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I guess it makes fan girls mad because they can make Pennywise a gay icon with the Babadook.

King is right for his reason to have that part in the book. Pennywise is a monster that kills people and has an influence over the town. It sets the tone. I actually wondered if they would put this part in the movie at all. I don't know if it has the same impact as it did when it was set in the 80s. That kind of stuff did happen a lot more back then, minus the killer monster clown part.
 

CivilianOfTheFandomWars

Knows Kung-Flu
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The original novel had Pennywise assume the form of Bev's father's rotting reanimated corpse and rasped in vivid detail of how he was going to bring her to orgasm by sucking on her clit.

The movie is tame as fuck compared to the book and all these "sensitive" hipsters need to get the fuck over themselves.
Yeah, the book is a lot less tame. I kind of wanted to see a version of the film that had all the worst shit left in, just to see how people would react.
Pennywise turning into Bev's father would just be the start for the people complaining, how about a kid poisoning a dog and happily watching die? Or that one solipsistic kid who killed his brother and tortures animals to death for fun, who also tried to do a gay too Henry? Or the orgy?
It could have really made these people uncomfortably.
 

CivilianOfTheFandomWars

Knows Kung-Flu
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There’s a weird thing with people reviewing horror. It seems like the main train of thought is ,”I want to be scared and made uncomfortable by my movies. This one made me scared and uncomfortable in the wrong way though.”
And that can be a valid criticism, but mostly for when that wasn’t the intended effect. You don’t criticize Human Centipede because it’s gross, that’s the point of it, you criticize it for other reasons.
But King knows very well what that scene will do to the audience, and it looks like it succeeded.
 

Duncan Hills Coffee

Awakes you from a thousand deaths
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I was wondering if they were going to adapt the scene at all given how sensitive people are today about bad things happening to gay people in media these days.

It's too bad the movie can't be set in the 80s where one of the murderers is a Judas Priest fan before Rob Halford came out of the closet. That was always one of the more darkly comic aspects of the book to me even though it was completely unintentional.
 

RomanesEuntDomus

May contain nuts.
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Just to get this straight... You need to put gays into your stories, or you're a shitlord.
But when you do and actually adress the bad things that happened and happen to them, you are also a shitlord for bringing up their hardships.

Oh wait, yeah, I forgot. minorities have to be a designated class of untouchable characters. Killing off or even hurting a supposedly trans character is like a holocaust against trannies. Same with blacks and gays and ... women, cause being 50% of the overall population makes you a minority now, I guess.

So, essentially, every movie needs to be a sort of Noah's Arc, with one repressentative of every subgroup, but pretty much everyone that's not a white dude is going to be a saint that never has any harm done to him, unless we highlight for the majority of the movie how it's all the fault of the white dudes that the minority suffered.
Cause that makes for good entertainment :story:
 

BobsSpergers

kiwifarms.net
I thought they should have kept the scene out (like the miniseries) just because it has no impact on the rest of the story, especially since the movie is 3 hours long already.
The film is also getting some flack for
making Richie gay for Eddie because it becomes the "bury your gays" trope since Eddie dies. I'm like 99% positive they made Richie gay because of how popular shipping him with Eddie was with the little tumblr fangirls. Funny to see it's kinda biting them in the ass.
 

Nekromantik2

Just give us your toilet paper and walk away.
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I'm like 99% positive they made Richie gay because of how popular shipping him with Eddie was with the little tumblr fangirls. Funny to see it's kinda biting them in the ass.
Well, if the fangirls had ever read the book or seen the mini series, they'd know that was the outcome.
 

Alto

To the stars!
kiwifarms.net
I thought they should have kept the scene out (like the miniseries) just because it has no impact on the rest of the story, especially since the movie is 3 hours long already.
The film is also getting some flack for
making Richie gay for Eddie because it becomes the "bury your gays" trope since Eddie dies. I'm like 99% positive they made Richie gay because of how popular shipping him with Eddie was with the little tumblr fangirls. Funny to see it's kinda biting them in the ass.
Eddie isn't even hinted at being gay anyway (at least in the film) so I don't even know why they're complaining. Even if he'd lived, he's married and the thing with Richie would have just been one-sided. You can't win with any of these people no matter what you do.
 

BobsSpergers

kiwifarms.net
Eddie isn't even hinted at being gay anyway (at least in the film) so I don't even know why they're complaining. Even if he'd lived, he's married and the thing with Richie would have just been one-sided. You can't win with any of these people no matter what you do.
I haven't seen the movie but that's the thing, supposedly it is one sided and as far as I know Eddie is still straight. The one they made gay lives so I don't know how 'bury your gays' fits into that.
 

Ozsem

kiwifarms.net
I thought they should have kept the scene out (like the miniseries) just because it has no impact on the rest of the story, especially since the movie is 3 hours long already.
The film is also getting some flack for
making Richie gay for Eddie because it becomes the "bury your gays" trope since Eddie dies. I'm like 99% positive they made Richie gay because of how popular shipping him with Eddie was with the little tumblr fangirls. Funny to see it's kinda biting them in the ass.
Funny cause Patrick Hocksetter has gay moments with Henry Bowers in the book.
 

TungstenCarbide

kiwifarms.net
I haven't seen the movie but that's the thing, supposedly it is one sided and as far as I know Eddie is still straight. The one they made gay lives so I don't know how 'bury your gays' fits into that.
It's because Richie will be without the love of his life. I wonder if these spergers will ever read the book and be outraged at its lack of queerness and political correctness. Also, I'm surprised they made Richie gay since in the book, even though he is single, he recounts having several relationships with women over the years (he even asked one of his former girlfriends if he got her pregnant). And, hilariously, the first thing Richie thought while consoling Bill when they were children was "I hope people won't mistake us for fags", or something to that effect.
 

BobsSpergers

kiwifarms.net
It's because Richie will be without the love of his life. I wonder if these spergers will ever read the book and be outraged at its lack of queerness and political correctness. Also, I'm surprised they made Richie gay since in the book, even though he is single, he recounts having several relationships with women over the years (he even asked one of his former girlfriends if he got her pregnant). And, hilariously, the first thing Richie thought while consoling Bill when they were children was "I hope people won't mistake us for fags", or something to that effect.
Yeah, the ones that have read the book keep spouting about the 'subtext' over and over. I just recently read it and maybe it's because I'm a shitlord but I didn't see any gay subtext with Richie and Eddie at all. I mean, I guess I can see Eddie being gay what with his intense mommy issues but not with Richie.
 
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