Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Freud, Foucault, and Darwin, Oh My!

Finally saw White Heat. Loved it. Totally concur with Nat, re: the excellent marksmanship and the fun "technology." I like the idea of "mapping" in another way as well: seems the film is really interested in figuring out where Cody's pathology originates from and lives. Though there are competing explanations:
Freud: It's Mommy's fault. Jarrett never properly individuated from his mother, and is therefore incapable of forming normal human relationships. According to the good Herr Doktor, all love comes from an attempt to replace the loss of the mother. If he never lost his mother, he wouldn't ever be capable of understanding anyone other than that intense dyad as human.
Darwin: It's Daddy's fault. The madness (represented though debilitating headaches) is hereditary. Cody never had a chance of being anything but criminally insane, and he is "chosen against" due to his inability to adapt to the social world in which he found himself.
Foucault looms over the whole shebang. Institutions (the police, the prison) attempt to reform Cody, but all they are really able to do is locate his transgression and attempt to reinscribe him in the system. His refusal to be disciplined results in his fiery demise.

What I like about all of this is that the explanations require a depth model of identity. Whatever ultimately explains Cody Jarrett, it lives on the inside. To borrow a metaphor from the movie, his criminal body is the Trojan Horse for a diseased mind. Plus, it was a really fun crime caper. Loved it, and think it should remain on the list!

1 comment:

  1. Hooray! I'm glad you finally got to watch it!

    I also like that there isn't a specific answer given by the movie. It could be Mommy, Daddy, the system, all three, or even just the drinking water. There is a real effort to investigate and explore the possibilities without trying to come to one explanation or justify away his actions.