[Those of you who follow me on Twitter have seen bits of this before. I had more to say, so decided to rework rather than tweetspam.]
I had never seen Purple Rain before, due to being seven years old at the time it came out. (Good choice, Mom!) AMC brought it out in theaters across the US this weekend in memory of Prince, and I badly wanted to go. Twitter has been mourning with me, but it hasn't felt like enough.
I loved Prince, but I never loved him as he deserved. That was wonderful and I want to see it on the big screen yearly.
We all clapped at the beginning "dearly beloved," at Purple Rain, and at the ending. Coincidentally also where I cried a little. I dressed lowkey, but the theater was sprinkled with beauty: purple fascinators, glitter shoes, lace.
Some bits of the movie are over the top, and being in the theater detracted from my experience once or twice. (Yes, I get that his father was literally
a motherfucker, but you can stop giggling any time.) Some of it was really powerful, though. The part where he physically could not listen to his bandmates' music, a thing which he needed to do to get off the toxic course he was on, because his trauma was happening right there in the room with him: wow. I have my reasons to be interested in patterns of abuse these days, and this was helpful to my understanding without being too on the nose.
I'm bemused and annoyed by the way people seem to have taken the movie as a biography of Prince; I get that it's a little confusing, since his music is woven into it so strongly, but other people wrote that story, it is fiction. For instance, Prince was not biracial
, a piece of misinformation that I've seen far too often recently.
Number of times I thought "my god he's beautiful": roughly 70??? I got a hot dog at the theater, but it was WHOLLY INADEQUATE as a sublimation target for the things I wanted to do to Prince in that movie. Damn. He even hit my "smartass/troll" button, though, much like Tony Stark, the character took it rather beyond what I'd put up with in real life.
I was thinking about "I'm not a woman/ I'm not a man/ I'm something that you'll never understand" on the way home, too, and the way our mourning for Prince and Bowie has been all about their gender transgressiveness and our nearly universal lust for them. It seems to me that, generally, women love men the best when they love femininity enough to adopt some of it for their own use. It's not just that they're not threatened by femininity, but that we feel more loved when men are willing to be like us in that way, when sometimes it's even more dangerous for them to be feminine than it is for us.
(Also, you gotta love that inevitable moment when the guy who winds up with the contested affections of a girl is called a faggot. That one got a good laugh from the audience tonight.)
Thus I have a new theory of gender-transgressive transformative works (perhaps overlapping in places with the "we slash because we want to read/write relationships which aren't societally unequal" theory): women and other feminine folks love these male characters so much that we want to share our femininity with them as a gift, and we want to believe that they would love us enough to happily embrace it, like Prince did.