In her WTF interview Lisa Lampanelli said that the reason why she could get away with saying homophobic things from the stage to a gay audience was because people could tell that she didn’t have hate in her heart, and that lack of malice turned what could have been an insult into a tease. I think there’s something to that: with comedy intent matters. Most jokes are benign transgressions, which means they have to actually be benign in order to not feel transgressive.
Which is why the politics of the Forbidden Zone are so complicated to me. There’s a lot of homophobic and racist stuff in this movie, but it doesn’t seem like the point of it is to be petty to those groups. No, the intent is in line with what R. Crumb and other counter-culture rascals were doing in the 60s, which is to skewer mainstream culture by perverting sitcom perfection into grotesque tableaus. The real point of the satire is to make everything look ugly and wrong. But that means that while there might not be hatred in this movie’s heart for, say, homosexuals, there is hatred at it’s heart for all of mankind. Does the misanthropy of the general film make the poisoned barbs at today’s sacred cows any more forgiveable?
It’s hard to say. This movie is clearly just the product of a different time, when the counterculture was different, so some part of me is inclined to chalk it up as outdated juvenilia. Or it could just be seen as mere provocation, which doesn’t offend me but which also doesn’t interest me. But it’s a shame that there’s so much in this movie that is so specifically shitty when I, too, am a bit of a misanthrope and didn’t mind the more broadsided attacks it contained. There’s so much that could have appealed to me – the German expressionism inspired sets, the music by Oingo Boingo, the surrealism – that having the overall whole tainted by some mean spirited content is a bummer.
Winner: The cat?