Dir.: Harmony Korine
We already know that America has a dangerous gun culture, two days back a 5 year old boy shot dead his 2 year old sister with a real gun designed for children.We already know that entire countries function on drug money earned from the US.We already know that American youth is loosing out to India and China in jobs and education.We also know that spring break has been branded by MTV to keep an endless stream of scantily clad young people gyrating to the coolest music in front of TV cameras.I remember as a 11 year old gawking at the TV when Spring Break came on for 30 minutes around midnight 25 years back. So what is the point of this film by Harmony Korine who makes a relatively mainstream film after making very very offbeat films (garbage humping old people anyone?) on shoe string budgets.
Spring Break has a runtime of just about 90 minutes and a plot smaller than the G-strings of its leading ladies.Brit, Candy, Cotty, and Faith have been best friends since school and college in Kentucky is a cattle market. They desperately want to go for spring break and rob a diner to make it happen.How is this behavior different from the guy in China who sold his kidney to buy an iPad?Was he just an honest guy who did not rob and steal or was he a wimp?What will that guy do when Apple launches A big screen TV? What will he sell? Korine does give us alternatives, two girls out the four girls drop out of this craziness at some point, they learn their lessons and make better choices.
The girls soon land in trouble and a rapper called Alien bails them out.He is of course much worse than that. The girls find themselves in a situation they had not bargained for but do not mind going along for the ride.We know it will not end well for them. James Franco’s character Alien has an arsenal bigger than any police station in that region.No background check stood in his way in acquiring the machine guns he has.The girls are able to rob a diner with a squirt gun because guns are so ubiquitous that people are scared by toy guns.
The protagonists lead a life of extreme hedonism which begs the question to what extent do we have the right to exploit our bodies and what happens when you grow old and no longer have the kind of body that is on the poster? Spring Breakers gives us lot of nudity, actually its boring, irritating and mind numbing nudity and its meant to elicit exactly that response.While music videos supply glamorized versions of guns, drugs and sex this one drains the spring break life of all glamour.It almost goes into cannibal territory, the sight of human flesh heaving and jumping reduces it to the level of animal protein and therefore food.While music videos say “ we are like this only”, this film asks “Should we be like this?”
How will a impoverished 18 year old daily wage earner in India react to this film? Will he go and rape a 5 year old child in a slum? There are no clear answers to that question and to that extent the film is not universal but contextual and very American. But yes it will add fuel to incidents of rape which happen in India involving foreign women if this stereotype of mindless promiscuity is reinforced.
Spring Breakers holds up a harsh mirror but where is the target audience? The R rating in the USA and the R21 in Singapore will keep 16 year olds out who will benefit the most from this film.It message will surely be lost in translation coming from a parent who has no business watching naked young women on big screen anyway. Korine knows his subject, he wrote the screenplay for Kids for Larry Clark when he was 19.That film was about a amoral HIV positive teenager set to deflower as many virgins as possible.It was a grim and disturbing film.
This too is not entertainment, there is no sense of satisfaction, just discomfort and questions.