Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goodness, Gracious

Here's a ditty about another film that shaped my young self, one that I probably should not have seen as a child. And that film would be Great Balls of Fire, starring Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis and Winona Ryder as his incestuous child bride, Myra. I loooooooved this movie as a child -- I was nine when it came out and we had cable with free pay-per-view so I was watching every recent release about 5 times a day at that point. Like Goodfellas, which was my favorite movie when I was ten. Boulos has been aware of this for some time, but what she recently found out is that my absolute favorite scene in that movie is the montage in which we discover all of the bodies of the dudes that Jimmy has killed in his paranoia over the heist. I was watching it with Boulos and I mentioned that it's always been my favorite part of the movie, and she was totally horrified. In retrospect, it's pretty upsetting. I'd like to say that it's because the epic "Layla" is played over this montage, but I also really enjoy discovering the clever ways in which Jimmy had the guys killed and disposed of. I've greatly enjoyed that for nearly 20 years now, and I'm just going to accept that I am a sick fuck.

Anyway, back to Great Balls of Fire. I loved the music, I was hot for Dennis/Jerry, Winona Ryder was in it and she got a house that she was allowed to completely furnish in the manner one might expect a 13-year-old would, and it was fantastic. I re-watched the movie last fall and I still loved it (I was drunk, too, though). Then, a few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend and he said that he hates all musician biopics. I was like, "Um, what about Great Balls of Fire?" And he said, very sarcastically, "Oh, the movie in which Jerry Lee Lewis marries his 13-year-old cousin?"And I was like, "Yes. She was his cousin twice removed, by the way." (I still do not know what the hell that means.) During this conversation, I was still totally behind this movie. I was like, when the hell did Roy become such a moralist? What the fuck? THEY WERE IN LOVE.

Upon reflection, the movie is totally fucked up. Sure, it's based on truth, but the relationship (which, finally, I do recognize as utterly disgusting) is represented in an almost comical, and certainly an inevitable, manner. Like, of COURSE he wants to fuck his 13 year old cousin, of COURSE she wants it, and of COURSE they should be married. And no, her father should not kill him. And when they first have sex and she is kind of terrified and she cries? Don't worry about it, because in like 5 minutes she will be a total nympho.

Normally I don't really believe in too harshly censoring the movies kids watch. I saw Pretty Woman as a child and I did not want to be a hooker, though I did have a crush on Richard Gere (duh). I saw Beaches, which a friend's mom wouldn't let us watch at her fourth grade sleepover (prude, there's like two tasteful sex scenes) and sure I became a redhead and maybe sometimes a loudmouth, but I didn't marry my dad's lawyer and wind up a single mother. I saw Dirty Dancing, but I didn't understand the abortion plotline and now that I consider it, I think it's awesome that when I finally understood it, I knew innately that the illegality of abortion at that time was bullshit, and also how cool is it that the girls who have sex in that movie are all nice girls, with that exception of that married hussy who wants Johnny and settles for Robbie?

This isn't to say that I became a child bride, thank god, but it's kind of fucked up that it took me 21 years to finally decide that, when they go to London and the Brits hate them and boo them offstage, it's not because the Brits are a bunch of uptight prudes. It's because Jerry Lee Lewis was a pervert. I still have a crush on Dennis Quaid, though.

1 comment:

Boulos said...

Yeah, the statutory rape aspect of their relationship is rather messed up, I mean, 13 and married to an oldie, yikes! Regardless though, it is a pretty sweet movie, and rather tame as far as your taste goes, so word. I'd never seen it until we watched it together in college either, so thanks for exposing me to it, and yourself to me.