Thursday, October 19, 2017

American Horror Story, Season 7 (Cult), Episode 7: Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins

American Horror Story has decided to return to its grand old tradition of barely coherent nonsense.

Still clinging to the storyline we find Ally is in prison but the mass shooting and attempted assassination of  Kai by Meadow has been firmly blamed on her - since there’s footage of them

The violence was more than enough to tip the polls in Kai’s favour and sweep him to the lofty heights of city councilmen. This has apparently greatly impressed lots of alt-right neo-nazi guys since Kai is now surrounded by a lot of sinister looking white men all dressed in exactly the same not-quite-but-almost uniforms - they’re one tiki torch and a white polo shirt away from a racist statue loving nazi rally.

Bev goes to see Kai and is very very very quickly aware of how hostile everyone is to her and exactly what these men are. Suspicions which are confirmed when Kai brushes her off and dismisses her. She is Not Happy. And she is Dangerous

Introducing Bebe Babbitt and saying goodbye to reality, who meets up with Beverley and is taken by her to Ivy and Winter to tell her story

So, Bebe Babbit was the ex-lover of real life person Valerie Solanas, who tried to assassinate Andy Warhol because she thought he stole/lost her work (true) and because he dismissed her as a woman (possible). She also wrote SCUM, (actually in real life) and in American Horror Story world set up a cult - which Bebe was a member of. They formed a cult of violent women and self-hating, masochistic gay men (including using the term “gender traitor” which is a loaded slur) who are constantly degraded and abused. Per Valerie’s manifesto they start murdering men (and women who sleep with men - yes the lesbian not only hates all men, but straight and bisexual women as well) at Valerie’s instruction while she’s in prison for shooting Warhol.

Their brutal murders become the real world Zodiac killings because, well, American Horror Story. They don’t claim credit for the killing which seems like a dubious manner of getting their message across (Valerie has a somewhat… unrealistic ambition of killing a thousand people with a further unrealistic belief that 1,000 deaths will undermine the entire patriarchy). Of course then a man sends murder secrets to the papers meaning their SCUM murders are being stolen. Valerie doesn’t take this well and brutally murders one of the gross gay men following her cult - including brutal genital mutilation.

She tries to confess to the serial killing and claim credit - but the sexist police don’t believe a woman capable of such crimes and dismiss her. Defeated by patriarchy and misogyny at every turn, Valerie becomes more and more unstable and as she descends her cult leaves her. Until she hallucinates a final indignity - Warhol telling her that her legacy, all she will be remembered for, is trying to kill him - and dies.

So the point of this flashback? Having established this cult in the 60s, Bebe now, with Beverley, recruits Bev, Ivy and Winter to kidnap Harrison and brutally murder him. While Meadow talks with Kai and there’s definitely a suggestion that Kai knows about SCUM - confirmed later

When Bev reports on Harrison’s murder, with references to SCUM and directly attacking Kai and his new reign. Kai isn’t overly upset - because he’s watching the show sat next to Bebe, they’re working together. And completely - it was Kai telling Winter about a misogynist slogan he blamed on Harrison (which Harrison denied) which singled him out for murder.

So, just as this whole trainwreck of a series has championed extremist straw-men stereotypes of, well, just about everyone we now have the extremist straw-feminists who think women are inherently superior and all men must die. I’ve seen articles saying that this episode is a link to or part of displaying the female rage of #MeToo which both seems doubtful given the timing but also… reductive given the content and the portrayal of an incoherent serial killer effectively leading (behold the title of this series), a cult. It’s more than problematic to compare the two. And like so much in this season, the comparison of serious, real world injustices and fears and brutalities to the often shaky caricatures of American Horror Story is something that needs to be done… cautiously. Because it does raise good points - about women being sidelined, removed, depowered and victimised - and of women’s work and activism and power being exploited and used but women themselves constantly. And then makes that into a serial killing cult being manipulated, ultimately, by Kai.

Throw in a chunk of homophobia (and a whole lot of violence against gay men NOT portrayed as horrific, but portrayed as righteous - with the added dubiousness of gay men declaring their maleness being seen as a bad thing when gay masculinity is constantly attacked and policed), sprinkle with sexism, a whole lot of ignoring how race would intersect in both cults and loooo we
have American Horror Story and reason #89679 why I drink.