Why I basically hated Guardians of the Galaxy

Gamora: And by the way… Your ship is filthy.

Peter Quill: Filthy? She has no idea. If we had a blacklight, it would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.

And that’s why I hated Guardians of the Galaxy (tweets here and here and here and here). Maybe hate’s the wrong word. I liked the talking tree. I liked Drax. I liked Gamora, though not what the film did with her. I dislike Chris Pratt’s likable face, and I’m angry at the movie, because I expected to like it.

Part of what I hate in the above: painting. As opposed to what? A breakfast? A mousepad? His caul? It’s the double beat of “Jackson Pollock’s paintings look like ejaculate” and “you do know who Jackson Pollock is,” like explaining “proboscis.” It’s a joke that simultaneously flatters and insults the audience’s intelligence. It’s pretentious, and makes anyone who laughs at it pretentious (slight pause from the crowd: “oh, Jackson Pollock, haha!”)

The other hate that quote summons up is for the everyman, likeable Chris Pratt’s character, living in a flying frathouse. Somehow semen’s gotten all over his walls. How? Maybe he lives in a flying bathhouse (if so, much better movie!). Probably, though, it happened the same way it did in a sixth-floor walkup in the Village my wife once lived in: the previous tenant just liked jerking off all over the walls. Just like any everyman. Very cool.

Actually, it was totally gross (just like this, which, if we assume Pratt isn’t playing a character, suggests there’s not a lot of air between Pratt and Quill). And what underlines the grossness here: it’s the she rather than you. He’s not talking to her. He’s talking to us. Freud, you’ll remember, explained that jokes require three parties: the butt of the joke, the repressed jackass telling the joke, and the person the joke’s being told to. Laugh at the joke, and you show your consent, Horkheimer and Adorno tell us (“oh, The Culture Industry, haha!”). Well, that she means Gamora’s not the one being addressed: she’s the butt of the joke, and that butt’s being, in essence, jizzed on (but not in a gay way, dude!), while Quill and his fellow have a chuckle, and while we’re being asked to consent, because, remember, this is a funny movie, as we’ve been told repeatedly.

The thing is, Quill’s a dipshit: as we see in his big speech (“we’re all losers! just like you!“) he’s got nothing but guts, which I guess explains why he’s constantly ejaculating. Gamora’s got more political sense; Drax likes language (and, as straight man, is much, much funnier than Quill); the tree thing’s more emotionally intelligent; and the raccoon is…well, I didn’t like the raccoon either, though at least he knew how to build a bomb (and “what’s a raccoon?” was funny).

Despite all that, or because of all that, Quill gets to be the one the movie wants us to love; he’s the one from earth, kidnapped by space rednecks straight out of a Disneyfied Blood Meridian, a novel by Cormac McCarthy about killer rednecks (“oh, Cormac McCarthy, haha!”), whose dying mom (lead with the cancer scene! that’ll make ’em care!) gave him a mixtape that makes no damned sense at all (where “The Piña Colada Song” shares space with “Moonage Daydream,” which shares space with with “Hooked on a Feeling,” which, ok, does has the happy effect of making  Resevoir Dogs retroactively uncool). And he’s a jerk, who fucks and forgets an uncountable number of girls, and who’s therefore cool and likeable?

Maybe we’re supposed to hate him and the film’s about how a fratboy grows up?

But, c’mon, you’ll remember — SPOILER — that when the purple power stone is blowing Quill apart, Gamora reaches her green hand out to him; he sees her hand, and we get, with it, a flashback to his holding his lil’ boy hand out to his dying mother’s hand. So we get an emotional superimposition of the sexy green girl (count the number of times the camera gives up a Spring Break lingering shot of her tits or ass) with the, uh, sexy dying mother. And, to make this clear, this should be enough to make a feminist barf, because it made me barf, inside my brain: the biggest emotional hook of the film, hung on our audience stand in, is his growing up by realizing that the girl he wants to fuck is also like his dying mother,  because dying women are people too.

Great! Good job, movie. The bro becomes Leader Bro. Fist bump.

My regular guy bona fides: I liked the other super hero movie I saw this summer. And lest I be accused otherwise, I like some silly movies: L’iceberg and everything else by those Belgian geniuses; Zazie dans le Metro; Die Bergkatze; The Happiness of the Katakuris; and, more obviously, Some Like It Hot. All silly; all great.

And I’m sure I could write a nice post on Groot, if it hadn’t been for that sappy bit with the flower and the little white girl.