Saturday, June 03, 2006

best. documentary. ever.

If you, like approximately 99.999999999% of Shreveport-Bossier City's population, ignored completely the fact that there was a film festival happening in Shreveport tonight, you missed what easily ranks among the greatest documentary films I have ever seen: "The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief." The film tells the story of a "Host Club" in Osaka, where young men charge approximately $12 an hour to hang out with young women whose hearts are obviously seeking any kind of attention, love, or just the company of good-looking young guys. The more money the women spend at their table, the more attention the "hosts" give them, which results in a kind of competition between the patrons, some of whom can spend $10,000-30,000 per night. The first half of the film plays out beautifully, showing how the boys walk the thin line between pretending to love their patrons and actually caring for them. There are some heartbreaking moments, like when a "host" subtly tries to tell one of his guests that she should stop spending her money before she loses it all on him, because he doesn't love her: This is how he pays his rent. I sat there crying in a room full of sixteen year-old girls sending text messages, who seemed to enjoy the film...on the level of "Japanese people look funny." Any-fucking-way.

The bombshell drops at the film's halfway point, when we learn that approximately 70% of the customers at these male "host clubs" (which are completely legal and very popular) are actually female "hosts," many of whom admit that they earn the money that they spend at host clubs by performing oral sex on their own patrons at the clubs where they work. For me, this turned the entire film upside down and added a level of gender politics that was completely, dizzlyingly new to me: Physical hookers releasing their pent-up hatred and loneliness by visiting emotional hookers. I couldn't help noticing that the physical hookers (female) made $500 a day giving head while the emotional hookers (male) made $5,000 a day giving heart-jobs. I thought of the glass ceiling, and the myriad other parallels between the lives of these people and their American, non-sex industry counterparts.

On another level, it all just seemed like something out of a Phillip K. Dick novel, with friends for hire, emotion menus (literally - you pick from a menu when you enter a host club, according to how you want to feel). It was chill bump-inducing, goddamn brilliant stuff. I'm sure the three of us who were actually watching it all felt the same way.

On another note, the LSUS bathrooms feature a publication called "The Toilet Paper," which is taped to the walls in all of the stalls. It appears to be an officially-sanctioned publication of the school. In this edition, they featured a list entitled:

"YOU MAY BE A FOREIGNER IF..."
-Your wife is harrier than your dog
-You drive as well as you speak English
-You refer to Circle K as "The Family Business"
-You consider McDonald's a nice change of pace from your usual dinner

First of all, I want to state it right here that I grafitti'd every single one of the stupid goddamn things. Secondly, why don't they just tape pages from "Mein kampf" to their stall doors? Thirdly, BOOOOOO to whatever faculty asshole approves/advises this racist tripe. If this link gets sent around and the comments section lights up, good. You ca host all of the international films you want, but if I have to read this redneck bullshit whenever I take a leak between movies, the community's image of LSUS is never going to change.

3 Comments:

Blogger Noma said...

I'm glad you graffitted those insolent pages. Tacky.

The movie sounds great. As soon as someone shows it in my living room, I'll watch it.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

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8:06 AM  
Blogger helen erpud said...

hey chris- thanks for your offer. my dad didn't really have "a cause" though if he did, i'd imagine it'd have to be something to help the smalltime farmer. my dad was always a farmer at heart :) kinda like you, right??

ps- i'm so sorry i missed the movie fest. MD's sister was really involved in it too and i so wanted to go...

5:35 AM  

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