In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, people have been taking to social media to talk about experiences they endured covering the full spectrum of sexually abusive behavior. Using the hashtag “#metoo,” they describe experiences ranging from the appalling to the horrifying.
It’s been a sobering lesson in the size of the problem, particularly when those weighing in are celebrities. One celebrity is Björk, who wrote a long entry on her Facebook page detailing her experience with “a Danish director,” who she said had touched her inappropriately, among other things, and responded to her request to stop by smashing a chair in front of everyone on set.
Björk did not name the Danish director, I assume because she fears retaliation. However, if you go to her filmography and look up her very brief list of film appearances, it should take you 30 seconds, tops, to figure out who she’s talking about.
Every victim of abuse should have the right to go public on their own terms, in my opinion. So, I will respect her wishes and I won’t say anything about this “Danish director,” who she didn’t name.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to completely change the subject. I’m going to talk about Lars Von Trier, a director, who is Danish, who directed the 2000 movie “Dancer in the Dark,” in which Björk happens to star, by mere coincidence.
The first Lars Von Trier movie I ever watched was “Breaking the Waves,” at the behest of an old girlfriend many years ago, who loved the movie and said it had moved her to tears. We broke up before I could see the movie, so I watched it without her.
This ended up being a great thing, because I found it almost impossible to sit through the movie. It reminded me of sitting through silent detention during seventh grade, only instead of passing the time by writing 500 words about civic duty, I had to watch Emily Watson’s sexual humiliation, via a shaky handheld camera that made everything extra jittery and annoying.
I shut it off after about an hour or so, but my understanding is that the woman in the movie is killed at the hands of a mob for being such a slut.
That was in the late 1990s, and I simply avoided any movie with Von Trier’s name on it after that. He didn’t really appear on my radar again until an old friend contacted me out of the blue after several years, in the throes of bipolar disorder, to tell me that we Jews were finally going to get our comeuppance.
Her evidence for this was an anti-Semitic statement that Von Trier had made at a press conference. It didn’t bother me, because we Jews get to hear this type of thing all the time. No, it was the asshole actors who rushed to his defense, to say he was only kidding. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that if they had found him, say, molesting some Icelandic singer of some sort, they would say he didn’t mean it.
He later issued a bullshit apology and the whole thing went away, but it made me curious. Was he so great a filmmaker that people were willing to excuse his anti-Semitism? And if so, should I give his movies another whirl? Maybe in the 20 years or so since “Breaking the Waves,” he had invested in a tripod, thereby eliminating the shaky handheld camera schtick, and I could judge his movies soberly and without nausea.
I started out with “Antichrist.” I lasted seven minutes. Then I moved on to “Melancholia.” Five minutes.
What a bunch of pretentious, unwatchable horseshit. I refuse to believe any of you people out there actually like these shitty movies. I think you’re just trying to impress people with your ability to sit through them, the same way one would admire your skill with extreme BMXing, or be impressed by how much wasabi you can eat without crying.
Lars Von Trier is a horrible, miserable, shit director. His movies are pretentious and overbearing, and when you watch them, you feel like he’s sitting behind you in the theater, tapping you on the shoulder, going “Get a load of me! Isn’t that quite cheeky!”
If you like his movies, you’re stupid and you probably hate Jews and women, so fuck you.
Anyway, that’s my thought-provoking essay on the films of Lars Von Trier, who I can’t say with any certainty is the same person Björk was talking about on her Facebook page.