Sunday, January 21, 2018

in order to appease the gods

I'm torn, on this final day with Halloween II; I wanted to do some Christ-Figuring but I cannot decide if I want to do a serious sort of figuring focused on Loomis or a semi-serious one focused on Laurie, or a probably not serious at all one focused on Michael.

The vital question, because I think we know what I got from a movie like this back when I was five years old, is can I manage all three. And, in the process make an even bigger farce of the Kozlovic-Black Scale of Christ-Figuring.

Note, in case you are new: the scale is scored out of 25, but there are more than 25 items.

1 tangible and 2 central are easy here, but Michael and Loomis take the lead over Laurie with 3 outsider and Michael takes the lead with 4 divinely sourced (though I could make the argument for Loomis having that point, too). Michael: 4, Loomis: 3, Laurie: 2.

No one gets the point for 4.5 miraculous birth but Laurie gets the point for 5 alter ego. I'm tempted to give that point to Michael as well, since he's also the Boogeyman, and he's credited as The Shape. But, his alter egos are not really different guises, just different names. Cynthia Myers is a forgotten person that Laurie Strode used to be. Michael: 4, Loomis: 3, Laurie: 3.

I had to get out the original Kozlovic text (and he's got a few variations) to check the description for 6 special/normal. Obviously, Michael fits this one. But, Laurie's marksmanship at the end of Halloween II seems particularly impressive for a teenage girl in 1981... except she is a girl scout/tomboy final girl who, for all we know, has been hunting or shooting with her father many times. Loomis, as I have pointed out before, Loomis is not special; in fact, he's pretty bad at his day job and his killer-chasing volunteer gig. Michael: 5, Loomis: 3, Laurie: 3.

No 7 twelve associates for any of these three, nor does the 8 holy age point apply. The question is, does Marion (Nancy Stephens) count as a 9 judas figure for dragging Loomis away from Haddonfield? I'm inclined to say yes. Then there is 10 mary magdalene-figure; for Michael, this would be Judith. Laurie would be his 10.5 virgin mary-figure, Loomis his 11 john the baptist-figure. Helpful, giving Michael a bigger lead. Michael: 8, Loomis: 4, Laurie: 3.

I want to give Michael more than just one point for 12 death and resurrection because just in this film, he is thought dead once in context, once in the “previously on Halloween“, and in the larger franchise, he's thought dead again at the end of this one. If I count that last one, Loomis also gets a point... So I'm not going to count it. This movie only (even though that makes problematic Judith for #10). However, I will also count Loomis' "death" at the end of the film for 13 triumphalism because he earns that one. Loomis also gets 14 service to lessers and 15 willing sacrifice, because folks around Haddonfield are ungrateful, and Loomis just keeps doing what he' scoring because Michael needs to be stopped. Loomis is closing the gap, and Laurie is getting left behind.. Michael: 9, Loomis: 7, Laurie: 3.

I am inclined to give Laurie a point for 15.25 torture, if for no other reason, because she has to flee Michael's homicidal urges while drugged and (mostly) without any help from anybody else. Michael, though, also undergoes some torture. In the "previously on" bit he is stabbed and shot seven times; in this one he is shot another seven times and gets blown up. Plus, he probably didn't do much cardio at Smith's Grove and Laurie makes him chase her around. That is just rude. Michael: 10, Loomis: 7, Laurie: 4.

No points for 15.5 stigmata. But, I will give a point to Loomis for 15.75 atonement. His failure in dealing with Michael while he was at Smith's Grove is the reason he's out there trying to stop him, and ultimately the reason he sacrifices himself. Also, Loomis gets a point for 16 innocence. Brackett's "Damn you" (and his "Damn you for letting him go" in the previous film) is not entirely fair. Michael: 10, Loomis: 9, Laurie: 4.

No points for this trio for 17 cruciform pose or 18 cross associations, but, on behalf of whoever was in charge of continuity, Loomis gets a point for 19 miracles and signs, firing seven shots out of his six shooter, and hitting his target with every shot. (And, if he were in the running, Budd (Leo Rossi) would get this point for hooking up with Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) when he is such a goober. Since I didn't give Laurie the point for being special for her marksmanship, I will give her a point here for hitting Michael twice while under duress. Michael: 10, Loomis: 10, Laurie: 5.

Michael gets the point for 20 simplicity. Kozlovic quotes Matthew 18:3 while defining this one: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Michael is essentially a child inside. I could give him a point for 21 poverty, but his theft when he doesn't have money, and his eating dog when he cannot afford food--those things happen in the previous film. While Michael has a fairly basic outfit in his mechanic's uniform, I can only give the point for 22 jesus garb to Loomis (for his ubiquitous brown coat) and Laurie (for her hospital gown). Michael: 11, Loomis: 11, Laurie: 6.

Michael, here, has 23 blue eyes, and do do Loomis and Laurie. Michael: 12, Loomis: 12, Laurie: 7.

Michael gets the point for 24 holy exclamations because of the phone conversation between Alice and her friend. Alice: "Do they know who it was?" Alice's Friend: "No." Alice: "Oh, God." But, no one gets points for 25. j.c. initials... though it is interesting that Michael's two sisters--who should be the Cult of the Thorn-induced sacrifices--are Judith and Cynthia (though we never hear the latter name within the film).

The final scores are not that impressive. Michael: 13, Loomis: 12, Laurie: 7. Arguably, Loomis should score higher; if the various elements were weighted, his self-sacrifice in the end would certainly be worth a lot. But, 1) there are no Christ-Figures here, and 2) there shouldn't be. Going way back to Walsh (2013), perhaps it is time that I put "a moratorium on the study of 'Christ figures' in film" (pp. 79-80). Walsh makes the argument that cinematic heroes will inherently share some elements of the Christ-Figure not because filmmakers are all aiming for Christ but rather,

...filmmakers cadge together numerous traditions to create syncretic heroes in order to widen the appreciative market for their films. Thus, Buddhists, Christians, gaming geeks, philosophers, and others can all relate to some piece of the mosaic that is Neo [in The Matrix, Walsh's example in passing]. (pp. 80-81)

Expanding on Walsh's larger arguments, I would add, insistence on calling a hero a Christ-Figure strengthens, even if unintentionally, the notion that the world and all its stories are or should be Christian. Even my own increasingly ridiculous uses of the Christ-Figure in this blog expands Christian influence, when I would never want to do that. I find it fun. But, so was linking Arthurian characters and the Magnificent Seven characters to dramatic archetypes. Linking Phil Connors to Siddhartha. So many other figures separate from Christ that filmmakers put into their stories, consciously or unconsciously. Walsh suggests, "a modest christ-figure analysis would assay a meaningful, interesting interpretation of the film in question." Halloween II has nothing... I really want to quote that doctor from the opening sequence of Halloween 4, "Jesus ain't got nothing to do with this place". The Halloween franchise is not about Christianity. The evil of Michael Myers is not related to the devil, even if Loomis describes his eyes as "the devil's eyes". Loomis' descriptions of Samhain and Halloween in this film, the Cult of the Thorn stuff in Curse of Michael Myers--this should make it obvious; this franchise is about pagan things. But, films, even with a deliberately religious text, are bigger than any one set of beliefs. And, they should be. As Walsh puts it,

Such forays should recognize the syncretic, cinematic, and modern character of cinematic heroes, respect the genre of the films under review, and seek to learn what "christ" means in the film's own intertextual play. (p. 97)

I like that. Add it to the list of the Groundhog Day Project's ongoing themes--that every film is an intertextual play, building on societal, cultural, religious, and personal ideas to build something that will mean something different to each person involved in making it, each person watching it, and each person who might review it.

So, as I move on from 1981 (sort of*) in this deconstruction of my childhood interaction with film, as the Groundhog Day Project continues for however long as it may continue, no more flippant Christ-Figuring.

SOURCES

Kozlovic, A.K. (2009). How to Create a Hollywood Christ-Figure: Sacred Storytelling as Applied Theology. Australian eJournal of Theology, 13:1, pp. 1-16.

Walsh, R. (2013). A Modest Proposal for Christ-Figure Interpretations: Explicated with Two Test Cases. Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception, 3:1, pp. 79-97.

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