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1999-10-17 00:00:00 - Sexual Subtext in "A Feasibility Study" - (Nyarlathotep1@hotmail.com)


The thesis that I'm about to advance will initially strike some of you as incredible, but I'm confident that, if you stay with me, you'll see how right-on I am. Before I show that the original OL episode of "A Feasibility Study" is _loaded_ with sexual subtext, I want to draw attention to the fact that its writer is the brilliant Joseph Stefano. Stefano is an absolute _master_ of sexual subtext, and to prove this I need only appeal to his screenplay for Hitchcock's _Psycho_. There's subtle and subversive sexual stuff going on _everywhere_ in this film. As Stefano has himself admitted (see p. 54 of the October 1986 issue of Cinefantastique), "We were getting into Freudian stuff..." Stefano gets into "Freudian stuff" again on "A Feasibility Study." Consider the very beginning of the show, in which the Control Voice informs us that the planet Luminous is "desperate"; its inhabitants "suffer a great and terrible need." The Luminoids, we are told, have begun to search the universe in an effort to "gratify" that need. This _need_, I contend, is, at the level of subtext, _sexual_. Consider that the craft by which the Luminoids search the universe is _phallic_, what with its bulbous head, whose "emissions" teleport part of earth to the planet Luminous. On Luminous, we find this theme of "great need" recapitulated at the human level. We encounter Mr. Cashman, who (true to his name) is concerned with making money to the extent that he works on Sunday; takes shots of liquor for breakfast; and refuses his wife's request to "come in and eat" (read: "Come in; make love to me"). Preparing to leave for work, Cashman notices his neighbor, Dr. Freeman. Freeman announces that "There is something wrong with my car." What he is saying, subtextually, is "There is something wrong with my libido." Freeman can't get his engine to start = Freeman can't produce an erection. Freeman accepts Cashman's offer of a ride. Cashman's wife comes out & greets the two, and Freeman replies with uncharacteristic enthusiasm (does he _like_ her?). Cashman tells his wife, "The doctor's car won't start. Go take a look under the hood." Then, to Freeman, he says, "She's one of those wives who can fix _anything_," (with sly emphasis on the word, "anything"). Lo and behold, when Cashman's wife opens the car's hood, the engine suddenly reappears. Subtextually, the message of this is that Freeman can "get it up" for _this woman_. But Freeman's own wife is less fortunate. Freeman returns home (from church) to his wife, who informs him that "the phone is out of order." The phone, of course, is another phallic symbol. Like the unworking car, it is a symbol of Freeman's physical impotence. Freeman replies to his wife by hugging her, and asking her not to leave him. She replies, "But how would you _do it_?" (In other words, how would he _have sex_, when he cannot produce an erection?) Freeman says, "We're married." His wife, Andrea, replies, "Marriage is no substitute for love [i.e., sex]." Freeman answers, "Andrea, I still love you." "No," the woman replies, "Not if you won't BEND a little" (!). (I'll trust my readers to be smart enough to discern what THAT was about.) Andrea then goes on to explain what love consists in -- while Freeman wordlessly _gropes for a cigarette_! A bit later, Andrea prepares to leave, in the (now functional, thanks to Cashman's wife) car -- but Freeman (ironically) _intervenes_. "This morning," he tells her, "I couldn't get it started" (read: "This morning, I couldn't get it up"). "It must have been cold," she replies, "It's alright now." Freeman reaches for _the key_ (!), and turns the car's engine off," muttering (ironically) that "I'm not trying to deprive you of your rights" (i.e., to sexual satisfaction). A bit later, Andrea tells Freeman, "I thought marrying you would be the greatest adventure I'd ever know. It isn't." In other words, she thought he'd bring her to sexual ecstacy, when he doesn't; in fact, he's downright _impotent_. She tells him further: "I'm tired of being walled in by _curtains that don't even get dirty!" Wow. She's depressed by an absence of _dirtiness_. Further, might not the "curtains" be a metaphor for _labia_ -- which never get _lubricated_? Freeman interjects, "When you have a child..." Andrea responds, "I don't want to _just have a child_!" In other words, she does not wish to merely be a mother; she wants _sexual gratification_! Later, when Cashman reappears (by now infected by the Luminoids), Freeman attempts to call for an ambulance -- only to find that the telephone is dysfunctional; it just emits a monotonous sound. "That's the same sound I've been getting all morning," Andrea tells him (read: "The phone's impotence is like the impotence you displayed to me this morning"). Then -- in a masterful subtextual coup for Stefano --, Andrea asks, "Shall I try one of the other neighbors?" "Yes," Freeman admits, "I think you'd better." In other words, Freeman finally _acknowledges_ his wife's need, and his own _inability_ to fulfill it. Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/ Before you buy.