So, back to Mr. Orange on the warehouse floor.
Lets all get into a time machine and travel back to the depths of 2004 and the installation I created at the end of my degree. My final piece was a room carefully painted institutional green with a blood red band running around it; a wooden desk and vinyl-covered chair were provided alongside a grey metal filing cabinet. Inside the cabinet were a multitude of paper files documenting the injuries of fictional characters I had seen in films and on television over the course of time.
The focus on fictional male injury ran right through my degree, from the final piece, my business card that showed a bloodied and battered Joaquin Phoenix as the Emperor Commodus just as he was about to bite the dust, to photographs of the moments of cinematic maiming presented in book form.
I’ve spent a fair bit of time pondering where this interest in fake injury comes from but I haven’t managed to come up with anything concrete. My best guess is that it’s something to do with too much Han Solo and Indiana Jones at an impressionable age combined with a need to get close to powerful male figures who are incapacitated and therefore unable to hurt me. Thanks so much Dad for all your shitty parenting!
It could also be related to my affinity with powerful male characters and the sheer drama of something untoward happening to the man involved, their personal struggles the main focus, the lens capturing every desperate move they make.
Here’s how “it” works: Sometimes watching a character who is injured in some way I will become fascinated with what I see on screen. The room goes quieter as I direct all my attention into taking in the gashes, blood, stumbling, fight to stay alive; I can’t say i’m turned on in a standard watching/reading pornography sort of way, but my senses are heightened and I get an intense feeling of connection. A wounded man is something special, to be admired and fixated upon.
Saint Sebastian by Antonio Giorgetti at San Sebastiano fuori le mura, Rome
The best way to equate it with something less head-scratching would be when an attractive woman walks down a street and men stop what they’re doing and focus their attention on her various parts, her body, her walk, her clothes. Like everything stops so they can take it all in. They revel in her and that’s what I do, to men-in-peril.
Traumaphilia: “Arousal from wounds or trauma”
“Traumaphilia suggests an interest in the weakness of the body, always able to be damaged, torn, and mutilated.”
from Towards The Medical by Jack Sargeant
I have an interest in the medical but when it comes to real life peril and injury I am supportive and practical not pervy; perhaps this is because staged injury is “safe” and controlled and doesn’t involve anyone I care for, there’s a distance to it.
The image I had as a hy-uuuge poster on my bedroom wall when a teenager.
So, back to Mr. Orange.
Reservoir Dogs is probably the best example I can provide of what I find myself appreciating, an artistic high point so to speak. From the outset the viewer is confronted by a horrifying image of a man bloodied and writhing in agony after apparently having been shot at some point prior; there’s no escaping it unless the viewer averts their eyes: The blood smeared all over the vinyl upholstery of the car, spreading across his white shirt, his paling face, the confines of the interior.
I think I first watched Dogs as a mid-teen and I know this scene had an impact: The beauty in the red against the white, the heightened drama, the slow inevitability of blood loss as sure as sand trickles through an hourglass… Oh for pity’s sake would you listen to me- I’m trying my best to not over-embellish the gore but i’m not being entirely successful. Ode to Hypovolemia and Exsanguination indeed.
Aaaanyway, Mr. Orange’s short and über-bloody filmic existence was something that captured my interest when I first saw it and it has embedded into my brain. Back in 2003-2004 my technological abilities were not as good as they are today and so I wasn’t able to put into practise what I wanted to do: Re-edit Tarantino’s film so that it focused entirely on the travails of Mr. Orange. I then wanted to construct a loading ramp, dress up like Orange, douse myself in appropriate amounts of fake blood and then film myself copying Tim Roth’s performance, shot for shot.
Why would I pine to do this you ask? Hey, it would be art :) Again, I would refer back to this previous post on my affinity with male dynamism.
I don’t think I will ever do my mini-remake but what I have started work upon is the re-editing of the original. You know, instead of doing “actual” work. I’ve edited the film down to twenty-five minutes from ninety-nine; I think I will need to do a few versions to give greater emphasis to the beauty I see in the horror.
Yeah, so you already knew I was “different” Dear Reader…