Yes, the protagonist has sex with an amphibian fish-dude, but there's more to it
The Shape of Water is a love story about tolerance.
On The Surface
It's been called an unlikely love story, a tender fairytale, an erotic and innocent fable, and Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water is all of these things and more. Its love story is unlikely in the sense that a human woman and an amphibian creature fall in love and get it on, and familiar in the sense that outcasts and marginalized groups find trust and camaraderie with one another against the odds of social and class warfare. Set during the Cold War, The Shape of Water is fantastically rooted in human territory with good guys and bad guys and the in-between where moral codes, traditions, and caution give way to good old-fashioned love. Love is the source of oxygen in The Shape of Water, the life source that seems to give Eliza (Sally Hawkins), our mute protagonist, her last chance for one of life's most human and wondrous experiences.
One of Del Toro's most romantic and visually stunning pictures, The Shape of Water is a beautiful ode to old cinema and a grand love story that surpasses the familiar notes of most romances. Filmed with an aquatic theme, each scene utilizes muted green, blue, and murky grey tones to evoke an underwater paradise. But there's a sinister tone to this world, and most Del Toro worlds, where the tenderness and innocence of humanity fights to keep the ugliness at bay. Eliza's endearing group of friends is comprised of artist neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), a gay man attempting to reconcile the social realities of his desires with his need for companionship in a culture of underrepresentation, Zelda (Octavia Spencer) a Black woman who works day and night with Eliza as a cleaner at a government facility, often experiencing microaggressions and outright racism from her superiors, and her amphibian lover boy (Doug Jones) who's tortured and tested on like a lab rat. These misfits form a tender connection supporting and protecting one another, even encouraging each other to take risks despite the odds against them. Think Amelie (2001) with a touch of underwater magical realism.
So again, yes, this is about a woman who falls in love with a scaly, slimy, amphibian with webbed toes, and yet, that's not really what it's about. The Shape of Water is a love story about tolerance. Del Toro's heroes are freaks, usually mythical creatures that carry ancient wisdom (Pan's Labyrinth, 2006) or anti-heroes who smoke cigars (Hellboy, 2004). And Doug Jones is Del Toro's secret weapon, the man inside the suit who enacts these characters with elegance and charm. Jones is regal and sensual as the Amphibian Man, a god from the sea who sets his sights on the human outcast Eliza—both parties incapable of speaking and both parties waiting to be released. Their interactions are anything but perverse as they both struggle to find footing in a world that doesn't see them as complete, intellectual beings—and sensual beings as the film isn't shy to show that both have needs. Finding humanity in the nonhuman, finding inhumanity in humans—just a normal Guillermo del Toro picture where empathy has no boundaries, race, gender, or form.
'The Shape of Water'Fox Searchlight
POP⚡DUST Score: ⚡⚡⚡⚡⚡
Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.
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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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Summer Walker returns and is no longer playing games.
Summer Walker loves creating music but despises the music industry.
She regularly considers retirement and ended her 2019 tour early because of social anxiety. "I hope that people understand and respect that at the end of the day I'm a person, I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad," she said in a video post. "I don't want to lose myself for someone else." She was relentlessly vilified for her decision. Fans cited stiff meet-and-greets and chalked up Walker's cancellations to a sense of entitlement.
Then she was presented with the "Best New Artist" award at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, and her hurried acceptance speech was dissected by tasteless memes all across the country. Walker's candid cries for understanding remained completely ignored by years end. The truth of the matter is that Walker suffers from anxiety and stage fright that is all but totally crippling. So she did what any misunderstood artist does, she disappeared and stopped saying anything at all.