by Jay Dyer, 21st Century Wire:
The speedy, steady slide of the arts into total degeneracy as a form of weaponized chaos descends like lightning speed in the West. This devolution and digression into post-post-modern non-meaning and madness is pre-eminently exemplified in the latest from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, of Drive (2011) fame. Refn’s Neon Demon is basically Mulholland Drive taken to the next level of depravity, and revamped from the rapacious world of Hollywood to high fashion. Since these two worlds often overlap, Refn’s film is a window into the fact that Madison Avenue and its bourgeoisie, globo-decadence and anti-aesthetic are social engineering tools as much as Hollywood. (This connection is likely, given Refn’s obvious Lynchian influence in his incoherent 2013 film, Only God Forgives).
On top of that, Refn presents the world of high fashion as dominated by the same predatory, vampyric cannibals that prey on the naivety of the would-be movie star. However, it is much more than this – Refn is not merely presenting a cold, calculating network of mobsters, directors and producers who work at the best of dark spiritual forces (as Lynch did in Mulholland), but something even darker. The world of high fashion is caught up in extreme depravity, where covens of witches practice sorcery, mind control, human sacrifice and cannibalism. Perhaps Refn is merely displaying an allegory for cancerous, predatory behavior. Or, perhaps the film’s presentation is not so symbolic.
I don’t recommend this film, as I found it way over the line on the gross-out yuck meter, but I had no idea what I was in for. This analysis is for those who, like me, did watch it. In the title, we have the combination of two seemingly unrelated notions, the supposed “ancient” conception of spirits and devils, the demonic, combined with the glitz, glam and vibrancy of the 1980’s obsession with neon lighting. Modernity meet the medieval, as the aesthetic amalgam of the modern form of the icon, the advertising image, has replaced the old form of the icon (or religious art). The ancient and medieval conception of the icon as the mirror into heaven, the infusion of the higher realms into the mundane and worldly has been eclipsed by the exaltation of the purely material, embodied in the petty bourgeoisie’s nihilistic abandon. Neon Demon is thus an appropriate title.
The film’s opening foreshadows the later sacrificial immolation of protagonist Jessie (Elle Fanning), an underage model breaking into the fashion industry as a ‘fresh-faced’ embodiment of the nubile. The placement of Jessie’s body in her “suicide” shoot perfectly mirrors the famed French Revolutionary painting of Marat, showing the Masonic demagogue committing suicide. The loose association with France is curious, but could suggest the global “high fashion” cult is directly linked to the occult circles of EU elites. Despite the “socialist” facade, many of these dark networks are immensely wealthy and have been detailed in books like Dave McGowan’s Programmed to Kill, as well as exposure in mainstream stories like Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s “Eyes Wide Shut” parties. Indeed, dating back to de Sade, the revolutionary obsession with death and the occult has Euro-origins.
Lying about her age, Jessie is coaxed into doing nude shots for her first gig under an elite agency that appears to be operating in concert with all the characters that enter into her circle. Befriending makeup artist and mortician Ruby (Jenna Malone) and two slightly older models, Sarah (Abbey Lee) and Gigi (Bella Heathcote), Jessie is introduced into the fast-paced lifestyle of Hollywood’s clubs and raves, where Ruby and her models prepare Jessie for something beyond her ability to conceive.
Secreting Jessie away from the rave, the girls show her a private room where Ruby’s form of performance art includes a bound and gagged body spinning in strobe light to a deep techno beat. Though we are not shown, it is possible Jessie is drugged in this scene, and in some sense programmed by what is in fact a ritual.
From here on, Jessie appears to dissociate and enter into dreamlike states where she sees symbolic forms that resemble imagery from the Kabbalah. “Triforce” symbols appear, and morph into three versions of Jessie herself, ultimately signifying (as will later be revealed) mind control on the part of Ruby and her two models. The three triangles represent these three, and their control over Jessie. When Jessie dissociates, she performs a symbolic kiss with each, as her narcissistic self-destruction is willingly acquiesced to.
Indeed, the bound and gagged body in Ruby’s art represents Jessie herself, bound like a sacrificial lamb to be offered to Diana, as will see. The “Triforce” also represents the Legend of Zelda, presumably a childhood image the young model would be familiar with – this is why Ruby and the photographer dress her up like Princess Zelda at her first professional shoot. The mind control “agents” are patterning Jessie to believe she is living a fantasy come true, a new incarnation of divine royalty.
While the offering to Diana is not explicit, Ruby and her cohort coven arrange for Jessie to move in with Ruby in a palatial Beverly Hills estate as a result of deadbeat and trash Motel operator Hank (Keanu Reeves) raping Jessie. Hank is later revealed to be trafficking in young girls by granting them room and board – which comes at a price, as Hank tortures Jessie by placing a knife in her throat and raping her. Jessie appears to enter a dissociative state as a result of this trauma, hearing her own rape occur in another room.
As Jessie continues to mentally self-destruct, she flees to Ruby (as she was designed to do), yet refuses her (Ruby’s) lesbian advances. Dissociating again, Jessie dresses herself as Alice in Wonderland and falls further into her own self-projection of fairy-land, painting her face like a sprite. Bragging to Judy she is the youngest, most beautiful model, Jessie has fully immersed herself in her own egoist fantasy, driving Ruby into a rage. Together with Gigi and Sarah, the three witches murder and eat Jessie, while bathing in her blood.
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