Spring Breakers – Harmony Korine – 2013

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Spring Breakers is to hedonistic youth culture what Requiem for a Dream is to drug use. Unlike Requiem, Spring Breakers does not show realistic consequences for its characters actions. It is decidedly fantastical in nature and constantly subverts the viewer’s expectations of a real-world repercussion with the bullshit entitlement perspective of a little hot bitch.

Please, no offense with the term bitch, for this article the word means dangerously entitled young woman.

See, hot little bitches think the world owes them something, just because they are used to getting what they want in a general sense. So in this story, these girls are constantly taking from the world what they want and the worst that ever happens is they get winged or sent on a bus home.

Early in the film, Korine gives us two ciphers with which to decode the film. The first of these is a moment in a dorm hallway where he has all the girls standing on their hands upside-down in the frame. This is, textually, a lack of uprightness. The girls are inverted and thusly their world view.

Secondly, before three of the girls rob a chicken shack, we see them trying to attain a car. They steal one from a professor. But, after the robbery, they burn the car. Huh? You don’t burn a car in the woods if you had zero cars to begin with? How would you return to town? Here, Korine is saying, this is what a hot little bitch would wish would happen, not how the world really works. The rest of the film is littered with moments like this.

When arrested at a cocaine party, Alien (Angel), doesn’t come and bail you out. When Pink Hair is drinking tequila and beer bonging it with those guys, in real life that scene ends in rape, but not in hot little bitch fantasy. Alien doesn’t let Faith go back on a bus. He’s a bad man and in the bad world that doesn’t go down like that. After the “gun in mouth” scene it’s an absolute fantasy that this guy doesn’t pistol-whip these kids and throw them away. During a drive by a girl is hurt in such a small way, anyone would say, Jesus, in real life she’d be dead!

That’s really the key to understanding this film. It’s a hot little bitch fantasy in which the BALLR with the guns and money knows how to play Britney Spears on the piano. He doesn’t want to rape you. He wants to serve you. Nothing can go wrong because you make the rules. Spring Break Forever.

Spring Break Forever. It is repeated throughout the picture and reflects the lack of consequence inherent in the hot little bitch worldview. I’m young; I make the rules because I have just discovered my sexual power. Spring Break is a potent metaphor for the valueless nature of current youth culture.

Let’s talk Faith. Faith’s character is the product of balanced writing and without her the film could be seen as incredibly single handed in its portrayal of these young women. But, this arc seems like something we have to get through. The only truly great scene with her character is one of those unbelievable fantasy moments. A terrifying Franco holds Faith’s face in his hand and ultimately decides to let her go. Selena Gomez is perfect in this moment, and seems truly frightened. Then she gets on the bus home.

Tensions rise, (sort of), after Alien takes the girls to a strip club and his ex-mentor makes beef with him. This thin plot thread sees the film through to its blood soaked and neon fueled ending.

The gun in mouth scene is the crown jewel of the picture, a moment so rich and subversive that it could only be delivered by the hand of a master. Two of the girls put guns into Alien’s mouth, and one is certain this scene will end badly. But Franco starts sucking on the pistols, completing the role reversal. These women are in charge. He tells them after, “I just sucked yall’s dicks. I think ya’ll are my mothafuckin’ soul-mates.” Only in hot little bitch world does that happen. In any other movie, or in real fucking life, that thug grabs those gals and exerts himself. But not here, here, Alien exists to fuel the girl’s appetite for chaos. He is the American dream of money and fun and no consequences come to life. He is the evidence that their philosophy bears fruit.

So they rob tourists and their fantasy boyfriend plays a sweet Britney Spears song. They don matching pink masks like super-heroes, taking what they can from helpless tourists. They are just visiting Spring Break. These girls live in Spring Break Forever. Their super-power is invulnerability from reprisal.

By the end of the film, the girls and Alien plan an attack on Arch’s compound. The girls keep chiding Alien for being scared. Again, the gender roles are inverted, the armed man is full of trepidation, and the girls are fearless.  They take neon-lit speedboat across the bay and walk down a hellish pink pier. The first guard appears and shoots Alien in the head. He immediately falls and dies on the pier. This man, their self-made Angel, who lived and died for them, is a victim of these girls.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. These two remaining gals, with two guns kill over a dozen guards and the mobster. They indiscreetly steal his bright orange Lamborghini to make their escape.

Here, the audience member, preferably a hot little 21 year old gal, is thinking, I’d never have gotten out alive. Nothing in this film was real. This is all a fantasy. The final shot of the film pays off the thematic established early in the film. As a pink masked heroine kisses the dead Alien on the pier, the camera inverts as she rises and walks down the pier into the darkness. Again these women are inverted, upside-down. As the camera turns over it is a warning to the viewers, these kids are out there, and they hope to remake the world with their values. We are not upright.

 

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