Review of Skin Gang

Skin Gang (1999)
La Skinhead
20 January 2006
This is a hard film to comfortably be pegged into a neat little category. It's a raunchy porn film, but it's got an underlying theme that is simultaneously frightening and amusing. Like another reviewer here, I was turned on by these guys even though I'm disgusted by everything they stand for. But I was overall amused because the way in which the film is shot is like a typical porn film. There's even some typical disco-type music playing in the background of the conventional porn-type scenes, like the one between a man and the plumber who comes to his home (how many times have we seen that scenario in porn films?). LaBruce's film is a satire on porn, fantasy, and fetish. We're not meant to take it seriously. I was cracking up in a scene where a skinhead is getting raped at gunpoint and he actually sucks off the gun that's pointing in his face, with his rapist's finger firmly clenching the trigger! Would anyone really do that? I don't think so! But fetish and fantasy are strange and often contradictory things; what repels us in real life can often be a turn-on in fantasy. It doesn't mean that one would really want ever to cross that line, or that one should turn their fear of their attraction into violence against what it is they are attracted to.

The best way to take down skinheads is to depict them as the hypocrites they really are. I don't think most of these guys really get it on with each other, but their physical presence is a form of machismo that reflects an obsession with self-image. They're extremely fashion conscious, and obviously spend a great deal of time building up their muscles. One has to wonder what level of denial is lying beneath the surface of this physical narcissism. LaBruce shows what homophobia is really about; not the act of sex, but the fear of being anything less than manly. The one skinhead who doesn't engage in sex with the others is quite willing to fight anybody, but he's not willing to f**k the other guys, which in this convoluted world, makes him a "pussy boy". LaBruce tosses in a guppy couple to show what it is that homophobes are really scared of, but he ultimately establishes that the 'fey' guys are tough where it counts: on the inside. Even the racism depicted in the film is done with tongue-in-cheek humor. If one is watching the background of the shots, they won't miss a photograph on a wall of a black man who is extremely well endowed, and one can also notice that the straight porn film the guys are watching features black actors. In the world of these skinheads, attraction and repulsion are both sides of the same coin. The film's final shot is a beauty: the black guppy walking down a crowded street and one of the skinheads walking toward him innocently and somewhat ambiguously. The guppy holds his breath in baited anticipation (fear and attraction?) but the skinhead passes by, averting his eyes in shame.
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