Whether or not one is familiar with who Andy Warhol was, you’ve seen his work or at last, art inspired by his work. His pop art movement was a heavy influence in the 1950s and 1960s, even inspiring modern day performers, most notably Lady Gaga. While his philosophies can be argued and be seen as a pseudo religion, Warhol has a legacy that can’t be denied. What not many people know is the story of Valerie Solanas.
Solanas (here perfectly played by Lena Dunham) was an early and one of the most outspoken feminist voices and was seen as bit of radical. While she fought for women’s rights, she always wanted to shut down the government and bring men to their knees as they are mere animals that women need to tame. She developed a creative relationship with Warhol that didn’t end too well after he refused to produce her play, and she accused him of stealing it and demanded compensation. This led to her shooting Warhol, but failing to kill him, and getting locked up.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY loves to explore the subgenre of historical fiction (the Black Dahlia, the truth about Anne Frank, and even Delphine LaLaurie) and they absolutely treasure utilizing Valerie’s story and incorporating it into a way too relevant storyline. In this universe, she gathers her own cult of feminists, one that includes gay men who must refer to themselves as turds, and convinces them killing couples is the way to send the message that their time with men is what gets them killed. Their murder spree ends up being marketed as the works of the infamous Zodiac killer, only infuriating Valerie even more.
Valerie’s lover Bebe (Frances Conroy) decides to carry on the legacy by introducing herself to the women of Kai’s cult and convincing them that he will always set them aside to fulfill the male agenda. Kai not so subtly hints that Harrison wants give the cult a name that insinuates women are only good for bleeding. His plan works, as the girls trap Harrison and stab him to death. The real shocker here is that Bebe is in on this with Kai, as part of another fucked-up plan. Everyone is turning on each other, and it’s becoming a world that’s going to burn itself to the ground. It reminds me of the analogy in DONNIE DARKO, where destruction is a form of creation. Kai obviously wants to change things, but his methods are coming to a dangerous close as the season, is already over halfway over. Luckily, we’ve been given some real thought-provoking material that sometimes hits too close to home.
The beauty of this latest season is that it truly lives up to its name, by telling us a story that many can relate to and might cause some tension in terms of who you root for. Today’s political climate is spreading a ton of hate from both sides, and alienating communities that are supposed to stick together. Kai truly is the monster of this story, as he feeds off the fears of society and can tickle the sensitive spots on your vulnerabilities. Like last week’s episode, this one felt uncomfortably time-sensitive, with the recent Hollywood sexual abuse allegations. Women’s rights are always threatened as much as their bodies, treated as though no sense of substance exists within. The violence in tonight’s episode could have easily been treated as exploitation television, but instead it’s a reminder that nobody is less than. If one is lowered to a standard any less than a human being, then there will be hell to pay, and I can’t blame the those who light the flame.
Tags: Adina Porter, Alison Pill, Billie Lourd, Billy Eichner, Brad Falchuk, Chaz Bono, Cheyenne Jackson, Dot-Marie Jones, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, James Wong, Jamie Brewer, Lena Dunham, Leslie Grossman, Rachel Goldberg, Ryan Murphy, Sarah Paulson, Tim Minear, TV, Valerie Solanas