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29 September 2011 @ 02:40 am
Telepaths As Psychopaths -- Fanny And Alexander  
Fanny and Alexander

This movie won four Academy Awards. Wikipedia has the plot here.

I have not seen the film in its entirety. This post is in response to a) the synopsis, as found on Wikipedia and also summarized in Paul Meehan's Cinema of the Psychic Realm, and b) what is self-evident in the clip here.

In this film, the young psi man, Ismael, son of a Jewish merchant, is considered so scary because he is psi that he is kept locked up on a closet. Seriously. His father keeps him locked in a closet. This is not presented as child abuse, however -- it is presented as completely reasonable, even a relief, because he is just that scary and dangerous.

He's played by a girl, but he's supposed to be a boy. It's not clear why he is played by a girl -- maybe they wanted to imply homosexuality but were uncomfortable with actually having two male actors? Anyway, it is hinted that the psi young man is in an incestuous relationship with his brother Aron (from the kiss at the beginning of the clip), and then later in the same clip he makes sexual advances toward Alexander (one of our protagonists), who appears to be about eight or nine years old.

Which is not only pulling out the whole "gay people are pedophiles and incestuous" mess, which this totally is, it's adding psi to the mix, to create "Psi person as both gay and a pedophile!"

Hey, audience, you thought you found gay people creepy? And androgynous people? And pedophiles? And incest? And telepathy? Well, why don't we mix all these things together for EXTRA ADDED CREEPINESS! I mean, doesn't every psi person introduce themselves with a half-serious, "Don't worry, I won't eat him, even if he does look appetizing"?

That's why his father has to keep him locked up, you see. He's borderline monster. He deserves to be locked in a closet, because he's just so dangerous in so many ways! (Though it is implied that the reason he is considered dangerous, and locked up, is more for his being psi than for anything else.)

Ismael is presented as supremely scary, thus making it "obvious" why a child with such "second sight" would naturally be kept prisoner in a closet. He sees others darkest thoughts! He can manipulate their minds! He can merge his thoughts into others', transcending personal boundaries (which in this movie is a scary, creepy thing), and he predicts the fiery death of the bishop, Alexander's stepfather! (Ooh, look, His Psi Is Plot Relevant!)

It is implied in this scene that through this telepathic mind meld, little Alexander's wishes that his stepfather die are made to come true, at that very moment. Even if not, and it's a coincidence plus some remote viewing, we clearly have some gay pedophilia going on, with a scary telepathic (androgynous!) psychopathic predator, who preys on your mind and flesh.

All of which totally justifies keeping your kid locked in a closet, behind metal bars and grates, in a cage, right? Like you would normally keep an animal. Except that would be abuse of an animal.

Four Academy Awards.

And the YouTube comments:

One of the great scenes of cinema. And Stina Ekblad is brilliant. We don't know what world we live in whether we are male or female. Did sex take place and do we need to know? The brother Aron is obviously his brother's lover. A perfect summation of the entire film- we know nothing for sure.
ikmarchini 1 month ago


It is one of the great scenes of cinema, and one of Bergman's very best setpieces.

And that's saying something.

noeasywaydown 1 month ago

Basically, this scene manages to be offensive in at least six different ways and is hailed as great cinema.

It plays on "gay people are pedophiles," as well as "androgynous or trans people are scary predators" (here and here). But even being gender variant and gay and a pedophile isn't scary enough -- this character needs to be telepathic, too, for extra added scary "other" monstrosity!

Or maybe it was the other way around, and they added being gay and gender variant and a pedophile to emphasize how scary telepathy is.

Either way, all of these traits apparently make one an inherently dangerous, psychopathic predator. (Otherwise, you know, it might be considered abuse to keep your kid locked up IN A FUCKING CAGE.)

These tropes are very old, very common, very tired, and very offensive. Connecting psi people with psychopathic behavior, murder, rape, or other forms of "violations" is over half a century old -- Cinema of the Psychic Realm cites numerous examples of the "psi person as psychopath" trope IN FILM ALONE. This does not count the books, short stories, television programs, etc. that also include this trope.
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