and elucidate on the weirdness of existence.nIn this respect, Mr. Schlondorffnmatches Grass perfectly. Like most Germanndirectors since the time of DoctornMabuse, Schlondorff believes that truthnand aesthetic fulfillment lie with thenlugubrious and the nauseating. Henbrings an abhorrent imagery to thenscreen: eels writhing in a dead horse’snhead, the death wish of Oscar’s mothernarticulated in disgusting eating compulsions,na fascination with saliva. The sexualnencounters are earmarked by a particularnGerman expressionism of whichnMr. Schlondorff proves to be a master:nthe frequent on-screen matings are stylisticallynportrayed as a sort of St. Vitus’nDance, and are accompanied by audioneffects that would make the celebratednTarzan yell sound like a subduednwhisper.nWith Foxes one already feels persuaded,nafter watching half the movie,nthat what one sees on the screen is thenend of Western civilization and any notionnof normalcy as we have known themnboth—but then the movie suddenly beginsnto flash some signals of old-fashionednhumanness. Till then, it wasnrather impossible to recognize the humanoidsnof the polyester HollywoodnLiberal CulturenPowernPenthouse International, thencorporation which producesnPenthouse, the second most importantnideological organ of thenAmerican pornographic establishment,nput $17 million intona motion picture entitled Caligula.nThe movie is loaded withnprurient graphicness and sadisticnviolence, and it runs prestigiouslynon Third Avenue at annadmission price of $7 each. ItnGomorrah as people, or to establish anynkinship with the freakish obtusenessnand vulgarity that the Liberal Culturenof the last two decades has bestowednupon them. But, unexpectedly, somenkind of reflection starts to mark theirnbrows. Throughout half of the movie,nthese characters inhabit a universenwhere things like emotional sensitivity,npersonal responsibility, human dignitynseem to be incomprehensible soundsnfrom another galaxy. All at once,nthough, the authors rush to give thenhumanoids — and the audience — mechanical,ninstant satisfaction. A goodnguy outsmarts the bad guys in a routinenstreet chase. A hopelessly belated virginn(and an ugly duckling to boot) marriesnin a church and gets a wedding-rentalnsendoff (in spite of her having badlynwronged her beau—but, after all, lovenforgives everything). A daughter findsnout that she loves her mother (who isna neurotic failure) while the mothernis utterly astonished that such a feelingneven exists.nHowever, before all that happens, wenhave to wade through the smelly puddlesnof the California urban-behaviorial subculturenof the late 70’s, a foul realitynof “liberation” and “spontaneity.” In it,n15-year-old girls cannot remember hownmany lovers they have had; they are fednon Twinkles, pot, Cheetos, angel dustnfloats in a heavy gravy of gore,ndegeneracy and unnatural sexnacts.nThe film was recently broughtnto court on obscenity chargesnin Boston. A judge by the namenof Harry Elam decided that thenmovie has political value andnabsolved Penthouse Internationalnfrom any sin. In his writtennverdict he added that thenmovie is socially redeeming becausenit shows how absolutenpower corrupts absolutely.nThe liberal culture exerts annabsolute power over our screens,nour theaters, our courtroomsnand judges. The rest is silence.nDnnnand Budweiser, and they tell their teachersnthat their parents get “paranoid”nwhen informed about an offhand abortion,nwhich, of course, proves thenabysmal idiocy of parents.nSince the theaters that featured Foxesnwere filled mostly with teen-age girls,nwe may safely assume that the movie isnthis generation’s Little Women. Fortyoddnyears ago, similar teen-age audiencesnshed tears when Katherine Hepburn, asnJo, tried to protect, or save, her sistersnfrom illusions, sickness, romantic exaltation.nJeanie, the protagonist of Foxes,nis a sort of Jo: at 15, she at least triesnto rationalize the seediness of existencenin her environment. But her efforts arendoomed. Hepburn’s Jo had society onnher side. Jeanie, at the end, attempts tonestablish a truce between herself and hernmother, but as we watch the societynaround them, we do not believe in thenfuture of her attempt; the sudden optimismnof the story line strikes us asnphony. We leave the movie house with annagging suspicion that a lot of culturalnlaundry must be done before good sensenand authentic humanity can return tonHollywood Boulevard. There is no waynto sustain a civilization from which notionsnof childhood and normalcy havenbeen eviscerated. For millennia, teenagersnhave fornicated and destroyedntheir adolescence, but in the past suchnbehavior took place within some fiduciarynsystem of moral references to existentialnalternatives other than self-destruction.nIn the Holl)rwood of Foxes,npromiscuity, boozing, vagrancy occur inna frightening , mind-boggling moralnvoid. The paraphernalia of disintegrationnand vice are thus more importantnthan aberrations of conduct, or evennself-abuse. In this movie, people seemnto live in a state of siege: their mindsnand consciousnesses seem so repressednby the ultimate valuelessness of theirnexistence that they hardly qualify asncoefficients of the human conditionnany longer.nSeptember/October 1980n