An obsession is not generally a healthy thing, and obsessing over people generally causes some sort of strife. But active personal growth may be the result for Doc and Go.
I watched this movie about a month ago, but didn’t do a write-up at that point. I felt like it was one of those movies that needed to be watched a second time to get everything out of it that I wanted. I’m glad I did. Usually when I take notes on a movie I write a page or two. This one took up 4 pages in my notebook…
The story: Doc is about to graduate college and he has an obsession – a go-go dancer that goes by “Go.” Doc contacts him online and pretends to want to do a documentary on him in order to get close to him. That idea succeeds in more ways than one. They become friends and something even more than friends. They get to know each other, and through the process Doc gets to know himself as well. Their relationship becomes more than either of them expected.
There is so much complexity on many levels to this film. There are multiple themes that play out that comment on ourselves, the gay community, and society as a whole. Where do I begin to break this down?
Part of this movie is about personal growth and how one achieves it. Doc evolves before our eyes going from a hermit (as his friends would say) whose main socialization is through his blog, video blog, and online sex life. He befriends Go on a false pretense and focuses on surface level traits and ideas as he begins his documentary. He asks Go, “What are you attracted to?” The go-go dancer responds, “I like people that communicate effectively.” Doc then clarifies the meaning of his question to be about body parts. This interaction demonstrates and summarizes the place that Doc is coming from. Surface level, unempathetic, and stereotypical.
This is completely contrary to what he says he wants to be. He asserts that the gay community needs to assimilate – to be normal like everyone else – in order to win equality. But he is being the stereotype in many ways and thinking he is not the whole time.
Go, on the other hand, you might think would be the stereotype. Yes, he fits some of the mold, but he is also complex and multi-layered. When asked about his favorite body part we might expect him to respond with something crass, but he says it’s his brain. He’s a painter, an artist, an Elvis fan, an introvert… He wears a hat so he doesn’t have to look people in the eyes – maybe a symbol of the false person he feels the need to project while he dances, hiding who he is inside.
Their relationship is a complicated element of the film’s plot taking time to develop its complexity and beauty. They get to know each other as they hang out almost constantly until they begin to look like a couple especially when they are at the beach. The Warhol kissing scene that they film reinforces this part of their relationship.
Interestingly, I feel like the Warhol scenes represent different stages in their relationship development. The eating scene is where is starts – they are just consuming each other (not in a sexual way) by getting what they think they want from each other. The sleeping scene gives us some connection, some intimacy. By the time we get to the (long) kissing scenes, they have gotten to know each other on a deeper level, more so even than when they had sex.
[spoilers ahead] At the end of the movie there are several facets of the conclusion. One is the end of the current state of their relationship. It looks like one that could turn into much more, but Doc is leaving New York. Go is very attached to him and you can see it in his face. (partly because in that last scene of the documentary he is not wearing his hat) Doc has changed in some ways in that he swears off being someone who is is not, deletes all his porn (part of his online identity), and becomes something more genuine to himself.
We also see some of Doc’s evolution. He has gone from a surface level person who hides and is afraid to someone who wants to be himself. He says he wants to be himself and not a stereotype, and he feels he owes at least some of that to Go. He becomes his own type of “radical homo.”
We also hear Go’s revised thesis statement for Doc’s film: “The goal of assimilation within the LGBTQIALMNOP community in the United States has castrated queer culture and in effect culture at large by denying humanity’s radical need for diversity.” Let that sink in and take it for what you think it to mean.
The film originally lost points for me because of the way it is filmed – like it’s from a first person point of view. Sometimes we are looking at the ground. But this becomes less obtrusive as the story continues, and it starts to give us more insight into the characters themselves. The acting is well done, the character development is complex and absorbing. The score matches well – I like when Doc first goes to the club to meet Go and you hear the lyric in the background, “I want to feel alive…”
A well-done film – recommended. It will make you feel and think…
Doc: So we defy them by doing what they expect?
Go: No, we defy them by owning their judgement.
Doc: It takes more courage to be average. It’s more threatening to a .. normal person to act just like they do.