Jul 1, 2016

Endymion: The Eternal Sleeper

When I was in grad school in English, we had to read the poem "Endymion" by John Keats (1818).  Four thousand dreary lines about the ancient Greek shepherd Endymion, who is in love with Diana, the goddess of the moon, but also with an Indian maiden, but it turns out that they're both the same person, because all women are really one woman, the Eternal Feminine who is the goal of "all" men's lives.

As Snoopy would say, "Bleah!"

At least the first lines are praising male beauty:
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.

In the original Greek myths, it was Selena, Goddess of the Moon, not Diana (who didn't care for men), who fell in love with Endymion and asked Zeus to make him immortal, so his beauty would last forever.  Zeus consented, but -- psych! -- he also put Endymion into an eternal sleep, so Selena couldn't act on her desires.

But she found a way to make it with Endymion while he was asleep.  Eventually they had 50 children.

Another myth says that it was Hypnos, the God of Sleep, who fell in love with the sleeping Endymion and decided to keep him that way.

Endymion is a favorite of artists interested in depicting muscular men who aren't being killed or trying to kill someone.  Usually Selena or Diana is hanging around, but it's pretty obvious that she's not getting anywhere with him, as in this painting by Francesco Trevisani (1656-1746).

Or this one by George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), where Selena looks more like the crescent moon than a real woman.

Other artists just skip the moon goddess altogether, as in the Endymions of Nicolas Guy Brenet (1728-1792), and Anne-Louis Girodet (1767-1824) .  Girodet was male, by the way.

This Endymion by Girolamo Troppa (1637-1733) has him sleeping sitting up.

There are lots of sculptures, too.  Endymion was a mainstay on ancient sarcophagi, since he represented the "eternal sleep" of death.

This supine statue is by Antonio Corradini (1668-1752).

You may have noticed that Endymion was a favorite of the Baroque Era.  He doesn't show up much in the 19th and 20th century,, although this naturalistic (and very well hung) sleeper by contemporary American painter Kendric Tonn is called "Nocturne in Blue (Endymion)."

Willie Wonka and the Torture Factory

Name a movie that about a lavender-coated, gay-vague monster who lures five children into his lair with the promise of candy, then tortures and terrorizes them, killing three, before inviting the one he deems "good" to become his apprentice.

No, it's not Nightmare on Elm Street.  But you were close.

It's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a early entry in the torture-porn genre that parents inflicted on Boomer kids in the summer of 1971, causing not a few of them to be traumatized for life.  I still can't hear the song "Candy Man" without cringing.

The plot: Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), the ultimate capitalist, produces candy for the town.  He offers a free tour of his factory to five kids who win a "golden ticket." Once they arrive, he terrorizes them.

He pretends to be disabled, and once they become adequately solicitious, does a somersault: "See, you were all sympathetic for nothing!  I'm really not disabled!"

What a nasty thing to do!

Even a boat trip down a chocolate river provides an excuse for Willie to toy with their emotions.  He starts shrieking:

Not a speck of light is showing, so the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing? Is the grisly reaper mowing?

Oh, please -- they're just going to another part of the factory!

But then, he is always extremely volatile, level-head one moment, screaming the next.

Willy arranges for the children to be killed or transformed into something monstrous in retribution for some minor fault, like Billy Mumy's godlike demon in "It's a Good Life."

1. The tv-obsessed Mike Teevee (Paris Themmen) is shrunk to the size of a tv image.
2. The bratty Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole) falls down a garbage chute  into the furnace, where she is burned to death.
3.  The gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde (Denise Nickerson) is transformed into a giant blueberry, whereupon she explodes.
4. The gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner) drowns in a river of chocolate.

 After they are murdered, Willy's slaves, the Oompa-Loompas, sing moralizing songs: if you refrain from chewing gum, over eating, being bratty, and watching tv, you'll "go far," like survive to the end of the torture factory tour.

Charlie (Peter Ostrum) is one of the irrepressibly good, blond waifs who populate adult fantasies about childhood innocence (others include Mark Lester, Jeremy Sumpter, Macaulay Culkin, and Ricky Schroeder).  He has an extremely creepy home life, living with four grandparents who are all bedridden -- and share the same bed.  Gross!

Charlie's fault is larceny -- he and one of his grandfathers sneak into a secret lab and steal an experimental soft drink.  But Willy just yells at Charlie instead of torturing him -- maybe he has a thing for blonds -- and the end offers to make him his apprentice torturer.

I guess even Freddy Krueger needed an assistant.

This was supposed to be fun?  No wonder most of the child stars never acted on film again.
Peter Ostrum is now a veterinarian in New York.
Michael Bollner is a tax accountant in his native Germany.
Julie Dawn Cole limits herself to television.
Paris Themmen works in live theater and film. production.
Even Peter Stewart, who played one of Charlie's friends in town, never acted again.

Would you?