Sep 8, 2013
A Clockwork Orange: Violence, Homophobia, and Violation
Alex (Malcolm McDowell, who would play the Emperor Caligula) is an "ultraviolet" youth gang leader who spends his free time assaulting men and raping women. When he kills a woman during a home invasion, he is sentenced to 40 years in prison. He volunteers for an aversion-therapy treatment in exchange for a reduced sentence. Now he gets sick whenever he thinks of violence, even in self-defense. Unfortunately, he keeps running into people he assaulted earlier, and they have retribution in mind.
I expected a totalitarian dystopia that drove the youth to acts of violent resistance. Instead I found a slightly futurized 1960s England, with freedom of speech and assembly. Alex volunteers for the therapy; he isn't forced. He isn't rebelling against the system; he's just bad.
Alice's Restaurant, give the youthful protagonist a gay-subtext buddy or a "do your own thing" nonchalance about gay people. But in A Clockwork Orange, we see instead a homophobic portrayal of oldsters "desiring" youth. Alex's juvenile parole officer tries to have sex with him, the prison is full of what he calls "perverts," who blow kisses at him, and a prison guard performs a symbolic rape as he checks to see if Alex is "a homosexual."
In fact, the last half of the movie involves one symbolic rape after another at the hands of older men, including the elderly, handicapped writer Frank Alexander and his bodyguard (bodybuilder Frank Prowse, who would play Darth Vader in Star Wars a few years later).
McDowell has played so many gay-vague villains that I thought he was gay in real life, but apparently he's heterosexual.
See also: Beefcake and Grammatical Atrocities in Hidden Valley