Oct 16, 2013

Helmut Berger: Gays as Pure Evil

During the 1930s, the wealthy Essenbeck family agrees to manufacture arms for the Nazis, thereby selling their souls and becoming The Damned (1969).

The Nazis are portrayed as beings of pure evil -- not because of their policy of extermination against "inferior" races, but because they enjoy gay sex.  And heterosexual sex, of course.  But the gay sex is emblematic of their moral bankruptcy.

Martin, the young heir to the Essenbeck fortune, likewise demonstrates his own moral bankruptcy by going to "that sort" of bar and performing in drag, but he also enjoys sexually assaulting women, including his preteen cousin and his mother (then suggesting that Mom commit suicide).

Wait -- gay men are threats to little girls?  And adult women?  Even Jerry Falwell never went that far!

How disturbing is it that the uber-deviant Martin was played by a gay man, Helmut Berger, and directed by his lover, Luchino Visconti?   Did they have no self-respect at all?

Apparently not.  Visconti also directed Death in Venice (1971), in which same-sex desire is portrayed as a sickness that invariably leads to death, and Berger also starred in Dorian Gray (1970), about the horrific physical consequences of an "immoral lifestyle" (that is, being gay).

The two worked together again in Ludwig (1972), about King Ludwig of Bavaria, whose gayness drives him mad, and in Conversation Piece (1974), about a retired professor whose gayness drives him mad.

No Gay Pride in this family!

At least Helmut was nice to look at, in a slim, androgynous way.

Luchino Visconti died in 1976.   Helmut Berger continues to perform.  He specializes in nasty, villainous characters, but for the last 30 years they've been mostly heterosexual, such as the evil Peter DeVilbis who seduces Fallon on Dynasty.  

I guess the "gays as pure evil" bit is a little harder to sell today.

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