Michael's Reviews > Double Feature

Double Feature by Vernon D. Burns
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's review
May 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010-and-after, guy-and-campbell
Read from September 03 to 04, 2012

What can I say about Double Feature? What can be said about Double Feature? It is the story of (A) a bunch of stereotypes pretending to be characters who wander into the jungle for abstract reasons and then begin to die violently because of savage, cannibalistic natives and piranhas coated in fur; and (B) the story of a woman who dies because of her asshat boyfriend being a total piece of shit, and then comes back to life as a screwnicorn because of yet another asshat male, and then she is rejected by him, and so she goes on a rampage killing men with the big metal phallic symbol sticking out of her head.

I mean. . . why talk about the plot? These are plots straight out of nightmares, ruled more by the id than by any sense of internal logic. So I'm not going to talk about the plot. These authors don't need plots. They need drugs. Lots of drugs.

Vernon D. Burns seems absolutely obsessed with gender roles, constantly mocking them while seemingly unable to escape them. Some of the scenes are so fucking sexist you have to wonder if he somehow gets off on this. I mean, this IS his second book where a woman is knocked unconscious before being fondled and masturbated upon. And he has so far published 2 books, so 100% of his books include a scene like this. Also, this dude has a serious obsession with cum. Apparently some men can cum so profusely that "it was like he was peeing."

And Albert Clapp? The other author writes almost exactly the same as Burns, and shares the same obsession with gender. In his case, there's a much clearer feminist message, and there is significantly less misogyny related to the female protagonist. But I wonder if this is just because she doesn't have a human-female body, and this renders her unsexed in a way that saves her from the misogyny thrust upon the other females in this novella, whose breasts "bounce like speed bags" when they jump.

Clapp seems to hate women slightly less than men, who he depicts as total mouth-breathers who are in a constant state of pain and turmoil whenever their testicles aren't expelling semen. (Other than the old scientist, who instead of wanting to control women through having degrading sex with them, wants only to turn them into frankenstein monsters and force them to do manual labor at his winery (Yes. He is a scientist and also a wine maker (although he apparently sucks at both jobs))).

So why did I enjoy this more than Gods of the Jungle Planet? This is why: Like Faulkner and many other great writers, V.D. Burns has a style that is hard to comprehend at first, and I now feel like I get the joke. Like, really, REALLY get it.

The joke is that we destroy each other through perpetuating stereotypes--gender and non-gender-based stereotypes--and that popular art does nothing but reflect this violence back upon us in a feedback loop, simplifying us into caricatures that ALSO become a part of our collective identity. Art is, then, both a result and a catalyst for hatred and violence against the social other, whether this is womankind, an ethnic minority, or even an age bracket. By pushing these roles upon ourselves and then reminding ourselves in a constant stream of narratives what these roles are, we are perpetuating the patriarchy.

Vernon's joke--seemingly his ONLY joke--is to go so over the top in social and fictional caricatures that we can still be shocked by them, and to never let up even when the joke has long since stopped being funny. This is Andy Kaufman wrestling. This is Bill Hicks doing the goatboy routine. This is an artist trying his damnedest to be funny in a way that makes you very uncomfortable, and shocks you into thought.

Is it accidentally a glorification of violence? Does it work as a nihilistic satire? Is it an echo-chamber for the neuroses expressed in other popular fiction, or is it just really, really, incredibly bad writing by an idiot?

I can't say what it is for you; for me, this is a meditation on the violence of divisive art, yet it is divisive art, and cannot help but desensitize us further. So, it is filled with more hopelessness than the lives of its shallow and buxom protagonists. This is tastelessly funny, but we're laughing at the hopelessness of our own condition, our own inability to put ourselves in the shoes of others, our constant effort to silence one another through cultural labels. This book....what can be said?

And I love the horse-secks joke on the last page.
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08/29/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Eh?Eh! Sooo...down with art!!

Michael Yes! Art is for posers! Reality TV is the way to go!

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