I am not a big fan of Michel Houellebecq as a writer. I dig him as a performance artist, though. He is the evil dwarf of the French 60’s, the unholy fool who knows where all the skeletons are buried and where all the champagne socialists go to shop and be bourgeois in spite of their youthful hopes and dreams. It is with good reason that Henri Bernard-Levy has engaged Houellebecq in public forums, not so much as a foe but as a darkly amusing albeit dangerous foil. Houellebecq, perhaps more than any living writer, is able to stick the shiv between the ribs of both the decadent West and the retrograde elements of the Islamic Middle East. In his book, Platform, Houellebecq scored a bullseye on sex tourism as a form of decadent colonialism and Islam as a vehicle for zealots to win the consent of millions to live in psychic chains of fear and misery. Abel Ferrara, a schlockmeister par excellence, has made a new film, Welcome to New York, that seems right out of the Houellebecq playbook, a film that is about DSK and his misadventures in the Big Apple. The subtext is the text – a smart hedonistic pig who worked his way up into the top tier of both French politics and the plutocracy of world governance – is laid low by a sex scandal that in the end wasn’t much of a scandal and more of a scam. Who plays “DSK”? Gerard Depardieu, a guy perfect for the role. But unlike David Bowie playing Andy Warhol (one swindling phony playing another), DSK and Depardieu strike me as both very authentic in different ways. Depardieu is conspicuously outside of Houellebecq’s universe and perhaps more importantly, immune to his quiver. Depardieu is organic, a native flower, a working class bull who never sold out, never went bourgeois, never bought into globalization. He’s stone-to-the-bone French. DSK, well… he blew it because he seemed genuine in his concerns and his objectives. He just didn’t have the moxy, the charisma to pull off the outsized living that obviously Depardieu effortlessly portrays for Ferrara. Still, if I were DSK, I would seriously consider hiring Houellebecq to script a campaign in the French elections of 2017.
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