The Doom Generation (1995): A Heterosexual Movie

By: Erin

Posted: June 17th, 2024

Originally Written: November 28th, 2023

Image courtesy of TheMovieDB

I love furious, disgusting queer art. I can’t get enough of it. Art that lives in hyperreality, art that pretends to be aloof and alien while being the most human work of all, art that loves and hates the time it comes from, inject it into my veins. I knew I was in for a treat when this movie was introduced with the hilarious byline “A Heterosexual Movie By Gregg Araki”. Heterosexual in name alone, heterosexual if only you have never seen the queer underbelly of America that Gregg Araki has, heterosexual if your only signifier of queerness is whether two characters kiss, rather than what it means when they don’t.

To get the obvious comparison out of the way, this felt like the 90s’ take on Multiple Maniacs, a movie so deep in the queer zeitgeist, so utterly irreverent and satirical, so biting and loud in how in both skewers and shoves its deep queer ideals – and the deep fears that we feel – in the audience’s face. It’s an unholy combination of John Waters and Peter Greenaway, scored by Trent Reznor and the sounds of dreams. There’s so much in this movie that lit me on fire, from the phenomenal gory death scenes, the dialogue that sounds like no human being could speak it aloud, the yearning and aching tenderness and sadness in whatever X and Jordan had going on, the beautiful hypnotic music one can drown in and the unbelievable and unreal set design, the Mortal Kombat scene

The sets are so beautiful and so abstract. They are artificial and filthy, contemporary art, waste repurposed into a doomed-yet-livable world. There are conversations in this movie that make my heart ache with how deeply they touch on existentialism, death, and alienation, and there are conversations that use the words “foodular” and the phrase “smooth move, Ex-Lax”. There’s also so much sex, and so many stupid jokes, and so many dangling threads that don’t get resolved, and vile nihilistic venom dripping from each character’s lips. It is a paradoxical film – at once complex and brilliant, simple and stupid. It juxtaposes beautiful colors and mesmerizing tunes with prepubescent-level puns and teenage-esque lust and grotesque slapstick violence. It exhales and screams, it sneers, and yet it begs for connection as it reaches out and grips the throats of the young queers watching. “You feel it too, right?” it seems to ask. “This world is meaningless and cruel, but I can’t make it through it alone. Don’t make me face it alone.”

I’m fascinated by Amy and her hatred of killing that seems at odds with her brutal, foul mouth. I’m fascinated by Jordan, every glance and word he expresses tinged with deep grief and yearning over his friend he loved, grief he isn’t even conscious that he’s feeling. X, Jordan, Amy. Burnouts, dropouts, freaks. They have each other, for better and for worse.

The final act is harrowing and horrific and yet an unbelievable culmination of all the hilarious hatred being spewed towards propaganda, Conservatism, and America throughout the movie. America to Gregg Araki is depressing, a hyper-capitalist mockery full of gun nuts, disgusting nachos, tinfoil amusements, curtains made of trash, newscasters with ugly ties in front of green screens that do nothing but show gore, and Nazis blasting their “favorite song” – the Star-Spangled Banner.

Why, it’s enough to make one want to kill. Or maybe it’s enough to make one want to die.

Who can say?