Steamshovel debris: The following essay by Adam Parfrey originally appeared
in Jim Goad's renown Answer Me magazine and is anthologized in the 1996 Answer
Me book anthology. It appeared shortly after the release of Steven Spielberg's
movie, "Jurassic Park," and primarily deals with possible themes of pedophilia
in his movie, "Hook."
Steamshovel presents it here as backgrounder to the recent Sci-Fi channel TV
mini-series, "Taken," produced in part by Spielberg.
Ostensibly about alien abductions, the recent series actually focused more on
the relationship of the abduction phenom to various children--the series tracks
stories over generations, providing all of it protagonists the opportunity to be
quite young--and sadistic adults involved with UFO cover up. (Thanks to Greg
Bishop for finding a copy of the essay to reproduce here.)
by Adam Parfrey
A vicious sort of urban legend began to flourish about the time of Richard
Gere's alleged alliance with rectal rodents. Its subject was Steven Spielberg,
and the gossip had to do with the director's overweening fascination with child
actors. Mindful that hearsay is sometimes false, we are withholding the
delicious details. But the fact that this rumor exists at all confirms an
underlying unease over the presumably innocent entertainments created by
Hollywood's oldest Wunderkind.
Spielberg's latest theme park-style extravaganza, "Jurassic Park," isn't as
explicitly swishy as his failed "Hook," but it reveals components of the
auteur's personality that have parents wondering about the movie's
appropriateness for children.
"King King," "The Lost World," and "Godzilla," three monster epics
cannibalized by "Jurassic Park," achieved their thrills without resorting to
on-screen menacing of tots. Indeed, only on milk cartons can we find children so
physically raped as the celluloid juveniles of "Jurassic Park." The film's
sadistic tone is established early on, when a fat child challenges the
paleontological theories of protagonist Sam Neill. Neill turns on the boy, and
in low, menacing tones, he demonstrates to the child how a prehistoric nasty
would mangle and devour him. Adding a distinctly Peter Kurtenish frisson, Neill
slashes near the child's belly and crotch with a large, sharp claw.
Perhaps among all our "childlike" wonderment with the subject of dinosaurs,
we forget that child abusers commonly invoke the threat of large beasts to
frighten and silence their victims. Is the director conjuring the trappings of
childhood obsessions only to wield them for a darker purpose?
Although overtly sadistic, "Jurassic Park" was reined in by its obeisance
to special effects; it revealed few of the excesses of "Hook," in which
Spielberg's psychodramatic inclinations were allowed to roam free.
"Hook" is the culmination of over a decade of false starts in bringing J. M.
Barrie's Peter Pan to the screen. At first, Spielberg was reportedly considering
a live-action redo of the Disney animated feature, starring Michael Jackson as
the perpetual pre-pube. But the auteur of suburban childhoos wasn't satisfied
with a simple remake.
The high-concept Hollywood sound bite, "What if Peter Pan grew up?" not only
indulged Spielberg's predilections, it provided the film's investors with a
tinkingly trendy phrase redolent with the "recovery" metaphysics that have
become the ethos for Hollywood's haut monde, the same haut monde who have lately
forsworn the continual cocaine-and-Quaalude concatenations so relentlessly
documented by former Spielberg producer Julia Phillips in her autobitchography,
You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again.
The recovery movement is led in part by ex-drunk John Bradshaw, who smilingly
encourages his readers to throw off the ruinous shackles of adulthood in order
to "liberate the inner child." It comes as little surprise that Steven Spielberg
takes part in Bradshaw's therapies, which include workshops where "lullaby music
is played and participants cradle and stroke one another."
Asking Steven Spielberg to liberate his inner child would be akin to asking a
serial murderer to actualize his anger. By his own admission, Stevie has
experienced little in the way of adulthood outside of his overprotective
upbringing and the adulatory, toadying fantasy land of Hollywood. Bradshaw's
"inner child" therapy is a mere baby-step away from the Diaper Pail Fraternity,
a Sausalito-based group for grown men who revert to incontinent fantasy, where
surrogate mommies exclaim and coo as they wipe the kinky kid-fetishists' dirty
Spielberg's is redolent not only of the inner-child component of recovery,
but also its darker aspect: child molestation. Bradshaw seeks to place blame for
psychological malaise on a dimly remembered past in which some form of traumatic
abuse took place. The less the so-called abuse is remembered, the more convinced
are Bradshawian therapists that it actually occurred. At the time that "Hook"
went into production, all the radio and television talk shows fixated upon child
abuse in a catharsis of mass scapegoating. Suddenly, millions of Americans were
convinced that they had been molested by their nuclear family or ritually abused
On the crest of the child-abuse wave, Spielberg's Peter Pan project was
transformed into Hook, whose ad campaign abandoned the traditional flying
fairies in lieu of a stark visual of the prosthetic steel claw gleaming against
a black background. The gruesome hieroglyphic was a perfect mnemonic device (see
Hook, think Hook) ”but more importantly, it transferred any possible pedophilic
overtones from Spielberg himself (the auteur hero) to the classically pederastic
fantasy figure of Captain Hook, the fiend who spirits children away to a
Neverland where Cabbage Patch foundlings enliven the sodomitical lives of
Village People pirates.
Here, Spielberg could be evading responsibility for his alleged tendencies by
projecting them onto his villain, a strategy employed by Hitchcock and other
directors renowned for their sadistic inclinations.
Peter Pan had, of course, become such a dusty chestnut that almost no one
would object to its pedophilic content.
Who would remember that its author, Sir James Barrie, was a full-blown boy
fancier who never consummated his marriage to actress Mary Ansell and carried on
a passionate "friendship" with the sons of Sylvia and Arthur Llewelyn Davies?
Even today, no one can comfortably explain why Barrie insisted on naming his
eternal child "Pan," after the goatish satyr of mythology.
In a tradition begun by Sir Barrie, most stage productions of Peter Pan cast
a boyish woman in the lead role, a transvestite tradition Spielberg may well
have paid homage to by casting Glenn Close as the bearded pirate named
Pederastic organizations such as NAMBLA insist that children are wise, sexual
creatures who should be given the opportunity to be fondled, sucked, and anally
penetrated by middle-aged men.
The NAMBLA Bulletin has a special column called "Boys in the Media," tracking
the doings of such Hollywood chickens as Macaulay Culkin, known affectionately
in the Bulletin as "Mac." The self-described "Ganymedian" L. Martin, who write
the "Boys in the Media" column, spoke by phone about Stephen Spielberg and Hook.
"Spielberg is known for his interest in young boys, certainly," said
Martin. "A lot of the members have been talking about Hook, telling me how much
they enjoyed it."
NAMBLA spokesman Renato Corazza refused to confirm or deny Spielberg's
possible membership in the Man/Boy Love Association: "We don't divule our
And is it merely accidental that another pederastic magazine goes by the
acronym P.A.N. (Paedo Alert News)?
Spielberg's costume designer Anthony Powell endows Hook's "Lost Boys" with a
cute Benetton-meets-Oliver Twist look tailor-made for the chicken-hawk
sensibility. Dance of the Warriors, a futuristic fantasy about a warrior cult of
young boys who fight right-wing Christians for the privilege of having sex with
aging boy-lovers, sports on its cover a salt-and-pepper boy couple who almost
precisely mirror two of Spielberg's Lost Boys. The book appeared in the
pedophilia sections of gay bookstores just at the time that Hook was going into
Just who are Spielberg's Lost Boys? Walter Keane-style big-eyed orphans? Lord
of the Flies in Suburbialand?
Hook's smarmy press kit tries to make each personality distinct. There's
Rufio ("the proud leader of the Lost Boys, whose determined jousting with Peter
for the honor of guiding the troupe of ruffians leads to a new understanding
between the two rivals in Neverland"); Ace ("the Lost Boy with all the angles
figured out for his peers"); Thudbutt ("whose imposing size belies his gentle
disposition among the Lost Boys--but don't get him angry!"); No Nap ("a street
urchin complete with suspenders, knockers, a newsboys cap...and a heart of
roughened gold"); Latchboy ("the curly-top redhead who always finds himself in
the thick of any mischief contrived by the band of tarnished angels"); Pockets
("one of the smallest Losy Boys, who has a particular soft spot for helping
Peter get his wings in Neverland"); and Too Small ("the tiniest Lost Boy in
stature but one of the feistiest in nature, who wears his pajamas through thick
Hook's emotional highlight, strangely absent from the shooting script's first
revised draft, is the touchy-feely communion of the adult Peter Pan and the Lost
Boys. We're treated to prolonged takes of the tykes touching and caressing Robin
Williams's face and body.
When the Lost Boys smear war paint on Wiliams's naked torso, the idyll is
reminiscent of a certain gay body-painting video advertised in The Advocate
"that focuses on creative eroticism, that expands and extends the beauty of
There's not room enough to detail the pedophilic implications of other
Spielberg productions: the man/boy relationship in "Empire of the Sun," which
begins with John Malkovich's comment about young Christian Bale's "sweet mouth"
and reaches its emotional climax when Malkovich directs the chicken to move his
cot next to his; the child-alien/human ectodermal interactions in Close
Encounters; and the sanitized incest theme of Back To The Future.
However, it was E.T., Spielberg's most exalted triumph, which seems to clothe
boy-love fantasy in New Age vestments.
Spielberg uses every trick in the director's chapbook to induce us to love a
wrinkled, potbellied cosmic interloper that hides in boys' closets and
communicates with a glowing, phallic finger.
It was young Henry Thomas's taunt to his twelve-year-old celluloid
brother--"penis breath"--that had Spielberg conjure, if only for a disturbing
instant, the image of a bald-faced lad with a cock in his mouth.
Although the "negligent" participants got off with nary a knuckle-rap, we
must not forget that Spielberg also produced the actual snuff film "Twilight
Zone," in which Vic Morrow and two young children were beheaded during filming.
Perhaps the most perverse aspect of Steven Spielberg's work is its
obsessive posture of sentimental innocence.
Psychologists trained in the vocabulary of sex criminals often note the cloak
of goo-goos and sugar frosting as the subconscious moral gymnastics of
repression and guilt transference.
But now that "Jurassic Park" has more openly revealed the overtly sadistic
aspect of Steven Spielberg's curious desires, there is only one more place to go
for this self-styled avatar of contemporary myth. His movie, "Schindler's List,"
was filmed in Auschwitz.
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