5 October 2004 | swinging_rose_hips
Velvet Goldmine and Dorian Gray
Even if I didn't think this movie was fantastic (which I do), I would have to be impressed with the incorporation of Oscar Wilde, his fascination with the decadence of pop culture, and his brilliant philosophies concerning art.
At the end of the film, when Arthur Stuart sits to have a drink with Curt Wylde (Oh look! A play on Oscar!, Wylde looks up and tells him that, "The true artist creates beautiful things, and puts none of his own life into them". This is one of the several scenes in which Oscar Wilde is referenced subtly, seamlessly and beautifully.
Curt is not simply Iggy Pop. He is Oscar Wilde. He is the true artist of the crowd, because he creates music without using the art as a form of autobiography.
Brian Slade is Dorian Gray. He invests all of his persona into the public, and into his songs, trapping himself in an expectation. The alter-ego Maxwell Demon is eternal youth. It is the embodiment of Slade in a single moment. Unfortunately, he traps himself, and leaves no room for growth. The shooting accomplishes two things. Slade arranging this pseudo-murder is Dorian gray destroying his portrait. At first Dorian was intrigued, even excited by the changes he saw in the painting. Then it began to wear on him. So with Slade/ Demon. The hoax liberates Slade the way death does Gray. Also, This secures Maxwell Demon a place in history. Brian Slade was a pop-star who was too controversial and too personally naked in his work to have any real longevity. The hype would have faded, and if he changed or grew as a person, that would have meant changing everything about his art (as they were so interlocked) and would have led to cries of "sell out". Either way, he would have faded out and been likely forgotten (the way Britney Spears will hopefully do one day). By enacting this faux death, Slade guarantees Maxwell Demon some form of eternal youth, trading in his career to do so (selling his soul).
There's more, as well. Jerry Devine, for instance, is Lord Henry. Mandy is Sybil Vane. They aren't exact, of course, and there are other veins running through them that make them unique, but one can see the influence.
Beautifully done, and a well paid tribute to the genius of Oscar Wilde!