'Innerspace': a spectacular voyage to the heart of identity.
Carroll's phrasing betrays a shallow understanding of homosocial desire(2) (it is simply not true, for example, that the films she mentions haven't "the faintest suggestion of homosexuality"), but her glib observations signal a shift in popular perceptions of how the affective element in male homosocial relationships might be acceptably represented in mainstream cinema. If anything has changed since 1974, it is the presumptuous certainty that allowed Carroll, writing in the spirit of heterosexual entitlement that characterizes the mainstream press, to use the phrase, "in a very real sense" (as opposed to "the homosexual sense" , and assume her readers would know what she meant. Indeed, only two years later, writing in The Villaqe Voice, Andrew Sarris declared that, "Above all, there is now a disturbing confusion about `normality' where once there seemed to be blissful certitude. Or was there?" (Sarris 1976, 16). He went on to observe that, "What is most fascinating about most movies is their virtually infinite capacity for reinterpretation. We think that we see everything at the time, but we never do."
A genre that has come in for complex rethinking is the buddy film, not because we can look back at old buddy films and reinterpret them as love stories between men, but because the genre itself is undergoing a crisis of self-consciousness.(3) Some recent developments in the evolution of the genre have been monitored by a number of critics. For example, Vincent Canby in 1979 sounded a defensive alarm in a New York Times article bearing the title, "Male-bonding? Now Wait a Minute!" He argued that "It's men who are being condescended to and patronized by moviemakers, most of whom, it should be emphasized, are men. Brothers, it's brothers not sisters who are shattering our egos, making us uncertain about our identities and persuading us to question something called `male-bonding,' which used to be known simply as friendship. Male bonding? Even the jargon is pejorative" (Canby 1979, 17).
In 1982, Molly Haskell noted irritably that, "Just when we thought the buddy-buddy film was finished--no more Paul Newman and Robert Redford riding off into the sunset--male bonding resurfaces in a new form. The latest twist is fathers and sons or, to use the currently fashionable term, `male parenting.' Kramer vs. Kramer. Ordinary People. Carbon Copy. Paternity. On Golden Pond. The upcoming Missing. They all show busy or repressed fathers learning to love their offspring, usually male. The man-to-manness of the bond certifies the virility of the new parenting" (Haskell 1982, C2).
Walter Goodman put in a good word for "boys' movies" in a 1987 New York Times article entitled, "Prankster Pals: the Appeal Never Ages." The pull-quote echoed his title: "From Gunga Din to Stakeout, buddies involved in good-natured mischief have proved an irresistible mix" (Goodman 1987, H19).
In 1988, Haskell identified another variation of the buddy film in a magazine article entitled, "The Odder Couples: Is Being a Misfit the New Precondition for Male Friendship?" Haskell obligingly pointed out that "Male bonding is nothing new in the movies: Edward G. Robinson and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. loved each other more than any woman in Little Caesar (1931), and Paul Newman and Robert Redford were boys together in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting. But men onscreen usually have shied away from displays of emotion that some of them associate with wimpishness. Taking their cue from women, men are starting to open up to one another, and going public in confessional forums like the "About Men" column in The New York Times Magazine. Recent movies like Dominick &Eugene, Patti Rocks, and the classic Birdy reflect this new glasnost, but the tortured fraternal relationships in these films suggest that conditions still have to be very special for men to express their feelings of love for one another" (Haskell 1988, 66).
Robin Wood takes the view that within their social context, seventies buddy movies are "more interesting than is generally recognized." He writes in Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan that "the basic motivating premise of the seventies' buddy movie is not the presence of the male relationship but the absence of home" (Wood 1986, 227). He identifies Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Easy Rider, and Midnight Rider (all released in 1969) as the three films that effectively launched the cycle, and he makes a case for the later films, "of which Thunderbolt and Lightfoot , Scarecrow , and California Split  are the most distinguished and idiosyncratic," as being variations on the principles established in 1969.
By 1987, the year Innerspace(4) was released in the United States, the American buddy film seemed to be on the verge of admitting that the homosocial desire which has always fueled the genre refers to a continuum of relations between men that includes mentorship, rivalry, "male bonding," and homosexuality. Whereas historically the collaborations of the male characters in the buddy film have been articulated in ways that "separate homoeroticism from the sanctioned male bonding that upholds patriarchy" (Koestenbaum 1989, 3), Innerspace riskily invests the relationship of its two main characters with a degree of homoeroticism that deconstructs the genre.
Innerspace is an adventure-comedy about a man who is miniaturized in a scientific experiment to the size of a nearinvisible speck. Instead of being injected into a rabbit, as planned by Ozzie the scientist, Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) and his diving pod are accidentally injected into a supermarket clerk, Jack Putter (Martin Short), when industrial spies raid the miniaturization laboratory. The villains make off with the re-enlargement chip, which is useless without the miniaturization device now inside Jack, and of course Tuck cannot return to normal size unless Jack can retrieve the re-enlargement chip from the villains.
But Innerspace's unconscious is more interesting than its subtext. The film is driven by a pretended sexual anxiety that turns out to be real, and it attempts (impossibly) to regain confidence in some of the old epistemological certainties that governed the making of a film like Fantastic Voyage (Richard Fleischer, 1966)--the certainties that have been eroded in what has come to be called postmodernity. The film in the end seeks to confirm the validity of "Hollywood" narrative; the space of Renaissance perspective; and the reassuring "rightness" of patriarchal culture's heterosexual paradigm. In so doing, the film's cocky confidence wavers, and it offers an overdetermined and contradictory discourse on the repression of homosexuality. The results are problematic for the spectator. One is presented with the postmodern difficulty of how to read a film that is so self-consciously ironic and knowing in its mode of address that it offers no stable position from which to properly gauge its ironies and transgressive effects.
Innerspace introduces both Tuck and Jack as characters with un-heterosexual tendencies, and the film's half-hearted ideological imperative is to make them into "normal," well-adjusted, heterosexual men. The film understands sexuality in Freudian terms of a narrative of successive phases moving towards sexual maturity, and it posits that Tuck is arrested in an autoerotic/latently-homosexual phase, and that Jack is neurotically asexual. And yet there is an exuberant homoeroticism in the film's preoccupation with their relationship that exceeds the prohibitive function of dominant ideology.
A Repressed Desire
Tuck's "problem" is suggested in the film's opening scenes--even in the very first shot following the credit sequence, of an extreme close-up of some whiskey being poured into a glass filled with ice cubes. This unusual image not only establishes spectacularly the magnification/miniaturization theme, but launches the ever-present themes in the film of repression and sublimation (Tuck drinks too much). While it is never explained explicitly why Tuck drinks too much, it becomes obvious soon enough, and when his girlfriend, Lydia (Meg Ryan) tells him that their relationship is over, Tuck's pained response suggests the nature of the repressed desire that the film will treat more elaborately later on: "I don't get it. I get a little drunk; I make an ass out of myself. What's the big deal?"
The big deal, of course, is that "real" men do not make asses out of themselves. At the formal Air Force dinner at which Tuck causes an embarrassing scene, a fellow officer tells him to stop being ironic about the heroism of their public image as test pilots. Tuck's response refers in a very direct way to the film's core obsessions: "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry, Rusty. Really, you're right. But at least when my `moment of truth' came, I didn't take a dump down the leg of my flightsuit!" While Tuck's remark may seem to be about human frailty, or a lack of courage, he means it to provoke specifically masculine anxieties about homosexuality/ (as sodomy) -- the passivity it implies to these men, who can only understand passivity as a negative and feminine mode; and the ancient memory of infantile dependency and helplessness that reference to a loss of control of the anal sphincter evokes. Since the masculine norm of society is committed to independence, and control, it is not surprising that sexual passivity (especially in relation to another man) and anal eroticism are disallowed.
When Tuck is later injected into Jack Putter's ass, however, his "cure" begins. Their incestuous adventure not only makes Jack into a "real" man, but it concludes with Tuck and Lydia's wedding, and we have to assume that Tuck's problem signified by his drinking--has been resolved. This adventure, in psychoanalytic terms, is an elaborate incorporation fantasy in which the viewer can think of Tuck as one tiny spermatozoon, or as Jack's id and superego, or as a subject experiencing a fantastic leap from autoerotic narcissism to the field of the other."
An Incorporation Fantasy
In discussing Innerspace's central fantasy of incorporation, it is not always necessary to distinguish between Tuck's desire and Jack's desire. Jack and Tuck are different aspects of the same subjective experience. Their roles are kept fairly distinct in the narrative, but how their fears and desires are dialectically linked is obvious. On the narrative level, these two characters must work together. They must seize the re-enlargement chip from the villains, etc.--but, as I have suggested, there are "unconscious"(5) imperatives at work. Tuck must more successfully repress whatever it is that makes him drink, in order to win back his girlfriend; and Jack must conquer his fear of his "mother"--the source of his hypochondria. For both men the core issue is masculinity, and the film asserts (even as it undercuts the assertion) that a proper masculinity is founded on the repression of homosexuality, and of women.
The "microchip interlock" demanded by the narrative refers to all of the film's key concerns, and what makes the film interesting are the considerable doubts about why and how the "interlock" must take place. The most obvious of its meanings is its function as a metaphor for heterosexual union, and the film at this level critiques heterosexuality, with its potential misdirections and failed unions. But because the larger project--conception--"works" (Tuck and Lydia conceive a child), this theme is deferred. We get a story of sexuality that culminates in heterosexual union--and yet, through an incorporation fantasy, this story which patriarchal culture insists is natural, reveals its own constructedness. The film associates the villains (who have the one chip) with sexual perversity, and the heroes (Jack and Tuck, who have the other chip) with what it understands to be a regressive sexuality that will mature in the right circumstances--i.e., according to the (repressive) demands of mainstream heterosexual society. The film cannot quite bring itself to say, in effect, that homosexuality is valid, so it makes a distinction between the healthy (homo)sexuality of the buddy relationship and the perverse/bad (homo)sexuality of the villains.
Incorporation describes a process in which "the subject, more or less on the level of phantasy, has an object penetrate his body and keeps it 'inside' his body" (Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, 211). According to psychoanalysis, incorporation "constitutes an instinctual aim and a mode of objectrelationship which are characteristic of the oral stage; although it has a special relationship with the mouth and with the ingestion of food, it may also be lived out in relation with other erotogenic zones and other erotic functions" (Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, 211). In Innerspace, other erotogenic zones do indeed serve as its basis: incorporation via the skin, respiration, sight, hearing, and anal incorporation.
Tuck's excessive drinking, for example, aptly suggests the degree to which his desire springs from a sense of lack. He wants more than Lydia, the conventional object-relationship for a heterosexual man. He wants literally to embody the phallic principle, and he has obviously worked on his body to help achieve this.(6)
The Tuck Pendleton Machine
Tuck's body is hard and muscular. He calls it "The Tuck Pendleton Machine." And yet, when Lydia leaves him, the sheet which he has carelessly wrapped around himself is caught in the door of the taxi as it pulls away, and he is stripped naked. As he stands on the street, howling Lydia's name, the truth is laid bare: Tuck is a sexual body, a desiring body. This is no self-sufficient machine.(7)
If Tuck drinks, it is because alcoholism in the movies is always a sign of an unresolved problem. The alcoholic drinks to drown his desire. And Tuck's desire is a question of individual definition in terms of masculinity. He appears to be the epitome of the masculine ideal; he swaggers and grins in a confident manner, but he pushes the play of masculinity just far enough to suggest that it is a masquerade.
Tuck desires what he hates, and vice versa--to a degree that is subversive. Authority, order, and rules are the terms of the military mode of patriarchal masculinity, and Tuck's identification with those terms is unconsciously erotic. Tuck's desire to achieve a kind of total masculinity leads him to the mirror. He wishes to accede directly to the masculine principle--without mediating his desire (through Lydia)--which reveals what Luce Irigaray calls the "hom (m) o-sexual" logic of patriarchal heterosexuality." Tuck is searching for someone whom he can idealize, an embodied phallic principle, someone like himself--or rather, like the image of himself Lydia is only ever a helper, a medium in the plot machinations and in the relations between Tuck and Jack. Her identity is fixed: she is "the girlfriend."
Just before he is miniaturized, we see him grin into a mirror and slap his face: "How does it feel?" he asks himself. "It feels good! Then do it again! [Slap!] The Tuck Pendleton Machine. Zero defects." Tuck then marches manfully towards the miniaturization apparatus, stopping on his way to kiss a surprised and delightedly dazed (female) laboratory technician, and grabbing the Polaroid camera of another to snap a picture of himself and her, before climbing into the pod. These identity-affirming gestures are consistent with other evidence of an obsession with a masculinity guaranteed by the image.
After the scene in which he becomes maudlin drunk, we are made to share Lydia's impression that Tuck has been shifting his desire from her (i.e., the "normal" object) to gadgetry and rabbits. Some research on rabbits is presumably necessary for the miniaturization experiment he will undergo, since Ozzie intends to inject him into a rabbit, but he has taken it quite far (to a fetishistic degree-filling his apartment with robotic equipment, with stuffed rabbits, pictures of rabbits, toy rabbits), and when he is accidentally injected into Jack Putter, he says, "I think I blacked out! Am I in Bugs, or what?" Tuck's desire, repressed to the point of emerging only from a blackout of consciousness, can be heard in his own answer: "I'm in a man! I'm in a strange man! I'll be a son-of-a-bitch, I'm in a strange man!" The film's homoerotic undercurrents swerve up to the surface as Tuck's face suffuses with wonder at this crucial turn of events.
Rabbits come with an ancient, if illogical, heritage of associations with homosexuality (Boswell 1981), although in Innerspace their function shifts according to the ideological and unconscious demands of the narrative. They are also sometimes (or simultaneously) associated with heterosexuality/ reproduction--as they are, for example, when Tuck exclaims, "Ozzie, what the hell have you done to me? How the hell can I be inside a man? I studied up on rabbits!" (i.e., he has studied up on how to be heterosexual, and he doesn't know what to do inside a man).
There is a certain logic to Tuck's miniaturization as a trope expressing his repression. He must, on the one hand, drown his desire; he must make it invisible. On the other hand, his desire is to lose himself in a larger body, to experience a passivity that the mythic ideal of virility does not acknowledge for men." It should be reiterated here that Tuck and Jack are aspects of the same subjective experience. While it may be the case that narratively Jack is penetrated and Tuck is incorporated, it is Tuck, after all, who drinks (incorporates) so much alcohol, to make good a sense of lack. Jack realizes his own and Tuck's desire--and the same is true conversely: Tuck's drama is a fantastic realization of Jack's desire, and his own.
What Jack Wants
Jack suffers from nausea, shortness of breath, headaches, and various other psychosomatic ailments. He even develops a rash from the hairspray he uses (the film's point, apart from the one that Jack is suffering the symptoms of conversion hysteria, is that no real man would be using hairspray in the first place). During one of his frequent trips to the doctor, we hear about a recurring nightmare Jack has, in which the cash register he is working goes haywire and rings up a total of over one hundred thousand dollars. The customer is a "horrible, obnoxious woman with bright orange hair" who says, "I don't carry that kind of cash around on me, sweetie." She asks. Jack, "Will you take this, instead?" as she reaches into her purse and withdraws "this little pearl-handled pistol." As she pulls back on the trigger, Jack wakes up screaming.
Throughout this account the doctor is examining Jack. He almost chokes Jack with a tongue depressor as he performs a thorough inspection of his throat-unconsciously exacerbating precisely the sort of fears of vulnerability Jack suffers from. This oral "rape" suggests the enormity of the threat that Jack experiences from the "mother" of his nightmare, just as it inversely refers to Jack's unacknowledged desire for intimacy with another man. The doctor is a father figure to Jack, and the scene clarifies the way in which Jack's fears are related to his desires. Although we know nothing about Jack's relationship with his own father, his repeated visits to the doctor and the logic of the scene suggests that Jack is looking to make good some real or imagined difficulty in his relationship with his father. He does not, as his nightmare would seem to suggest, simply fear the opposite sex.
It is entirely usual to be attached to one's mother (Freud would say that Jack is looking for a man whom he can love as his mother loved him), but Jack's attachment to his mother is overdetermined, since she is the only one there is to love. The doctor can giveJack some of what he is wants from a man, but it is obviously not enough. Jack's need is homosexual, although not necessarily sexual. His need is certainly psychological (homo-emotional). But we can include the possibility that Jack will find happiness in sexual relationships with men, and not merely use homosexuality as therapy (as it were) to resolve an abnormal detachment from his father, as part of his development towards a "correct" heterosexuality.(10)
In his recurring nightmare Jack has no control over the cash register, and he fears what the ugly woman will do when she discovers his failure. The scene demands a psychoanalytic interpretation. We read the dream's latent content, since the doctor, who offers no interpretation of it, suggests merely that Jack go on a cruise and avoid anything exciting. Clearly, this woman is a monstrous mother figure, and Jack's terror derives from the knowledge that he can never satisfy her, and he (unwillingly) overcharges her. The woman's monstrousness is signified by her unnaturally orange hair piled up on top of her head, her "castrating" gaze, her masculine jaw, the excessive make-up on her old face, her acid-green pantsuit, and her large size. Jack wants a man to love, to save him from this phallic mother.
Jack's nightmare is not just Oedipal, but also specifically the horror of finding that value and commodity (the price of Fancy Feast Cat Food) do not correspond with the reassurance of referential logic. Jack's nightmare is the feeling of being adrift in a non-referential world, of finding that there's nothing safe about the Safeway supermarket where he works. The film conflates Jack's fears because, as Baudrillard would say, "in a non-referential world even the confusion of the reality principle with the desire principle is less dangerous than contagious hyperreality. One remains among principles, and there power is always right" (Baudrillard 1983, 42). Jack is describing a dream, and to our relief (the scene plays for laughs) it is familiarly Freudian. But, later, Jack is thrown into the realm of the hyperreal when his dream in fact happens, exactly as he had described it. This time Jack screams desperately, "It's a dream! It's a dream!" We, however, have the ultimate reassurance: it is a dream; it is a movie, called Innerspace.
The Logic of Identification
Jack will only overcome his sexual insecurity through identification with Tuck, in a process of introjection (to use a term coined by Ferenczi), of which the film provides a corporal/literal model. Perhaps some of the film's sodomitical logic becomes clearer when we see how Jack transposes some of Tuck's qualities to himself. When Tuck is injected into Jack, and he attaches himself to Jack's inner ear, he becomes Jack's role model, guide, and conscience. (Tuck could be said to function as Jack's ideal ego since his identification with Tuck is heroic.) Since the distinction between an outside and an inside is confounded by the fact that Tuck is actually inside Jack's body, Jack achieves a literal kind of identification with Tuck.
Identification, according to psychoanalysis, is a "psychological process whereby the subject assimilates an aspect, property or attribute of the other and is transformed, wholly or partially, after the model the other provides. It is by means of a series of identifications that the personality is constituted and specified" (Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, 205). The fact that by the end of the movie Jack feels "cured" of his hypochondria and "unmasculine" fears, even after Tuck has left his body and is re-enlarged, attests to the psychological power (the reality) of these processes.
But, until Jack feels he has achieved a decisive degree of masculinity "guaranteed" by a resolute heterosexuality, he is implicated in a discourse that betrays an anxiety about homosexuality. The anxiety is there because the desire is there. There are moments in the film when this desire breaks through and is confirmed--such as the moment when, at Tuck's urging, Jack bursts out of the truck where Scrimshaw is holding him captive, and Tuck yells, "Jack, I love you!" At the end of the movie, too--at the moment when in classical Hollywood cinema the lovers embrace--tuck kisses Jack. Ultimately, however, the film must (appear to) endorse the values of dominant culture, if it is to succeed at the box-office. Innerspace must resolve the problem inherent in every buddy film, which is the same one Clarence Brown faced in 1927, when he made Flesh and the Devil, starring John Gilbert, Lars Hanson, and Grcta Garbo. In an interview, Brown said: "You see my problem. How to have the two leading men wind up in each other's arms and not make them look like a couple of fairies?" (Russo 1987, 70). In Innerspace, the two leading men do more than wind up in each other's arms--one is inside the other--and the filmmakers are caught between their conscious decision to have fun with the subtext (as Hitchcock does in Rope--noted by Wood 1989) and the discomfiting realization that their desire has reared its head too visibly for what it is. The homosexual desire that underpins the film's meanings exceeds the strategies that would contain it.
The film posits Tuck as being too masculine, and Jack as being not masculine enough, and we sense that the film will end when these imbalances are rectified in the narrative. While Jack works at the local Safeway, he can be safely asexual. If nothing else, his nerdiness guarantees it. In response to society's demand for exclusive heterosexuality, he has disavowed his desire and sought a kind of non-subjectivity. As a clerk ringing up the prices of goods at the supermarket (i.e., as neither buyer nor seller in the exchanges of consumer-capitalism), Jack is removed from the supermarket of life; he is not a desiring subject in the symbolic exchanges of love. Tuck's (homoerotic) desire, on the other hand, has been charged by the excessively phallic ethos of his Air Force environment.
"A cowboy who's never seen a cow"
Counterposed to Tuck's homoerotically-inflected (but ostensibly heterosexual) masculinity is the queer parody of heterosexual masculinity of the "Cowboy." One of the character's functions is to show the inappropriateness of a heterosexual style of masculinity run rampant. As an element in the film's discourse on masculinity, the character of the "Cowboy" also reveals that there is a moral dimension to the film's implicit ideal of manliness.
The "Cowboy" is not concerned with what is conventionally right or wrong. He swings both ways. He illegally sells technology to the highest bidder, whoever that may be, and his sartorial choices tell us that while appearances are important in the construction of masculinity, striking the right balance--to appear authentic--is everything. He wears snakeskin, steel-tipped boots, a stetson, and claims (they are his first words in the film), "There's nothing like a good cigar!" In one scene we see him humming and singing to himself as he performs a mock shoot-out in front of his hotel room mirror, using an electric shoe-brush as a gun. He is in love with an image of masculinity taken from the movies, but his grasp of what it means to be masculine is arrested at the level of the image, and therefore incomplete.
At one point in the narrative, Jack even "becomes" the "Cowboy" (in a computerized transfer/reconstruction of his face) as part of Jack's transition from nerdy asexual to heroic heterosexual. The scene functions as another sort of incorporation fantasy, and it contributes to the film's homoerotic theme. The "Cowboy" traffics between terms, and while at first it may seem to be a measure of the film's progressive effort that his masculine pose is parodied, the character does not, finally, subvert patriarchal culture's norms of sexual identity, but confirms them.
Villainy and Perversion
The leader of the villains, Victor Scrimshaw (Kevin McCarthy) is meant to be read as homosexual. (Among other signs, he employs a Filipino valet/waiter called Murnau.(11) His associate, Dr. Margaret Canker, is almost nymphomaniacally flirtatious; and Mr. Igoe, their hit man, is the embodiment of cruel perversity, with an artificial hand that is more versatile, and lethal, than a Swiss penknife.
When Margaret first sees the miniaturization equipment at the laboratory, she remarks on the fastidious mechanical hand that inserts the microchip into the larger apparatus: "Look at this thing! Primitive! Definitely primitive." As with her appraisal of every man she meets, Margaret sees things in sexual terms, and with a lewd inflection in her voice sounds as though she is remarking here on a case of arrested sexual development, or referring to the fact that she finds conventional heterosexual sex unexciting. (We will see, later, a brief scene in which Margaret, in a bedroom, smiles seductively at Mr. Igoe as he attaches a vibrator to his electronic arm.) As for Victor, with whom she has a kind of sibling relationship, there is a comic overparticularity about his sartorial style and personal manner that, in the language of movies, also hints at moral perversion.
What is at stake for Jack is that he be saved from (such) a perverse fate, and in order to ensure this, the film rehearses a well-known story of subject-construction that starts with the mirror phase.(12)
The Mirror and Identity
When Tuck is injected into Jack he has no idea where he is. He is like the pre-mirror phase child that has no sense yet of its body as an entity in the world. He can (like some unborn child with sight) see platelets and tubes, fat cells and viscera, and later--after he has penetrated Jack's retina with a video probe--he gets to see what Jack sees ("I can see! Oh, thank God! I can see!"). But until this vision is tied to an origin, an epistemology cannot form. It is disembodied vision--like, one could say, the vision of an infant before it recognizes itself in a mirror--only shapes, shadows, and movements. In psychoanalysis the bounds of the body provide the model of all separations between an inside and an outside, and until Tuck is able to gain a sense of the body he is inhabiting, he will not exist as a subject.
Similarly, as I have suggested, Jack needs a sexual identity. It is only after Jack and Tuck each knows what the other looks like that Tuck can acquire language (take some control over his own fate as he spurts around in Jack's body) and that Jack can begin his identification with Tuck that will gain for him a masculine identity. In the mirror phase described by Lacan there must be another figure in the mirror that the child will recognize (usually the mother) if it is to "see" its own image there. In Innerspace this third term is provided in a rather peculiar way. Tuck, sitting on Jack's optic nerve, sees the world in framed, black and white video images, but until he can get Jack to acknowledge his presence, he does not--for all intents and purposes-exist. So, after warning Jack that he will do so, he uses his "electromagnetic booster" (?) to blow up Jack's television set. "I am real, Jack! You do believe me now, don't you?" Jack believes him, and their new self--the "divided subject" of psychoanalysis--enters history, as it were. "We're in this together," says Tuck, "and we're going to help each other out."
In the overdetermincd manner of movies, elements of the mirror phase are repeated in variations. Tuck wants a drink, but can only have one if Jack has one, so he instructs Jack to gulp down mouthfuls of Bourbon, some drops of which Tuck catches in his tiny flask. Tuck proposes a toast that oddly (assbackwardly, one could say) refers to procreation: "To Ozzie: A good man who tried to save my ass by injecting me into yours." Jack's alcoholically-inspired dance that follows is like the jouissance that the child experiences when it first recognizes itself in the mirror. It is ecstatic. When he collapses on the couch, spent and smiling, he gasps, "I didn't know dancing could be so much fun!" and Tuck immediately replies, "You ought to try it with a girl sometime!" thereby giving voice to the pressure of the film's ideological imperative: Jack must move from autoeroticism to identification with an other.
The re-enacted mirror phase is concluded decisively when Jack sees a photograph of Tuck and asks, "Is that you?" and when Tuck instructs Jack to stand in front of the mirror. The objectification of Jack's body that is now possible begins immediately. Since Jack is drunk, Tuck makes him perform the mirror-ritual we have already seen performed. He tells Jack to slap his own face, hard, and then asks him, "How does it feel?" "It feels good!" says Jack. "The Jack Putter Machine. Zero defects."
The film here and there claims some sort of homology between autoeroticism and homosexuality, and it freely conflates the two discourses or switches from the one to the other (that in Freud's story of sexuality are different stages). There is a scene in which Jack is standing at a urinal in a public lavatory, looking down, as he talks to Tuck. "I hate this!" he says. "Why can't we just tell [Lydia] the truth? She might even believe it." "No," says Tuck. "Sorry. It's humiliating being this small." Jack's response--apart from being a funny double entendre-is what ever-y child needs to believe: "You won't be small forever!" Not only is the phallic nature of masculine identity made quite clear here, but overlaying it are the discourses of autoeroticism and homosexuality. The public lavatory has had--in the movies, certainly--some semiotic status as a meeting place for homosexuals, and the pleasures of autoeroticism are acknowledged by the film when a man nearby says toJack, "Play with it, pal, don't talk to it."
Earlier, Jack had remarked in wonder to Tuck, "You were seeing parts of my body that I will never get to see!" He is referring to his internal organs, but on another level is referring to the fact that nobody ever sees his or her own face, the privileged index of identity. The only way to see one's own face is in a mirror's reflection, in an image; one can only derive a sense of self in the reflections offered by others. Moreover, when Jack is standing at the urinal looking down, Tuck sees what he sees, and the autoerotic element of homosexuality (or the homosexual element of autoeroticism)--with its origins in the mirror phase (including the pre-mirror phase when the child sees its body only in parts)--is clearly suggested.
In this vein, of homosexuality as a desire and a logic to be repressed, certain dialogue takes on a peculiar resonance. For example, when Jack has sufficiently calmed down to consider the implications of the fact that Tuck is inside him, he says (tenderly, fearfully, as he is speeding down the highway in Tuck's red sportscar), "No pain. That's the thing I want from you: no pain. I mean, just don't do anything weird in there, okay?" Tuck softly reassures him, "Okay, no pain." In the highly connotative register that makes Innerspace so giddy, this scene could represent Jack's first experience of anal intercourse. Their whole adventure began, as we know, with a syringe injected into Jack's ass. And later, when Jack is captured and held down by Scrimshaw's men, he is "raped" by them ("Igoe's in!" Margaret cries triumphantly) as Mr. Igoe, miniaturized in a germ-sized pod, enters Jack's bloodstream through a needle in his neck.
The only way for Jack to achieve a conventional heterosexuality, and for Tuck to confirm his, is to repress the homoerotic element in the origins of (their) desire. They will not succeed completely because Innerspace is in love with masculinity, not heterosexuality, and masculinity as the film seems to define it has a self-referential/narcissistic element that makes it a potentially homoerotic phenomenon. Heterosexuality, however, according to the logic of the film, requires for its dialectic a clear distinction between notions of masculinity and femininity--with masculinity (not surprisingly) as active and aggressive, and femininity as passive. This distinction is maintained in structurcs that repress the activity of women.
Lydia, who is a newspaper reporter, tells Jack: "Tuck used to say to me that he actually did the things I only write about. Now I want to do the things I only write about." But, during Jack's first meeting with Lydia, Tuck advises him: "Don't let her take control of the conversation! Be aggressive! Dominate her! Don't be a wuss-puss! Be me!" Lydia gasps when Jack violently slams down his drink. "Look, Lydia," he says, "You're just going to have to trust me, okay? Because there's not a lot of time for explanations." Tuck crows with approval.
Every time Lydia picks up a gun or attempts to command a situation, she is shown to be slightly ridiculous--even when she succeeds in some action, as when she breaks into the enemy laboratory to save Jack but betrays a comic nervousness. In fact, the enemy were able to capture Jack in the first place because when Lydia threatened the evil Mr. Igoe with a paralyzer-gun she succeeded only in shooting Jack, who passed out immediately.
Tuck teaches Jack how to be aggressive, telling him where, when, and how to kick, punch, and knock out Scrimshaw's men. Masculinity, based on principles of violence and action, is shown to be partly a matter of bluff and belief, for Jack is able to knock out one of the enemy because he believes that Tuck has given him "the strength of ten men"--when in fact Tuck is now inside Lydia.
During a kiss between Jack and Lydia, when Tuck closes down all the electrical systems operating his remote-control senses, Tuck is transported into Lydia's body. The film creates this opportunity for unconscious reasons, since it plays no part in the plot. Tuck realizes he is in Lydia's body when he sees a foetus, thus grounding the film's obsession with sexual difference in the incontrovertible evidence of biology. The moment Lydia realizes that Tuck is inside her, she kisses Jack again to return him to Jack's body.
This encounter between masculine and feminine tests the relative incompatibilities of the two. The narrative does not know why it should be so, but this moment--one of the most significant in the film--clearly says that Tuck cannot "survive" in Lydia's body. The masculine cannot confirm itself without the mediation of the woman's body confirmed as female, and so the female body is represented as receptacle, not identity. The appearance of the foetus is not only a spectacular opportunity for masculinity to "see" its (reproduced) "self," but is a further means of separating the woman's body from her "self," thus making her distinct from the masculine, which defines itself here literally through its "own" body.
This can also be seen as the film's "sex scene," responding to a pressure to define sex--perhaps in unconscious response to the contemporary panic about AIDS--as an erotic exchange involving bodily fluids. There is no question that the kind of sexuality the film seeks to affirm is grounded in an ideology of vision, with vision marking the first distinction between an inside and an outside--and all difference(s) following from that first separation.(13) Following this logic, "sex" must be able to show for itself some physical, material, visible exchange.
In an earlier, highly revealing scene we hear Tuck reminisce to himself about his first meeting with Lydia: "Oh, Lydia! [He sighs.] It was the night we first met. You were doing that article about me, and we had dinner, and talked 'til three in the morning, and then I got drunk, and threw up, and fell down a manhole walking you home." Clearly, from the start, Tuck has been inscribed in a narcissistic dialectic in his relation to his girlfriend. He fell in love with the fact that Lydia showed such an interest in him. If they talked until three in the morning, it was perhaps because Tuck was the topic of conversation (ostensibly, for the article), and because talking provided a form of evasion for Tuck, just as his drinking did. Finally, his falling down a "manhole" saved him from following through with this heterosexual encounter--it is where be would rather have been anyway. Interestingly enough, throughout this scene 'ruck is nostalgically stroking Lydia's image as it appears on his television monitor. This is what she has always been: an image.
Saving the Reality Principle
As I have suggested, the film defamiliarizes spectacle in order to confirm it, and defamiliarizes the body in order to reexperience it. The crisis of vision (which is to say, of knowing) that the film treats in its science-fiction narrative is inseparable from the crisis of desire that the film inscribes in a discourse on masculinity. Innerspace is self-reflexively a spectacular film about spectacle--a film that inscribes desire in/as images. The film's main effort is to save a conventionally masculine paradigm of desire's dialectic. The "contagious hyperreality" of American culture described by Baudrillard requires us to pull back somehow from the limits of spectacle--of spectacle as desire--otherwise, like the villain, Victor Scrimshaw, we might wonder what it is all about:
Nuclear weapons, Jack-they mean nothing. Everybody's
got them, but nobody has the balls to use them. Am I
right? "Space," you say. Space is a flop! Didn't you know
that? An endless junkyard of orbiting debris. Ah, but,
miniaturization, Jack, that's the ticket! That's the edge that
everybody's been looking for. Who will have that edge,
Jack? What country will control miniaturization? Frankly,
I don't give a shit. I'm only in this for the money.
All of Innerspace's main themes are condensed in this little speech. One might recall how the main characters of Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (1955) (also) look for "the great whatsit," which, in light of Fifties' politics and the Cold War fears of the time was--as much as anything else--the atomic bomb, or rather, the meaning of the bomb. In that film, the hero's search for "the great whatsit" becomes an excuse to pursue a homoerotic obsession (Lang 1988, 32-44).
Scrimshaw, more than forty years after Hiroshima (and thirty years after Kiss Me Deadly), declares the bomb meaningless. Nuclear weapons "mean nothing" because "nobody has the balls to use them." And if "space" is a flop it is because, with the loss of the Space Program, we have lost the narrative. Since reaching the moon, N.A.S.A. has had no story. Space ("outer" space) has the effect of making us lose our perspective; our earthly perspective is stretched to the point of incoherence and meaninglessness by space's infinity. The junkyard of debris is a fragmented, fallen-to-pieces narrative that cannot cohere: random bits of hardware whizzing about without purpose.
What is sought, to borrow Baudrillard's words, is the confirmation of "an order which can only exert itself on the real and the rational, on ends and means: a referential order which can only dominate referentials, a determinate power which can only dominate a determined world. . ." (Baudrillard, 1983, 42). Innerspace responds to a nostalgia for conventional heterosexuality, and it seeks to confirm the "naturalness" of Renaissance perspective, since our way of knowing the world is grounded in this particular way of mapping space.(14) The way Innerspace maps its global anxieties onto bodies and in the terms of sexuality is clear: If we feel that we can never really know outer space, the ultimate "other," then we should be able, at least, to know ourselves--our bodies. As Tuck takes his journey into the interior, we recognize the terrain: lung tissue, heart valves, blood cells. The whole film becomes, in effect, an answer to its opening shots (which are of an unreadable space): to confirm, precisely, that this is a body with organs, to confirm the old distinctions between inside and outside, depth and surface, and so on.
In a parable offered by Disneyland, Baudrillard has described how moribund principles are regenerated, how in America we "renew the cycle by the mirror of crisis." In Disneyland all of America's values "are exalted ... in miniature and comic strip form." Disneyland is there to conceal the fact that it is the "real" country, all of "real" America, which is Disneyland.... Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology), but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle. (Baudrillard 1983, 25)
Saving the reality principle. Saving the principle of the principle. The characters of Innerspace do not ask themselves why they push themselves to seek what the villain Scrimshaw calls, "the edge that everybody's been looking for." They only hurl themselves forward, in a search: the villains must get the miniaturization chip, and Tuck/Jack must get the re-enlargement chip. Even when Scrimshaw gives utterance to the film's philosophical core, he quickly looks past what he knows is always the real and only issue, power--because he senses, with some sort of postmodern awareness, how strangely abstract the workings of power are. He refers simply to a means of exchange: money. ("Frankly," he says to Jack, "I don't give a shit. I'm only in this for the money.") Even Scrimshaw's monologue that follows this drifts off into a reverie about the years when he worked in "the great gold fields" of Alaska. Gold. Again, it is a question of a standard, an ultimate principle, a transcendent signifier that is sought which will marshall all signifiers into patterns, into meaning--as metal filings are organized by the field of force of a magnet. In other words: the Phallus.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
The film's formulaic features are deftly outlined by David Edelstein in his Village Voice review, in which he suggests that "home" is "being full-size."(15) The film's cheerfully paranoid discourse on homosexual desire (i.e., dominant culture's demand for its repression) suggests that full-size refers at the very least to penis size, and home is all at once earth (as opposed to "outer" space); being in/at-one-with a male body (since the movie's protagonists are male); and--to get more metaphorical-home is "where the heart is." When Tuck and Jack finally reach "home," they achieve a satisfactory identity in dominant culture's terms. Or do they?
The film's various discourses and orders of metaphor converge on the metaphor of the heart, which is literalized in the film at the same time as it serves as a metaphor for heterosexual romantic love. From the first distinctions between an outside and an inside (between outer space and innerspace, etc.) comes the notion that things have a core, that inside the inside is a "heart."
The real "jeopardy" to which Edelstein refers in his structural summary of the film is the threat of castration. While Jack's interior is lushly red and sexy, with giant tubes and sphincters, swirling balls and platelets, the ultimate danger to Tuck, as he careens about Jack's insides, is Jack's heart (DO NOT ENTER HEART! his computer tells him). Tuck at one point comes perilously close to it--and it looks like nothing so much as a giant, pulsating vulva. The overdetermination of this narrative conceit is exceptional. At the very least, the heart refers to Lydia/woman. We know that Tuck and Lydia separated because Lydia could no longer tolerate his excessive drinking, and that as Lydia was leaving, Tuck begged her to stay, saying, "I stubbed my toe on the cab when you opened the door. I think it's broken!" And later, as a form of proof to Lydia that he is inside Jack, Tuck has Jack say to her, "It was my heart, and not my toe, that was broken!""
Between his toe, which serves as bodily figuration of his psychic state, and his heart, which is what he shares with Lydia, Tuck is torn between a homoerotic approach to achieving a sense of phallic autonomy, and the desire, encouraged by dominant culture, of finding the phallus through/in the differently-gendered other. As long as Lydia is the "other," however, he will live with a fear of being devoured by that heart. In its structure as a kind of dream wish-fulfilment, Innerspace dramatizes this very fear, which is both his and Jack's desire.
The narcissistic nature of Tuck's desire, or the extent of his fear, is evident even in this early scene, in his way of trying to persuade Lydia not to leave. He pleads, "Lydia, look, don't leave! You know you love me! Look, I know you're crazy about me! " But, we may ask, what about his desire? Is he crazy about Lydia? How does he love her? There are tears in his eyes as the taxi pulls away, and for a startling moment we have an affecting sense of the impossibility of his desire as the dominant heterosexual culture has determined it.
If Jack's incorporation of Tuck is a literalization of the psychological process of identification, then the incorporated body--the film suggests--must be male. If he wishes to assimilate "an aspect, property or attribute of the other and [be] transformed, wholly or partially, after the model the other provides" (Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, 205), this "other" must be a man. He will internalize this identification, but his object-choice, according to dominant ideology, must be a woman. Thus, in the melodramatic tradition of Hollywood cinema, Innerspace affirms dominant ideology in the conventional coda of a "happy ending": Tuck leaves Jack's body; Jack gives up his love for Lydia; Tuck and Lydia are married; and Jack now has the sexual confidence he formerly lacked.
Patriarchal culture's stake in preserving the power and authority of the phallus is decisively ensured by the wedding that concludes the film, and among the small reminders of what has been repressed in order to achieve Jack's "cure" and make possible Tuck and Lydia's marriage, is the Cuban cigar that Jack offers Tuck. It refers nicely to the privileged signifier in patriarchal culture, the master symbol of an order in which--to have an identity--one must be inscribed, identified as having or not having the phallus (i.e., as being masculine or not-masculine).
For the patriarchal notion of masculinity to obtain, homosexual relations between men must be forbidden. They are forbidden because, as Irigaray observes "they openly interpret the law according to which society operates" (Irigaray 1985, 193). That is, "once the penis itself becomes merely a means to pleasure, pleasure among men, the phallus loses its power" (Irigaray 1985, 193). Male subjects, then, to be the agents of symbolic exchange, must give up the possibility of serving as commodities themselves. In patriarchal culture women serve as commodities, as fetish objects exchanged between men. This is why, regardless of the size of her role in Innerspace, Lydia is the heart of the film's symbolic system, and it is also why Jack offers Tuck a cigar. Jack now possesses the means to participate in the symbolic exchanges among men, and the cigar echoes the exchange of Lydia between them.(17)
We should not lose sight, then, of the fact that Jack, who started out neurotically asexual (profoundly repressed homosexual?--appearing to have no desire at all, until he adopts Tuck's), does in the course of the narrative evince desire. But it is for Tuck's girlfriend. While this is evidence that Jack has made the "correct" heterosexual object-choice, he must immediately repress that desire until he can find a girlfriend of his own. Clearly, heterosexuality and homosexuality work together (in a network of desires and symbolic exchanges that Irigaray calls "hom (m)o-sexuality") to serve the interests of masculinity. When Tuck gets married and Jack drives after them in Tuck's car, we can see howJack and Tuck are still linked in a circuit of desire. On the narrative level, too, they will continue to work together, for Jack realizes that the chauffeur of the wedding car is "the Cowboy" in disguise, and as we can confirm, Margaret and Scrimshaw--miniaturized to fifty percent of their normal size, and still hoping, therefore, to get hold of the re-enlargement chip--are stowed away in the trunk.
Jack pulls off his bow-tie (symbol of civilized repression) and looks at it for a moment. Then, with a smile on his face, he throws it away. As he tears after Tuck, speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway at Big Sur, the camera soars lyrically, transcendentally. It flies freely, without inhibition, as in a dream of sexual bliss.
A Problem of Reading
This attempt to show what is repressed in Innerspace--a text which on the one hand works classically to ensure a stable position of heterosexual masculinity and object choice, and which on the other hand would appear to do the opposite--has obviously been a precarious project. This hermeneutic reading demonstrates how Innerspace cannot be categorized simply as either a "progressive" or "reactionary" text. The film explicitly thematizes the narcissism and homoeroticism implicated in the normative heterosexual object choice in a way that puts the viewer in some doubt as to the film's intentions. One cannot decide, in the way that viewers must, what is conscious and what is unconscious on the part of the filmmakers.
The injection of Tuck into Jack answers to Jack's desire (just as, we have noted repeatedly, the reverse is true), and at the end of the film--with Jack at the wheel (figuratively of the narrative and literally of the car)--we are again made to share Jack's point of view. Is it Jack's story, after all? The film is postclassical in its inability to settle on a particular perspective, and it is clearly the issue of homosexuality that hystericizes the text. The comedy functions to innoculate against any genuinely subversive implications the film may havc, and the sheer density of the film's allusions (to other films, other genres, other actors and performances) makes it impossible to establish a comprehensive point of view, to gauge the filmmakers' attitude to their material.
Men everywhere enjoy close relationships with other men, but among American heterosexual men generally there is an enormous fear of homosexuality. It could be said that Innerspace attempts to dodge this difficulty by treating homoeroticism explicitly, but in modes (comedy, irony, fantasy, parody) that simultaneously confirm and deny, acknowledge and disavow that homosexuality is the issue at the heart of the film's meanings. Joe Dante's remark that the filmmakers wanted "to make a picture about these two guys and their relationship" (McDonagh 1987, 46) actually supports the impression that the film's main effort is to show, the intimacy of a homoerotically inflected relationship that has no taint of the "homosexual" on it. So, for the better part of the film, the relationship between Tuck and Jack is proposed as one between a mentor and protege.
At the end of the film, when the camera returns repeatedly to Jack's face as Tuck and Lydia embrace, we are forced to consider where things now stand for Jack. What is the status of his desire? And, for that matter, how are we to read the dynamics of desire among all the main characters? We could say that, in effect, Tuck has done for Jack what a father usually does for a son--teach him how to be a man. And, like a traditional son, Jack must not identify erotically with the father (Tuck) or with his mother (Lydia). The son's desire has been shaped by his identification with his father, and his Oedipal crisis resolved when he is able to fall in love with/marry a woman like his mother. The film retreats from some of its progressive and postmodern impulses, and we are encouraged, finally, to accept the implication thatJack will go off and fall in love with someone like Lydia, and in doing this he will confirm his identification with Tuck. To the extent that it functions classically, Innerspace encourages us to accept that Jack will forever carry within him the emotional representations and dictates of Tuck/the father (i.e., that he has internalized the logic of castration, that he has resolved his Oedipal crisis).
Identification, however, does not identify object choice (Adams 1988). It might, therefore, be more accurate to describe Jack's identification as being hysterical--that is, characterized by an oscillating play of bisexuality both at the level of object choice and at the level of identification. Jack's identification is hysterical because the filmmakers cannot accept the fact of primordial bisexuality. It has been pointed out that where the Oedipus complex consists of four trends--affection for and hostility to the mother, and affection for and hostility to the father--we should not, as Freud did, conflate "the story concerned with the Law and the phallus with the story about the oscillation of the drive" (Adams 1988, 28). Freud says that the identification with the mother results from the taking of the father as love object, and the identification with the father results from taking the mother as love object. But it should be stressed that while the two coexist, one does not imply the other (Adams, 1988, 28).
Understood in this light, Innerspace is an hysterical text structured in accordance with the heroes' oscillating identifications and object choices. This hysteria gives the film its "off-the-wall sensibility" (Martin 1991), and it turns on the fact that Jack and Tuck have made their spectacular voyage to the heart of identity uniquely together. We have two characters, but they are a corporate body, and on the psychoanalytic plane they function as a single, complex desiring experience. As in the science-fictional narrative itself, this produces a blurring of boundaries, a collapse of terms and certainties, and to the extent that it is a buddy film, Innerspace reveals a new level of "confusion about `normality' where once there seemed blissful certitude" (Sarris 1976, 16). Whether mainstream critics like it or not, the film--as an index of shifts in contemporary American attitudes toward male homosocial desire--calls into question "something called `male-bonding,' which used to be known simply as friendship" (Canby 1979, 17), and reveals that the line separating homoeroticism from the sanctioned male bonding that upholds patriarchy is a fine one. Where Innerspace seeks both to confirm homosexual desire as a perversion and "true" masculinity as heterosexual, it also denies this. The film cannot, in effect, say--as Fantastic Voyage could twenty years before--that "man is the center of the universe," because contemporary notions of what it means to be a man are in crisis around the issue of how the affective element of male homosocial desire might be expressed. For it cannot be any longer denied that what we call male homosocial desire is a continuum that includes homosexuality.
I wish to express my gratitude to Richard Allen and the members of the Columbia University Seminar on Cinema and Interdisciplinary Interpretation for their helpful responses to an earlier draft of this paper. My thanks also to Henry Jenkins for his encouragement, and to Julian Halliday for his illuminating perspective on male homosocial desire. And, my thanks to E. Ann Kaplan and Fred Pfeil for their help. (1.) The piece is remarkably similar to an article by Aljean Harmetz published a few days earlier in The New York Times (January 20, 1974) entitled, "Boy Meets Boy--Or Where the Girls Aren't." Some answers to Carroll's question ("Why, all of a sudden ... ?") can be found in Ryan and Kellner (1990, 144-51). (2.) The term "homosocial desire" is taken from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature, and Male, Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press), 1985. (3.) This crisis of self-consciousness has a correspondence in the hysteria surrounding Bill Clinton's proposal to lift the ban on gays serving in the American armed forces. Cf. Gelman (1993, 28-29). (4.) Innenpace. Directed by Joe Dante. Written by Jeffrey Boam and Chip Proser. Produced by Michael Finnell. A Steven Spielberg Presentation of a Guber-Peters Production. An Amblin Entertainment Film. A Warner Brothers Release, Summer 1987. (5.) I put the word "unconscious" in quotation marks because the filmmakers both know and do not know what ideological and narratological imperatives structure the film. They know, for example, why Tuck drinks too much, and we are expected to figure out the cause, but the filmmakers share the characters' anxieties (about homosexuality); they are hardly in control of the moral difficulties that they seek to transcend by making their film hip, fast, and funny. (6.) The casting of Dennis Quaid in the role of Lieutenant Tuck Pendleton serves this end well, most especially because of the intertext of his earlier role in The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983), in which he undergoes a gruelling physical and psychological training to condition him to perfect masculinity--for the ultimately phallic identity (within the context of the film) of "astronaut." The intent of Innerspace is essentially the same: to affirm an ideal of masculinity that is resilient, disciplined, aggressive ... and heterosexual. (7.) This scene recalls Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in A Streeirar Named Desire, crying out, "Stella!" It functions as one of the film's contradictory efforts to give Tuck a convincing heterosexual identity. (8.) "The use of and traffic in women subtend and uphold the reign of masculine hom(m)o-sexuality, even while they maintain that hom(m)o-sexuality in speculations, mirror games, identifications, and more or less rivalrous appropriations, which defer its real practice. Reigning everywhere, although prohibited in practice, hom(m)o-sexuality is played out through the bodies of women, matter, or sign, and heterosexuality has been up to now just an alibi for the smooth workings of man's relations with himself, of relations among men" (Irigaray 1985, 172). (9.) The references to the "pod" in which Tuck is miniaturized are probably an hommage to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, which also stars Kevin McCarthy), in which the inhabitants of a small town must resist being "taken over" by the pod people. It is a fight against the lure of complete passivity. (10.) Freud's sequence of phases in the genesis of object-choice is proposed thus: autoeroticism, narcissism, homosexual object-choice, heterosexual object-choice. (11.) The circumstances of the death of director F. W. Murnau in 1931 have entered Hollywood lore. As Kenneth Anger wrote in his famous book, Hollywood Babylon, "Murnau had hired as valet a handsome fourteen-year-old Filipino boy named Garcia Stevenson. The boy was at the wheel of the Packard when the fatal accident occurred. The Hollywood mechantes langues reported that Murnau was going down on Garcia when the car leaped off the road" (Anger 1981, 172). (12.) A vast amount of fascinating work has been done on the metaphor of the mirror in theories of the subject. The original essay, of course, is Jacques Lacan's "The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience" (Lacan 1977, 1-7). For our purposes, a more useful essay is Mary Ann Doane's historical overview and discussion of the ways in which film theory has appropriated notions of identification from psychoanalysis: "Misrecognition and Identity" (Doane 1980/91, 15-25). (13.) Lacan said, "In the scopic ficid, everything is articulated between two terms that act in an antinomic way--on the side of things, there is the gaze, that is to say, things look at me, and yet I see them" (Lacan 1978, 109), And, "What determines me, at the most profound level, in the visible, is the gaze that is outside. It is through the gaze that I enter light and it is from the gaze that I receive its effects" (Lacan 1978, 106). (14.) For a socio-historical account of the way the image in the West is coded, see Stephen Heath (1981, 19-75). As Heath notes, "Spaces are born and die like societies; they live, they have a history" (29). (15.) The movie is structured as an odyssey (there's no place like home, i.e., being fullsize); it has a ticking clock (Pendleton's oxygen will run out at 9 a.m. the next morning); its characters are in jeopardy (bad guys, led by Kevin McCarthy, chase Putter because they want the miniaturization device to sell to foreign agents); and there is a moral (Pendleton teaches Putter to be a man, not a wussy). You get fish out of water (dork plays superspy), dandy car chasey, and special effects. Good laughs with the action, [and] romance..." (Edelstein 1987, 60). (16.) On the sound track we hear the song, "Cupid": Cupid, draw back your bow And let your arrow go Straight to my lover's heart, for me, for me. Cupid, please hear my cry And let your arrow fly Straight to my lover's heart, for me. (17.) As if to comfirm the existence of a subtext of repressed homosexual desire, the film ends with Rod Stewart on the sound track, singing "Twisting the Night Away": Let me tell you about a place Somewhere up in New York way Where the people are so gay Twisting the night away Here they have a lot of fun, Putting trouble on the run Here you'll find the old and young, Twisting the night away .... [And] Here's a fellow in blue jeans, Dancing with an older queen Dolled up in her diamond rings Twisting the night away Man, you oughta see her go Twisting to the rock and roll Here you'll find the young and old Twisting the night away ....
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|Title Annotation:||1987 American motion picture|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1995|
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