Sunday, May 24, 2015

“On Tender Hooks” DVD (director: Kate Shenton)

Flawed look at fringe subculture

Fakir Musafar and Re/Search’s “Modern Primitives” have a lot to answer for. This documentary centers on the growing subculture of “suspension”, i.e. hanging oneself from meathooks. Director Shenton follows several practitioners in England, as well as partaking herself in a suspension ritual in the final chapter of this marginal film.

As shocking as this film purports to be, I found myself bored and restless, but not because of the “taboo” subject matter. The focus on a small and idiosyncratic group of piercing and suspension fans doesn’t include any history or clear lineage of the practice. Nor does it really touch upon much of the spiritual or cultural significance behind these body modifications. What is the genesis of such a practice? Why would modern-day people return to these rituals? “On Tender Hooks” strikes me as a personal document of Shenton’s experience, but does little to illustrate why it should be significant to an outside audience. As I don’t know Ms. Shenton nor have any insight into her life or history, I’m just left watching someone else’s experience, with little insight. Maybe this one has its own fringe “in-the-know” audience, but to an outsider like me, there is little to glean here, sorry.

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