Lisztomania, Dir. Ken Russell, 1975


Bits And Pieces Put Together To Present A Semblance Of A Whole

A group of lanky young men shuffle languidly through a series of dreamily-lit spaces within the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and stop – when directed to do so by their guide – so they can appreciate another convex disc which seems to be floating in mid-air: “Ruud had to be dragged to the Robert Irwin exhibit, where he was told that he would not be allowed to enter until the Australian Men’s Beach Volleyball Team (fresh off their second place showing at the World Beach Volleyball Championships, a much higher finish then had been anticipated, hence their surprise visit to the museum, a gift from their coach, an ex-art school professor) was done with their private tour. What bothered Ruud most of all wasn’t that he had to wait, but that he was being reminded, once again, of his station in life. His sense of agitation mounting with every passing second, Ruud decided to excuse himself and told his wife that he was going to use the men’s room. As he walked away he heard his son (technically his stepson, but the boy’s father had disappeared as soon as the boy was born and Ruud had been in his life since even before the boy’s first birthday, so, you know) mock him (Ruud had a naturally high speaking voice which had the habit of rising a couple of octaves when he was annoyed, and his son enjoyed copying him whenever his voice sounded like this, probably because it matched his own pre-adolescent pitch, making it especially easy, and therefore all the more satisfying, to mock Ruud) and something in Ruud snapped. He walked back over to his son and punched him as hard as he could in his arm, which caused the boy, naturally, to sob uncontrollably. Ruud immediately knew that what he had done was abnormally abusive, and he began to worry that the relationship with his son would suffer a permanent rift, which turned out to be exactly what happened. It also precipitated the demise of his marriage. At some point Ruud excused himself for what had happened and began to blame the Australian Men’s Beach Volleyball Team, and then, after a time, all of Australia. There was something about Australians Ruud didn’t like, and he couldn’t put his finger on it. They were loud and cocksure and aggressive and it was a toxic mixture (not to mention that there was a whole return-of-the-repressed aspect to the way they were slowly insinuating themselves into the fabric of American culture, with our acceptance of their wacky lingo and bloodless rock and roll and bitter breakfast spreads, as if the British had banished the dregs of their society to the end of the world, only to have the spawn of those very same dregs come back to destroy the country that had succeeded England as the world’s most formative superpower [this was the one part of Ruud’s platform against Australians which met the most resistance from those apt to follow his line of thought, as it seemed strained at best and nonsensical at worse]), Ruud would say to anyone who was interested in listening to why he didn’t like Australians. As it turned out, there were a lot of people who were interested in listening to Ruud rant about Australians, more than he ever imagined. It seemed to Ruud there was a latent hostility towards Australians, and he was more than happy to foster and encourage this hostility. Ruud led a series of protests in front of the Australian consulate (Ruud thought the Visa program available to Australians was absurdly lax, not to mention unnecessary, as most of the jobs Australians were taking were of the Personal Assistant and Personal Trainer variety), which garnered the attention of the local press, and soon he became publicly known as The Man Who Hated Australians, which led to series of volatile appearances of The Wally George Show. As far as identities went it was the not the one he had foreseen for himself, but it was who he was, for better or worse.”