Last night I’d planned to catch the first ten minutes of Cronenberg’s The Fly and wound-up watching the whole thing. It’s still relevant, still heartbreaking. What interested me most in this viewing was the sexual politics.

From the opening, brilliant scientist Seth Brundle is trying to bed journalist Ronnie Quaife. What follows is a charming negotiation between dueling ambitions. In the background, we have Ronnie’s awful ex, who showers in her apartment using a key who won’t return. Having lost all his poker chips, he’s abandoned charming negotiation to get her back and resorts to worminess and blackmail.

Seemingly, Ronnie’s found a better guy.

But wait! As soon as he gets Ronnie, Seth goes full jerk, too (also half fly). No more negotiation. It’s his way or no way. Heartbroken Ronnie’s stuck between these two clowns. What interesting is that the ex suddenly becomes supportive — a stand-up guy. Whose hand gets digested.

It’s a double tragedy– the surface one, in which a nice guy gets fused with a fly– and a more subtle one, about the ways emotions and baggage strip away civility in relationships, turning participants into tyrants. Tellingly, the unchanged character here is Ronnie.






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