Courtesy Irvine Valley CollegeThink your children are pure of heart? Do you keep them protected from the ugly world? Looking for real American family fare?
You might want to look somewhere besides "PG-13" at IVC.
Snezana Petrovic's show at Irvine Valley College features a troop of pink bunnies and a weird, Pooh-like "PiggyBear" a-stabbin' and a-killin' one another in new and exciting ways (a Hustler-esque meat grinder, a two-headed knife like a bi-girl's version of the dildo from Se7en). "PG-13" is TheVelveteenRabbitupdated for our Quentin Tarantino times. And TheVelveteenRabbitwas no picnic to begin with.
Taking a line from Mark Ryden's ghastly visions of macabre childhood, Jason Moloney's sinister, Chucky-like toys, and Bart and Lisa cackling over ItchyandScratchy, Petrovic offers up PiggyBear with a spliff and a can of spray paint, a pink-rabbit takeoff of Jayne Mansfield in her cowgirl gear, and the bear holding a knife and fork over a plate full of shish ka-bunny.
They're funny paintings—more killing! More bare tits!—if you thought BadLieutenantand ReservoirDogswere funny movies. And I did.
But do they offer much more than a cheap laugh?
With a rough-hewn, scribbled style, Petrovic takes our maudlin, neo-Victorian vision of a Campbell's Soup cherubic childhood and forsakes it for LordoftheFliesmeets Kids. Dirty, violent, slutty—it almost seems like those disassociative Russian children who can't feel empathy and end up going Lizzie Borden on their mystified adoptive parents. Why can't Boris love?
But while Petrovic's paintings are plenty racy for an OC community college (see Tom Fuentes' late jihad against the study-abroad program in Spain, if you want an idea of the politics involved in the South Orange County Community College District), in an age where we have to fight the good fight against the FCC to make sure they don't Disneyize HBO, they don't go quite far enough. Sex, violence, plush toys—you can find those on Snow White's Scary Adventure, which is an awful ride that's too scary for little kids and too lacking in vertical movement for the older ones, and I for one hope they'll replace it with a sexy, violent plushie theme sometime soon.
Our sensibilities have been polluted, our humanity sucked dry till we giggle like geisha girls at chopped-off ears and hypodermics plunged through the inviolable heart—and I am for it. We like our gore and our raunch and our bloody sleaze, and it's as real American as Bo and Luke Duke and the GeneralLee, but with fewer hillbillies.
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Why blame Tarantino, when you can praise him instead?
Petrovic makes a start. There's gut carving and head chopping and a tunnel (a birth canal?) with a dead-bunny pile at the bottom; there's a TV with pixilated bunny-lingus; and there's the eternal meat grinder. But there's still no Nuclear Option.
In an age of Road Kill gummy candy, to namedrop the old Jane's Addiction album, nothing's shocking. But Road Kill was pulled off the shelves in deference to the animal-rights lobby and their usual mortal enemies, the folks from the Culture of Life. And so there's more work to be done. If the culture police want to set themselves up as defenders of the pure, we should be happy to take up the cause of the Degenerate. We should be racing to emulate between-the-wars Berlin. Life is a cabaret.
"PG-13—PARENTS STRONGLY CAUTIONED" AT IRVINE VALLEY COLLEGE ART GALLERY, 5500 IRVINE CENTER DR., IRVINE, (949) 451-5404. OPEN MON. & WED., 2-5 P.M.; TUES., 11 A.M.-3 P.M.; THURS., NOON-9 P.M.; FRI., 10 A.M.-2:30 P.M. THROUGH APRIL 21. FREE.