Earlier today while procrastinating on the first wave of proof reading the Better Safe than Ari interview with Séan McManus, I was doing my normal mindless scroll through my Facebook timeline, hoping against hope of less mindless political bickering and more pictures of people’s pets; the lament of life in the age of social media. As I scrolled past pictures of what my friends had for dinner or check-ins at various movie theaters and restaurants I saw no less than two photos of friends hanging from hooks in their skin. The photos were peppered with comments, positive comments, from friends and family. One had a “I knew you could do it!” encouraging post from the suspendee’s mother.
None of this would be possible without the contributions of Sean McManus (director) and Allen Falkner (primary subject) of The Marionette. Sean’s film- back when films were actually shot ON film- is a nodal point in the advancement of body ritual/body art in Western Culture. And it was a by/for production; the people involved in the film were also involved in body suspension. Predatory media often sees body modification as a quick and lurid bit of exploitation. “Look at THESE freaks” is a call older than Barnum. What The Marionette achieves is the removal of the shock value of a pretty shocking process. It’s accessible. At times emotional. And always entertaining.
The suspension community has changed a lot since it’s filming, but anyone who is interested in body-as-medium owes a great debt to this film, and you should absolutely have a copy in your collection.