When in february 1980, William Friedkin launched his brand new controversial product: Cruising, starring hot Al Pacino (seriously, I never seen him this hot), it made some noises. Thousand of homosexuals have protested against this tremendous stereotype of the gay community. They found it offending and presenting gay men as sick people living at night, and hobnob unhealthy places. However, this wasn’t Friedkin goal. He kept specifying that, what he showed in his movie, was only a part of the gay community, and I would add that heterosexuals have also their own S&M clubs, and others “unethical” places.
However, Cruising is the story of a serial killer, who seems to only care about eradicating gay men. This case required an undercover operation, in order to get close to the murderer and hope to catch him. The cop called to take cake of this, is Steve Burns (Al Pacino), who wasn’t chosen hazardously, but because he seemed to be the type of guy, the killer loved to stab.
The movie depicts a failure in the human psychology, and shows how social environment plays a big role in our lives, and in here, how it can influence our sexuality.
Steve, is getting confused, he seeks help from his girlfriend, begging her to not give up on him. She represents his stability and an element part of the “normal” scheme he should follow. Despite all his efforts, he will, step by step, fall into a rough(-sex) man world, and this will be translated by the angry way he will make love to his girlfriend, like he wanted to purge this growing side of him.
The offensive part of the movie but also very denunciative, is what pushes the serial killer (is there only one?) to chase gay men; we understand that his father never accepted his sexual orientation, and to make his atonement, he kills the temptation, and proves that he’s ready to fight against his marginal behavior. However, for Friedkin, the killings were symbols of “ultimate penetrations”; the action of stabbing is a metaphor to the sexual penetration, so in a way, the murderer was taking pleasure, a sexual pleasure, while killing them.
So, basically, the society’s mentality is here questioned, and the serial killer is her rotten fruit. And the plot twist, explained even more deeply the concerns and the taboos our society is spreading. We’re all fighting to be normal, too afraid of judgments and social exile, whereas we all have blood on our hands.
If the gay community felt the movie as an indictment, I interpreted it as a direct exposure of what they are going through, and a call for help.
But not everyone sees and understands the same things. I’ll let you judge.