Glitter and Glam
“Velvet Goldmine” is impressive in the way it includes Oscar Wilde, his philosophies about art and his fascination with music. Even though Wilde is not a character in the film his presence is felt throughout. He is referenced throughout.
Curt is both a composite of Iggy Pop and Wilde—he is an artist as he creates music and Brian Slade is Dorian Gray. He throws his entire persona out there and into his music and traps himself into his own being. Because he has trapped himself, he leaves no room for growth. When he is pseudo-shot, he is arranging his own future. His sham death liberates him and secures him a place in history. He was controversial and bared all in his work and this is what deprived him of longevity. His popularity undoubtedly would have paled and he eventually would be forgotten. If he had changed, everything about him would have changed and he would be regarded as having sold out. By inaugurating his death, he guarantees himself an eternity.
This is not just a film—it is an experience. “Velvet Goldmine” has a sense of erotic innocence and therefore becomes a triumphant motion picture. It explores the effect of glam and the way it influenced the world view toward homosexuality.
There were two instances of a vivid evocation of gay life. The first is when the narrator is watching Slade on TV and he announces that he is a homosexual. The narrator fantasizes about pointing to the TV in front of his parents and saying “That’s me”. The second comes when the narrator buys his first Brian Slade album and a magazine with an article about Slade. He uses them as material to masturbate over.
The glam rockers changed the world when they brought to the world images that had been unthinkable images at that time. By doing so they eased life for gay men—they created a language that made it easier to explain ourselves to others. Their music can hardly be separated from the gay aspects of it.
The movie is stunning to watch and the imagery stays long after the movie is over. Sure, it is a surreal view of glam rock but so what? It is entertainment. It may be over the top and campy and excessive but it works beautifully.