Velvet Goldmine

By Romney, Jonathan | New Statesman (1996), October 23, 1998 | Go to article overview

Velvet Goldmine


Romney, Jonathan, New Statesman (1996)


"Although what you are about to see is a work of fiction," teasingly announce the opening titles to Velvet Goldmine, "it should be played at full volume." Todd Haynes's extraordinary panorama of the glamrock years seems certain to face resistance from British audiences, who usually like to know for sure whether they're dealing with fact or fiction. Besides, its hyper-camp polysexual pitch flies violently in the face of 1990s rock-geezer culture. It won't pull the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels audience, that's for sure.

This is not the real glam story, though. Instead of a David Bowie biopic, it's a fantasy about a Bowie-esque young thing called Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who enjoys a torrid romance with American star Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor), closely modelled on Iggy Pop. Bowie-ires may well hate the film, not only for its cartoon image of the True Facts, but also because Haynes presents his hero as a confused opportunist, a cultural magpie cribbing indiscriminately from a multitude of role models, before cashing in his chips for the conformist rock dreams of the 1980s.

Velvet Goldmine should be read as a fantasy, and like the best fantasies, it's fabulously superficial at first sight, before revealing hidden depths and resonances. It uses the Bowie story much as Slade uses the images of history. This is a fan's dream of pop history, by a director who was too young to be in the thick of it at the time. Although Velvet Goldmine has been touted as a British film, because of its stars and Film on Four's production involvement, it's very much an American director's fantasy about Englishness - a rifling, at transatlantic arm's length, of motifs from pop's past and the gay history that informed it. The references run from Oscar Wilde, through music hall drag, through the parlare slang of 1960s gay subculture, to the short-lived revolution of glam's mascara-masquerade.

Velvet Goldmine is in every sense a made-up story about made-up people. Like Bowie, Slade invents himself piecemeal, but that hardly invalidates him or makes him less "authentic" - a word which has never been much use in pop history. Ever since emerging in the early 1990s as a front runner in what was briefly hailed as the "New Queer Cinema", Todd Haynes has shown a cultural analyst's eye for the paradoxes of identity and the prerogatives of fantasy. His debut feature, Poison, was inspired by Jean Genet, the high priest of transgressive self-invention and another Bowie hero. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Velvet Goldmine
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.