To the editors:
Jonathan Rosenbaum’s reviews are almost invariably intelligent and interesting and we never miss them, if possible. However, we were disheartened to read in his Critic’s Choice for the film I Shot Andy Warhol that he seemed to think it somewhat ridiculous to call Valerie Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto a “feminist classic” (as was claimed in the film’s afterword). As a matter of fact, SCUM Manifesto is the feminist classic, if a classic is something eternally relevant, an expression of its time and yet grander than the moment. The logic, wit, brilliance and searing prose of SCUM Manifesto is a joyous reminder of the early days of rage when feminism’s discourse was unhampered by rules or by any need for respectability. It was all part of the search and an emotional catharsis, when we knew the stakes were nothing less than a change in the way we are. There were many, like Solanas, who paid the price of stepping into the new void of feminist awareness. But perhaps none has left us with the solace of SCUM, nor can the underground effect of its devastating message be overestimated, and we are surely in her debt.
Rosenbaum suggests to his readership that they will never see a better depiction of the Warhol era than in this film, and, here, he is absolutely right. But he does not go on to explain that this is so precisely because it portrays so clearly the vacuous “scene” with its zombielike, drugged-out hangers-on, their basic nastiness and petit-bourgeois values intact and no talent to speak of. Next to this pathetic in crowd, Valerie Solanas, eternal outsider, bad girl, fearless visionary, prostitute, lesbian, and dedicated revolutionary, glitters magnificently, like a diamond dropped in a shit pile.
The Medusa Collective