Ghost : The Tragic Love Story of Sam and Carl (1400 words)
Ghost is a movie I’ve watched a lot of times with my mother when I was a young teenager. I used to fancy shorted haired girls a lot and Demi Moore in that film was quite my type even though I didn’t exactly realise it.
As I grew older my movie tastes went in other directions and something like ten years passed by before I came back to these old popular ones that I could watch with my mother. What were they worth in the end these movies that entertained me so much and in which everything seemed straight forward, one-dimensional, easy and clear ?
Ghost is one of the first that made me realise that they could have a very subversive subtexts. How could Carl be such a traitor ? Yeah, he is greedy sure but asking someone to rob Sam with a gun seemed like a very clumsy move. He obviously wasn't only manipulating Sam but also considered him like a friend. And why does Demi Moore look so much like a boy !?!
Well, sadly, in (Hollywood) movies, and in real life, more often than not, when you come across a short-haired girl, it means that there’s a homosexual guy around or that she is herself homosexual. I know it sucks.
In Kiss Me Deadly, Mike Hammer doesn't touch his short-haired super hot secretary who craves for love-making, because he's gay.
In Fatal Attraction, Helen, short-haired little girl, looks like a little boy because Daddy is gay. And Daddy cheats on mommy to reassure himself on his heterosexuality.
In the Bourne Identity, Franka eventually manages to have Jason kiss her by letting him cut her hair, something that which makes her look like a cute boy. Because Jason's homosexual.
In all these examples, I'm not pointing at some sort of real-life thing -even though long hair is strongly associated with femininity and short hair with the opposite- I'm pointing at a relation that is often made in movies. Short hair for women is a strong signifier that's all, it most probably point at something.
For my article on Jason Bourne's homosexuality:
So yeah, Patrick Schwayze plays a homosexual guy in Ghost.
Carl Brunner and Sam Wheat (Burn and sweat ?) fancy each other. But Sam can’t take the responsibility for their relationship; being gay is wrong or scary or filthy. So he dates a young woman who totally looks like a boy.
"Are you from the New York Ballet ?" Molly is even a bit emasculating, I wonder why they did that with her character.
Why the ostentatious manly shirtlessness ? Because Sam isn't afraid of losing Molly to his gorgeous friend as Carl already loves him, + this handy task represents an opportunity for the two guys to show their body to each other.
If you take a close look at his relationship with Molly, you'll see that it is subtly suggested that they don’t match. She wants space in the apartment, Sam asks “for what ?” she repeats “space.” He puts his old comfortable chair in the living room, she is against it because it doesn’t match with her artsy setting and stuff. They go to a play (“Mac Beth”), she loves it, he sleeps. She wants the recognition of the New York Times, Sam despises critics. She tells him “I love you,” he answers “ditto” and don’t tell me it’s special or romantic or anything. It’s horrible. It’s a terrible cop-out.
More, when they sleep together in their new apartment for the first time, well precisely… they don’t sleep together. They find themselves in bed, Sam is worried and Molly tries to get him to say he loves her and tries to get him to make love to her, and she fails at both. And the plane of their relationship crashes.
The super romantic song to which she shapes a vase is about a lonely lover. I can’t remember in which Lesly Nielsen film this scene is spoofed and the girl gives her vase the shape of a penis. It's already what it means in Ghost. Molly is humiliated and frustrated and she went moulding a vase because she can’t sleep because she is aroused (and worried) while Sam is sleeping like a log.
This is very very ambiguous. Again, does this mean that Molly has a phallus ? Does she emasculate her boyfriend to such an extent that he becomes gay ?
Oh my love, my darling
I've hungered for your touch <= and you read a book.
A long lonely time <= while you're sleeping you asshole
And time goes by so slowly <= The future doesn’t seem so bright in our new apartment now.
And time can do so much <= I'm realising that something is wrong between us.
Are you still mine ? <= Good question Molly.
I need your love
God speed your love to me.
This first night in their new apartment is a failure. Sam should show himself hopeful and enthusiastic, after all the film starts on a super surprise for them, the apartment is a lot bigger than expected, and Sam finds a penny of 1898 in a jar too, instead he is preoccupied in bed, does some work and lets himself be distracted by plane crashes on TV.
"Ho look Molly they've extracted our relationship from the wreckage. It doesn't look like we made it."
So, what’s wrong ? Well he’s gay that’s all. He eventually decides that he needs to make love to Molly otherwise it will certainly be over between them very soon, so he joins her in the making of her substitute for a penis. Yep, when they make the vase together, it suggests that both their libidos point toward the same gender.
"See Molly, we belong together, we both want the same thing !" "It doesn't work this way Sam. You're supposed to want my vagina." "Ah... sorry. Does it bother you if I don't remove my jeans while we make love ?"
If we take a look at his relationship with Carl, it’s pretty obvious… not exactly that they are gay, but that the movie indicates they are.
It’s a common misunderstanding when it comes to interpreting movies or books or paintings. The elements that are interpreted are perceived as signifiers, bearers of meaning, and that’s actually what scares people most of time, the fact that a person should see meaning everywhere even in the smallest detail. But that’s the way it works. You never forget that you are in front of an entirely artificial piece of work. You’re not looking at the real world but at an interpretation of it.
So, when Sam and Carl chit-chat on their way to work and they look like a couple, you can see it as what we call a bromance nowadays, but you can also consider that it means that there is something between them.
Sam confides in Carl about his anxieties. He doesn’t do this with Molly. He also entrusts him with a very important code without any hesitation.
I remember how their joke in the elevator used to make me laugh, when Carl pretends to cough because he’s got a contagious disease which gave him rash everywhere on his body. Sam asks him “even on the genitals ?” And Carl answers “basically everywhere.” The joke relies on the fact that people actually believe them. Would you have everybody at your workplace believe that you suffer from a serious illness which gives you rash on the genitals for the sake of a joke ? No. Imagine if there's someone you fancy there.
But Sam knows it’s a joke and that’s all that matters for Carl, because he is Sam’s. That’s the meaning of this exchange “I don’t care what people think, I’m yours.”
The problem is that, Sam is the one to bring up the disease, the rash and the genitals in the conversation, Carl is only playing along. So, I think there's something a bit cruel on Sam's side. He wants Carl to do and accept everything from him, but he doesn't give anything in return.
When you offer yourself to someone who doesn’t seem ready to go the extra mile and makes you linger in pain, you can feel the need to hurt that person in order to rebalance things, to keep some self-respect. “He doesn’t want to give himself to me, I won’t give him [anything], I won’t help him for his [anything].”
Carl helps Sam and Molly for everything for their apartment. He is cutting his vains. Can you imagine helping the girl/boy you fancy to move in with his/her boyfriend/girfriend ? Wouldn’t you want to slap him/her in the face for asking you this ? Of course, you could say no, but we all know that in that kind of situation, there’s always something shittily ambiguous that makes you say yes.
For example, here, Molly is unhappy to see Carl, and Sam qualifies his friend as “slave labor.” Molly, the girlfriend, feels invaded by Carl. Exploring their new apartment was something she wanted to do alone with Sam. So, asking Carl to help them had something to do with fancying him. But poor Carl cannot know: “Is he using me ? Or is he hesitating ?” That’s the kind of thoughts that drives you crazy.
So, that’s why Carl will betray Sam: To recover some feeling of self-esteem because Sam won’t acknowledge that there’s something between them and seem to have used him by acting as if there was. Sadly everything goes wrong and Sam gets killed.
The thing is, everything goes wrong because Sam isn’t in love with Molly. She is again trying to get him to say “I love you” and he won’t, he cannot and he feels horrible about it. She looks even more like a boy in this scene, she is spontaneously trying very hard to please him.
Just when Sam is about to fail, a strange man appears. This man is Sam’s libido => the element that prevents him from telling Molly “I love you.” He “only” wants Sam’s wallet, in which lie the confidential codes that Carl's need. So it’s a bit as if Carl told him “Ok, either you love me, or I was your whore and you pay me.” The aggressor hits Molly and because he feels guilty for not being capable of telling her “I love you” Sam attacks the guy. It’s the perfect opportunity to show her he loves her without having to pronounce the words. And he gets killed because in the end, the poor guy was in a dead end.
All of this is only the basis for the story. I don’t know what Woopy Goldberg does in this, she is presented as someone who helps couples get back together even after their death, but she also is some sort of a crook. So maybe, she is the one who will manage to make Molly believe that Sam loved her even though he never tells her “I love you.” Does he tell her “I love you” in the end ? I remember that he possesses Oda Mae Brown and dances with Molly who is supposed to not feel bothered by the fact that her boyfriend has the physical appearance of Woopy Goldberg. Is Molly gay too ? Anyway, if I rewatch the film completely one day, I’ll look into all this, but for now, I made my point: Sam and Carl fancy each other.
Bonus question : There's something I wish I understood more spontaneously but don't. It's how frustrated libidos reorientate towards other activities. Here, Carl's greed is a symptom of his sexual misery. That's also why Sam won't give the thief his wallet, his job and his relationship with money are associated with his true love. In the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort becomes a super trader because it consists in seducing and swindling men. It's the same mechanism as with Sam and Carl : I want you, you fancy me but doesn't want me therefore I steal your money. In The Imitation Game (and in reality) Alan Turing created computers as the re-creation of a relationship in which sex is unacceptable. And this pathological type of relationship now rules our world.
Can repressed sex drives shift to any other aspect of life ? Or is it just maths and money, lifeless one-dimensional, very neutral, practical things ?