Naked Lunch Exterminates all Rational Thought
Naked Lunch is a wild ride inside the mind of a junkie who gets high on his own supply. Forgive the colloquialism but it fits. This film has been deeply analyzed to death by many outlets so I am going to focus on the relevant entomological aspects of this very weird and often uncomfortable film.
The Set up
William S. Burroughs wrote the Naked Lunch novel published in 1959 that the film was based on. The movie mixed elements from other Burroughs stories like Exterminator! and aspects of his own life to create this interesting motion picture. The things that drive me crazy in these movies are how exterminators are portrayed. The movie starts out showing Bill Lee, played by Peter Weller, over applying a yellow dust behind a sink. He uses a ridiculous amount and ends up getting it everywhere. All this with no gloves or mask but sporting a dapper suit and fedora. It’s all rather abstract to this modern pest control operator. The abandon of safety only gets worse when he runs out and tries to get more from the boss claiming someone is stealing his bug powder. He is accused of eating it and is mocked by the stock employee stuffing the powder in his mouth. Do I really have to say here to not try this at home?
“Exterminate all rational thought. That is the conclusion I have come to.”
Bill goes home to find his wife is shooting up the bug powder like heroine and now he knows where it has gone. He then gets picked up by the police for the powder and meets the 1st hallucinatory insect that tells him of a government conspiracy and that he must kill his wife. He finds her cheating on him so he shoots her in the head. Oddly enough William S. Burroughs actually did this in real life. Yep, he shot his wife. Anyway, Bill leaves for a drink in a bar where he meets another hallucination called the Mugwump who sends him out of town to report on government conspiracies. This sets him off on a drug addled journey almost indescribable. This includes his typewriter and others as scarab beetles instructing or more accurately enabling the crazy. You have to see it for yourself it is really absolutely bonkers.
There is an interesting discussion among the exterminators at lunch. Man do I hate the word exterminator but I’ll save that for a later blog. They discuss the difference between using a dust verses a pyrethum product to get rid of roaches. Surprisingly this discussion is pretty accurate but that’s about the only redeeming quality here. The roach species they used weren’t even from this continent! It’s just nice to see bug shop talk put to film for this entomaniac. Most of the media portraying pest control technicians do one of 2 things. They either show horribly unsafe usage with no protective equipment or they show them with elbow length gloves, a respirator and a large tank on their back. They look like they are ready to work in a nuclear reactor. Both depictions are absolutely demeaning but since when did Hollywood care about the lowly bug man?
Back to reality…
To be very clear, there is no pesticide that will get you high. Please don’t try. However, if you love the weird side of film, this might be for you. Not everyone will appreciate this dark noir drug culture film that just so happens to have an exterminator and a bunch of imaginative insects. Rotten Tomatoes gave this unruly movie a 71% and IMDb a 7.1/10.
Phoenix gives Naked Lunch 4/5 spiders.
If you have real bugs in your home not created by narcotics, give me a call and I promise I will use products properly because I did not get my education from a movie.
Phoenix Pest Control serves Knox and Blount counties in East Tennessee.
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