This American Horror Story: Cult review contains spoilers.
American Horror Story: Cult Episode 7
American Horror Story: Cult, season 7, episode 7 “Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag,” brings fifteen minutes of fear to the political circus maximus. The pseudo assassination was a success. It left one man standing, and walking with a sympathy-getting limp. No the eyes of the nation are on Kai Anderson, the recent winner of a small town city council. He slayed the competition with a 20 point lead and a small coterie of clowns. It was such an unprecedented precedent that the son of the president, Eric Trump, retweeted his prescience. But now Kai’s in the driver’s seat, he only wants men behind the wheel. He’s got a growing following of them and is high as a kite in a thunderstorm on the electric testosterone in the air.
But Kai, you’ve changed, man. It used to be about the revolution. It used to be about fear, beautiful, politically-affirming terror. The kind that keeps people indoors and ready to follow orders. The pantomime execution doesn’t fool everyone, and while Ally is locked up and keeping her lips buttoned up, Kai’s most clever mouthpiece is grinding her teeth hard enough to set off a bullet. Beverly was promised equal power and is now being shown the door from both sides. It’s a nice door, but she was more interested in shattering ceilings. Not for any particular sex, creed, race or political bent, but just because she’s got a thing against ceilings. She’d wallpaper the Sisteenth Chapel with plastic explosives if she could get a ladder.
Beverly Hope is the voice that made Kai. Without her, he never would have made the news, won the seat, pushed his message, or even gotten out of the basement, much less be set for the national stage. Beverly didn’t believe in him at first, she had to be convinced that he wasn’t some bullshit megalomaniacal white boy who’d dump her as soon as he got to the next level. And here he is at the next level and she is discarded like last year’s Dolce and Gabbana. But Adina Porter, who plays Beverly, doesn’t just play out the personal betrayal, she saves some for the greater betrayal, forsaking fear. She is not only enraged at issues of gender, race or even the loss of the media frenzy she created. She is angry that the complete abandonment of rage. Kai is in charge and wants to show he can keep peace. When she’s thrown aside, Porter shows by hiding what is going through her head, and the insanity of righteous rage trumps all ambition and collusion.
This may not be the best season of the series but certain scenes and performances shine beyond. Actors can invent themselves in one scene. But Beverly is not a reinvention. It is a rebirth. Her restraint, her rage, are dealt out like cards in a poker game, and she’s always dealing from the bottom of the deck. Lena Dunham, as Valerie Solanas, is also playing an underhanded game.
Suck my dick Warhol, how many careers were launched with those words? And what kinds of revolutions grew from the art revolution of the Lower East Side? Andy Warhol was a miserable fuck. Gay does not mean happy. Control is a horrible thing, but being a victim to artistic manipulation for the sake of an old guard philosophy with snarling dogs at the gate is like waiting in purgatory to get into hell.
Warhol stole, or lost or burned or silk screened over, Salanas’ play Up Your Ass. She may have ultimately been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after shooting the white-haired artist, along with art critic Mario Amaya, on June 3, 1968, at the NYC club The Factory, but she had valid artistic concerns. She outlived Warhol by 14 months.
Some people consider The SCUM Manifesto to be a work of satire. It came out in 1967. It says men, or incomplete females because they had a Y chromosome, ruined the world, and it was up to the women of the Society For Cutting Up Men, to eliminate the male sex, overthrow the government, get rid of money and outlaw boredom. The natural order needs to be smashed and nature needs to go fuck itself.
The SCUM Manifesto hides behind no feminine mystique. There are no secrets in the manifesto. It is honest, brutal, economically viable and absolutely true. The complaints are not merely valid, there is a sense of how ridiculous it even was to have to bring them up. Men are all children who need their mothers’ guidance but windup joining the Little Rascals’ He-Man’s Woman Hater’s Club
In keeping with American Horror Story’s traditions of double-casting players (really a ploy to save on an extra salary), Andy Warhol is played by Evan Peters. This reinforces the connection with the macho machine in the making of Kai’s council position with the lofty airs Warhol threw at an inferior race that was only interesting when angry. Bebe Abbott (Frances Conroy), Solanas’s ex, is also interested in angry women. For the women, and two men in SCUM, the shots at Warhol were the first shot in a revolution. The readings at the Chelsea hotel points out that women aren’t the ones who molest their daughters, Women CEOs don’t destroy the planet. It is the pussy envy of men and other gender traitors leading us to our down fall. The revolution begins with both sides as collateral damage. They kill the men who spread the lies and the women who spread their legs for them.
At first they try their hands at lovers’ lane killings. Putting on ritualistic robes and sacrifice whoever might be necking in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a game of couple busting, with men in the crosshairs,
What is it about little girls that scare men so much? Barring them from entry into the highest levels of business, denigrating them as artistic inferiors, and allowing men like Hugh Hefner, Billy graham and Steve McQueen, especially McQueen, stealing Ali MacGraw and making her a housewife, to categorize them. It is a heinous injustice, like how Charles Manson could somehow define Sharon Tate. But of course, it is always the men who write the books, even the ones who can’t spell. The SCUM cult’s sacrifices are coopted by the Zodiac Killer, a man, before the big reveal. They were waiting until 1,000 people made the hit-list before going public to make a universal impact. And then we find it is all a set up for an unexpected linkup and we see how interesting angry women really are. And how scary. Fear is trust, after all, and American Horror Story: Cult puts its trust in historical hijackings to scare us into bringing the past into the fiction.
“Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag” is a departure in that it’s a flashback, but it shows all manifestos are one manifesto and it’s pretty scary how both sides can use the same book. It is an educational episode, but after last week’s explosive making of an assassin, it slows the momentum.
“Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag” was written by Crystal Liu, and directed by Rachel Goldberg.
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