Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Beautiful Washing Machine

It's probably not what you think.

The beautiful washing machine is a woman. A sprite perchance? An alien? A ghost in the machine? Anyway, she is beautiful, silent and unquestioningly obedient. What more could you want? Who wants conversation when they can have acquiescence?

She appears mysteriously one day in the house of a bachelor who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, and meekly accepts the role he assigns to her as maid. No maid ever worked so hard. You see her vacuuming and mopping floors, handwashing his clothes, cooking the meals, standing at attention while he eats, always silent. He decides she needs a change of costume and buys her a sexy yellow sun dress and a pair of low heels, after which she does all of the above attired thus. Always silent, she obeys unquestioning as he asks her to sit on the washing machine (OK there is a washing machine in this and it is second hand and temperamental and the girl is supposed to have emerged from the machine although this bit is left fuzzy) and he runs his hand up her thigh. All set for the seduction scene. Instead, he thrusts a lit cigarette into her mouth, causing her to cough and choke and blows smoke into her face, a sadistic smile twisting his banal features. His ex-girlfriend refused to let him smoke. His ex left and took the washing machine with her.

This girl has appeared in reply to the cosmic question - but who will wash my clothes now?

She is not a person but a commodity and he decides that pretty as she is, he does not want her. Instead, he will pimp her out and make some money on that sexy body. He secures a short squat ugly customer, who has bargained the price down from RM150 to RM120 and takes her to some cheap, sleazy motel for a slap and a tickle. OK, what he actually does, is bounce up and down the bed, trying to talk to her. As she remains silent, he tells her to go take a shower first. And a dump (you draw the appropriate inference, it was immediately clear to my friends what he meant)

Meanwhile, he jumps on the bed with boyish exuberance, falls down and hits his head on the bedpost. The girl, who is obediently going potty, hears the noise, comes out to find the guy passed out and runs away. Later, when the bachelor is trying to pimp her off to someone else, the original customer reappears with a band of gangsters, accuses the girl of hitting him on the head and robbing him, and they set on the bachelor. We don't get to see the effects of what they do, except that it must be bad as the gangsters run away and said bachelor doesn't get up to look for the girl.

The prospective customer, cheated of his fun, runs after the girl, chasing her through a carpark and she escapes. Through all this, her face, is as ever, expressionless. She remains silent in a true 'what can't be cured must be endured' fashion.

Another bachelor (this time an old one, a widower with grown up children in fact) is in his car, procuring porn from one of those VCD touts so common in KL. She enters his car. He looks at her, doesn't say anything, and takes her home.

Here, she resumes her drudgery, cooking, cleaning, washing (his washing machine does not work either). But the old guy has children who are not happy with the situation. The son hits on the girl (the father stops him, sending him off to do some chores), the daughter is angry and jealous (who is this girl? we don't know anything about her) and the daughter's boyfriend forces himself on her. Except that, although she resists initially, she ends up embracing her attacker, a blissful look stealing over her face as he orgasms. Apparently she likes sex. Probably this was her first time (we move deeper and deeper into male fantasy territory here).

The old man watches from the door and then proceeds to have a heart attack. Not all at once of course. No, he puts on his manga mask (he usually wears it to watch his gay porn) and the presents himself to her in the mask and in a pair of shorts (obviously, although he has told his family that she is his girlfriend, they have never had sex). Then he has his heart attack and lands up in hospital.

The mute washing machine comforts the son. She pushes her body against him and kisses him. This is probably the first and only time she has shown any volition and initiated a contact on her own.

The daughter, angry at being supplanted in her father's affections, thrusts a knife at the silent girl, hurling accusations, and the girl turns, impales herself on the knife and crumples on the floor, a bloodstain blooming in her centre. The daughter rushes out in horror, blood on her hands only to discover as she reaches the hall that her hands are clean. The kitchen is empty. The girl is gone.

Later, she dons the girl's costume (an old outfit of her mother's - a grey blouse and black skirt) and assumes the girl's place - mopping the floor for her father who has become even more silent and withdrawn.

The father goes to the supermarket (I forgot to mention but there are many scenes, where the different characters wander through the colourless antiseptic supermarket aisles shopping for sterility in nice packaging) and buys a heck of a lot of beer (maybe he has decided to make a lateral move to alcoholism to end his meaningless existence now that the girl is gone). The checkout girl tells him that that will be RM600. He looks up and it is his washing machine. He is flabbergasted. He asks her what her name is. She replies, rather shortly, that her her name hasn't got anything to do with anything, UNCLE!

They call it insubstantiation.

Have you ever considered
that Tahiti is merely
a Gauguin construct.

The beautiful girls
who fuck when you feel like it
and weep when you leave
but know they cannot stop you
and never try.

Feminism? What feminism?
These are the children of the gods.
They know what's what.

18 comments:

QuillDancer said...

Had to be a dream. Nobody would have stayed for the movie.

Grey Shades said...

Lovely post and sounds like a great movie. Looks like I'll venture into Arthouse movies after all...

Jenn said...

Quilly: It was actually highly acclaimed and won awards all over the world. Most of it was silent ala Tan Msing Lai (a Taiwanese movie-maker) and it was meant to project the growing sterility, commercialism and objetification of women here.

We were frustrated when we watched it, so I read the reviews when I got home and some of the explanations and that comforted me.

Oh yeah, as it was all in Chinese, we had to rely on subtitles to understand what was going around. I wanted to kill that scrawny chicken of a bachelor number one, myself. Was glad when the gangsters did it for me.

Grey: I dunno hon, you may assault the tv after when it ends without explanation. (The girl was like an everyman's dream though, or rather, every asshole's dream)

goldennib said...

When I first read this, I thought you were describing a light porn movie and now that I read your explaination, I guess you kind of were.

I found the whole idea obscene, but I never could understand how some people could treat others as things, how they could be so out of touch with themselves.

But that's stupid of me, because that's the very reason why the world is so messed up.

Thomas said...

Good morning from Seattle.

Jenn said...

Nessa: I wonder how you would have reacted watching the movie. We made a night of it because it was supposed to be Malaysian arthouse -we had tom yam chicken wings, chocolate muffins and ice cream with Bailey's poured over it. Yum yum. After The Beautiful Washing Machine we watched Final Destination 3. Then we discussed really abstruse subjects (like why these horrible men who cheat on their wives and tell random women that they would be good mistress material, have really hot wives) and got home at about 2 in the morning. Which is why I am kinda spaced out today.

Thomas: Hello. Welcome to my blog.

QuillDancer said...

Here I bless my upbring for making me a strong, independant woman. I am nobody's washing machine and never will be.

Here I curse my upbringing for making this priviledge seem common place, so did not even know I was blessed.

A thinker said...

Very strange and sad story.

Jenn said...

Quilly: What got to me was that when they knew they could abuse her, it was no holds barred. The old man was a little better than the young man, but he worked her like a dog too.

A thinker: Yes, it was. It left you with this strange, unsettled feeling. I was glad it ended the way it did, with that normal girl (who looked like the washing machine and was probably where both guys derived the inspiration for the fantasy) telling off the old man, who asked her her name, as if it was his right.

goldennib said...

I would have liked the discussion and the staying out until 2am and the luscious snackies. I would have watched the movie, too, but it would have made me mad (mostly because I hate doing laundry.)

Jenn said...

Haha...yeah it made us all made. Especially her passive acceptance of the role assigned to her. Another thread - the first bachelor, that ugly scrawny chicken whose girlfriend had just left him - you kinda figured why she did. And when he had absolute power over this girl (as in she obeyed unquestioningly) you saw him pushing the envelope further and further, just to see how far he could go.

I was feeling sorry for him before that. Which all goes to show that I feel sorry for the wrong people.

QuillDancer said...

Off topic (sort of) and off-color:

A young couple got married and their sex life was very active and satisfying -- which eventully led (as sex is want to do) to the birth of three children.

The couple's available time to engage in sex dwindled with each child. Not only that, because of little ears they couldn't even talk about sex, so they developed a code -- instead of talking about sex, they talked of doing the laundry.

One evening after dinner the husband said to the wife, "I think we should do the laungry tonight." The wife replied that her day was just too hectic and she really didn't have the energy for laundry.

Shortly after they retired to bed she changed her mind and tapped her husband on the shoulder. "Honey," she said. "I think I have enough energy to do the laundry after all." Her husband replied, "Never mind, Dear. It was a samll load so I did it by hand."

goldennib said...

Jenn: Me, too.

Quilly: Belly laughs. I love off color, clean jokes. Innuendo is fun.

Jenn said...

Quilly: Haha, I second Nessa. I love off colour jokes of your variety.

Nessa: We're suckers, aren't we?

goldennib said...

Jenn: Yup, yup. But what can you do?

The Lost Crow said...

no one likes to blame the victim,
somehow its like blaming ourselves

Jenn said...

Nessa: Stop being a sucker? Stop feeling sorry for the professed lonelyhearts when they demonstrate that they are actually evil and diabolical?

The Lost Crow: How would you blame the victim here?

goldennib said...

Jenn: I think we are spotting them sooner and detached faster. That is an improvement, yes?