Venturing into those seemingly obscure titles on Netflix or Hulu can be far too intimidating, especially to the typical movie-goer. Something about a blue haired lesbian or unrealistic rainbow colored scenery just puts off a person, unless they're purposely looking for it. Critically acclaimed reviewers like Stephen Holden of The New York Times let it slip that he, alongside all the other “rotten tomatoes” were most certainly not looking for this title. Was his goal to tarnish this true story’s reputation, or blatantly his own? But we all should give him and the other reviewers some credit - at least they tried to cover up their heteronormative bias!
This turf war is certainly not like the acclaimed Sharks and Jets or Pink Ladies and Greasers. It is nothing short of a cynical, dramatic, dark telling of the murder of gay mogul and director Bryan Kocis (named ‘Stephen’ in the film,) of Cobra Video. Blowing up in the early 2000’s with its most popular production, its success can be extremely credited to actor and producer Sean Paul Lockhart, stage name Brent Corrigan. Two-time Disney film star Garrett Clayton portrays this innocent, yet maniacally money and career searching aspect of 15 year old Lockhart. The underlying aspects and intentions of this risky business, and the ultimate fate Kocis met is shown through 92 minutes of apparently a “low budget, all-male answer to ‘Boogie Nights,’” according to Holden, who neglects to describe the extremely accurate and chilling portrayal of the novel based on this true story, “Cobra Killer”. For this reason solely does reviewer Godfrey Cheshire from RodgerEbert say that “King Cobra smells more like business plan than movie,” and is accurate in his (clearly accidental,) alluding to a specific scene with multitalented James Franco (Joe,) who shows the legal aspect of his own murder charges, as well as his partner Harlow’s (played by Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars costar Keegan Allen). Of course Cheshire meant this in a negative light, but not everyone can be good at their occupation….
Have you ever wondered what went on behind the scenes of the business world? It's normal to suspect foul play; we do this with many things, like generalizing our government and it's corruption, major companies and stocks. But something with such little appeal to these critics, such as scandal and murder within rival pornography franchises, obviously wouldn't touch close to home. (Then again, the only things that seem to matter to privileged, republican, middle aged men is republican, first world, middle aged men problems.) Yet, I don't believe popularity or a raving response was the goal with King Cobra. It seemingly was instead to appeal to the far fetched emotions when committing devilish acts.
Empathy is understandably something that we all struggle to feel. But, also understandably, we do not challenge something within reasonable regard. It is, contrary to the accused’s beliefs, reasonable to not be empathetic with psychotic murderers. Yet, in modern murder cases, it is a common and very controversial claim for the accused to be mentally unstable. If there was an opportunity to ask Stephen Holden what he thought about Jeffrey Dahmer versus perhaps Ted Bundy, I guarantee the answers would be predictable, to say the least.
So, you're probably wondering what is so pressing about King Cobra. If in theory no one liked it, what's the point of its message? That's the point; you don't have to like something to learn from it. Holden let his prejudiced dislike stop himself from attaining the huge significance of the film. He also withheld this opportunity from his extremely large and diverse audience to juggle the morals that play into success. This could be compared to Machiavelli’s famous saying, “the end justifies the means.” Now, in no way is murdering a distributor of child pornography a justification to monopolize off of internet videos, but perhaps if Holden had composed a different review, this message could have been implicated, while perhaps still maintaining his negative standpoint on the film itself.
King Cobra represents the epitome of 20th century appeal as well as controversy. In what better way to represent personal struggles of a young, inexperienced child than through such a disturbing real life event? A major misconception I have seen throughout the many reviews is that a “gay movie” has to be about the homosexual aspects. This could be assumed, but absolutely not from someone who watched the production. A cinematic representation of a minority business and the emotional damage it entails, especially when it portrays a realistic ending versus the common idealized “happy ending,” it is instantly so very significant to our current close minded, political society. So I have one thing left to comment on, and that is, Stephen Holden, if you even watched King Cobra?