Self-indulgence and Hans Epp
I was wakened from odd dreams by the revelation that there is something that I needed to learn from this film, which I failed to on first viewing. Fassbinder extends a certain special privilige to Hans Epp in this film, the main character. His alcoholism and belligerence are made sympathetic only because he's a character in a film; all of us would probably withdraw from having to deal with such a man in life. I've known angry alcoholics, and I guess it's a given that they usually feel that they deserve special treatment -- that their pain and suffering justify or excuse what they are doing to their family and friends... Politically the film SEEMS to be valuable, in that it shows that Hans' anger and self-pity are in part responses to a too-cold, too-cruel society -- Fassbinder is using him as a vehicle to point out social inadequacies, the politics of which I guess I agree with. Yet... I gather Fassbinder himself was willing to use others -- that he was a difficult man to know. The question is whether this sort of sympathy for the self-indulgent is actually a good thing or not -- if it isn't really extending the filmmaker and/or the viewer the license to regard themselves as special, as deserving special privileges, as potentially being granted the license to use others because their own suffering is so great... I guess I'm curious how this film interacts with the self-pity and self-indulgence of other viewers. Do they imagine themselves as Hans, and, in feeling sorry for him and regarding him as tragic, do they get some sort of perverse boost...?