The Exorcist and “girl-fear”

All of this is typical girl-fear. Once you realize that The Exorcist is, essentially, the story of a 12-year-old who starts cussing, masturbating, and disobeying her mother—in other words, going through puberty—it becomes apparent to the feminist-minded viewer why two adult men are called in to slap her around for much of the third act. People are convinced that something spooky is going on with girls; that, once they reach a certain age, they lose their adorable innocence and start tapping into something powerful and forbidden. Little girls are sugar and spice, but women are just plain scary. And the moment a girl becomes a woman is the moment you fear her most.

Watching The Exorcist now, and I have to regretfully conclude this reading is a bit of a stretch, which is a bummer because it’s really entertaining. The 12 year old Regan “masturbates” by stabbing her vagina with a crucifix, she “disobeys her mother” by peeing on the floor. This is a kind of liberation that is not very desirable!

A much stronger theme is the modern secular American culture is ultimately unfulfilling, leaving the upper-middle class characters feeling out of control of their children and their own destiny. They look for salvation and faith mainly in Christianity, but also other cultures (the priest is an immigrant, the demon is Pazuzu).

Interesting trivia: back at the school or whatever, there’s a banner in Latin letters that says “TASKUKETE!” – which is Japanese for “Help!” (“助けて!”)
Arguably: the deleted spider-walk scene inverts the little girl’s top and bottom, and she drools blood from her mouth, which could be interpreted as a perverted menstruation… however, again, not very desirable for would-be liberated women! Yuck.

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