Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stathis Borans: David Cronenberg's "The Fly"

Actor:           John Getz
Year:            1986
Beard Type:  Business Beard, Redemption Beard

The beard is flesh. One does not simply perform full molecular decimation and reformation of the beard without fully understanding it. Something gets lost in translation. Is it a Business Beard? Yes. How much power does it have? Does it double or even triple as other beards? One must learn to cope with the beard before you turn it inside out. Penetrate beyond society's sick, gray, fear of the beard. The beard is alive.

Let Stathis Borans teach you the poetry of the beard.

The character arc of Stathis Borans is interesting. He is a Business Beard through and through, giving him the power to get shit done in a variety of ways. Stathis has a major effect on crucial plot points throughout the story while leaning back comfortably in a supporting role, smoking a cigar and making dick jokes. But is it just a Business Beard? Initially, Stathis comes off as an antagonist of sorts, leading one to believe his beard exhibits a villain-like quality. After all, not only is he responsible for Brundle and Veronica meeting, his actions also indirectly lead to the creation of Brundlefly in the first place. 

However, there is a turning point in the film during which he exhibits less smarmy asshole qualities, realizes the danger of Brundlefly, and becomes a hero of sorts. The turning point in question is most likely the moment Stathis viewed the footage of Brundlefly executing a "vomit drop," a scientific term used to describe the action of a human-fly hybrid puking on donuts. In the end, Stathis shoots the pod cables during the final sequence initiation to reduce the physically dangerous Brundlefly into a relatively harmless and suicidal Brundleflypod. 

A beard creates a monster only to destroy it.

Stathis never fully exhibits a Villain Beard or a Hero Beard. In fact, the previously mentioned turning point of the vomit drop is the point during which the villain qualities are canceled out by the hero qualities, thus spawning the Redemption Beard. Confused? Ladies and Brundleflies, it is time for a Movie Beards area chart:

The Business Beard is operating at 100% capacity throughout the duration of the film, while the Villain Beard and Hero Beard only operate at 42.5% and 30% capacity respectively. The shaded area on the right side of the chart represents the formation of the Redemption Beard, commencing at the intersection of the declining villain qualities and the increasing hero qualities. Obviously, a Redemption Beard may only form in the villain-to-hero order in which the good, heroic qualities ultimately overtake the bad, villain-like qualities. Reversing the order results in a downfall, not redemption.

The true villain of The Fly is Seth Brundle's scientific curiosity, which knows no boundaries. While most would happily call it a day after teleporting inanimate pantyhose across the room, Brundle's curiosity is never satiated. He obsesses over the decimation and reformation of the flesh without truly understanding it. Of course, this mess would have been avoided had Brundle installed an internal quality control pre-scan for detection of biological material prior to sequence initiation. Then again, he was drunk. Don't drink and teleport, kids.

David Cronenberg uses his unique horror/sci-fi vision to metaphorically discuss the obsession of flesh and the dangers of impurity, both sexually and gene-splicingly. Cronenberg also proves that a bearded man can seek redemption by slaying a hybrid beast indirectly created by his own actions, even after his hand and foot have been melted off by a corrosive enzyme. 


The Brundle saga doesn't end with a shotgun blast. Not in Hollywood. In The Fly II (1989), Martin Brundle, the Brundlefly/Veronica offspring, tracks down Stathis Borans to get answers about his parents and himself. Martin has begun exhibiting his father's symptoms and must find a cure before he morphs into Mask again. The Stathis Borans that stands before him on one foot is a bearded, crippled, reclusive, drunken shell of a man. He has gone from a Business/Redemption Beard hybrid to a full-on Depression Beard. All Borans has left is a bottle of scotch and a greying, disheveled beard from which to spew an arsenal of puns. In his final statement, Borans admits that Seth Brundle "bugged" him and his compassion only cost him an arm and a leg. Well played, Stathis.

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