As I watched Hedwig sing her heart out to “The Angry Inch”, I found myself giggling quite a bit. From her outfit to her crude lyrics (I admit that the line, “I was bleeding from the gash between my legs. My first day as a woman and already it’s that time of the month” was pretty clever and it echoed in my head throughout the day), I was astonished as to how she easily displayed her autobiographical songs to the semi-repulsed crowd. Then, a stroke of sadness washed over me. Hedwig went to extreme lengths to become a suitable spouse for her husband Luther. She underwent an invasive procedure, which resulted in a poor excuse for female genitalia. Granted, gender reassignment operations today are much more thorough and safer then the late 80s thanks to medical and societal understanding of such things.

Based on what I’ve seen, Hedwig already identified as a woman emotionally and mentally. She had no qualms about dressing and preforming her desired gender until Luther introduced the idea that she needed to pass the physical examination, thus resulting in the gender reassignment operation. However, I couldn’t help wondering if she truly wanted to have that done. Wasn’t she already comfortable with dressing up? I even thought of a particular in Plato’s Symposium, “And in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows him to do many strange things, which philosophy would bitterly censure if they were done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or power”. (To clarify, I’m defining “strange” as out of the ordinary and not something negative like weird/freaky). At the time, Hedwig did love Luther, so much that she was willing to modify herself to be with him. I also found myself questioning the origins of Hedwig’s love for Luther. Sure, he was attractive and saw her in a light that no one else did, but did she love him partly because he could let her escape from East Germany? This also alerted me of another portion of the Symposium, “Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul, inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is in itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his words and promises; where the love of the noble disposition is life-long, for it becomes one with the everlasting.” Luther does in fact leave Hedwig after they arrive in America. I argue that he didn’t love her “soul” since he wasn’t complacent with her body. Could he have stayed with her regardless of the need for marriage? Perhaps. Marriage can be seen as a mark of a eternal bond between two people or as a safety net for financial and medical reasons, so was it necessary for the be actually wed? In Symposium, we see how certain acts of love can be seen as dishonorable or honorable. For example, hasty attachments are seen to be dishonorable because “time is the true test of this as of most other things”. From how the film quickly progressed, it seems as though Hedwig and Luther weren’t together for long before they decided to get married and it wasn’t too long after when they went their separate ways.

I still have these remaining questions. Although the main focus of the film was the tension between Tommy and Hedwig, I feel as though we need to look at Luther’s place in her life. One may argue if Luther never left Hedwig, would she have known Tommy? If it weren’t for Luther’s “dishonorable” love, would she have been driven to write such passionate songs and become a prominent figure in punk rock?

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September 4th, 2017 at 8:25 pm

One Response to “Was Luther worthy of Hedwig’s love? (Blog #1)”
  1. 1
      HelenO says:

    It’s true, Luther was undeserving of Hedwig with his instant lustful desire and ill treatment but I don’t know if he didn’t believe he didn’t love her, in fact, I think Luther believed he did love Hedwig but not the way Hedwig wanted to be loved. Pausanias would refer to this as Common Love, when an individual is attracted to the body and not the mind. In Hedwig’s desperation to be all that she could be for her new husband she forgot who she was. This was fine for Luther until he could no longer ignore Hedwig’s physical botched transformation that no longer held his Common Love with is based on individuals that “act with discrimination: it is all the same to them whether they behave well or not.”