In the film, Beetlejuice is dead, or at least he’s supposed to be. He’s obnoxious, crude, ineffective at work, and yet he’s entertaining and provokes an almost compulsive desire to keep watching to see how he could possibly offend again, which he does right up until the end.
I thought of the typical man. The one who doesn’t care too much for the woman who has a mind of her own. Far better that she just exists from the waist down with a nice pair of legs that end in heels that are not her own, they’re pointed and raised high enough to emphasise the shape of her calves. He positions his body towards her; he’s interested. She crosses her legs away from him which may give him a better view of her thigh, but she’s unlikely to be all that responsive to his advances. Has he even noticed that the rest of her is missing? Just how long ago did his heart stop beating? And how long did it take for his flesh to start rotting on his bones? And what about her, the woman who has a visible disconnect between her own heart and mind?
I see many of these women walking the streets in daylight, but they don’t all wear the same shoes, nor skirts up to their arseholes. Some may be dressed conservatively, and others will be in their tracksuit bottoms and trainers, yet they’ll share the trait of mindlessness and have little use for any part of themselves that sits from the waist up. From time to time, I will be that pair of legs, wearing those tall heels that do not belong to me. Although more often than not, I will be the predatory one not caring about anything above the waist of the man whose legs catch my eye which then wanders to his groin to look for signs of life. That’s what I get from the picture more than anything else; it displays the most primal of instincts which are present in us all, and it lets us know the painful truth that sexual attraction may exist beyond the realms of what is immediately apparent to the general onlooker. Desire just sits in the body, that thing that slowly decomposes whilst we go about our daily grind. It doesn’t need intelligent conversation, or even a pretty face to look at; just a thigh will do - the rest of it may as well be non-existent. There’s nothing wrong with being a pair of legs, nor someone who fails to notice the upper half of someone’s body, but we do need to remember one important point about the characters above - neither of them is alive. They don’t belong in the land of the living; they dwell in another place with others who were taken from life too soon. Maybe there’s a message in there that says, if you’re not feeling your heart beat, or if you’re disconnected from the waist up, you’re probably not engaging with life as much as you could be?
I can’t remember if it was Rollo May or Otto Rank who talked of how we invented love as a means to make sex more pleasurable but is this just an example of someone projecting their personal shit “out there”? Is it not unrealistic to assume that no one ever enjoys sex for the sake of itself? Do we still get ashamed of those urges which we thought had died out long ago? The problem nowadays isn’t so much that we’re expected to pretend we have no sexual desire at all, we’re just supposed to control them. We’re still not all that free to mate with whoever we like, not really. We’re supposed to choose a suitable other based on the quality of breeding potential, and we’re supposed to take things like intellect and the heart into account - and both of those reside in the upper half of the body. Sexual desire is crude. It’s a raw, unfiltered instinct that we’re supposed to refine into something useful and productive which aids the advancement of humanity. But I think it’s highly irrational to think that we can go through life without an occasional spillage.
In the film, the character of Beetlejuice can make a mockery of sex and death because he is a joke, but it can’t distract us away from the anxiety he produces. Some will react as if offended, others will laugh, it doesn’t matter what kind of reaction it provokes, the simple fact is - it provokes something. Laughter is considered a defence mechanism of the emotionally mature, and yet I suppose it has to depend on what you’re laughing at to be sure.
The sight of a man, rotting as he sits, and STILL lusting after those legs…yeah, that sounds about right to me.