At midnight on Halloween, I watched the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have enjoyed it for years, and like many have made it a tradition to watch it at this time. The next night, I celebrated four Ahau, the date in the Mayan calendar on which the long count begins and ends, the one that has become misinterpreted and which has people wrongly freaking out about 2012. As part of this celebration, I listened to a session of lectures given by John Major Jenkins talking about the mythic and calendrical mysteries behind 2012. These two celebrations in proximity finally led me to discover the elusive meaning behind Rocky Horror, and deepened my understanding of the Mayan mysteries.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show parodies sci-fi and midnight B movies. It tells the story of an engaged couple, Brad and Janet. They go for a drive on a rainy night, get a flat tire, and end up taking refuge in a strange castle. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania” leads the group of unconventional conventionalists. He creates a muscle man sort of like Frankenstein so that he can have a perfect lover, but the experiment goes wrong. Eventually, Frank traps his servants, Brad, Janet, and their friend Dr. Scott. He puts them under mind control and makes them give themselves over to pleasure, swimming around in a pool. Dr. Scott resists, and two of the servants revolt, killing a servant, Rocky, and Frank. The humans go free, and the castle returns to its home planet.
The Hero Twins make up one of the most important myths in the Mayan religion. At one point, they must defeat a god named Seven Macaw. This false god claims to have ruled over the sun and moon in the twilight of the previous age. He has the form of a bird, but with jewels for eyes and teeth, to say nothing of his fabulous crown or other wealth. The Hero Twins use Seven Macaw’s vanity against him. They bring in two other gods disguised as poor villagers. The two gods tell Seven Macaw that they just work as a humble dentist and doctor. Seven Macaw, upon hearing this, requests that they fix his eyes and teeth. Instead of healing him, the gods remove the precious jewels, and Seven Macaw dies of shame.
Both Frank-N-Furter and Seven Macaw preside over a self-centered creation. They eventually become lost in it, and their vanity finally does them in. Clearly, this represents a core archetype or story. It shows us the danger of succumbing to our ego and its base desires. By falling, they show us how we might succeed.
A number of years ago, I found myself in a Rocky Horror chat room. I ended up talking to its owner who knew the whole movie line for line, and who could type it in real time, rather impressive really. We got to talking about the deeper meaning of the movie. He said that once, he went to a live showing while on acid. “When you watch it on acid, you learn that it doesn’t make sense, just like life.” This seemed like a satisfactory enough explanation to the story’s continuing appeal, and the friend who first got me into Rocky Horror said something similar. “Austin, you’re trying to find a deeper meaning to Rocky Horror, and it can’t be done.” Even though I accepted this, I still felt that something deeper must exist, something which has kept the cult phenomenon going for such a long time. I believe I have finally found it.
If I had to sum up the message of Rocky Horror, I would say that it has the same message as the Seven Macaw myth: Don’t become lost in your own self-centered creation.