Graffiti is very, very bad. You should not do it. You should especially not write graffiti on big billboards that large companies like NBC Universal have paid good money for, to promote lovely shows like “Chicago Med.”
But if you must, must tag up a billboard, please do so by referencing “Goodbye Horses,” the dark ’80s song that Buffalo Bill dances to while tucking his penis and fantasizing about having sex with himself in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
That’s what some very bad person did to the “Chicago Med” billboard at the corner of Pico and South Swall Drive in Los Angeles.
There’s no saying what “Chicago Med” has to do with “Silence of the Lambs,” aside from Hannibal Lecter being a doctor.
But the discovery of the billboard on Sunday night sent one native Angeleno (hi) down an Instagram rabbit hole that yielded many delights, and also this head-shaker:
If the whole sequence in which serial-killing, women’s-suit-making Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) dresses up as a woman strikes you as horribly transphobic, and ruins your enjoyment of “Silence of the Lambs,” please know that: 1. You are not alone and 2. There is a moment in the script when our hero, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), generalizes, “There’s no correlation in the literature between transsexualism and violence. Transsexuals are very passive.”
It seems like a conscious attempt by the film to avoid demonizing transgender people.
Whatever your feelings about the scene, “Goodbye Horses,” by Q Lazzarus, is a beautiful song, and I appreciated the reminder of it, despite the terrible vandalism involved.
The songwriter, William Garvey, once explained its meaning thusly, according to a now-defunct website about his music:
As the writer, musician and producer of this song, I wanted to add a bit of light to it, as it has a rather grisly association with the serial killer in “The Silence of the Lambs”, but really the song is about transcendence over those who see the world as only earthy and finite. The horses represent the five senses from Hindu philosophy (The Bhagavad Gita) and the ability to lift one’s perception above these physical limitations and to see beyond this limited Earthly perspective.
Awesome. Now it is also a song about a billboard, transitioning from an advertisement for a lovely show to a reminder about looking up, at billboards for example, to discover unexpected delight and meaning, flying, flying, flying over you.