Spring Break Forever, Bitches!
Neoliberal Identity Politics Undergoes Schizoanalysis
Jacob W. Glazier
Department of Psychology
University of West Georgia
The motion picture Spring Breakers, directed by Harmony Korine, is employed to illustrate a schizoanalysis of identity politics or neoliberal multiculturalism wherein specific subject positions that have become hypostatized, as for example in race, gender, or sexual categories, are set in motion toward a tactical and processual complexification. This is accomplished, primarily, via an analysis of the semantic drift and emptiness of the refrain, the apotheosis of surfaces, the deterritorializing powers of the black hole, the phallus as artifice, and the answer in becoming-sprite coinciding with the end result, which is ultimately a paroxysmal transversality. Future directions are outlined as it relates to diagrammatizing the girls in the film with Pussy Riot, the appointment of Jonas Åkerlund as the director of Spring Breakers: The Second Coming, and the continual creation of identities as a means to outmaneuver, strategically, the forms of imprisonment instituted by molar assemblages such as capitalist multiculturalism. Following the model of Brit and Candy, the unique form, suggested by the film, that this takes is to set upon becoming-sprite: a catalytic fairy always processing toward the virtual.
Keywords: Spring Breakers; schizoanalysis; Gilles Deleuze; Félix Guattari; identity politics; neoliberalism
 Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers is a tour de force in its envelope-pushing blitzkrieg through popular culture, commandeering both the emancipatory potentialities and the capitalist hedonism of neoliberal identity politics. This term, neoliberal is not selected because it is merely en vogue, populating the discourse of the social sciences, humanities, and culture theory (although its prevalence is a certain commentary on scholarship proper). Instead, neoliberal is used in a technical sense to refer to the modern mode of capitalist production, which includes the complex relationship between the privatization of public commodities, the concentration of wealth into a small portion of the population, and other economic factors (Castronovo & Nelson, 2002). In tandem with this Marxist understanding of neoliberalism is Foucault's concept of governmentality whereby, under said economic constraints, subjects learn to auto-regulate and self-police in order to adhere to the parameters of this economic imposition (Shaviro, 2015). An example in the realm of identity politics where a subject or, more broadly, a community of subjects learns to auto-regulate themselves in relation to a social norm, would be the desire for same-sex marriage in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere (Edelman, 2004).
 Feminist theory, in particular, has been grappling with the 'neoliberal' or essentialist subject since the 1980's (not that the two are strictly equivalent). Case in point, third-wave and nomadic theorists such as Donna Haraway (1985, 1991, 1997) and Rosi Braidotti (2006, 2011) have projects that resemble the critique of neoliberal individuation. The film follows this general tradition by inhabiting and recasting neoliberal identity politics to be in the service of its own political ends. As a result, it twists and thereby revitalizes the universe of reference, to use Guattari's (1989/2013) words, within which its tropes are situated - perhaps best evinced by MTV's annual show and event Spring Break.
 This is not to say that the film necessarily intends a corrective rejoinder to Spring Break just as much as it cannot be said to celebrate the experience. To be specific, I suggest that Harmony explores the Spring Break phenomenon through a Deleuzian buggery reading. This style of reading means taking one's object of analysis from behind. As Deleuze (1995) says in relation to the history of philosophy, it results in:
 Giving [the philosopher] a child that would be his own offspring, yet monstrous. It was really important for it to be his own child, because the author had to actually say all I had him saying. But the child was bound to be monstrous too, because it resulted from all sorts of shifting, slipping, dislocations, and hidden emissions that I really enjoyed. (p. 6)
 This densely packed image of monstrosity, in large part, discloses what Harmony is up to: namely, using the pop-culture obsession with youth, beauty, and sexiness and rendering it versatile such that the obsession's obscene obverse becomes something of a haunting, jarring, destabilizing, and ultimately dangerous point of rupture.
 This particular maneuver is not entirely unique. Case in point, feminist and queer scholarship on the film genre of horror has analyzed the way in which traditional identity embodiments become sites of power, volition and, many times, violence - for example, Kathleen Karlyn's (2009) female empowerment reading of the Scream movie trilogy or Judith Halberstam's (1995) posthuman and queer appropriation of gender identity via Silence of the Lambs. While the preceding analyses are certainly postmodern or third-wave in their political criticality, they, nevertheless, in a very psychoanalytic vein, employ a certain 'abjective' polemic whereby the excreted element becomes the means of subversion. That is, the abject is made to trouble the status quo; or, more specifically, minority identities are used to problematize the category of identity as such.
 What seems particular to Spring Breakers, however, is its boldness and even slight haughtiness in placing itself at an apogee of various cultural elements, simply put, the sheer popularity of virtually all its dramaturgical elements: the fame of the actors, the setting of the film, the energetic power of its commodities, Britney Spears, etc. To state it in terms discussed previously, the abject becomes 'divinized' - or, rendered in technical language, the film marionettes the various molar assemblages that it desires to rework, e.g. sexism, heteronormativity, etc. This is certainly keeping in line with Deleuzian buggery and, I would argue, schizoanalytic methodology proper such that analysis is precisely not purely a negative gesture but, rather, a genuine act of creative piggybacking.
 The first salvos of dialogue show immediately how well the film lends itself to this kind of reading. In an opening scene, a university professor delivers a lecture on the history of civil rights in the United States. During this, Candy draws a penis in her notebook inscribed with the words 'spring break' and proceeds to lick it as if signaling to Brit her contempt and maniacal disregard for the content of the course, or, perhaps more believably, insinuating to Brit her true anticipatory desires. Of course, one way to read this scene is through the former whereby Candy is diagramming a meta-commentary on the historical genealogy being presented. A latter reading elides this kind of attentiveness in favor of a preoccupation with the object cause of desire - i.e., Spring Break. What is important, schizoanalytically, is that these two means of circumscription are not only not antithetical but are actually commensurable and even equivalent, in a certain sense.
 As a way to demonstrate this modeling of desire, it is helpful to foreground how erotic desire is taken up schizoanalytically. This essays understands schizoanalysis as first and foremost a form of praxis or intervention developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1980/1987, 1972/1983, etc.) and meant as an alternative to the scourges, mainly Oedipal, that plagued psychoanalysis. It is worth mentioning, in passing, Deleuze's influential books on cinema (cf. Deleuze, 1983/2005, 1985/2005). While these certainly would help generate additional layers of understanding regarding the film and its function, what I am most interested in developing is a theory of Spring Breakers that is more precisely schizoanalytic; that is to say, one that deploys the mechanics and techniques of the approach with rigor and fidelity to a text apropos Guattari's Schizoanalytic Cartographies (1989/2013).
 With this in mind, in terms of sexual identity, Buchanan (2008) indicates the schizoanalytic site of intercession, par excellence:
Sexuality cannot be liberated if it does not first of all dismantle the mechanism of sexual difference... the point is that sexual liberation, whether of women or men, or homosexuals, transsexuals, and so on, is not achieved by extending 'rights' of enjoyment to all interested parties, but by working to extinguish the factor of interest altogether. One has to get rid of both the problem and the solution. (p. 124, emphasis added)
The aim to "dismantle the mechanism" is the modus operandi for the schizoanalytic approach not only toward sexuality and gender, but also for other identitarian categories or molar assemblages, which, according to Deleuze and Guattari, foreclose desire. This is most assuredly not to invalidate the socio-historical conditions and assemblages that create micropolitical and institutional present day racism, sexism, and homophobia (Buchanan, 2008). On the contrary, it necessarily takes up these said machines and deploys them in order to create new effects in the future that work to dissolve or, at least, rework these power differentials, thereby generating a 'schiz' or rupture within the very machinic assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987).
 Therefore, the resultant effect and the thesis of this essay reveals that a schizoanalysis of identity politics is a function of creative complexification and tactics which, definitionally, outwit the hand of molar strata or hierarchical power systems - the identitarian examples being discussed here: gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. This conclusion is substantiated via an analysis of the semantic drift and emptiness of the refrain, the apotheosis of surfaces, the deterritorializing powers of the black hole, the phallus as artifice, and the answer in becoming-sprite coinciding with, as the film models, the end result, which is ultimately a paroxysmal transversality.
 This makes for a film and experience that is as challenging as it is ambitious insofar as it deterritorializes not only one or the other, the problem or the solution, but both thereby mapping a new and experimental cartography. After all, one of the fundamental taglines given by Alien - this fact to be explored later and salient in and of itself - is "time to experiment" (Korine et al., 2013).
The H(a)llow Refrain of Identity Politics
"Look at all mah shit! This is my she-it... this is it, ya'll. All this shit." -Alien
 The film accomplishes this experimentation, partially, through what Deleuze and Guattari call the refrain, which "takes us to the heart of the schizoanalytic project" (Berardi, 2011, p. 198). Cursorily, the refrain is repetitive structuration, repeating, for the sake of enunciation, certain forms of discursivity, signifying, and even asignifying semiotics. Or, as Deleuze and Guattari say (1980/1987), the refrain occurs "along sonorous, gestural, motor lines that mark the customary path of a child and graft themselves onto or begin to bud 'lines of drift' [emphasis added] with different loops, knots, speeds, movements, gestures, and sonorities" (p. 312). It is precisely these "lines of drift" that Harmony exploits in his attempt to play with subjectification thereby allowing identities to 'slide around' during the interpellation process. That is, the familiar, homely, and routinized avenues of subjective unfolding that are the "customary path of a child" by the very nature in which they are hypostatized, contain, simultaneously, through the refrain, a key to their undoing and transplantation. As such, Spring Breakers illustrates this exact fluidity during identity construction and, further, shows that lines of flight are always jettisoned during the process, the refrain being key in massaging this semiotic slide.
 In one sense, the refrain is a necessary and protective measure preventing the obliteration of the subject and signification from the chaos of immanence. In another sense, though, the refrain always threatens to "'harden,' be transformed into semiotic, ritual, sexual, aesthetic or political obsessions ... [becoming] a cage, a rigid system of references and of obsessively repetitive existential paths" (Berardi, 2011, p. 198-199). In the film, Harmony is hyperbolizing these refrains to draw the viewer's attention to the way in which such patternings of rigidity and parroting keep desire and singularity ossified.
 Once the refrain becomes affixed in this way, it is the task of the schizoanalyst to shake loose these clamps of subjectification and generate new lines of flight. In other words, the intervention proceeds, first and foremost, "as a curettage of the unconscious" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1972/1983, p. 299), whereby deterritorialized ruptures open up new and experimental possibilities of singularization. Specifically regarding the refrain, as Berardi (2011) states, "schizoanalysis intervenes at precisely these points of neurotic hardening of the refrain" thereby inducing "a bifurcation, a deviation of the path, a rupture of the closed circuit of obsessive repetition and a new horizon of possibility for vision and for experience" (p. 199). Has not this "obsessive repetition" come to emblematize the production of efficient, anesthetized bodies in our current social milieu whereby this particular 'refrain-mold' remains ascendant? And, if one of the goals of schizoanalysis is to disrupt the refrain, then does it not follow that it is precisely at the point of "obsessive repetition" that the intervention punctures the mold thereby inducing a "new horizon of possibility"?
 Perhaps the most concrete manifestation of this in the film are the strands of dialogue that are repeated over different scenes and plot sequences - not being duplicated verbatim but in such a way that the syntactical 'gist' remains intact while, at the same time, remapping the semantic coordinates, molding them to the affective content and rhythm of the scene. An example of this is the voice-over monologue given by Faith:
Hi grandma. Having so much fun here. This place... is special. I am starting to think this is the most spiritual place I've ever been. I think we found ourselves here. We finally got to see some other parts of the world. We saw some beautiful things here. God, I can't believe how many new friends we made. Friends from all over the place. I mean everyone was so sweet here. So warm and friendly ... We'll always remember this trip. I wanna go back again next year with you. Something so amazing, magical. Something so beautiful. Feels as if the world is perfect. Like it's never gonna end. (Korine et al., 2013)
Notice, first, the stark ambiguity encapsulated by the signifiers that she employs such that they recapitulate popular phrasing and idiomatic constructions, a kind of "obsessional repetition" typically associated with the young, millennial generation to which Faith belongs.
 How many times have Lindsay Lohan or Kim Kardashian uttered such hollowed-out remarks as 'this was so fun and special' or 'this is amazing, and I'm so excited'? To highlight a few of these signifiers: fun, special, God, amazing, magical, beautiful, and perfect. Not only is there a certain repetition replayed within the sequence itself - God, God, fun, fun - but the block as such is reiterated twice in the movie. Compounding this, the refrain comprises more than just words and includes symbols, images, gestures, music, and so on; for example, the 'classic' iconography of spring break: naked girls, frat guys taking beer bongs, weed and other drugs, etc. all compose the compositional content of the refrain as such - the film being hyper-aware of this and taking advantage of these templates.
 Thusly and constitutive of the refrain - and it is seen clearly in the example of Faith - is its emptiness. That is to say that the popular usage and abuse invest the signifiers with an ability to be translated among various territories of meaning precisely because they are so h(a)llow - sovereignly empty. Harmony incites the "lines of drift" inherent in the refrain by juxtaposing them with different and sometimes contradictory affective scenes, thereby deterritorializing the way these signifiers have come to be associated with the kind of vapid materialism and female subjugation evidenced by the likes of Paris Hilton.
 Rather, the film works hard to install the exact opposite, namely, that these kinds of refrains, when transplanted, are pregnant with emancipatory and subversive potential only on the basis of their emptiness. Even further, though, it is precisely because they are used as instruments of power and control via the proliferation of popular discoursivities, that they retain a heightened and apotheotic sense of disruption. Is it not their pervasive colloquialness and universality that renders them barren in the first place? And, does not their said propagation situate these particular refrains in a privileged power of effect - at a kind of cultural apex, an almost centralized and reified prototype?
 In order to break an indurate flow of the refrain, the film shows Faith and Cotty, when they have abandoned or 'failed' the spring break project, sitting on the bus headed home having their hands on the window. Exactly in the same way, as Guattari (1989/2013) says, "the refrain is then like the messenger-bird that taps on the window with its beak, so as to announce the existence of other virtual Universes of reference that can modify the actual state of enunciative dispositions profoundly" (p. 147). Mutant Universes of reference are always already available for appropriation, embedded structurally within any refrain redundancy. It is Brit and Candy (and the viewer?), as later explication will spell out, who hear the 'tapping on the window' and act on it by accessing or, better, creating new Universes of virtuality thereby becoming a spring breaker in the fullest sense of the term.
 A specific way to engage in this very process is the deployment of what Deleuze and Guattari (1980/1987) call a minor language. Minor does not imply grammatical poverty or aberrant form; rather, a minor language unlocks a process of becoming: "a question not of reterritorializing oneself on a dialect or a patois but of deterritorializing the major language" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987, p. 104). That is, speaking or inhabiting the minor language oneself is not so interesting as the ways in which the minor language produces heterogeneity in spite of the major language's hegemony. In this way, the minor language is used to "send the major language racing" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987, p. 105, emphasis in original).
 The film illustrates this exceptionally well in the scene where Alien is querying Faith regarding her demand to go home. The scene is a climax of Faith's increasing uneasiness with the path the girls have taken. Recently having been bailed out of jail by Alien, the four girls find themselves hanging out with Alien's black friends. While the other three girls seem to be enjoying themselves, Faith is visibly uncomfortable. Indeed, the scene seems intended to produce a similar discomfort in the viewer. That is, one cannot help but be somewhat on edge at the site of these four bikini-clad, young, white girls in a symbolically foreign environment, surrounded by black men who may play off a ghetto or thug trope.
 In one sense, it is almost as if Harmony is teasing the viewer by suggesting a certain normal metonymic completion to the scene a la one or all the girls being raped (is not there something racist even in us suggesting such a conclusion?). In another sense, though, and this is more interesting, he frustrates these very anticipatory desires or expected conclusions by pushing the scene to its breaking point; not in a way that is ironic or satirical, but such that it creates an asignifying rupture producing a kernel of non-sense or an affect of bewilderment. Why did Alien abstain? Instead of giving into the anticipatory desire of the viewer, at the last possible second, the scene breaks down.
Gangsta Mysticism: Surf-acing Affective Waves
"I'm starting to think this is the most spiritual place I've ever been..." -Faith
 It is never precisely clear what Alien's intentions are, or the intentions of any of the characters, for that matter. In fact, the very notion of intention at all is put in abeyance, cast into a kind of purgatory state. This gives the film its jarring and unsettling gloss - brought into contrast even more starkly by seeming "like it was candy - like you could touch it, like it was lit with Skittles" (Toronto International Film Festival, 2012). Coupled with the cocking sound, that of a gun, one scene cuts away to another, and the viewer is thrown into a state of emotional confusion and unfulfillment precisely by the fact that the cocking never 'comes' to completion - i.e., fires. This lifts the film into an in-between space of already having started but not yet having finished. Adding to this effect, the audience is left unsure if the girls, especially Brit and Candy, are heroines or victims, if Alien is a savior or a devil, or if the film is about Dionysian indulgence or calculated violence. Such suffusing ambiguity, the intermixing and undecidability between dichotomies, is not so much about obfuscation as it is directed toward inducing a certain affect or encounter.
 As Harmony states, "I wanted to make a movie ... that worked also in an experiential way - that was something like a physical experience. A movie that would almost like go through you, in a physical way" (Toronto International Film Festival, 2012). This kind of material-affective transformation is akin to, in one sense, the liberation of desire for the sake of its very liberation, which is necessarily transformational. That is to say, following Deleuze and Guattari (1972/1983), desire in and of itself is revolutionary, dismembering the various triagulatory configurations - e.g., the Oedipus complex, hierarchical institutional arrangements, the faciality of capital, etc. - that keep it concretized and prevent neoteric assemblages from coming together. On the one hand, the film seems acutely aware of this insofar as it overtly and sometimes hedonically entices the viewer with images that have socio-symbolically cathected desire - e.g., naked, young bodies, alcohol and drugs, the sun and the beach, or, above all, money... capitalist lines of escape from the lifelessness and mediocrity of the workplace with its drab, anesthetic siphoning of singular energies (contrast this to the technicolored cinematography of the film).
 Contradistinctively, the film or the schizoanalytic project as such, cannot be circumscribed without appraisal of the mystical - although, and this is exceedingly important, mysticism or spirituality, schizoanalytic, are alien to a vernacular understanding of these signifiers. As Harmony says, the luminous and vivid neon colors of the film create an almost surrealist sheen wherein "it seems like a dream. Maybe it's a dream, maybe it's not a dream - it's the real world, it's not" (Toronto International Film Festival, 2012). This suspension, in the film, between two worlds - the dream and the real - goes toward creating and sustaining, on the one hand, the affect of unsettledness and discongruity vis-a-vis the cocking of the gun, the erasure of intention, etc. while, on the other hand, ushering in a new universe of reference through this very cleft whereby old symbols are twisted and revitalized precisely due to the abeyance.
 Indeed, the viewer might become slightly paranoid from being manipulated in this way. Harmony seems to echo this when he states "I wanted to, in some ways, try to induce - not a hypnosis - but a repetition, a lulling, a kind of trance feeling. I wanted to make a movie ... that was something that was more felt" (Toronto International Film Festival, 2012). Here, as Faith points to in the inaugural quotation of this section, is the film's spiritual essence, which Harmony characterizes as 'gangsta mysticism.' To state this explicitly, it is precisely the superficial content of the movie - the glossy, decadent, and hedonic signifiers - wherein it derives its affective and spiritual power. That is, the film is not engaging in a polemic about the moral vacuity of the spring break experience or even engaging in an ironic appropriation of these very signifiers. Rather, it shoots for something much more, something that shifts the coordinates that map these symbols in the first place - in a way that is engaged and radically non-nostalgic.
 Shaviro (2013) reads the film in a similar way by conceptualizing it as post-irony; that is, while some of the cognitive substance has an ironic ring to it, the affective dissonance embedded within the film creates a kind of superimposition, between the cognitive and affective, thereby disallowing for a strict satirical reading. Is not this superimposition precisely the 'schiz' that a schizoanalysis creates in the refrain whereby the cut generates not only what Shaviro calls "affective dissonance" but also unfolds the refrain onto new universes of reference? Indeed, Harmony seems to be employing this technique to the identity politics of the film such that normal subjective positionings are disrupted and reworked - e.g., the sweet, young, attractive, white college girls become sociopaths instead of objects or victims.
 Moreover, the fact that these girls almost symbolize stereotypes, tout court, makes their actions so striking and interesting. This is similar to the vacuity of popular rhetoric analyzed earlier except instead of signification, the object of inquiry is identity or subjectivity, which is, at bottom, just another form of enunciation. In fact, is it not the stereotype-refrain itself, the workings of a highly abstract assemblage, which floats over various pools of meaning becoming anchored only by the necessity of certain political winds and tides of power? It is this surface nature of the stereotype, then, the most abstract bundle of cultural signifiers and discursive structures, which renders it most pregnant with revolutionary potential. The stereotype-refrain hybrid deployed in this way becomes not so much a site of oppression but, rather, a means of transversal - a line of flight that escapes any attempt to position it as subjugated.
 More broadly, the film as such is a waxing on the beauty and transformationality of surfaces - their ethico-aesthetic potentialities. Harmony is quite clear about this intention,
 This movie, purposely, is about surfaces. I find beauty in surfaces; I don't think surface is a bad thing ... I wanted it to be a mix of high and low and not differentiate. I wanted it to be a film that felt like, how can I say this, the aesthetic, the feeling of it needed to pop. I wanted to tell a story more from the outside in. When I say surfaces, it needed to feel like something beautiful but maybe you weren't there with them, does that make sense? (Toronto International Film Festival, 2012)
 Creating nonsense is actually one of the exact mechanisms that Harmony utilizes in his pursuit to disrupt the refrain. That is, as we have analyzed, the surface refrain in and of itself contains within its very assemblage pockets of changeability exploited through an asignifying incitation - e.g., the cocking of the gun, the paranoid search for intention, etc. This results in the abandonment of striating, what constitutes as high and low and, therefore, an unashamed embrace of surfaces. In fact, there is a direct correlation between the degree of renunciation between valuation - e.g., the girls are objectified - and the aesthetic impact or 'mysticism' of the surface, of finding the sacred in the banal.
 In relation to the dream, which is salient given Harmony's ambiguous answer regarding the reality status of the film, Guattari (1989/2013) echoes this point nicely when arguing that a schizoanalysis "no longer arise[s] from an interpretation of [the dream's] deep contents but participate[s] in a mechanics on the surface of its text ... the cutting, the breaking of sense is only a manifestation of a subjectification in the nascent state" (p. 191). The analytics of the surface is, sine qua non, the realm of exploration for the schizoanalyst as opposed to hypothesized deeper or underlying structures, which is a main site of deviation between Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalysis and Lacanian psychoanalysis. The latter aims to theoretically develop the so-called 'mathemes' of the unconscious and the former rejects any such a priori, transcendent structures. In a sense, the Lacanian mathemes are replaced by refrains with the caveat, as we have seen, that these refrains structurally drift - are free floating, particularized, and unaffixed.
 Thus, there are two processes unfolding simultaneously. On the one hand, the refrain, the surface, subjectivity, etc. necessarily shift their semiotic coordinates 'naturally' or by a function of their very nature, as an ontological principle. On the other hand, a schizoanalysis is an intervention in this process such that it 'cuts' the refrain (or the viewer's refrain) resulting in a "breaking of sense" pushing subjectification into a "nascent state" that is radically deterritorialized and, therefore, fraught with lines of flight producing new semiotic structuring. The more 'blunt' rupturing that occurs creates the mystic and affective assailment in the film, which is emblazoned in the character Alien.
Drug(ged) into a Black Hole: Alien avec Britney
"Truth be told - I ain't from this planet, ya'll." -Alien
 There is no more enduring or precarious cipher to hold onto than Alien. In one sense, he can be credited with precipitating a clear shift in narration and the experiential unfolding of the film as, for example, in the pivotal scene when he bails the girls out from jail - the latter part of the movie arguably being dominated by bacchanalia while the former taking on a much more dangerous, subversive, and violent tone (this dissection of the film only holds, of course, if one sees desire and disruption as mutually exclusive). Alien's power to cause change, in this way, means he can be read as a black hole in the schizoanalytic sense: a "sign [that] breaks its relation of signifiance with other signs and sets off racing down a positive line of flight [obtaining] an absolute deterritorialization" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987, p. 133). This 'break' occurs due to the fact that:
- His costuming and embodiment are inconsistent with his cultural positioning - as a white rapper referred to as nigga by his black friends.
- He is a martyr character - as is clearly evident with his death when one of the girls gives him a Judas kiss.
- He is the emptiest of signifiers - as depicted by the $ he has tattooed on his neck thereby aligning his sub(per)version potentials in relation to the ad hoc drug of capital: "Shit, fucking made of money, look at my fucking teeth. They should call me money" (Korine et al., 2013).
 By breaking the fourth wall, even further support may be added to this analysis through incorporating James Franco, the actor who plays Alien. It is no secret that Franco is somewhat of a queer icon, often engendering a flirtatious and even a frustrating relationship with the media regarding the truth of his sexuality (Nichols, 2013). Adding this additional line of intersection further emblematizes how Alien, the character, crystallizes these dissonances wherein it is not merely ironic that Franco, a symbol of queerness, plays a straight, macho character or that Alien is a 'whigger' - a white rapper; rather, the interstices of these variances and subject positions is ultimately affective, nonsensible, and asignifying spawning what schizoanalysis calls a black hole.
 Indeed, Watson (2009) plainly states "if an assemblage becomes hyperstratified, it may form a black hole, which may in turn generate a super-deterritorialized line of flight" (p. 81). Are not these numerous sedimentations of identity precisely this "hyperstratification" whereby their very disjunctiveness causes a collapse or puncture in the semantic field? And, furthermore, is this not the exact mechanism by which novel and liberatory modes of singularization spring forth via a "super-deterritorialized line of flight"? Alien is not only a hyperstratification of identity costuming and construction, but also a mockery/mimicry/miming of these very layers resulting in a 'slice' - a release of these coded flows into deterritorialized space; again, not exactly irony as much as an affective rupture. It is precisely in this sense that Alien - the name being a giveaway here - is an 'embodiment' of a schizoanalytic black hole.
 Almost as if to double down on this analysis, the film contains another strata as a kind of specter that haunts the discursive logic of the film. This motif is Britney Spears - existing as a fragile cultural nexus in spite of Alien's stormy and seditious powers. So crucial is the Spears motif in the film that Stone (2013) argues that the movie as such is an allegory of her career and public breakdown in 2007. Barring such a totalizing reading, from a schizoanalytic point of view, how is it that Britney's spell exerts such a powerful influence over the unfolding of the film? Twice the allusion is central: in the parking lot when the girls are reenacting the robbery and drinking, they sing stanzas from "...Baby One More Time" and, of course, the famous scene when, donning pink ski masks with a unicorn patch embroidered on their forehead and wielding guns, they dance around the piano as Alien plays "Everytime" - the suicidal subtext of the song's music video (Vineyard, 2004), it should be noted, forebodingly features in coloring the girls' fate.
 Let us connect the dots between the three: Alien, Britney, and the masks. First, there is Alien who is assembling and shedding identificatory signifiers but in a way that never becomes hypostatized - i.e., that holds open the implosiveness of the black hole. Second, there's Britney who, according to Alien, is "one of the greatest singers of all time, and an angel if there ever was one on this earth" (Korine et al., 2013). As specter qua angel, she is purely virtual; that is, while Alien operates primarily under the actuality of his corporeality, conversely, Britney is a paradigmatic model, a highly abstract machine that could appear in a number of instantiations, still having a certain, yet flexible, structuration - similar to the analysis of the refrain conducted earlier, especially accentuated this time given its pervasive deployment in Britney's songs: gimme gimme more, gimme gimme more; womanizer, woma-womanizer, you're a womanizer; etc.
 As Deleuze and Guattari (1980/1987) point out, "sometimes chaos is an immense black hole in which one endeavors to fix a fragile point as a center" (p. 312). Is Britney not this exact structuring yet brittle object around which the film eddies? This affixed "fragile point" provided by Britney coupled with the stripping power of Alien causes the metonymic refrain chains of narration and the discursive logics of the characters to collide with such gravity as to produce a massively deterritorialized line of flight. As such, the film unfolds Ms. Spears and her 'earworms' that get inside your head onto a space that strips them of their normal, pop music meaning - i.e., love, sex, romance, money, etc. - decoding an epicenter of what has typically been positioned as objectification, compliancy, and passivity.
 Third, the ski mask with its embroidered unicorn is a transversal of the capitalist triangulation of faciality such that it reterritorializes the face with signifiers that are feminine and queer - e.g., the pink material with the embroidered unicorn patch. While various prototypes of facial semiotization are culturally dependent, faciality has a privileged place under capital because of its close kinship with coding and language (even more so than the refrain). Thus, as Guattari argues, "it implants itself in the middle of the face like a third eye, an eye immanent to all signifying representation" (as cited in Watson, 2009, p. 87). In this way, the pink unicorn balaclavas reconfigure the triangulation, indeed, even denying it insofar as the face is masked; or, to say it differently, the faciality triangle is inscribed upon a veil, upon a pink slate wherein the 'third eye' - the spiritual connotations of the terminology still ever present - appears as a pink unicorn, as that which is fetishisticly disavowed by the phallus: femininity and queerness.
The Masquerading Phallus: S(t)imulation
"Come on y'all - why you actin 'spicious?" -Alien
 Catalyzing such a position to come to fruition was Jacques Lacan who actually snipped the cord that tied the phallic metaphor to the male private part, the penis, thereby freeing the phallus to be donned and construed in various ways (Žižek, 2002). That is to say that signifiers traditionally crystallized in the phallic metaphor - e.g., strength, authority, control, domination, power, etc. - are necessarily unaffixed from any concrete instantiation, i.e., the possession of the penis. As such, any subject can inhabit or deploy the 'phallic' attributes, not in terms of choice or commoditization, but always necessarily in relation to the big Other. At bottom, in Lacan, the phallic metaphor is a ruse such that it perpetuates the deferral of desire as opposed to grounding the subject in the Real of the drive (Žižek, 1994).
 We see the film take this two-pronged approach regarding the phallic metaphor; as Alien says about the Twins, "you know what they're all about, do ya? Double penetration" (Korine et al., 2013). This line is directed to Faith as if to remind her (it) that "God is a Lobster, or a double pincer, a double bind" as Deleuze and Guattari (1980/1987, p. 40) famously said. She-it are caught in the double articulation of strata and it is precisely this in-between space that is most deterritorialized.
 The failure or success to maintain this liminality is played out, in the film, using the four girls. As a matter of fact, they can roughly be mapped onto the classic analytic diagnostic structures: Faith is the paranoiac obsessive, always suspicious of what the other wants from her - as she asks Alien (her/the Other), "what do you want? Why?" (Korine et al., 2013). Cotty is the prototypical hysteric with the tagline "you're never going to get this pussy" (Korine et al., 2013) - she desires to be the object of desire but once she actually becomes it as such (e.g., when she gets shot by a gun/phallus in the arm/wing) she abandons the spring break project. Finally, Brit and Cotty are the lobster, which is pure aleatority, God, the double-pincer, perverse heroines, the cure, etc. never ceding on their desire and seeing it carried until the very end, being the cause of themselves and not the cause of the Other/Alien (Žižek, 1994).
 Also notable here is that Faith, the girl with the Christian background (she even attends church prior to leaving for spring break), is the first to fold. She becomes nostalgic for home, a transcendent phantasy as opposed to an immanent nomadism, and fears Alien's fraternal desire - his black friends - that appears to be an unsettling form of alterity for her. Faith's renunciation is evidence, again, of setting the film on edge, and it more generally highlights the ontological liberatory power of desire as such; the film being a space of an ambiguous foreboding, on the one hand, and that very foreboding never coming to fruition via expectation, on the other. Is it not precisely in this sense that the movie is a certain kind of stratagem, frustrating the anticipatory desires of the viewer by never seeing them satiated?
 In a similar way, this double-pincer maneuver by Harmony crafts the phallus as a simulation perhaps most clearly illustrated during the robbery scene. This sequence acts as a 'founding myth' or perhaps more accurately as a 'founding lie' such that the girls rob the store using squirt guns thereby structuring the scene under a false pretense, casting the diners and workers as dupes - i.e., even though the phallus is a phony, it still has profound a/effects. Moreover, though, the robbery scene in particular is recounted, retooled, and even celebrated by the girls, most notably in the parking lot of the gas station where they start singing Britney Spears's "...Baby One More Time" - the former part of the lyrics prior to the ellipses being, of course, "hit me" ... is this not a kind of charade in and of itself such that Britney does not want her lover to literally 'hit her' but it is rather a polyvocal metaphor for something else, presumably something sexual although one cannot say for sure.
 All of this parading around of artifice may be troubling for the viewer; however, the girls, are not only too foxy to be tricked by it, but they hijack it themselves, for their own subversive and perverse ends - i.e., via the s(t)imulation of the phallus. As one of Brit's refrains commands, "just pretend it's a video game. Like you're in a fucking movie" (Korine et al., 2013). Apart from being ironic, since they are "in a fucking movie," this also, in a sense, breaches the fourth-wall by pulling the viewer into the simulation. The girls are obviously in a movie together, but is the viewer as well? Is this a command from Brit to the audience members? Indeed, the film as such is constructed to give the feeling of a videogame, of a pure simulation vis-a-vis the neon, otherworldly colors, the exotic locations, the unbridled consumption of pleasure, the lack of responsibility, etc. Am I in the same simulation that the film purports to hyperbolize, perhaps even modeling my own reality? Has Britney Spears been saying something strangely profound all these years?
 Pushing this concept of s(t)imulation further, take for example, one of the girls, exclusively either Brit or Candy, using their hand like a gun to either shoot themselves in the head or just to shoot in general as a kind of (jest)uring - does this not highlight, most explicitly, how the phallus is ultimately a simulation of sorts? In fact, could this not be read as a completion of the audio cocking sound heard between - the interwoven virtual spaces - the cutscenes only rendered in visual form? There is something curious going on here in terms of shifting phallic power to the girls by having them 'pull the trigger' within the (actuality of the) scene. Indeed, a clear motivation of the film seems to be to empower and strengthen the 'feminine position' by inscribing it with the phallic power of s(t)imulation.
 The girls not only typically wield the phallus in the film but also demand its stimulation. The iconic scene when Brit and Candy are in Alien's bedroom demonstrates this most clearly. There's a moment in this scene when the viewer is not sure if the girls are going to turn violent and possibly kill Alien. They even go so far as to stick both of their loaded silencer pistols (a curious gun choice) into his mouth - pinch, pinch - whereupon he performs fellatio on them. They demand phallic stimulation just for the hell of it, it seems, simply because they get off on it. Yet, strangely, it is almost as if they know the whole time that they themselves are simulating it (e.g., the 'hand' gun), but they do so in a way that commandeers this simulation without a fear of it being 'exposed' or found-out. In fact, is it not precisely this 'all in' mentality that renders Brit and Candy as the ethical agents, par excellence, of the film? By refusing to cede on their desire for s(t)imulation, they are the last two standing, the heroines of the film who bring down the power structures that have kept them fettered and chained.
 The fact that desire in and of itself is revolutionary was argued by Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (1972/1983) wherein said liberation absolutely does not result in the Dionysian decadence witnessed at the beginning of the film, which is how desire may become distorted under capitalist molar assemblages. The immanent desire that Deleuze and Guattari envision, keeping with the anti-oedipal motif, may best be exemplified in an ever-so-brief cut scene in which Alien, Brit, and Candy are destroying the site, par excellence, of Oedipus and the neoliberal rights discourse a la same-sex marriage: the wedding reception where the cake is clearly seen as being smashed (cf. the polyvocality of 'cake' in rap/pop-culture).
 To say they are robbing the wedding, in one sense, would be misleading because ever since their encounter with Alien, the girls' desire really has not been about the accumulation of money inasmuch as it has been to "cause trouble" - after all, they found what they were looking for originally since Alien is strictly equivalent to money. In another sense, though, thievery is precisely what they are doing - robbing the Oedipal triangle that Deleuze and Guattari so lament of its power to channel, constrict, and subordinate their desire.
- An elf or fairy.
- A computer graphic that may be moved on-screen and otherwise manipulated as a single entity.
- A faint flash, typically red, sometimes emitted in the upper atmosphere over a thunderstorm owing to the collision of high-energy electrons with air molecules.
—(Define Sprite, n.d.)
 This segues into what has uncomfortably been the elephant in the room during the present analysis, namely, the controversial relationship the film has to ethnicity, particularly African-American and rap culture. In one way, it seems that a more conservative reading of the film would lament Alien's appropriation of the thug archetype as a function of white, male privilege wherein black sociality become a site of exploitation or colonization. However, this places under erasure the fundamental premise of the film, which is an undoing of these very identitarian alignments. Even stronger still is that, via an immanentist philosophy, such a reading would only be secondary in the sense that it hypostatizes particular and privileged subject positions - e.g., the strict 'literality' of the tropes corresponds to certain enactments, refrains, affects, etc. - when this is not true on ontological principle.
 To say this is most definitely not to disregard the possibility, or the inevitability, of hegemonic vampirization of minoritarian groups. In fact, schizoanalysis specifically subverts any such attempt to territorialize identity in this way, either by late capitalist multiculturalism or fascistic colonization, and actually crafts 'identity' in precisely the same way as Alien qua black hole. Thus, it is not that Alien represents the horrors associated with the commoditization of minority groups but, rather, the exact opposite! Alien is the schizoanalytic answer to neoliberal identity: a crosser of boundaries, creator of difference, node connecting disparate groups, sacrificial liberator of desire... schizoanalyst?
 The film's subtext in relation to femininity and queerness under a black male gaze is much more contentious. This is most certainly a commentary on rap and hip-hop culture in general and its recent history of objectification in relation to femininity and discrimination in relation to queerness: e.g., it was only a few years ago that the word faggot featured predominantly in mainstream rap. Indeed, the inhabitation of the phallic position specifically without acknowledgement of its simulation and masquerading has been destructive to the construction of this specific sexual difference insofar as it has given one gender and sexual position special privilege and therefore power.
 One scene emblematizes this perfectly. Archie and a black female passenger roll-up on Alien with Brit, Candy, and Cotty coming the opposite way down the street. The viewer immediately experiences tension here because, while at a strip club, Archie had just before accused Alien of encroaching on his turf and has threatened retribution. Alien's not to be trusted, in other words, to play by the rules of the game and Archie knows this. After an exchange of words, Archie begins to speed off and his passenger shoots at Alien's car hitting Cotty in the arm/wing. In this scene, black female agency is suspended becoming merely an intermediary for the motivations and desire of the phallic position by carrying out the 'dirty work' of this very position, i.e. of Archie.
 Is this not symbolic of a certain self-policing or, to state it differently, a 'desiring to become the phallus' within rap culture - a subduing of threatening femininity by becoming a proxy or appendage for the (m)Other (Verhaeghe, 2001)? In stark contrast, Brit and Candy never exhibit such a desire, in a sense, because they already believe themselves to be in possession of the phallus and, furthermore, recognize it as artifice. In this way, the film creates a line of flight via the model of Brit and Candy, which is not a condemnation of the symbols themselves that constitute the scene (e.g., the iconography of rap and hip-hop culture) but, rather, a criticism of a specific way in which the assemblages can be linked. After all, Harmony envisioned the film as inducing a 'gangsta mysticism' in the viewer - hardly a condemnation of these tropes and, more accurately, an apotheotic reification of them.
 The precipitate from such an alchemical intermixing of these various elements is, following in the vein of Deleuze and Guattari's lexicon, a becoming-sprite. As they say, "a becoming is not a correspondence between relations. But neither is it a resemblance, an imitation, or, at the limit, an identification ... [it is] perfectly real ... [which] produces nothing other than itself" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987, p. 237-238). This is specifically not a representation, imitation, or semblance of something other in the way that the foregoing discussion has analyzed femininity and queerness as aspiring to-be-the-phallus-for. Rather, it is grounded in affect via the transposition of bodies with and among each other. The new course that the film charts in relation to other immanentist becomings - e.g., becoming-animal, becoming-woman, becoming-child, etc. - is christened somewhat ironically as becoming-sprite, which is exemplified perfectly in Brit and Candy.
 In one sense, sprite points to the ethereal playfulness and comradery the girls continuously display with each other throughout the film such that they resemble insurgent even terroristic fairies. In the scene where they sing "Everytime," they construct a fairy ring with the help of shotguns, rifles, DTF sweatpants, and pink ski masks. In another way, sprite is a simulation or computer graphic (cf. Brit's videogame refrain) not in the sense of the phallus as farce or even of Alien as martyr, but as being singularized, distinct from the other, in a process of becoming virtual. Finally, sprite is the effect of a catalytic reaction - inaugurated, perhaps, by Alien - as in the faint red flash emitted in the upper atmosphere over a thunderstorm through the collision of high-energy electrons with air molecules. The aftermath of these various alchemical experimentations, as the viewer of the film knows, is awesome, tactical, and fierce. How prescient that, in the beginning, one of Faith's church friends says of Brit and Candy, "you watch out for those two - they act like they got the demon blood" (Korine et al., 2013).
Future Directions: 'Oops! ... I Did It Again'
"Spring break forever, bitches!" -Candy
 Spring Breakers, as the title suggests, is a reference to the actual people participating in the activity as well as the group as a whole whose commonality is linked precisely because of the pragmatic project they are engaged in together. In the same way, it might be said, the film's refrain of "spring break forever, bitches!" is simultaneously an invitation for the viewer or reader, in this case, to plunge into the rabbit hole the film opens thereby entering a schizoanalytic world wherein identity never remains affixed or concrete. Only in such a world are subjects free to fashion available assemblages, strategically, to avoid capture by the rights discourse of neoliberalism and its appropriation of subjects through commoditization and capital.
 Interestingly, the director who will assume the mantle to the sequel of the film called Spring Breakers: The Second Coming is Jonas Åkerlund (Lombardi, 2014). His appointment has not gone without controversy (Chandler, 2014). In the past, he has directed trendy and avant-garde music videos for Lady Gaga, Paparazzi and Telephone, and Britney Spears, Hold It Against Me (Ross, 2011), wherein the sometimes real, sometimes fake product placements create "a carnivalesque aesthetic, or a type of conceptualist art that parodies by displaying too loudly or too blatantly that which is being mocked" (McCaffray and Vicks, 2010, para. 13).
 This "carnivalesque aesthetic" (bracketing, for the constraints of space, Guattari's affinity for Bakhtin here) resonates with the "affective dissonance" and post-irony articulated by Shaviro (2013) in his analysis of the first film. In other words, it seems that both of the directors - Harmony and Åkerlund - have a project that is very different from the modernist configuration of the popstar, (fe)male body, and identity as essentialist, objectified, and desirable. They even deviate from a postmodernist reading via the ironic reappropriation of modernist signifiers through satire, humor, wit, critique, polemic, etc. Rather, both aim for a transformational experience, a motive clearly evident in the aforementioned work, going beyond outmoded and trite semiologies through the creation of new concepts, including those that may be asignifying and affective, which is very schizoanalytic.
 Pussy Riot, the punk rock and revolutionary girl group from Russia, has also been linked to The Second Coming although they have denied any involvement with the Åkerlund version (Chandler, 2014). Nevertheless, in terms of a sequel to the present analysis, such involvement would be profoundly fruitful insofar as the girls in the film and the girls in the band have striking similarities fraught with fertile interstices. To name a few: the feminist and female empowerment themes, the balaclavas, their revolutionary politics, the rejection of identitarianism, their subversion of nationalism, etc. Harmony has denied that he modeled Faith, Cotty, Brit, and Candy on Pussy Riot. This is partially to be believed since the film wrapped production prior to the explosion of the band on the world stage in March 2012 when Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were "arrested on a charge of hooliganism involving religious hatred" (Stanglin, 2014, para. 4). Could not the exact same charge be leveled against Brit and Candy? A rich coincidence, indeed! One that calls for further unpacking.
 Disjunctive with Pussy Riot is the Florida t-shirt worn by Alien. Florida, of course, being the land of retirement and symbolic of the older generation whom, the film seems to anticipate, will come to pass along with the molar assemblages of identity constructed around this Mecca of geriatrics and bastion of conservatism. By having Alien wear the Florida t-shirt, Harmony is tossing this powerful insignia into the abyss of a black hole thereby deterritorializing it and opening up a line of flight out of a reactionary debate surrounding identitarianism and towards its reconstruction in unique, innovative, and cunning ways.
 It is exactly in this sense that schizoanalysis is radically non-nostalgic (Deleuze & Guattari, 1972/1983), eliding any fettering from previous traumas - historical, social, personal, etc. - and the lack installed vis-a-vis apparatuses of capture in favor of the surplus and overflow of immanence. In order to thwart and subvert molar structures that keep subject positions hypostatized, identity politics must take heed of the schizoanalytic call for processual creation and complexification whereby "all the cogs [i.e., identities] are to be worked, artificialized, 'baroquized'" (Guattari, 1989/2013, p. 149). Only in this way are groups able to outmaneuver the insipid and shrewd forms of imprisonment instituted by the striation of molar assemblages such as capitalist multiculturalism.
 Following the model of Brit and Candy, the unique form that this takes is to set upon becoming-sprite: a catalytic fairy always processing toward the virtual.
Everytime I try to fly,
I fall. Without my wings,
I feel so small -
I guess I need you baby.
—"Everytime" by Britney Spears
(Stameatelatos & Sigsworth, 2004)
Jacob W. Glazier, MS Ed, PhD Student, Department of Psychology, University of West Georgia.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jacob W. Glazier.
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- The writer and director's first name, Harmony, will be used for the purposes of not confusing him with his partner, Rachel Korine, who plays Cotty in the film.
- Do not they actually enjoy their Other as opposed to, in a peculiar sense, being a victim of it? Take the scene of Brit, Candy, and Alien in the pool. This is the first and only time that sexual penetration, of what can be deduced, occurs in the film and the two girls are laughing and even, one could argue, joking around. Contrast this with what the viewer had expected: a spectacle of brutal rape and anguish. Whose (anticipatory) desires are more oppressive?