BY JOHN CARTER JR
Imagine for a moment you picked up a two-liter of Pepsi and brought it to your house, you left for a moment and returned to notice an entire pack of Mentos miraculously appeared in the plastic vessel. The factory seal is unbroken. Suddenly the regular reaction between soda and Mentos starts to bubble up in the small closed-off container. The liquid begins to erupt, but with nowhere to go, the bottle struggles violently and appears as if sweat (probably condensation) was dripping from its plastic.
The delicious drink begins to ever slightly leak from the weakened seal when a beautiful man walks along out of nowhere. Unafraid of the raging bubbling liquid truth, he lifts up the powerful bottle and with no fear of getting soda on himself he gently opens the bottle, soda splashes all over the man. He takes a drink, grins, and is gone. So is the cap. That is what this film is.
Released in 2019, Kiss of the Rabbit God by Andrew Huang is one of, if not, the best short films I have ever seen. The film stars Teddy Lee and Jeff Chen as Matt, the Lucky Dragon employee and Tu’er Shen, the rabbit God, respectively. The story centers around a repressed man working tirelessly at his restaurant position when suddenly an intriguing patron appears to him. Going by simply Shen the legendary rabbit god guides the young restaurant employee towards a moment of empowering liberation. In order to understand the film clearly, we need to identify which components of the film were which ones in the analogy.
If we were to look at our main protagonist in the aforementioned analogy, he would be the bottle, the soda would be his desire, and the Mentos would be everything that elicits his latent desire. Matt is a scared, skinny, repressed man. He works a dead-end job where he is frustratingly yelled at and he has little accidents as icing on the cake; accidentally cutting his finger is an example of this. His desires are made known when a beautiful red-haired bespectacled man walks into the restaurant looking for a meal, not on the menu. Shen’s presence sparks desire in Matt, and the elementary soda experiment begins.
The Rabbit God is the arbiter of desire, secret love, and self-acceptance. He is powerful and consensual. He helped Matt open up. Matt is not a pathetic human being, nor is anything wrong with him. The Rabbit God is simply trying to right the wrongs of society that have inflicted this illness of repression upon him.
He does this by expressing his beauty, acceptance, and sympathy for the repressed man. He is the Mentos. Simply the spark that inspires a powerful fire for change within Matt. For many LGBT people, it takes a kind of open, honest, and intimate connection for them to even think they could be safe to exist as themselves and be happy.
The containment of the feelings of love, desire, and personal homeostasis is impossible to keep up forever, or we perish under the pressure of restriction. It is the most painful personal experience many LGBT people go through. Many go decades, never even approaching the topic and learning to manage constantly enduring an imminent explosion of pain and catharsis. The cap stuck factory sealed on the bottle is the sickness of societal rules or expectations. Every gay person starts with a cap, not knowing that it’s there as a child but learning that they have one, and it’s suffocating.
For some, the sugary substance has hardened at the top of the soda and needs to be cut off to get the drink inside. This represents the toxic effects of repression over a period of years. This violent image of cutting out the real you is conveyed in elegant imagery in the film. Tu’er Shen Tells Matt that if he doesn’t tend to the wound on his finger, it will fester. Matt cuts open his chest and rather than screaming in pain, he looks more relieved than anything. Like he wasn’t expecting blood to come out, but it did. He is not wrong and is just as human as anyone else, he, too bleeds the same color.
The cap is now off, but who removed it? In the previous analogy, it could’ve been guessed that the beautiful man removing the cap was Tu’er Shen, but he was merely a catalyst or advocate of sorts. The beautiful man drinking the Pepsi was none other than Matt himself. He chose to free himself and it was this act of self-love that freed him.
Kiss of the Rabbit God is a beautiful experience full of color. It can be loud and soft at the same time. It is scary, exciting, lonely, and togetherness. It is being seen, and being understood, and it is the feeling we get when we see someone and have empathy. It is compassion and what it means to inspire someone to overcome something they thought impossible before. It is coming out to yourself on your terms, when you want to, and in the arms of someone who makes you feel safe. It is holding someone’s hand as you walk over a rope bridge over a massive drop. The film’s imagery and the set design of the Lucky Dragon Restaurant never cease to amaze me. It is pure excellence.
Kiss Of The Rabbit God is a commentary on repression. It uses effective imagery, colors, and elegant storytelling techniques to paint a powerful image of the internal struggle many LGBT people endure. The explosive nature of repressed feelings, especially deep ones like love or desire, can take strong-willed confrontations with our internalized prejudices to change and heal. Don’t be mistaken; however, this strong will must be presented with patience, love, and kindness if we are ever to cure the illness society has inflicted on so many people. We exist as the sealed bottle and the person that must open it. How scary it must be to exist like this on a regular basis and how hopeless it must feel to be a bottle of soda with no hands.
I give Kiss Of The Rabbit God a 10/10 for its exploration of repression, desire, and self-love. It is powerful in its imagery. It should be seen by many and is free to view on Andrew Huang’s Youtube.