We’ve seen it plenty of times. A group of guys who’ve been friends for years suddenly find their world disrupted by the arrival of a new female. She typically enters the scene on the arm of one of the fellows, and the others tolerate her because of their loyalty to their buddy. But before long, things begin to change. The guys start to see less of their friend, or if he does come around, the girl is always with him. In subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) ways, she manages drive a wedge between her man and his old comrades until finally, she comes to dominate every aspect of his life. Their pal’s fun-loving personality gradually drains away, and he becomes a mere shadow of his former self. Things soon fall apart: the band breaks up, friendships are jeopardized—all because of a manipulative, soul-sucking female.
Yoko Ono’s infiltration of the Beatles is the most obvious modern example of this phenomenon. (In fact, the Urban Dictionary defines the “Yoko Effect” as: “The aftermath of an individual in a group of friends dating a nut-case girlfriend or boyfriend. The significant other will intentionally or unintentionally control the group member’s entire life and eventually stomp out anyone he or she sees as ‘unfit’ based on arbitrary criteria.”)
In the realm of storytelling, the roots of this archetype run deep. For instance, the goddess Circe turns Odysseus’ warriors into swine in order to keep her man by her side. It’s not until Odysseus recognizes Circe’s ploys that they are finally able to break free and resume their journey. Likewise, medieval folk legends surrounding the character of Lilith reflect the notion that certain females (succubi) will use their sexuality to corrupt men and drain them of life. The temptress in John Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” fits this model, as does King Arthur’s faithless wife, Genevieve, whose actions are instrumental in destroying Camelot.
In modern cinema, examples of the succubus archetype abound. Who can forget David St. Hubbins’ girlfriend, Jeanine Pettibone, in the “rockumentary” This Is Spinal Tap? Or what about Judith (Amanda Peet’s character) from the movie Saving Silverman? Of course, there is also the girlfriend of Jack Black’s roommate, Patty DiMarco (played by Sarah Silverman), in The School of Rock. Vinnie Chase (the movie star heartthrob on HBO’s Entourage) has a run-in with a vegan yoga fanatic (Fiona) whose behavior is eerily reminiscent of Yoko’s. And let’s not forget Stu’s passive-aggressive wife, Melissa, from recent hit film, The Hangover.
The methods of these soul-suckers range from manipulative puppet-masters at one end of the shrewish spectrum to selfish, emasculating harpies at the other. Yet all of these gals have one goal in mind: to separate their men from the group. For awhile, the women are successful. However in the end, it’s the men’s buddies who rescue them from these girls’ conniving feminine clutches. If only Paul, George, and Ringo could have been so lucky. But then again, maybe we can all learn a thing or two from their example as well.
- Succubus AND Incubus (socyberty.com)
- Storyboard: Archetype discussion — the Trapped (massively.joystiq.com)
- Review: ‘The Odyssey’ at Taproot is a Greek-bearing gift (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Happy 78th Birthday to Yoko Ono (who is playing SXSW) (brooklynvegan.com)
- Winner of the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize is Yoko Ono / e-flux (huffingtonpost.com)
- Pauli’s Jungian Psychoid – Temporal Unus Mundus (johnfloydmedia.wordpress.com)