“I Shot Andy Warhol”

When Stephen Koch writes that the death of Edie Sedgwick is a parallel inverted twin to Valerie Solanis’s attempt at murdering him, he is suggesting that Warhol, inadvertently, caused the demise of both women. Sedgwick was much more defenseless, and impressionable, who coped with her loss of control by turning to drugs, while Solanis was a force to be reckoned with. Solanis handled Warhol’s treatment through violence. Koch’s claim would also suggest a different interpretation; that while Warhol was responsible for Sedgwick’s downfall, Solanis was responsible for Warhol’s. After Warhol’s injury, he suffered many medical problems and was never quite the same way he was prior to the shooting. Likewise, just as Warhol accelerated Sedgwick’s turn from gloried socialite to addict, Solanis activated Warhol’s private sensibility that ended Warhol’s commitment to high modernism (Koch 20).

Solanas’s involvement in the factory milieu, a group of primarily narcissistic men, may seem to be ironic at first since Solanas has made it publically clear, both verbally and in her manifesto, that she thought men were evil and if she could, she’d send all men to death camps (130). Koch describes the Factory, however, as a place that gave one a sense of belonging (7). Joining the milieu gave one a sense of belonging to a community, and a granted them a raised social status by claiming to know the great Andy Warhol. While Solanis claimed she hated everything Warhol and his entourage stood for, the Factory gave her a sense of identity. Without it, she’d have no group to hate. As Koch writes, “if the redeeming presence [in the factor] could be given, it could also be taken away,” perhaps Solanas shot Warhol before she could be turned away (7).

Koch isn’t surprised about Solanas’s involvement in the Factory. Koch explains that Warhol and Solanas were intrinsically linked – that Warhol’s career is as mortifying as Solanis was hysterical, and that each share analogous roots in contemporary insanity (135). Koch describes both Warhol as Solanas as being insane, but very different conditions. Solanas’s dependency on Warhol showed in the film when she was persistent to have Warhol look at her script; and when Warhol and company when any disinterest, she felt rejected and retaliated. Likewise, Koch explains that Salonis’s murder attempt set off a fear in Warhol that didn’t exist before. Warhol claimed “I shouldn’t feel fear, but I’m afraid, and I don’t understand why” (137). Here, it is witnessed Salanas’s shooting set off a new fear in Warhol, on which from that point, changed Warhol’s art and how he perceived the world; it is sort of the inverted breaking point to that of Edie Sedgwick. In I Shot Andy Warhol, viewers get a sense of Warhol’s fear, beautifully played by Jared Harris, when Solanas is pointing the gun at him. In this scene, Warhol is forced to show a side of him that before this he kept hidden.

Ironically, It was Solanas who sought after Warhol begged him to look at her script. Warhol, in the film, seemed completely disinterested that his mere acceptance of Solanas appeared to be an act of pity, and his willingness to pay her to be in a film an act of generosity. Solanas was an unusual one who never quite practiced what she preached; she publically expressed her disdain for higher education yet attended at least two universities and holds a degree at the University of Maryland. Too, she expressed her hatred for the Factory yet joined their community, and wrote a radical feminist book, which states men are complete scume, yet had no problem with men publishing it for her. Koch, writes that Solanas was obsessed with sex and the image of autonomy, not unlike Warhol, whose films, which allow him to satisfy his voyeuristic needs, prove this. However, Warhol was able to convey his obsessions through film and with a cool demeanor (136), while Solanas handled hers violently.


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