1 November 2003
Too full of Monty
Yahmdallah (30 October) has had it up to here, maybe a trifle farther, with The New Movie Eroticism:
I don't think I can make a believable assertion that I am not a prude, but I will state that I have found some scenes of sex in past movies wonderful, tasteful, and appropriate for the story, thus my suspension of disbelief expanded into other happy suspensions, if you will. But Kathleen Turner and William Hurt going at it in Body Heat, or Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in The Postman Always Rings Twice putting a cutting board to good use, were exciting and titillating, and most precisely because we don't see any genitalia during an erotic scene. Seeing someone's privates does something to our wetware (ultra-geek term for our brains, you perv), and suddenly we are slammed into another mode (whether we like it or not). I guess because that is something related to one of our most intimate acts that we can't feel anything but the emotions related to the same. It breaks the fourth wall in a way nothing else does, even a creepy 3-D Michael Jackson reaching out of the screen for your kids at Disney World.
One must go into realms H. P. Lovecraft might shun to exceed Michael Jackson's level of creepiness, I aver, but otherwise this seems fairly close to the mark. I imagine, though I haven't seen it and don't plan to, that the low point will probably be Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, which climaxes, so to speak, with a scene involving Chloe Sevigny playing scales and trills on Gallo's piccolo.
It's not like this never happened before in a more-or-less mainstream film by most accounts, Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie were not simulating their sex scene in Don't Look Now, thirty years ago but it never occurred to director Nicolas Roeg to focus the camera on the actual organ-grinding, and I don't think I'd particularly have wanted to see it if he had.
Perhaps this is just a reflection of real life. If you or I walked in on a couple dancing horizontally, the most likely reaction would be "Uh, excuse me," followed by a hasty retreat.
And speaking as a person with a Y chromosome, who is entirely too capable of fleeting thoughts of "I wonder what she looks like naked" when in the presence of any adult female this side of Madeleine Albright, I'd just like to say that I'd prefer my fantasies to remain unsullied by any of that frightful reality stuff.