Okay, so that is a quite a headline. I think I’ll tag ‘vaginal penetration’ in the labels for this post and watch the hits per day skyrocket for about twenty-four hours. But it caught your eye, did it not? I’m going to try to be a mature adult about this situation, despite how humorous anything is when you add ‘vaginal’ to it.
Slashfilm posted an interesting article about the differences in the American Rating System (MPAA) and the UK’s rating system. The reference film they used for this is the upcoming horror/drama Anti-Christ, which is supposed to be a great film, but one that pushes a lot of boundaries. Did I say push? I’m sorry, I meant ‘masturbate to climax’ all over, since that’s one of the scenes depicted in this movie. Along with that scene, it is reported that the film shows unsimulated sex. That is, the act hinted at in the headline, actual insertion of a male phallus into a female chalice, a rhyme so perfect it can’t be coincidence.
Despite these scenes, along with some others (a woman gives herself a clitoris-ectomy, making me wonder how much Satan was actually involved in this film), the British rating system is giving the film a distributed release with a rating of ’18,’ which means nobody under 18 is allowed in the theater. It’s analogous to the NC-17 rating in the U.S., except we never see those ratings because theaters won’t show the films for fear of a loss of profits. In the UK, however, no fear exists and these films do just fine. For instance, Hostel was released as 18 in Britain, which meant nobody under 18 could get in, regardless of a parent of guardian’s presence. In the U.S., any dumb-ass dad was allowed to bring in his three-year-old son and scar him for life with images of torture and self-castration, something I’m sure way too many parents actually did.
But to the point! This film is getting released because the only reason for holding it back would be if it were to display ‘sex acts’ that are deemed ‘pornographic.’ The BBFC has decided Anti-Christ has no such scenes, but is a serious drama not meant to illicit any sort of sexual response.
First off, I’m not going to get into the artistic philosophical debate of “Does it matter when penetration is shown?” This is similar to the point the South Park creator Trey Parker makes when he notices that when they swear for comedy it’s seen ‘garbage,’ but when a serious drama does it it’s ‘art.’ For the sake of brevity, I’m going to avoid the whole pornographic/serious drama argument, partly because I can kind see where they’re coming from. But I still commented on the article, saying how I find it completely unnecessary to show penetration and that it was done for a cheep shock value, regardless of the movie’s dramatic tone. Thus began a sort of minor debate, where I predicted the first response would be, “Well what if the director wanted it to be shocking?”
Well no shit. You don’t show the snake go into the cave if you’re not trying to make some sort of statement. My point was that it is a cheap way to shock people, and one that is completely misguided. The shock will be seeing, on a megaplex screen, mind you, a close up of a gigantic erect penis doing what it was meant to do. This is not what the ‘shock’ in ‘shock value’ should be. This image would be shocking if seen anywhere, Billboards, pamphlets, on the side of the Mcdonald’s Happy-Meal box, it’ll surprise you regardless of context (unless, of course, you’re seeking it out). The shock should come from the situation, the characters involved, the emotions they have, their motivations, etc. etc. etc., none of which require me to squirm uncomfortably in a theater while two people engage in the most private of activities. (Hasn’t anybody read Brave New World?)
If this were, perhaps, an unusual (ahem) penetration… That is, if there is something that just cannot be implied subtly, maybe that would justify this. Otherwise, it’s just showing regular old penetration, for the sake of being ‘daring,’ so the audience can say, “Oh, wow this director showed penetration. How artsy.” So I’m going to guess it’s showing penetration just for the sake of showing it, which is something that does not need to be exposed. I’ve written about the art of subtlety before, and how too many sex scenes forget the word even exists, but this is an example of someone that really needs to brush up on the skills needed to be implicit rather than explicit. I don’t need to see such “privileged access,” I know what’s going on down there, thanks.
I also feel like it’s going to detract from the movie, much like the sex scene in Brokeback Mountain. What’s the first thing most people think about when that movie is mentioned? Cowboy tent-sex. Was that the point of the movie? No. But Ang Lee wanted to be revolutionary and put in something that most people haven’t seen before. But now instead of thinking about what is actually a pretty tragic and moving love story, we think about the late Heath Ledger using spit for jiffy lube. I understand the motive here, but perhaps less would have been more in that first foray into mainstream gay cinema. Such will be the case with this sex scene in Anti-Christ. Too many people will be saying, “Can you believed they showed that, OMG?” than actually considering the larger points of the movie. Remember Dr. Manhattan’s blue penis? And that was computer animated and not done for shock value, but as part of the character, and way too many imbeciles couldn’t stop talking about it, while making ‘blue balls’ jokes that were never funny.
I’m also wondering if the penis we’re going to be seeing so much of will be Willem Defoe’s. He’s so creepy looking he just might do it, but I don’t think I’ll enjoy watching him jerk off with his Green Goblin frown and evil eyes…
So what, am I just prude? I don’t think you can say, since ‘penetration’ is found way too often in this article. But what are your thoughts on artistic sexual acts? Sometimes needed, or too gratuitous?