Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Porn vs. Sex in Cinema and T.V.

Contemporary porn is awful soul-destroying stuff, slagging flesh humped in un-sensuous mounds, astonishingly un-erotic, because there's very little that's erotic about the raw act of sex itself.  All this internet hard core erases the imaginative distance between imagination and act that makes sex sex.  This is a familiar argument so I'll stop here and merely refer you to a terrific William H. Gass essay from (I think) the 1970s, called, On Being Blue.  The examples Gass shares of eros in literature are truly erotic, and are wholly dependent as much on the unsaid as the said.

I'm mentioning porn--both shockingly ubiquitous and just plain bad--in our lives because I have the thought that now, more than ever, we need to see good sex--or rather, good love making--in mainstream movies and television shows.  I had this thought when, in watching a love-making scene recently, I found myself feeling relieved to see a reminder that sex isn't only all that banging away from behind that porn would have us believe (though it's that too); or, more importantly, have young people believe, since they are the ones most propagandized by what they see.  In order to counter the ugliness of porn, then, I say we need more well-wrought sex in mainstream entertainment rather than less.  Of course, I wouldn't mind if sex in cinema and t.v. were more coy, elided, verbal, teasing, and witty, as well--as in a 1940s screwball comedy--but I'm not holding out a lot of hope for that.  The days of the endless verbal love making of Rosalind Russell and Carey Grant are probably over--at least, for the foreseeable future, since I'm not willing to bet against any reversal of the cultural tides, which will always rise and fall, or so I hope, given my residual faith in our collective taste for both novelty (there's so much porn that it's getting old) and hunger for art that rings true.

1 comment:

Kay Browning said...

I share your sentiments. All this sweating and groping has become a tiresome bore, even to some critics.

Here in DC I heard a TV film reviewer a couple of nights ago refer to Natalie Portman's new film No Strings Attached as "raunchy." I've never heard that word applied to a mainstream film before. I wonder if Hollywood is listening.

I do think we're beginning to see some shift back toward plot- and character-driven films. There are now many more fine "small" movies being made here and in other countries and these encourage depictions of human relationships that are much more nuanced than the instant clinches we've been getting for the past several decades.

In any case, I'm keeping a good thought. I like Cary Grant too. Kay