Sex, movies and the desperate attempt to shock audiences. (Hint: it’s not working.)
- By Ann Hornaday, Published: April 4 | Updated: Saturday, April 5, 7:12 AM
… For the past year or two, it seems, movies have become obsessed with sex, continually upping the ante on tone, subject matter and explicitness — and “50 Shades of Grey” hasn’t even come out yet.
Or perhaps “exponentially more obsessed” is the better term. Sex has been a dependably attention-grabbing element of cinematic style virtually since the medium’s inception — or at least since the 1920s, when silent films like “Sunrise” seethed with erotic innuendo underneath the moralistic melodrama.
The decades that ensued found Hollywood both exploitatively embracing and phobically avoiding sexuality on screen, alternately pandering to and resisting the dictates of religious leaders, civic censors, hypocritical ratings boards and audiences occupying that singularly American psychic space between Puritan disapproval and prurient voyeurism.
… The challenge today is that, rather than being relegated to disreputable theaters or scruffy back sections of video stores, porn is on the home entertainment centers and portable devices of discerning connoisseurs everywhere.
How do you shock mainstream audiences who can now have their most florid sexual fantasies acted out 24/7, at the click of a mouse?
And how can audiences be anything but bored or faintly amused by efforts that increasingly look like the bids for attention of a petulant arrested adolescent?
Those anxious questions seems to have produced a rash of films predicated not on liberation and expression, but on creeping pessimism and dread, epitomized by a recent boomlet in movies about Internet porn addiction: Starting with Steve McQueen’s 2011 film “Shame,” starring Michael Fassbender, and continuing last year with “Thanks for Sharing” and “Don Jon,” sex has been portrayed not as tantalizingly elusive, naughty or — heaven forfend! — fun, but the stuff of pathology, isolation and fatally distorted values.
Meanwhile, audiences have been treated to what amounts to an onslaught of images — on both big and small screens — that have taken realism to new heights (or, depending on your taste, new lows). While HBO puts out its usual steady stream of envelope-pushing images in shows like “Girls” and “Game of Thrones,” basic cable has tried mightily to get into the act: The image of young teenager Paige walking in on her parents engaging in an acrobatic display of mutual gratification in “The Americans” is one that neither she or millions of fans will ever un-see.
Even Wes Anderson has seen fit to include an image of a man receiving oral sex in his new movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” — a moment all the more jarring for being so out of place within the director’s fussy, steadfastly asexual house style.
(Link): How the Sexual Revolution Ruined Friendship – Also: If Christians Truly Believed in Celibacy and Virginity, they would stop adhering to certain sexual and gender stereotypes that work against both