A situation came up a couple of weekend's ago that brought some issues I often wrestle with to a head. An older married couple visited my gal and I and we watched some DVD's (Obecna Skola and Battle Royale). The wife looked through my DVD collection afterward and seemed troubled.
She asked me: "Do you hate women? You have so many movies in your collection featuring the degradation of women?"
She then smiled.
"You don't look like someone who hates women, Mark. You and Lynn (my girlfriend of three years) seem like a very happy couple. We both (her husband and her) like you very much and trust you completely. Is there something I'm not getting?"
This assumption -- that I hate women -- comes up often.
It is true that I own and am passionate about many movies, books, and works of art focusing on sexual violence, perversion, and extreme erotica. I have also made more than half a dozen feature length movies and many shorts, the majority of which feature some scenes of rape (men and women), torture, and general sexual deviancy.
I openly champion films such as I Spit on Your Grave, Assault - Jack The Ripper, White Rose Campus -- Then, Everybody Gets Raped, Straw Dogs, and the amazing Story of Prunella, an '82 hardcore masterpiece that most humans would be appalled by. I celebrate the works of Toshio Saeki, Stu Mead, and Suehiro Maruo. My optimism is kept aloft every week by the makers of Family Guy and South Park because these people challenge conventions inside the mainstream. That's a highwire act of awesome ability.
But regarding more extreme graphic content, people assume I'm not appalled by the content. There seems to be an underlying belief that I somehow condone the subject matter because I'm passionate about it.
I am a passionate person. I'm passionate about honest artistic expression. I happen to consider pornography an honest art form. I'm not referring to the producers or directors; I'm referring to the genre. Pornography dangles life in your face and makes you confront it. It is sometimes ugly and disturbing and gross and repulsive. The stuff that's least disturbing feels the the least honest.
Vivid Video is America's most popular producer of pornography. Personally, I don't find the Vivid view of sexuality to be an honest one. I'm sure Vivid doesn't, either. Vivid's vids are to sex what The Brady Bunch is to family. It's idealized. It makes people feel comfortable by slinging them crap. It wraps everything up in a neat package. Unlike reality. That's why it sells. People aren't too fond of reality.
I'm not big on neat packages. I never have been. I like raw, open sores. I like humanity spreadeagled. For some unexplained reason, the truth of anything releases the rot for me.
A common complaint after I screen a movie to the wrong person is: "Why do we need to see things like that?"
There are a dozen stock answers to the question, but the problem is really the person asking the question. They want the neat package. They want the lies. They want the denials, the pretense, the bullshit. No amount of truth will free them. Ever.
I like Truth. I don't care how much it stinks.
I really hate most Disney movies. They're utterly false. Filled with completely counterfeit notions of relationships, family, and human interaction. I'm sure even the executives at Disney know how untruthful their product is (relatively speaking, they are still living in the real world).
Ultimately, they're just business people. I don't blame them for wanting to make a buck. We all have to do that. I just find their product repellent. What I like is often called The Ugly Truth. But is Truth really Ugly? Does that mean lies are attractive? I've never found the Truth to be Ugly. I find it fascinating and liberating.
I'm fascinated by the deepest, darkest truth of the human spirit in art.
In an artistic sense, I have no use or time for people who dismiss art that appalls them. You know the type I'm talking about. The person who judges the work by its subject matter, not its execution.
Some art requires enormous courage. We live in an incredibly judgmental society in which the Hollywood mainstream represents the taste and critical reference point of the average human. No wonder anything more extreme or critical of the mainstream is naturally shunned. Hollywood, political correctness, and our education system have killed fascination. They've slaughtered curiosity. And when curiosity dies, knowledge will die with it.
Rarely do I meet other humans who are as curious about everything as I am. When I do, I want immediate intercourse with them The curiosity I possessed as a five year old is strong forty years later -- perhaps even stronger.
Do I hate women?
Of course not. Quite the opposite.
My mother is a woman. My sisters are women. My partners have all been women.
The fact is, men have issues with women that they don't have with other men because the nature of a man's relationship with a woman is entirely different.
Men are generally more frustrated by women because the relationship with them is more complex and comes with more expectations. With your buddies, you share and commiserate. With your partner, you share, commiserate, plan, grow, and negotiate changes within yourself in tandem with changes in them. You deal with a million years of different, gender-defining genetics, and you encounter complications simply arising from co-habitation.
All men hate women at times, just like all men hate the phone company at times, hate traffic at times, hate TV commercials, hate other men, and hate the ramifications of their own stupid decisions.
Quentin Tarantino has been brave enough to say it, and I'll say it, too: I love on-screen violence if it's done well. I love on-screen rape and brutality if it's done well. I love well choreographed car chases, fight scenes, martial arts duels, love scenes, and aesthetically powerful domestic violence (Once Were Warriors and Nil By Mouth spring to mind).
I saw Story of Prunella recently. It's easily one of the most powerful examples of true hardcore pornography I've ever seen. It must have been good because, even though I watched a friend's copy twice, I ordered it on-line for myself. The film features horrific rape, abuse, and general sociopathic behavior. Was it entertaining? Yes. To me, entertainment is that which holds my interest and stirs my psyche. Prunella most certainly did that with master pervert Phil Prince at the helm.
Bad women exploit, manipulate, and demean everybody around them. I hate those women. Equally, I guess I hate the men who allow them to do that. Weak men enable these monsters. They trade their self respect for a slippery hole. Ultimately, they get what they deserve.
Good women are upfront, forthright, independent, self-assured and comfortable with their sexual power (God knows they have it in spades!). Good men embrace this. I don't hate such people. On the contrary...
Is watching women being abused on screen an indicator of a man's hate for the gender? I don't think so. I'm not saying that some men don't hate all women. Plenty do. And they must have their reasons. But our interaction with art of any type is a complex, vicarious process. Do readers of Stephen King novels hate humans? Many humans die in King's stories after all. Are James North Patterson's readers people-haters? Considers the millions of murder-mystery fans out there -- are they all secret misanthropes? I doubt it.
Humans are fascinated by themselves. Why else is Big Brother such a hit!? Some humans are more fascinated by humans than others? My fascination begins where another's fascination ends. The length of human fascination and curiosity is infinite.
Sexual violence is particularly interesting cinematically because it possesses great power. Like smoking or dancing, it has a universal, sensual appeal. It impacts with primitive genetic memory and ignites our engines, delivering a vicarious buzz through which we experience highs and lows of fighting and fleeing. It's primal.
The truth of human behavior is we are animals restrained by a nurtured morality. Ours is an eternal struggle to find a harmonious haven between savagery and civility. Raw depictions of this struggle can only be helpful in understanding it. Unfortunately, rage at the object tends to override the investigative impulse. Again, the casualty is knowledge.
Society's refusal to embrace the truth about men and women (children or adults) can only end in chaos.
One present example of that chaos is the "sexting" epidemic that is currently sweeping the Westernized world. The mainstream press and its ignorant gate keepers are up in arms about this phenomenon, treating it like a disease of the year that has suddenly afflicted the youth.
Children as young as nine or ten are exchanging sexual messages via text and disseminating naked images of themselves. Some of these children are being charged with production and distribution of child pornography, an outrageous course of action that will do far more damage to them than the act of sexting itself.
In fact, sexting is what the world gets when it insists on being dishonest about the way things really are. Denial, as usual, has falsely inflated reality, giving birth to a strange hybrid through which the truth is now being channeled.
We are all sexual beings in different phases of development.
Alarmism about children of the same age exchanging messages and photos is a symptom of a society founded on gross ignorance, fear, and denial.
I had sexual feelings when I was eight years old. I expressed them with a girl my own age. I wasn't damaged by what I did. I wasn't traumatized. I was just developing at my own speed. It was an entirely pleasurable, innocent experience, and I remained innocent because nobody dirtied the water.
We live in a world where natural impulses have been demonized, where images that depict the truth are censored, and where simple displays of random sexuality are seen as harbingers of doom (Janet Jackson's so-called nip-slip, for example)
What we now have is the result of the world bullshit has made.
Do I hate women?
Of course not. Who has the time or energy for that?
I just don't have much love for the lies our TV's tell us.