For the past few months, I've found writing about movies a difficult proposition. Only one film, Sion Sono's brilliant Himizu, has truly captured my head and heart; the rest -- and I'm talking The Dark Night Returns, The Campaign, Lawless, The Expendables 2, The Master, and Samsara -- have fallen short.
Is good cinema in decline, or have I become jaded after hitting close to 5000 movies seen (!)?
I'm afraid I can't answer that one.
I'm looking at X-rated cinema with different glasses, too.
For the first time in decades, explicit depictions of sex are boring me to tears. In the past, I'd pick up special editions of Golden Age porn flicks like Inside Annie Sprinkle as soon as they hit the stands. Have I put money down for the same company's The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann? Not yet. Does the upcoming restoration of Chuck Vincent's Roommates and Misty Beethoven excite me? Somewhat. And I'll pick it up eventually. But the thrill has diminished.
Then there's my recent reaction to another type of porn
My face hit the pavement two years ago when a good friend introduced me to a series of really harsh web porn segments going under titles like Facial Abuse, Deface Her Face, etc. I've always been curious to see everything I can get my hands on as a type of tolerance test, but these vids just depressed me. They depressed me even more than usual. I expose myself to a lot of traumatic material, and I never know how I'll react to it, but these vids made me sad for the "performers" who are paid probably next to nothing by asshole porn producers who get off on debasing these girls.
Yes, the girls are getting paid and are signing release forms, so I'm not saying that anything illegal is happening, although that could be debated, but I am saying I don't find it titillating or engaging to watch a bullying asshole belittle, verbally insult, and ruin a young woman's day (or month, or year) under the cover of a "professional job". As a human being, I find it hard to watch such harsh treatment of fellow human beings. This stuff isn't "acting" -- it's mean-spirited reality.
I don't think most porn is debasing. The majority of it is pretty vanilla with little actual "abuse" content. The depressing part was seeing cute young ladies "abused" with no thought to their pleasure at all. These are not roughies like Forced Entry, Hot Night in the City, or Weekend Fantasy -- they're just cheap vids shot in a room with crappy production values, a single camera, and a single male hurling abuse, while having his ugly penis sucked by a crying girl.
What bothers me most about porn of the face-fucking variety is its totally one-sided construction. And most of the guys in these videos come across as bullying assholes, which they clearly are, and I never get any sense that they actually like women. Remember the late Jamie Gillis? He made some harsh movies, and many of them involved rape scenarios and brutal games. But one never felt that Jamie actually disliked the women. On the contrary, he was deeply into these women, and the scenarios always came across as even-handed, even when one partner was dominant and the other was submissive.
Yes, there's a market for this stuff, but that doesn't mean it's not depressing to watch, especially if you view sex as the most fun when its reciprocal or at least "controlled" by both parties.
The one thing I've never liked about porn of any kind is the emphasis on blow jobs. I hate porn blow jobs. I don't want to watch some guy's penis being sucked in a big close-up. I also don't want to see a close-up of another man's hairy balls swinging as he saws in and out of a lass's insides. I prefer the emphasis being on the women. That's probably why lesbian porn appeals to men. It's totally female-focused. We see the female body without some guy's ass crack obscuring the view.
Personally, I love seeing women pleasing other women with their tongues. It's super-intimate and the women usually love it if it's done right. For me, at least, it pushes the right buttons. I have no trouble deriving vicarious pleasure from the act of one woman loving another.
The Facial Abuse flicks are the opposite of passion for me. They're mean spirited. They're about hurting people. About dominating vulnerable women without her express co-operation or "permission". They're not even bad Sado-Masochism. They're just ugly and monotonous.
Even Max Hardcore had more style, game, and humor than these guys.
As my tolerance for seriously one-sided hard porn diminishes, my affection for classic porno novel covers, extreme art, guro, and Japanese erotica intensifies.
Context. And it's all in the imagination.
Perhaps I'm going full circle.
How about you?