Will the real nymphomaniac please stand up? Sex, cinema, and desublimation

From the article:

“….Pornography has been normalised. There is nothing once locked behind walls of taboo that you can’t now watch over breakfast and that your kids aren’t streaming in their bedrooms. The birds and the bees? They’re the real mysteries today. Cocks and cunts, not so much.

What is a film artist to do with this problem?

Consider that for years, Hollywood operated according to the voluntary regulations of the Hays Code, meaning that anything approaching “explicit” sexual content was barred from view. Filmmakers developed elaborate ways around these rules, using the power of suggestion and metaphor instead of “showing it”. The results were, if anything, far more erotic than pornography…….

Whether finding ways around it, or abiding by it, repression seems to help the libidinal apparatus by presenting it with a rigid structure of laws. Sexuality without the law is no sexuality worth having; it’s a marketing mechanism…..

For the last decade or so, some filmmakers have been breaching what had long stood as an inviolable boundary-line separating narrative cinema proper from pornography. As the philosopher Slavoj Zizek once put it, traditionally in porn, you see everything, but the price you pay for it is narrative stupidity; while in mainstream cinema, you get the narrative complexity, but you will never see a genital in anger.

Directors Catherine Breillat, Michael Winterbottom, Gaspar Noé, Vincent Gallo and others pioneered the use of “unsimulated sex” in their art-house movies, with results that are mixed, to say the least. It is not clear that this radical “desublimation” of narrative cinema serves a progressive or liberatory function, or participates in the general saturation of commercial signs by sexuality.”

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Interesting article. Personally, I see the solution as incorporating powerfully erotic scenes – whether they happen to be explicit, implicit or metaphorical – as an intrinsic part of a compelling narrative.

To deconstruct the representation of sex in order to comment upon it, or to use explicit sex as a gimmick in an otherwise lacklustre story, just because you now can, holds no interest for me.

I believe there is a sophisticated audience out there that wants to be aroused by representations of sex that reflect the multi-dimensionality of human existence, and which can be, quite happily and healthily, sexy as.

Amanda x