Gag Me with a Silver Spoon (Inside Deep Throat)

I’ve been trying to resist adding my two cents to the general hoopla about Inside Deep Throat. Like the blue movie that is its subject, the doc simply is not compelling in the slightest, and even its prurience doesn’t excuse half the attention that it has quickly generated. (Disclosure: I fell asleep — twice — during the seemingly endless screening).

But I can keep mum no longer. Apparently it’s been too long since feminists fell into the rabbit hole that is the Porn Debate. This film has created an excuse to once again ignite that classically polarizing, highly distracting fire and brimstone, catapulting humorectomized if well-intentioned feminist lawyer Catharine MacKinnon and enough-already First Amendment-upholding attorney Alan Dershoshits (sic, sic) into the spotlight, along with other increasingly irrelevantes (Erica Jong and her zipless fuck, anyone?). In a New York Times piece, the two pencil-pushers (pun intended, and can you blame me?) are reported to have held forth in a panel following the premiere, though they also acknowledged they’d not seen the dirtypic itself. Now that’s funny.

Bottom line: People will always look at dirty pictures, and both men and women will always make them because they generate income. Supply-and-demand, baby. As a feminist, it’s embarrassing to even have to field the porn question. My great-grandmother ran a brothel, for Christ’s sake, so I know that people will always pay for sex in all shapes and forms. Why waste time whining about that shite when second-wave feminism’s tenets (equal wages, abortion rights, to name just two) actually have a shot in hell of getting accomplished? (I know I am being very optimistic in stating this, given our neo-con ‘s “advances,” detailed so thoroughly by the feministing goils.)

Yes, in the decades following Deep Throat‘s release, Linda Lovelace came forward, her grubby hands held tight by key members of the Official Feminist Movement (Gloria Seinem et al.) as she recounted the horrors inflicted upon her off- and on-set during the making of the movie. And, yes, I don’t doubt her. Not exactly, anyway. But some questions always have surfaced for me, ones that I have to say out loud even though I fear sounding reactionary: Was there absolutely no moment when Lovelace couldn’t have evaded her “captors” had she set her sights on doing so? And if the experience was as scarring as she has claimed it was, why did she return to the industry in the last years of her life?

The obvious answer is that she was broke, and that it was hard for her to land work in any straight industry after making her name swallowing so many inches of cock on celluloid. Lovelace’s story speaks to the many shades of gray that comprise this seemingly black-and-white issue. Women may mostly go into the industry, more often than not, for cash, but what happens to them once they do is often probably more than they anticipated. Mary, my great-grandmother, was by all accounts enormously sour by the time she died. She also was a Polish immigrant who arrived in this country penniless and died a wealthy woman. There are few other industries in which a midcentury, indigent immigrant single mother could’ve achieved the same. Solving women’s economic problems would probably be a more productive issue for all the porn-obsessed to focus upon.

What’s complicated about Lovelace’s story in particular is that she has always emerged as a woman born to be a victim: as fairly dim; as easily led, whether it be by porn filmmakers or the feminists (Gloria Steinem spoke for her as blatantly as did the boys in the doc’s footage); as a tabula rasa upon which various pundits and social movements of the 70s scribbled their name. Finally, she seems to have become a victim of this bad movie, which isn’t about any of the myriad cultural hotbuttons wired to Deep Throat, although it purports to be. Really, Inside Deep Throat is just another movie glorifying and rationalizing the ’60s-’70s as a lost utopia. The arc of all these documentaries is always the same: Details the humble beginnings of a particular movement, its heyday, and then its inevitable fall from Eden.

As a younger girl, I bought into these tastemakers’ propoganda, but these days I can’t help but perceive those times as a natural harbinger of the detritus that we’re living today. Yes, many people then lived with ideals that have faded from our country’s blueprints. But many more were hedonists, opportunists, mere dullards. That said, let’s face it: To suggest that Deep Throat harkens back to an era of true art, a golden era in which porn was more about social radicalism and art than the pneumatic plastic titty and dick factory that it is today, takes the mommyfucking cake. Rich, darling, it is so very, very rich.

Notes from a Broken Broad

I slipped a disc in my neck a week and a half ago and have been at best half mast since then. Slowly, slowly I am creeping back to a vaguely human state but in the interim wanted to peep that I am still alive. Peep. To soothe this savage beast there has been a great deal of L Word viewing (con Jostle and co.) and an almost complete inhalation of The Wire, Season 2 (con Yancey, naturally). Two episodes remain, and then I will be willing to more thoroughly chime in my praises on what is surely the finest show on fellavision (boy-friendly TV). Hell, TV in general. The show is seemingly impenetrable, distinctly unglamorous and typically visually unimpressive. It is also the single greatest explication of power theory ever to make it to the small screen. Michael Moore: If only.

Also I will write a real review of it later this week, but if you live in a city where The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is screening, go see it immediately. (I believe it’s just LA, SF and NY right now, in keeping with the ever-narrowing nation-wide release). The film is small-scale; is, improbably enough, about birds; and caused me to cry for a full hour after I saw it. To contextualize said tears, I only cried for about two minutes after Million Dollar Baby. Which, for the record, I hope sweeps la Oscars. It was, well, the way Eastwood looks these days — steely, taut, full of heart.

More gator, later.

Tomato, Tomawto (Oscars and Razzies)

I’ve still been basking in a lack of Utah snow, merely ogling Sundanceteria from afar while supercats Max and Ruby ravage their new scatching post (it’s all about the catnip). So I got to catch the nominations for the Oscars and the Razzies, both announced today in a crafty conjunction. There was less overlap than I’d hoped.

Yes, I am completely over the pretense that I don’t follow award shows, as I have been for years. I shouldn’t even be shocked anymore that a host of films I genuinely liked landed on the Academy’s radar: Before Sunset for best adapted screenplay (what could Delpy, Hawke and Linklater have adapted that from, besides their own pretty navels?); Eternal Sunshine for best original screenplay; Born into Brothels for best doc; even the growing-up-is-hard-to-do The Incredibles got a nod. The lack of nods for both The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11 was a stone-cold relief; I don’t want to think about either nastily rendered polemic for a while yet. And I was more startled than distraught that lil sadsack Paul Giamatti got passed over in lieu of Clint Eastwood’s chiseled jaw. Here’s to more madness for the baseball commissioner’s son’s method (acting). The only oversight that bummed me out was the compleat Huckabees shutout.

In fact, except for Finding Neverland, none of the nominations made me bristle. Another sign of the Rosman Middle Ages, no doubt. Or maybe it’s just another sign that, although our world couldn’t be more wildly botched at this moment, cinema trots along, just getting better and better. Plus: I’m still trying to sort out if there’s ever been another year when two black actors were nominated for best actor. I don’t think so. I do wish that the Oscars followed the Globes’ lead, though, and had separate categories for comedy and drama. I think The Incredibles might’ve been the wryest, most intact endeavor of the year.

As for the Razzies, mama likes as usual. J’agree with New Yorker critic David Denby that Ben Stiller heralds a new era of nonthreatening mediocrity, and that only seeing cosmic nightmare White Girls with my parents BernieSari could’ve made it worse. (I know that for a fact.) Oh, and George Bush II should most definitely get a Razzie. Or at least an Oscar. Like Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, he’s made a career out of making bad acting seem good.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy