Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Channeling My Inner Mary Whitehouse

The gentle men over at Nigeness have been worrying their baffled way toward some understanding of the behaviour uncovered via Weinstein and #metoo. Their conclusion is that the death of manners is to blame, which may be partly true. Certainly, vulgarity is applauded and even encouraged now, so far as I can see, and vulgarity is the antithesis of good manners.

But, looking specifically at the Weinstein-esque actions that so many people are now describing and abhorring, it strikes me that the forward rush toward crassness over the last 50 or 60 years, especially the depiction in much televisual/film entertainment of sex as a pastime, something without psychological resonance for the participants, may have been one thing that triggered the behaviour that is now beginning to be revealed as widespread.

The American film industry portrays sex more and more graphically, blurring the private and public, suggesting this intimate activity is one more element in the life-as-performance approach we are increasingly encouraged to adopt, rather than a wordless form of communication conducted between two individuals at a psychologically somewhat mysterious, because inarticulate, level. In pursuit of providing us with this particular form of explicit "entertainment", the film so-called "industry" has increasingly required its actors and actresses to possess unusual, possibly unreal, degrees of beauty and fitness. The fact that there is always a supply of actors and actresses willing to slim themselves and dye bits of themselves and do whatever else it takes to comply with those requirements is an indication that there are always lots of people who are willing to accept their own objectification and become complicit in a fraudulent game that makes many feel inadequate. Which is not to say that the various actrines who are now giving us blow-by-blow accounts of how and where and when they have been pawed, by whom et cetera didn't suffer or did deserve their treatment; it is, merely to say that the whole set-up within which they chose to work was at least mildly exploitative already, even if they were not quite bright enough to join the dots.

In this context, one of the many reasons I like Ildiko Enyedi's film On Body and Soul is that it presents another view of sexual love than that thrust upon us by Hollywood. The Hungarian director's tale describes a love between a man and a woman that is both bestial and tenderly romantic. Glamour in this movie is in marvellously short supply. For more, I wrote a brief review and posted it here.

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