Black Swan: Art or Soft Porn?

We—the “target publics” and movie-goers and TV watchers and internet addicts—are shackled as if by an umbilical cord to the many screens that guide our passage through the day. Perhaps we are prisoners, without knowing it, of the culture that we consume.  We accept, often without comment, representations and behavior in the movies and publications and the ads that surround us that we would not stand for in person. Perhaps the voyeurism and sex-to-sell-anything that is increasingly present in our lives isn’t all Hollywood’s fault.  Perhaps we have, through our polite, politically discreet silence, trained ourselves in all kinds of ways to not call out the fact that it is not just the emperor who is not wearing any clothes.

Do we, in our many roles in the community–as employers, as people of faith, as parents—even remark on the commonness of too much cleavage, too much skin, at work, at church at the supermarket?   Have we become so accepting or think we need to appear accepting of the descent of sex into the banality of “friends with benefits” and “hook ups” that we say nothing when our children or our staff look to us for some sign of the lines of propriety and taste?  Do we betray the aspiration to the Divine that faith represents when we fail to resist the general downward drift of decorum and the abandonment of the manners that save us from our baser selves?

In the theatre recently, watching Black Swan, I wondered how many were as glad as I was of the darkness. It provided some cover for the cringe of embarrassment as we followed the eye of the camera into a close up of oral sex between two women, the groping of crotch and breast on the large expanse of the cinema screen and the masturbatory antics of a young woman.  If we had put our eye to the keyhole, we would have been arrested as Peeping Toms. But when we pay at the box office and a director provides the keyhole and we watch from the comfort of our theatre seats, popcorn in our laps, we walk out blameless.

We would shy away if someone paraded their sexual behavior on the street as we walked past them.

We would consider a person a public nuisance if they made love in public.

People on the street who are mentally disturbed get arrested for “indecent exposure.”

How then is the group Peeping Tom experience and the enactment of what should be private sexual acts for general public viewing decent exposure?

Black Swan is rated R—so under-17 year old cinemagoers would have to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Presumably the consumption of soft porn on the big screen by teenagers in the company of adults who would likely avoid talking about it afterwards is somehow acceptable.

Reviewers are divided as to whether Black Swan is art or an over-the-top horror-thriller calling it “wicked, sexy’ and “voluptuous pulp fun.”

Thomas Caldwell thinks “Black Swan is little more than exploitation cinema but its heavy pop psychology and complete lack of subversiveness make it shallow exploitation rather than transgressive. And unless you buy the film’s disturbingly romanticised vision of mental illness, it isn’t much fun either.”

The Catholic News Service calls the film “morally offensive.”   It describes the film as “a morally muddled drama” that “plays on the extremes of sexual repression and debauched license and, whether read as insisting on the necessity of indiscriminate experience or as a cautionary tale, presents its heroine’s experimentation with voyeuristic excess. “

Unfortunately, the average moviegoer does not go to the US Conference of Bishops website for tips, let alone take the guidance provided, on how to evaluate movies.

We, the patrons of movies, parents and teachers, friends and family need to make those evaluations part of our candid conversations before and after a night at the movies to soften the grip of Hollywood and YouTube on our children.

Advertisements
Tagged with:
Posted in Catholics and Culture, I BLOG, Movies, Soft Porn and Faith, Uncategorized
One comment on “Black Swan: Art or Soft Porn?
  1. Pat Gozemba says:

    Amen. I had a sneaking suspicion that the insanity was “amped-up” in this film as an excuse to take just as many liberties as possible to get this film into the shocking category. We’re so numbed by all that is around us that the ante is constantly upped. Shocking is good and to be upset about it is just uncool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 431 other followers

Voting a Sign of Media Literacy
I Voted
%d bloggers like this: