Showgirls: The Disease Of Heterosexuality
Mainstream porn continues to fascinate, long after we cease to be moved by the stagey, unconvincing sex that is depicted therein. Why is this? It is the story and the characters. It is the acting, a grotesque, but apt, mockery of how we actually conduct our daily affairs, motivated by half-conscious desires unrelated to what is nominally going on. It is the undisguisedly half-assed settings, useful only as sources of props, like most of the settings of our own lives. How often do you feel a deep, nuanced, connection with your immediate environment, with your workplace or school? Unless you live in some sort of pre-reflective romantic Golden Age, I would bet the answer is not very often.

Everything that happens in porn is just a prelude, a way of getting to the one thing that matters -- and that thing, sex, turns out to be as arbitrary, brutal, and ultimately disappointing as anything else in porn's grimly compelling world. Yet, it is "cathartic." Porn gets at something of what life is actually like that other movies miss, and have to miss in order to be good, in order to have characters and plots. I guess porn is the closest thing we have to Greek tragedy.

Thus, it is easy to understand my excitement when I saw the movie Showgirls playing on the big TV at the Speedway house. It opens with a former Saved by the Bell star going to Las Vegas to become a stripper. She is an irrational girl whose eyes are bovine and docile when she's not in the throes of some outburst of emotion, and she is hitchhiking with a beefy, crude, truck-driving man who knows what he wants. Their speech is wooden, a solemn preparation for brutal, mutually degrading sex... AND THEN IT DOESN'T HAPPEN! What is going on here???

She attacks the man, he takes her possessions, she yowls in helpless feminine frustration outside of a casino, etc. I don't want to spoil it all for you guys, but suffice it to say, all the lines are delivered with the sullen non-acting of porn dialog, yet the three hour movie only features about 2.5 scenes of sex. They scale up, too. Yet, unlike in real porn, these scenes are -- okay, I wouldn't say they are "original" or "well-conceived," but they are very abstract and worth waiting for. My roommates speculated, upon seeing them, that maybe Kyle MacLachlan (he is involved in one!) thought he was in a David Lynch film.

But, Showgirls stimulates on an intellectual as well an emotional level. A porn movie with no sex poses the question: what are the characters' motivations? You will spend a great deal of the movie trying to figure out the answer.

Posted by xerxes on Fri, 07 Mar 2008 02:51:36 -0500 -- permanent link

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