Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The joy of sex

You might not have seen the reports on the death of director Gerard Damiano, who died recently at the age of 80. You might not even have heard of him before now. Yet, he directed a movie with one of the most well-known titles: even if the vast majority of us have never seen Deep Throat, we've all heard of it. Yes, if you didn't know by now, the name of the informant in the Watergate scandal got his name from a porno movie. Hollywood doesn't want to talk about it, but adult movies have been one of the enduring staples of the film industry, if not the one that actually makes the most pictures. Even though Hollywood has itself always been using sex to sell its movies -- after all, look at some of the pre-code movies, and the fact that it was the sexuality of these movies that went a long way toward the strict enforcement of the Production Code -- they seem to want to consider themselves "above" adult movies.

Consider the movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I've only seen the promos, and don't intend to see the movie, largely because I hate going to the local sixtyplex. It sounds like a fairly dumb comedy about two people in financial difficulty who decide to try to make the money they need by making a porno movie. Such a plot could be good, but I don't expect Hollywood to do anything but go for the lowest common denominator. But what I find fascinating is that while the original commercials gave the title in full, as Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the ads I've seen in the past few days are simply calling it Zack and Miri. Go figure.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno originally received a rating of NC-17 from the MPAA. This rating only came about in the early 1990s, thanks in no small part to the adult movie industry. Of course, before there was an NC-17 rating, the movies with too much sex got an X rating. Purveyors of porn took this as a badge of honor, in many cases advertising their movies as being "XXX-rated". Hollywood felt that there were apparently movies out there that were completely unsuitable for kids, but had nothing to do with porn, and so, to try to distinguish that tiny group of films, they came up with the NC-17 rating. Again, go figure.


Anonymous said...
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Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

Sorry, but my blog isn't a place to spam people. If you have any cogent thoughts on the portrayal of sex in classic Hollywood movies, you're welcome to comment on that.