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Klavan On The Culture

Don Jon Lands Some Fair Punches and One Foul

October 7th, 2013 - 6:50 pm

Don Jon  — a romantic comedy about a bartender with a porn addiction — is not the sort of movie I usually go to. But my wife wanted to see it, and I’m extraordinarily fond of her, so here’s what I thought. Not bad at all really. Well-acted, well-written, with an interesting point to make — although once you understand what the point is (in about 20 minutes) you can pretty well write the rest of the picture yourself. Still, it held me for all 90 minutes and there were some laughs and some genuine feeling — so not bad at all.

The idea is that porn — and romantic comedies and promiscuous sex and even religion — can all become addictive ways of losing yourself in a fantasy in order to avoid connecting with other people, and maybe losing yourself in them. This is all true and very relevant in the connected but weirdly disconnected world we now live in.

I especially appreciated the comparison between porn — in which the women have perfect bodies and do all sorts of stuff that real girls aren’t always willing to do — and romantic comedies, in which men find salvation through apologizing to their girlfriends and subjugating themselves to feminine values. Both are equally one-sided visions of relationship — and the movie illustrates it through the simultaneously luscious and distasteful predator female played excellently by Scarlett Johansson.

The one wrong move in the movie comes at the end, when the film smacks Catholicism. I have nothing against smacking Catholicism now and then — the horrifying portrayal of a pedophile priest in the last episode of Showtime’s Ray Donovan struck me as right on the money. But it’s no fair attacking the church for something it doesn’t actually do. The idea that religion can separate us from reality is true enough – it can. But the portrait of what confession is like and how modern priests react to problems struck me as dated and unrealistic. I’m guessing a guy with a porn addiction could do much worse than going to his local priest.

But other than that, a good show, all in all. Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed and starred and did them all well.

*****

Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

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All Comments   (4)
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Am I allowed to express my deeply unPC irritation that we have --and not for the first time-- a Jewish celebrity feeling free to smack the Christian religion when, if a Christian (or just Gentile) celebrity mocked Judaism, we'd be hearing screams about The Holocaust?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A small point of clarification for my "closed mind": You mention promiscuous sex as something one can get lost in, i.e., in a negative sense. Then you mention in the same breath, viz. same sentence that one can get lost in religion. And that means to my hemeneutic reaction that there is an equality between promiscuous sex and religon re a negative evaluation. I think I know why promiscuous sex or porno-addiction deserves your negative evaluation. And I agree. But I stumble over religion and its supposed taking one away from reality. If say, a Catholic joins a monastery (perhaps the Trappist monks and their radical limitation of speech intercommunication are the most radical example) in order to get away from the "reality" of the world about in order to focus his/her heart on, what St. Anselm said, nothing but what concerns oneself related to God; in short, if such getting away from normal ongoing reality is achieved in a monastery, is this not something falling under your condemnation derived from your porno/religion equation. I would like to ask for clarification.

Personally, I do not feel well in the modern secular world pe se, but particularly in the sexualized world of society in America and here in Germany where I now reside. My stance is that of the great deceased Columbian "reaccionario" Nicolás Gómez Dávila. Am I an escapist, at least in feelings, a person to be equated with a porno freak? If not, why?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The film depicts people routinely pacifying their consciences by going to church without ever adjusting their lives to accommodate God. This strikes me as a real phenomenon - though not necessarily the fault of the church! - and worth satirizing. This has nothing to do with what you describe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for the clarification. Here in Germany we get American junk and non-junk months or years later. On the other hand, Germans have their own sexualizing shows. Heck, in the last elections the "Green Party Youth" wanted to end marriage (just "familial" contracts of two or more peope of any gender or non-gender), legalize incest, de-genderization starting in kindergarten and, well enough... . I have a tragic/comic thesis: The more Germans have sex, the less children they have. Germans produce ca. 1.34 children and 2.1 is minimal for reproduction, which means, as David Goldman has noted, the extinction of the German "race" in less than 200 years (or, as I say, the evolutionary unfit die out). I think what bothers me (and puts me in Dávila's camp) is the highly pervasive absence of transcendence. Even the Churchs sound more and more like slobbering political parties. Not yet totally. (Only the German guilt complex kept the "scientists" from pushing through a prohibition of circumcision for Jews sometime back--it will return.) I could relate some striking stories about the "Bumpskultur" here. But it is my mathematical and religious longing for the infinity of transcendence that is behind my alienation. Thank you for your article.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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