What is it about the word “art”? Pronounce it, and the IQ of susceptible folk is instantly halved. (I’ve seen cases where it is diminished by 87 percent.) Normally sensible people who do not, as a rule, appreciate being being made fools of stand idly by as someone tells them that a video of some charlatan climbing naked up a scaffolding while applying vaseline to sensitive parts of his body is “the most important American artist of his generation.” Instead of throwing something soft and rotting at such mountebanks, they nod solemnly and reach for their wallets. They are only too eager, when a stiffy arrives from the Museum of Modern Art or some similar establishment, to don the soup and fish and buzz round to the super exclusive evening event where scores of beautiful people line up to sip the shampoo and admire a tank full of formaldehyde and a dead tiger shark.
What is it about the word “art” that endows it with this mind-and-character-wrecking property? Why does it induce incontinent gibbering, not to mention mind-boggling extravagance, among normally hard-headed souls? A full answer would take us deep into the pathology of our time. It has something to do with what I’ve called elsewhere the institutionalization of the avant-garde, the contradictory project whereby the tics and outré attitudes of the avant-garde go mainstream. The half-comic, half-contemptible result is that ordinary bourgeois adults find themselves in the embarrassing position of celebrating the juvenile, anti-bourgeois antics of people who detest them.
Our misuse of the word “art” also has something to do with our age’s tendency to look to art for spiritual satisfactions traditionally afforded by religion. “In the absence of a belief in God,” Wallace Stevens observed, “poetry is that essence which takes its place as life’s redemption.”
That, anyway, is the idea, though exactly what sort of “redemption” may be had from much that goes by the name of “art” today is another question. Consider, to take an example I read about just a couple of days ago, Millie Brown. This 26-year-old deep thinker drinks tinted milk and then regurgitates it over a canvas. That’s her claim to immortality. And good news! The Daily Mail reports that Brown’s “unique vomit-art canvases will be available for purchase.” Act quickly! “Many maintain that now is a great time to invest in this hotly tipped artist.” Who knows? The Mail also reports that one of Millie’s most avid fans is the pop singer Lady Gaga, “who personally chose the artist to feature in her own performance video,” in which “Millie can be seen vomiting shimmering turquoise liquid over the singer.” The paper compares Millie Brown to Jackson Pollock. People — not art people — used to say contemptuously that their child of five could paint something indiscernible from a Jackson Pollock painting. Perhaps so. Millie has gone a step further: her creations are indiscernible from the “creations” of one year olds, whose canvases are the products not of their hands but of other organs.
As an early teen in the early ’80s, it was just about impossible not to like Michael Jackson’s music. It was certainly impossible to avoid it. With Thriller, Jackson and producer Quincy Jones set out to make the ultimate crossover album — one that would gain black and white audiences in equal measure. And equal airplay, too, back when radio stations were even more racially targeted than they are today.
And boy, did they succeed.
But Michael Jackson the person? It was pretty obvious even then that he was one strange dude. What happened though is what happens to too many child performers: The weirdness went up and up, while the quality of the performances went down and down. By the time Dangerous came out in 1991, the magic was pretty much gone. It sold in the millions, yet nobody was buying it. And by that I mean, nobody was buying Jackson’s pseudo tough/tender/ladies man act anymore. The weird was just too weird.
Then came the obligatory-yet-somehow-disappointing greatest hits collection, the horrifying-yet-believable stories about his sleepover parties with kids…
I shudder even to think about it. His last studio album, ironically named Invincible, came out after years of delays and way over budget — and to a tepid response.
It was around this time he was dangling babies off balconies and looking like a bad drag queen version of Elizabeth Taylor. Oh, and he’d somehow managed to go broke buying giraffes and rollercoasters and stuff. The music had hit bottom and the weird was at the top of the charts.
The amazingly talented and abused little boy who never had a childhood, never really had an adulthood, either. There’s so much blame to go around, you barely know where to start.
There’s nothing that makes Hollywood more nervous than portraying Islamist terror. As far back as 1994, James Cameron’s True Lies was denounced as racially insensitive for imagining a chillingly plausible Islamist terror threat involving nuclear weapons. Cameron, anticipating accusations of unfairly linking terrorism with Islam and Arabs, took care to try for “balance” by placing an Arab-American character on the good guys’ side (the actor who played him, Grant Heslov, this year won an Oscar as one of the producers of Argo). Yet the advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) slammed the film anyway. The hysterical 1998 movie The Siege imagined that, in an overreaction to a terrorist attack, Brooklyn would be placed under martial law and all young Muslim men would be interned in Yankee Stadium. Ridiculous.
Since 2001, of course, Hollywood has almost completely avoided showing any Muslim involved in terror, changing the bad guys in 2002’s The Sum of All Fears from Palestinians to neo-Nazis. The 2005 Jodie Foster movie Flightplan, about an abduction on an airplane, used a hint that Arabs might be responsible as a red herring. The actual villain: an all-American air marshal played by Peter Sarsgaard. Several Middle East themed movies like Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies essentially saw a moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Islamists, saying both sides were up to comparably nasty stuff in the War on Terror.
Vice President Joe Biden drew parallels with the movie Deliverance while addressing a benefit dinner for a volunteer legal group that helps domestic violence survivors.
Biden’s daughter-in-law, Kathleen Biden, is a co-chair of the group. Calling him “Pop,” she introduced the veep to the crowd packed with even more Bidens.
According to the White House pool report, he peppered his speech with family stories and told the audience that his granddaughter implores him to stop referring to them as his daughters in public because “people will think something’s wrong.”
“All you women out there: Daughters are wonderful. Granddaughters are better,” Biden said. ”When they’re 12 to 14, a dad puts his beautiful little daughter to bed. And then the next morning, there’s a snake in the bed.”
Biden talked about his work in Congress on the Violence Against Women Act when he brought up the Deliverance reference.
“After those guys tied that one guy to the tree and raped him, man-raped him in the film, why didn’t the guy go the sheriff?” Biden asked. “They don’t want to get raped again by the system.”
The bravest part of Jason Collins’s coming-out feature in Sports Illustrated was not the part where he revealed he is gay. It was this:
I celebrate being an African-American and the hardships of the past that still resonate today. But I don’t let my race define me any more than I want my sexual orientation to. I don’t want to be labeled, and I can’t let someone else’s label define me.
I have a prediction: Collins is going to ruffle a few feathers in the gay world for that comment.
It normalizes gayness, instead of letting one counterculture, ultra-liberal, activist niche own the image of homosexuality. If you can be a gay NBA star, why not a gay conservative? If your sexual orientation is just one part of your life, why does it have to dictate your entire worldview?
You can’t be easily herded if you insist on being yourself.
If you’re skeptical that the gay activist Old Guard would be against lifestyle diversity, read this Slate article about how some of them are reluctantly accepting of the “Gaybro” movement. The subtitle says it all: “They like sports, hunting, and beer. They make the gay community mad.”
Jason Collins: thanks for making them mad. It’s time someone shook this place up a bit. And I don’t mean the hetero-normative sports world. I mean the liberal-normative gay world.
In The Company You Keep, Robert Redford stars in as well as directs a story of an ex-Weather Underground radical who has been living quietly as a public-interest lawyer in upstate New York for more than 30 years. His true identity is discovered by an annoying reporter (Shia LaBeouf) after the apprehension of one of his co-conspirators (Susan Sarandon), who was one of four terrorists who robbed a bank and murdered several security guards in the process.
Redford, that noted “liberal activist,” shows where his sympathies truly are. This is a movie that argues:
1. The Weathermen were fighting for peace.
The Company You Keep begins with a montage of real news clips (and a fake one) edited together to tell the story that the Weather Underground grew out of the antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society and that its activities were meant to end the Vietnam War by “bringing the war home.” Nonsense. The Weathermen loved war and wanted more of it. They were a murderous group of Black Power and Marxist revolutionaries bent on the violent overthrow of the United States. After the 1970 accidental explosion that killed several terrorists who blew themselves up with their own bombs in a downtown New York City townhouse, the true intent of the bombs was revealed: They were meant to be used to blow up a library on the campus of Columbia University. Not exactly a military target.
Comic Jim Carrey takes to the august pixels of the Sideboob Gazette to hit back, again, at those of us who don’t care much for people who make their livings pretending to be other people lecturing us about reality.
For those who say I’m a hypocrite because I have an armed bodyguard, lets make one thing clear: No one in my employ is allowed to carry a large magazine and NO ONE IS ASKING ANYONE TO GIVE UP THEIR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, though it is in the vested interests of those who profit by gun sales to make it seem so.
Alrighty then. So if you happen to get into a shootout with Jim Carrey’s bodyguards, you can just wait them out.
Next up, Carrey compares himself to Ronaldus Magnus.
And to the bullies who will try to marginalize and discredit me by saying, “Shut up, you’re just an actor,” while they brag about what a great president the ACTOR Ronald Reagan was, who threaten me with the demise of my acting career and much worse, I say SO BE IT!
Reagan was also a union leader and successful governor who spent decades formulating ideas and plans to dismantle the Soviet Union. Carrey has spent decades turning his face into rubber.
Don’t read these two lines and then call Jim Carrey a hypocrite, though.
These horrific events are also an invitation for us to become more civilized and to deal with our addiction and entitlement to violence.
Later in the same piece…
These thugs, though menacing, are a minority but they will have their way if good people don’t step forward now and make a difference.
It’s as if Carrey knows words, and knows how to put them together into a sentence, but does not know what the words actually mean.
Last week brought to light a likely Democratic challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from actress-turned-politico Ashley Judd. The Daily Caller responded to the news with a jab at Judd’s character, pointing out how often she has been nude throughout her film career. This triggered a firestorm of indignation on the Left, with writers from The Raw Story, Salon, and Mother Jones among others lambasting conservative prudery.
While the Left’s objection appears to be informed by sexual licentiousness and a general obligation to feign offense at any suggestion of modesty as virtue, a legitimate critique can be made of the attempt to marginalize Judd’s candidacy. In several ways worth noting, making an issue of Judd’s on-screen nudity is a mistake.
First, let us concede that we live in the year 2013 amidst a generation separated from past chastity by a great cultural and technological divide. Naked women are not as shocking as they used to be, assuming they ever actually were. Granted, a higher-than-average standard ought to be applied to candidates for public office, and certainly to candidates for U.S. Senate. However, context matters. Judd acted in mainstream films. It’s not as though she made her career in pornography.
Activists on the Right ought to hold greater concern for the circumstances which make Judd’s potential candidacy viable. We live in a political culture where celebrity proves increasingly valuable. One of the greatest hurdles facing campaigns at any level is name recognition. If voters don’t know who a candidate is, they aren’t as inclined to vote for them. The campus paper for Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, sources the work of political scientists in that area:
[Cindy] Kam and [Elizabeth] Zechmeister have shown, in a paper currently under consideration for publication, that brief exposure to a candidate’s name increases voter support by 13 percent, if voters know nothing else about the candidates.
No one should be shocked to learn that campaigns grow more expensive each cycle.
Picked this up from USA Today.
Bonnie Franklin was best known for her series “One Day At A Time”, playing a divorced mother of two girls, played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli. I remember the series fondly, mostly because I thought all three of them were hot. The show was known for all sorts of dumb firsts, starting with first sitcom based around a divorced woman, but really worked because Franklin, Phillips, and Bertinelli played real, warm, flawed people. Franklin was also an accomplished musical performer, with lead roles in Broadway musicals.
She died today of pancreatic cancer, and is survived by her mother and stepsons.
My latest parody video is up. Don’t worry, no vapid, ignorant celebrities were injured during the filming of this parody — at least not physically. Their fragile egos may have taken a beating, though. Enjoy!
You might have heard of Lana Del Rey because she’s the internet’s favorite singer to hate. Or you might have heard of her because you actually enjoyed one of her songs on the radio. Sound a bit contradictory?
Lana Del Rey sings retro-inspired, whispery pop songs about slightly trashy women with a serious case of heartache. You can picture her heroines telling the story of the man who walked out on them over a cigarette and coffee in a local diner, mascara running down their cheeks. She’s a bad girl from a James Dean movie with a heart of gold. Her music is catchy, melancholy, haunting; it has a quality that reaches out and taps you on the shoulder if you’ve ever been dumped, and whispers to you about feelings that other songs missed. When she croons “I will love you until the end of time,” or “Heaven is a place on earth with you,” in a minor key, she reminds you of that half-life of love that keeps burning on even after the relationship ends. And she’s not fighting it — she’s just feeling it. Even in “Video Games,” a song in which she’s still with her boyfriend, when she sings “better than I ever even knew” the listener gets the impression that things are not perfect.
Lana Del Rey is good music for suspense. She’s good music for sun-draped summer days. She’s good music for a long drive to see someone for the first time in what feels like a long time.
She’s a good bad girl for good girls to listen to.
The other distinctive feature of Lana Del Rey is she can’t do a single thing without every hipster and tabloid blog on the internet jeering her for it. It’s become such a distinctive facet of her career that you can’t discuss her or her music at all without running into internet-hate problem.
What gives? First of all, hating her was made trendy by sites that make lots and lots of money by writing cruel things about people. She’s not perfect, but her crimes are no worse than those of other pop stars who have gotten off with far less derision: take a stage name, or flubbing a performance.
The fact that she’s unafraid to sing about women’s vulnerability without irony or apology is another less discussed reason why music commentators and tabloid writers hate her so vitriolically. She doesn’t follow their script of how empowered gender-neutral young folks these days should talk about love, so she must be mocked into silence.
What has she done to piss them off so much?
GQ just released their “The 100 Sexiest Women of the Millennium” issue featuring Beyonce on the cover as “Miss Millennium.” Flip through it and you’ll find the obvious nods to Jessica Simpson, Kim Kardashian, and Katie Holmes. But this year, the lad mag has included some ethnic specific categories that have some people raising their eyebrows. Examples:
• “Hottest Indian Chick”: Freida Pinto
• “Hottest Pregnant Sri Lankan”: M.I.A
• “Hottest Italian Chick”: Monica Belluci
• “Hottest Chinese Chick”: Zhang Ziyi (sometimes credited as Ziyi Zhang)
More on Yahoo! Anthropology Sells Racially Offensive Candlestick For $398
While there may not be anything inherently wrong with saying someone is a “Hot Chinese woman” the seemingly arbitrary racial call-outs have people squirming. For example, why did the magazine deem Beyonce “Miss Millennium” but not “Miss African-American Millennium?” Mila Kunis was included in the top three hottie picks but the magazine didn’t mention her Ukranian roots. And why was Kim Kardashian lauded for her performance in her 2007 sex tape but not labeled “Hottest Armenian Porn Star”?
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Just months after selling Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney, George Lucas is ready for another big change: marriage.
The Star Wars writer-director is engaged to longtime girlfriend and DreamWorks Animation chairman Mellody Hobson, a rep for Lucasfilm confirms to The Hollywood Reporter. It will be the first marriage for Hobson, 43, and the second for Lucas, 68.
PHOTOS: When You Wish Upon a Death Star: The Surprising Symmetry of Star Wars and Disney
In addition to her gig with DreamWorks, Hobson also heads Chicago-based investment management firm Ariel Investments Llc. and is chairman of Ariel Mutual Funds. Ariel reportedly is among the largest African-American-owned money management and mutual fund companies in the U.S.
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A nurse who transferred a prank phone call from two Australian radio presenters about the Duchess of Cambridge has died in a suspected suicide – two days after being duped.
The body of Jacintha Saldanha, who was working on the switchboard, was found at an address yards away from King Edward VII Hospital, where she worked, just before 9.30am today.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge issued a statement saying they are ‘deeply saddened’ by the tragedy and said they had not made a complaint, adding: ‘Their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.’
‘On the contrary we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times.’
image courtesy shutterstock / Steve Ikeguchi
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Hat tip: JW
*Updated: Video has apparently been pulled, when a new one can be found it will be replaced, in the mean time, a link to the story:
Appearing on Sunday night’s Soul Train awards in Las Vegas, Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx called Barack Obama “our lord and savior.”
“It’s like church over here. It’s like church in here. First of all, give an honor to God and our lord and savior Barack Obama. Barack Obama,” he said.
Since the 2008 election, several have attempted to deify Barack Obama.
ABC’s Jake Tapper noticed the messianic tone of Obama’s first presidential campaign and wrote: “It’s as if Tom Daschle descended from on high saying, ‘Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of Chicago a Savior, who is Barack the Democrat.’”
Updated: Another embed of the clip found and updated.
Just a few short years ago, James McAvoy was best known to audiences for his role as the half-human, half-goat Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, in the years since, the Scottish actor has seen his career expand from Oscar bait like The Last King of Scotland and Atonement to big-budget Hollywood fare like Wanted and X-men: First Class.
That eclectic mix of films indicates that McAvoy has little worry about becoming typecast and is willing to take on a risky, even controversial project without a second thought. In his career, he’s already tackled political drama, period romance, high-octane action and superhero spectacle. However, despite risking fanboy ire by taking on the role of young Professor Charles Xavier, McAvoy is now set to take on his most divisive project to date.
According to Variety, McAvoy is in talks to star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Dreamworks’ untitled Wikileaks film. The actor would play Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the author whose book Inside Wikileaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website serves as the basis for the film. The studio acquired the rights to both that book and Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, and both will serve as inspirations for the film’s screenplay.
I’ve liked McAvoy since seeing him stand his own against Forest Whitaker’s mesmerizing Idi Amin performance in 2006′s The Last King of Scotland. It looks like again he’s going to play another real life character drawn into a dangerous criminal cult. (Though I hardly expect the evil acts of Julian Assange to receive the same honest depiction as Amin.)
Note to self: pick up Inside Wikileaks from the library. The ideologies fueling Wikileaks’ founders in their efforts to sabotage the United States national security efforts need additional study…
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Lady Gaga: ‘I Quite Like the Transference of Strength I Feel By Submitting To a Man – Being Under Him.’
You know what’s so funny is, I actually think there’s a new feminism that is completely different and I don’t think either is better or worse. Any kind of feminist has valid views for herself about what it means to be a feminist, but, as a new-age feminist, I would say I quite like the transference of strength I feel by submitting to a man – being under him. I actually wrote a song about it on my album, it’s called GUY and it stands for Go Under You. So wearing make-up, smelling delicious and having suckable, kissable, edible things between your limbs is something I find strengthening because I know that when I pick the right guy, I can let him have it. Some women feel oppressed by make-up and clothing, and here’s to them, they have every right to feel that way as well.
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Cee Lo Green is the target of an LAPD sexual battery investigation, TMZ has learned … but the singer is adamant he did NOTHING wrong.
Law enforcement sources tell us … a woman recently filed a police report with the LAPD, accusing “The Voice” judge – real name Thomas DeCarlo Callaway — of a sexual assault.
Our sources say detectives have already visited a restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles in connection with the case and questioned several employees, including the manager. We do not know if the alleged incident occurred at the restaurant.
The LAPD is mum on the identity of the alleged victim, when and where the incident allegedly occurred, and what Cee Lo allegedly did.
Cee Lo tells TMZ he categorically denies ANY wrongdoing.
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A new book from filmmaker Oliver Stone offers a scathing critique of President Barack Obama’s time in office.
Stone, who wrote “The Untold History of the United States” with historian Peter Kuznick, puts forth a liberal interpretation of American history from the turn of the last century to present day. The 618-page book, slated for release Tuesday – a week before Election Day – from Gallery Books, slams Republicans and Democrats alike, and the authors’ assessment of Obama’s presidency is tinged with disappointment.
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Bubba the Love Sponge just went on his radio show … and claimed Hulk Hogan may have played a role in the release of the sex tape … despite several public denials.
During the show, Bubba made it clear … he and Hulk are no longer best friends — in fact, it sounds like they pretty much hate each other’s guts.
At one point in the show, Bubba called Hulk a “self-centered” man who has delusionally convinced himself that Nick was innocent in that 2007 car crash, Brooke actually has talent and that Linda is “whore.” Bubba actually defends Linda throughout the show.
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“I think unemployment is very important for now, so as of now I think (my vote) is Mitt Romney,” Lohan told reporters, including FOX411′s Pop Tarts, at the Mr. Pink Ginseng Drink Launch Party Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Lohan also hinted at mysterious underlying motives for supporting the GOP candidate and turning her back on Obama under wraps.
So what made Lohan throw her allegiance behind Romney, apart from the fact that she thinks it’s good for America as well as Mr. Pink’s Ginseng beverage, which is obviously super-refreshing in a nonpartisan way and getting a ton of free press out of this?
“It’s a long story, but you’re going to have to wait for that,” she told reporters at the event.
Two parting thoughts about this development.
1. Even though this whole thing is uber-ridiculous, it’s nice to see Lohan in the headlines for something that doesn’t involve catfights with her mother or cell phone arguments in hotels.
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CANNES – Uma Thurman has joined the all-star cast of Lars von Trier’s epic pornographic drama Nymphomaniac.
The film, which von Trier is producing as two feature length dramas, is currently shooting in and around Cologne, Germany. It is unclear what role Thurman will play in the film. This will be Thurman’s first role in a Von Trier film.
Nymphomaniac stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jo, a self- diagnosed Nymphomaniac. One night, an old bachelor, played by Stellan Skarsgard, finds her in an alley, badly beaten. He takes her home to nurse her back to health, while she recounts to him her life of erotic adventure.
I know the reputation that I’m developing among some PJ readers as the prudish love child of Andrea Dworkin and Yusuf Qaradawi. This won’t help much, but here we go:
I don’t want to see Uma Thurman having sex on film. I hope that if she participates in an unsimulated sex scene they use a body double and she doesn’t do something that she’ll feel ashamed to tell her daughter about some day.
In September of 2010, on the occassion of the American release of the porn chic art film Destricted, I wrote about why filmmakers will fail every time they attempt to “bridge the gap” between hardcore sex and drama:
What the filmmakers didn’t really address — and what the Daily Beast reporter who lauds this trite picture as “unique and visionary” miss — is that porn and art serve two different purposes. Art stimulates the viewer on intellectual and emotional levels. Porn stimulates the viewer on a sexual level. It’s not possible to really combine these. Why? Because the sexual experience — specifically the porn sexual experience — is about turning off the mental and emotional levels. (The sexual experience between two people who love each other is a totally different subject.) It ruins porn to think about it intellectually or emotionally. It destroys the lie.
Art rises us up, making us explore and reflect upon who we are. Porn brings us down to our most base animal level causing us to revert to seeing one another as little more than objects for our own self-fulfillment.
The quest to combine the two is inherently doomed to failure.
I can’t think of a single film featuring unsimulated sex used in a meaningful way. (And during my secular-leftist-hedonist film critic days I saw most of the ones on this list at Wikipedia while searching.) Only Pink Flamingos and Short Bus work — and that’s because they’re comedies, using their explicit scenes as low-budget, humorous special effects. John Waters and John Cameron Mitchell are not pretentious©. Von Trier, now making his third unsimulated sex art film, owns the copyright on the term.
Does it make me less of a man to have this position? Or less of a boy?
I agree with this from commenter Azathoth:
Pornographic sex doesn’t work in mainstream movies. And an unsimulated sex scene that looks like a simulated sex scene is pretty much pointless. Something that Von Trier should have learned already. He’s too busy being ‘transgressive’ to learn anythingIn order for unsimulated, graphic sex to work in a mainstream movie it has to be intrinsic to the plot to the point that a simulation wouldn’t work. I can’t think of a situation where this occurs.
Hat tip: Onion AV Club
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