Bring Back Adult Films

I was watching an interesting film the other night called Indie Sex: Censored on IFC.

One of the more interesting tidbits was that when the X rating first came out it was for films like Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango In Paris — actual artistic films that depict adult themes unsuitable for kids. Then Deep Throat came out which was essentially a comedic hard core porn, and based on it’s massive commercial success the “adult film” industry was born making an X rating synonymous with pornography.

The NC-17 rating was produced to try to increase the respectability of adult films. Unfortunately, Showgirls came out in an attempt to legitimize the new rating and its subsequent box office bombing has had lasting repercussions for theaters and rental agencies willingness to show movies bearing the rating.

I get frustrated because film is, for me, an opportunity to experience the filmmaker’s world for a brief span. I really like the opportunity to see the world for a bit through someone else’s eyes and to have that perspective sanitized for consumption by children leaves me wanting something more realistic.

It also irritates me in a larger social sense as well. One of the issues that I dealt with when working for MPP was the massive misunderstandings that exist in our society in relation to mild-altering substances.

I was watching My Name Is Earl a while back and they have a scene where Earl happens accidentally into a huge stash of pot. Misadventures ensue and the original owner of the drugs takes the mom and wife hostage while the boys go consult with the black character on the show to find out where to get more.

To calm himself down, the drug dealer smokes a joint in the bathroom. His secondhand smoke travels through the vent and into the bedroom where mom, sleeping peacefully on bed, inhales it. She wakes up high and immediately goes for a pair of scissors to gouge out chunks of her hair since she can’t stand to have anything dead attached to her. The fellows return with a duffel bag full of weed to find her holding a string and standing on the coffee table in front of a fan because she thinks she’s a kite.

It’s funny and out of character, and I understand why they put it in the show. The problem is that perhaps sizable percentage of the audience has no idea that it is completely unrealistic. Young people and parents who managed to stay sober through the ’60’s could well see this and think that a contact high can actually drive someone schizoid. How do they know any different?

When I lived in Mauritania, which is an Islamic Republic where alcohol is illegal, I had a conversation with a friend who told me, “alcohol is very very dangerous. I am sure that if I ever even smelled whiskey it would get me drunk and I would attack a woman.” I tried to convince him that if the smell of whiskey drove him to rape that it wasn’t the whiskey’s fault, but he had grown up his whole life hearing about how horrible booze was.

The problem I had then is the same one I have in conversations with some people now. Alcohol and marijuana are both dangerous substances that are easily abused. I certainly am not going to try and argue that there’s no such thing as people doing stupid things while high or people wasting their lives searching for the bottom of a beer bottle.

It’s a complex issue with serious ramifications, but when legislation comes up like Massachusetts’ Question #2 voters don’t have a realistic concept of the actual affects of the substance to use to base their opinions. They end up supporting a failing war on drugs since the millions of people who get high sometimes on the weekends and do their jobs the rest of the time aren’t funny and don’t make it onto TV.

So, I’d love it if we could have more adult films. Films where adults deal with the complexities of living real adult lives. We can manage to operate a world that is both safe for children and where being an adult means having access to information, privileges and responsibilities that children don’t have. Baby-proofing the whole damn country is definitely not the solution.

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