Sunday, April 09, 2006

Puritanism Ain't What It Used To Be

Paranoia, thy name is heathenism:

Paul Verhoeven, director of the first Basic Instinct (which scored $353 million worldwide) as well as the widely ridiculed Showgirls (now regarded as something of a camp classic), attributes the genre's demise to the current American political climate.

"Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States," said the Dutch native. "Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends."

Scribe Nicholas Meyer, who was an uncredited writer on 1987's seminal sex-fueled cautionary tale Fatal Attraction, agrees, noting that the genre's downfall coincides with the ascent of the conservative political movement.

"We're in a big puritanical mode," he said. "Now, it's like the McCarthy era, except it's not 'Are you a communist?' but 'Have you ever put sex in a movie?"'

Leaving aside for the moment that Christians have more and better sex than non-Christians do (it helps to be married and not fear the conception of children and not, you know, have people watching you do it), what the devil is Verhoeven talking about? What "genre"? If he means porn, isn't that industry more or less thriving? Does the man not own a computer, for pity's sake? Or has he deluded himself into believing that if you omit the two-inches-away closeups and cheesy background music it magically transforms into "art"?

His perception of the term "banned" is also functionally unrecognizable, unless it has been redefined to mean "box office flop that nobody wants to plunk down eight hard-earned dollars to sit through."

Lastly, didn't the "conservative political movement" first arise in the 1964 Barry Goldwater presidential campaign? Or, culturally speaking, in the late-1970s with the Moral Majority? Since when has it ever been in a position to "ban" anything, much less evinced an overt intention to do so? Can Verhoeven or Meyer say, "Queer cowboy picture gets multiple Oscar nominations" (But also flops at the box office)? Or are they actually convinced, as Brother Hinderaker snarkily queries, that they're writing from Albanian prisons where they've been confined since 1956?

Sounds like an interesting idea for a movie, actually....