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December 1993


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Bert Deivert <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 20 Dec 1993 10:10:33 -0100
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I have also been considering teaching a short section of our film course on
pornography, using texts like Linda Williams' book. After some discussion
with another lecturer in the course, though, we decided that neither of us
was willing to screen any pornography for the students. I came to about the
same conclusion as James Schamus, that I would feel uncomfortable. I think
the reason we can screen violent films easily, but not pornography is that
the violent film is a construction, a fictionaliztion of a real act that
can be broken down, analysed and "read". The extreme close-ups of genitalia
and money shots are not fiction, even if the setting is fiction. This makes
the situation too close for comfort - privately - by putting our most
private acts on stage. A lot of questions come up... Were the persons
involved coerced? Is this film an exploitation of people who are in dire
straits economically or socially? I would not willingly see a snuff film
where I KNEW that people were murdered in the making of the film. I can,
however, watch a film like MAN BITES DOG, the Belgian pseudo-documentary,
where people are routinely murdered in front of the camera by a gleeful
murderer. In the same way, I can watch a fictional film with fictional
eroticism -- simulated to a certatin degree by camera movement, nudity,
etc., but have a hard time watching straight on pornography. What we see up
on the screen is real, and that changes the way we react to it.
Thanks to the participants in this little discussion. The personal
experiences of people in their classrooms were very interesting to read.
*  Bert Deivert                       E-mail: [log in to unmask]  *
*  Film Studies                                                    *
*  Univ. of Karlstad                                               *
*  Box 9501  S-650 09 Karlstad, Sweden    TEL. 46-54-838106        *