Don Jon Violated Me
It’s weird when I feel compelled to warn everyone about explicit content. I mean, I’m me, I love explicit content. I wish people were less shameful, more open, talked more freely about sexuality and in general embraced the full spectrum of human sexuality. But you know what I love even more? Consent. I fucking love consent. And if you’re going to show me endless clips of porn, I have the right to consent to that. Which, for the record, I probably would. But not with my daughter and Mother-In-Law.
But you have to inform people so that they can make their own decision. Informed consent is REALLY the only kind of consent there is.
The chances are good that this was a mostly decent movie. I can tell you, for sure, that the acting was fantastic. All around, spot-on and impressive. The directing? Well, it ran into the usual problems with films that are written and directed by the same person – no one to say, “dude, I get what you’re trying to do, but it’s not working, you need to edit this down.” It is repetitive and totally predictable. I even understand the point of that movie – an exploration of how our modern media and lifestyles makes intimacy impossible and fantasies make it hard to enjoy the reality of our lives. With an extra hard look at club culture and hook-ups and the performance of love rather than the reality of it.
But a film that does that beautifully already exists, and Julianne Moore was in it too. Crazy, Stupid Love. Watch it, it’s awesome.
All that said, I really only have 2 bones (or, should I glom on and say “boners”) to pick with this movie. The first is consent. The second is shame.
And one big bone to pick with the prudish and hypocritical MPAA and how they gave this thing an R rating as opposed to the NC17, which should be obvious to anyone who sees it.
Consent. If you are going to engage people in a sex act of any sort you need to have their consent. We ALL know that watching porn is a sex act. That’s why we generally do it in private. People experience porn in many different ways, based on their own life experiences. I have no idea how many minutes of porn were in Don Jon, but a lot. And people should have been warned.
In every review and article that I read before deciding to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon seeing this film with my family, porn was mentioned as a passing through line, something that is “gotten over” in the course of the movie, and the bulk of the movie is about the relationships with family, friends and lovers. I can totally stomach that. I consented to that. My daughter is 15, the chance that she hasn’t yet seen some porn seems totally impossible to me. And it’s a good thing to talk about. I am fine with anything that presents an opportunity to discuss human sexuality with my daughter, and then tosses me the ball to run with it. “Appropriate” is not generally a word that I use. Things happen, we learn from them, onward.
But this was relentless porn. Yes, as people have pointed out, there are no genitals in it. But if you really think that sex starts and stops with your genitals, you, my friend, are doing it wrong. (Yes, that’s part of the point of the movie.)
It is one image after another of thongs being pulled out of women’s asses, boobs being bounced in all directions as a result of women being fucked in all positions, blow-job mouths approaching cocks that are just off-screen, and a cacophony of fake-sex porn sounds that just doesn’t stop.
Once or twice, to outline the “problem” the character was having? Fine. But it goes on and on and on and on and on and on through the whole film.
And it’s only women who are seen in these sexual positions. Never a guy. The only mention of guys in porn is to say that they kill a boner, or worse, that if you cum when the scene suddenly cuts to the dude, well….. Dude, you came to a dude.
All of which is mirrored when the three friends are in clubs, discussing the pussies and asses and blow jobs of real people. I get it. I know what he was trying to do. He’s trying to show us that the unrealistic expectations of porn make it impossible to see women and relationships for what they really are. Which may or many not be true, but if you are going to show us porn, you have to warn us.
And all that porn-bashing is its own separate problem. Although the film dives into the unrealistic depictions of sex and love in porn, it never touches the unrealistic depictions of how people use porn in the real world. I have news for you – porn isn’t all bad. People who use porn aren’t all bad.
Just like any “thing” that can be abused, the problem isn’t the “thing” its how you use it. Sure, he made the Barbara character (brilliantly played by Scarlett Johansson) seem shallow and controlling and judgmental for demonizing porn, but we never once discuss that the underlying problem was the dishonesty, and the inability to separate fact from fiction.
Porn is real. It’s here to stay. So do we really need yet another “Just Say No To Porn” movement? Because that’s working so well with drugs?
No. We need to look at how to honestly negotiate our sexual relationships. We need people to say, “this is what I’m into, how can this work within our relationship.” Assuming he was able to separate fantasy from reality, porn could have been a perfectly healthy component of his relationships with women, IF THEY WERE BOTH HONEST AND, yup, here it comes, CONSENTING to it.
If you want to make a ground-breaking film that looks at porn and technology in relationships, make THAT ONE. That’s the one we need. Don’t fall back on the comforting couch of shame and conformity.
Especially while bathing us in images that are totally misogynistic depictions of men hunting pussies, topped off with disembodied body parts performing sex acts on men.
What the hell was the MPAA thinking giving this an R rating? Seriously. Were you all just jacking off. Did you honestly see nothing objectionable in showing audiences one minute after another of PORN?
The last family movie that we all watched together was Safety Not Guaranteed. It was R rated too. We all laughed about that, trying to figure out how on earth it got an R rating. We assume it was the SUGGESTION that sex had taken place between consenting characters in the course of their relationships. It was more benign than what we see on Prime Time TV. Yet, it had an R rating. (We all loved this movie, by the way. From start to finish.)
So ya, based on that experience last week, I was pretty sure that this movie would be fine. A tad edgier, but fine.
WHAT THE FUCK? I felt totally violated. I basically sat there watching porn, with my daughter and my father and my Mother-In-Law. Why? Because NO ONE WARNED ME. So I kept thinking, “well, I knew it started this way, this must be the last time.” Nope. It just kept cumming. As it were.
Look, there were good things about this movie. Well, one good thing – the acting. The acting is fantastic, across the board. The writing is sophomoric, the directing repetitive as hell, the point is pedantic, unoriginal, predictable and trite. But the rating? That’s the real kicker. The rating is TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE.
At least I tried to warn you. God knows, no one else out there is.
How ironic. Me, the queen of inappropriate and talking about sex. You’ve been warned. But then again, I’ve always been honest about how much I love consent.