I actually never saw the first Kingsman movie in the theater. That was a mistake; once I watched it at home I loved it. It was ridiculous and simple and yet in many ways completely brilliant in the way in which it reinvented and flipped the tropes of the spy movie into something fun and refreshing. Because of this, I’d been looking forward to Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle pretty much since the first trailer came out. The trailer felt as fun and exciting as the first one and I was really excited to see how Matthew Vaughn managed to expand the world.
One of the hardest parts about writing these reviews is that I often find myself wanting to talk about a concept that I can’t really talk about without spoiling the movie. But this is a rare opportunity because I feel like I can talk about this one without spoiling it at all. Instead I’ll just spoil the first movie. See, I figure if you really care about Kingsman: The Secret Service enough that you’re worried about spoilers, then you already saw it three years ago. And if you didn’t then you either just really like reading whatever crazy shit I have to say about movies or you checked out on the first sentence. So if you’re still here, you’re either a fan of Kingsman or fan of mine and so either way, you probably have a good general idea of what you’re in for when you read whatI have to say. So, before I get into the meat of the review I want to take a brief detour….
Pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy PUSSY!!!
I kind of hate the clickbait world. I especially hate that the clickbait world has sort of invaded the pop culture review world. See, I follow a lot of movie and comic book review sites for my research. I literally can’t NOT read stuff. It’s my job. I’m writing a dissertation that focuses heavily on movies and comic books. So when a comic book movie comes out (and if you didn’t know Kingsman is based on a comic book) I have to be really careful to avoid spoilers before I’ve seen it. This morning I saw a bunch of clickbaity articles popping up all basically saying “Reactions to the CONTROVERSIAL scene in Kingsman 2!”I was annoyed enough at the title alone, and so I refused to read any of them until after I saw the movie. But I had already started forming opinions on what it might be about.
Pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy PUSSY!!!
There’s a pretty controversial thing that happens in the first Kingsman film. It shouldn’t be controversial, but it is. In large part because of the way American film audiences feel about sex. We don’t like it. Actually, that’s not true. We love sex. We just like to pretend we don’t for fucked up reasons that aren’t worth exploring right now. But we really, really, really like to be offended by anything sexual. It’s a problem when deciding on MPAA ratings for movie. One of the biggest films in theaters right now is the movie IT which I reviewed a couple weeks ago. And one of the most controversial things being discussed about that movie now is a scene from the book where the main characters, a bunch of 12 year old kids (aged to 14 for the film) have have an orgy in a sewer. I didn’t get into it when I reviewed it because this is a scene that is not in the movie at all. However, a lot of people have been talking about it lately because it is explained in graphic detail in the book. And by orgy, I mean a gang bang, because the characters are six straight 12yo boys and one straight 12yo girl… so the scene involves the boys lining up to fuck her… at her request. The scene is written from the girl’s point of view and King helpfully tells us each and every detail of the event including which one of the boys actually manages to cum and how she feels about it.
Pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy.
Anyway, as one might expect people have pretty harsh feelings about that scene. Even though the book was written over thirty years ago and the scene is NOT in the film, people have been talking about it lately and how inappropriate it is. It felt out of place to them. The book really isn’t about sex. And for something that shocking and sexual to happen in a book that is otherwise about abject horror, the reader is taken out of the narrative. In literary terms, diegesis is broken. Even though the scene was left out of the film, many of the reviews have mentioned it only to complain about gross it is and how inappropriate it is for a story to be about children having sex. People are outraged by the very thought of it… to the point that they’re forgetting that they’re talking about a movie where literally five minutes in AN EIGHT YEAR OLD BOY IS EATEN BY A FUCKING CLOWN!!!!
Pussy pussy pussy.
And that’s the problem with sexuality in American film — particularly any sexuality that is considered deviant. The audience is so preconditioned to reject it, that if you want them to accept it you have to do extra work. You have to prime them for it. The first Kingsman film doesn’t do this. The entire point of the Kingsman film series is to deconstruct the spy genre. It attempts to whole-heartedly embrace all of the many tropes of the James Bond narrative while self-consciously providing commentary on them and reflexively the society that has produced them. For 110 minutes it does this. But then, in minute 111, just as the protagonist, Eggsy Unwin, played by Taron Egerton is rushing off to the final climatic battle, Princess Tilde (played by Hanna Alström), essentially the film’s Bond Girl held hostage by the villain, offers Eggsy the encouragement of “If you save the world, we can do it in the asshole?”
Pussy pussy pussy???
And that’s where the first film loses everyone. The moment is supposed to be shocking. Matthew Vaughn likes to shock people. He’s done it in other movies. Only, it doesn’t work right because it is too shocking and the audience isn’t ready for it. For all the Bondness of the movie as a whole, there really isn’t any sex in it up until then. There’s lots and lots of violence. According to a Youtube supercut that helpfully did the math for me, 278 people were killed onscreen up till that point in the film… far more than most 007 movies. But there’s no real sex at all. It’s very unBond like. Where the film takes Bond’s penchant for murder and dials it up to 11, it all but ignores his promiscuity up until that point.
There’s an easy fix for this. Eggsy has a female cohort on the Kingsman team named Roxy, played by Sophie Cookson. There is some mild flirtation between them, but for the most part their relationship is platonic. In many ways, she is probably my favorite character in either film, but she is criminally underutilized in both. If the film had simply had Eggsy try to convince Roxy to put out two to three times, only to be rebuffed, the joke with Princess Tilde would have landed much harder. He wouldn’t have even had to say anal sex. If Eggsy had simply been a little sex obsessed throughout, even without getting anywhere, it would have seemed like real motivation for him. If he’d been a horny bastard for nearly two hours the idea of a kinky princess offering buttsex would have seemed really important.
Pussy pussy pussy ASSHOLE!!!!
See, it works. The first time I said the big “pussy pussy pussy” thing it was kind of annoying. But by this point it has just become a trope of this article. So when you see the ASSHOLE, there’s totally a pay off. It’s earned. It’s not that you can’t make an anal joke. You totally can. It just needs to fit. This is the brilliance of Deadpool. The film is sexually charged enough that not only can they make an anal joke, they can actually show Vanessa pegging Wade and it simply works. The point is… much like in real life, kids… you have to work up to anal. It doesn’t work as a surprise. You have to get the recipient loose. You have to make sure they’re ready. Use some lube to ease the way. Maybe offer a popper or two… at least a nice glass of wine. You can’t just go sticking it in.
And all of this is indicative of the second film. In a lot of ways it picks up where the first one left off. Thematically it is very similar. Have a non-conventional villain, inspired by Bond villains, but with a recognizable, if perverted, social message that allows the film to make a social statement. Disguise this with over the top cartoony violence. Mix in a heavy dose of self-referential spy tropes that can move the plot along while also commenting on the spy film genre as a whole. Continue to criminally underutilize Roxy. Toss in some cool gadgets. Have some callback easter egg lines that reference both the original and spy films in general. Do all of those things more so. If you liked the first film, then there’s a lot to like in this one. It’s not as good… but that’s because it is less original, by the very nature of being a sequel. It still has some fun new tricks to pull and a lot of the same old same old that you’ve probably grown to love.
But it does lay into it’s sequelness a lot. This is not a standalone movie. Nothing about it makes sense if you haven’t seen the first film. Massive plot elements require you to know what happened before. Characters aren’t explained, you’re simply expected to care about them because you remember them from the first movie (including several characters who didn’t earn that care in the first movie). In fact, I might suggest rewatching the first film before you see the second one if you’ve only seen it once, because it assumes a lot of familiarity with the first installment. You just won’t understand a lot or care about a lot if you’re not already on board.
Key in point, it apologizes for that anal joke. In fact, it apologizes for the anal joke a lot! More than I wanted it to, honestly. See, Vaughn knows that the joke didn’t work, and he wants you to know that he knows. So the characters tell you that he wants you to know that he knows. Several times. In fact, that’s maybe my biggest problem with the movie over all. You can’t just apologize for anal after the fact. I mean, by god you should… but it’s still not the same as just asking ahead of time. And that’s what this movie does. Several characters make “after you save the world, you know what happens?” jokes. And you can almost feel Vaughn nudging you in the ribs through the screen each time and saying, “See! See what I did there! I’m doing a thing. Did you catch that? I’m doing a thing… I was doing a thing last time and no one understood… so this time I really want you to see that I’m doing a thing. See! See there?” It’s kind of annoying. But you mostly forget about it and can enjoy the movie for what it is.
See, that one didn’t work. And there’s sort of the mistake that Vaughn made. And he did it AGAIN. And this time he clearly did it on purpose. Remember when I said I found out about that there would be a controversial scene, but I went out of my way to not find out what it was. Well, it’s pretty fucking obvious what it is. The problem this time is that Vaughn didn’t quite learn the right lesson. He does prepare for the controversy this time. In fact, the movie literally stops for two minutes so that it can explain to you that something sexual is going to happen. That’s actually a good moment. It’s well done. But the thing is, Vaughn doesn’t just want his laugh… he really wants his SHOCK. So he just goes big with the moment. And see, no matter how much priming I do for you by saying pussy over and over again, I can’t just yell cunt and assume that it’s going to work for you. It’s not the same thing! You’re not ready for it. And it wasn’t really funny. All it serves to do is call attention to itself… and only to make the point that it’s there. There really is a good point that could be made, actually. Pussy is important. It really is. I might totally have a really important point to make about pussy. But my pussy point is lost because I just now said pussy for the one hundredth time in this article and yet the point is lost because it was completely overshadowed by me forcing you to focus on the fact that I just said cunt.
And that’s what Vaughn did in “the scene.” I totally get what he was going for. But it didn’t feel natural. It didn’t feel real. And it wasn’t funny. He totally announces it but he is so focused on trying to be shocking that once again he reaches through the screen and says “Hey guys, look! Look! I’m doing a thing! See!” He is more focused on wanting people to talk about that moment than he is on making the moment work. And so it sticks out… and it doesn’t need to.
So all-in-all I enjoyed the movie. Not as much as the first one but it’s fun enough. And as much time as I spent on this issue, it’s really not enough of the movie to really break it. And in fact, the few things that I really didn’t like about this movie I haven’t mentioned at all just because I wanted to avoid spoilers (if someone cares, start a spoiler thread in the comments and ask me and I’ll explain). So it’s fun, but it has problems. I can’t just unilaterally suggest it like the last one. but it definitely works if you’re a spy movie fan, a silly action fan, or you just really liked the world of the first one.
Also, it has cool suits.
★★★☆☆+? (3 out of 5 stars plus a… uh…. cat)
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I didn’t even know that scene in KINGSMAN was “controversial”. Aren’t these the same people who read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY? They need to read STORY OF THE EYE. It was a French novel written in the 1920s and is about two teenagers committing deviant sex and murder acts, described in graphic detail. *SPOILERS* It ends with them raping and murdering a priest.
Madonna and Bjork have both quoted it on albums. Because I guess it makes for catchy lyrics…..
Right, there’s nothing wrong with having a movie be about sex. I like sex… and I like movies about sex… and I think it should be talked about more. It’s pretty clear that Vaughn did what he did to try and normalize sex. But the problem is, since we live in a world where sex is considered secret and forbidden, in order to make it “work” you have sort of feed it to the audience in a way that gets them to start accepting it or the message is lost.
Ideally what you want is for the moment to get people talking (and it did before and it will again). But you want to move the needle by having people defend it. And that means getting some of the audience on your side. In this case, I feel like you’ll have people who are against it and people who won’t care.
I really enjoyed reading this, not only because I have a pussy but because I was unfazed by the anal joke in the first one. Having been the recipient of a few “accidental” slips, I dealt with the temporary discomfort and enjoyed the rest of the “rescue” scene of the first. (I just chalked it up to them all being European.)
Although your review makes me a little sad I will still go see this because of the comic-y nature of the violence and its numerous winks to James Bond-spy movies. (Something Roger Moore’s James Bond managed to do quite well.)
And I love a man in a finely tailored suit. What can I say, I’m a dog!
To be clear, I wasn’t actually BOTHERED by the anal joke in the first movie. But it clearly didn’t land the way it was supposed to. And the “controversy moment” in this one has the same problem.
And I don’t mean for this review to be sad. I actually did like the film. Just not as much as I liked the last one.
I got that, I was being snarky!
I did honestly think the review was cleverly composed. ?
“I was doing a thing, see! Did you get that I was doing a thing?” 🙂
I haven’t seen it yet – just heard about it. I find Vaughn uneven as a director. Sometimes I think he’s great and I’m fine when he goes for a shock moment. Sometimes I think “this sucks and is pointless.” I only saw the first film once, so guess I should brush up.
Ah. So you know exactly what “the scene” is, or just that there is one? Because I’ll be curious to see how you think it plays out when you see it.
Like I said in my comments to Domenic Migliore… *I* certainly wasn’t offended. But I’m hard to offend. It’s more the way it comes across just isn’t really funny. Like it’s less funny than the anal joke. By a lot. It’s just sort of there. And it’s something that should come across as pretty normal and natural and yet it calls attention to itself in a way that other things in the movie don’t so as to say “HEY! LOOK AT THIS HERE!!! This will piss off the squares!!!!”
Oh, I know what the scene is – in detail – I just haven’t seen it yet. I don’t know that I feel offended as a woman. I feel more offended as a writer. Like the anal joke from the first film. As you pointed out, there really isn’t any build up. It’s out of nowhere – and so is there for the sake of being shocking. It didn’t quite fit or earn its spot. I can work with something way out there – if it works in the scene and the overall film. Otherwise I get annoyed at lazy writing. Granted, I don’t what the “rationale” for needing to plant the tracker in that exact spot was in the film, but the idea that *that* is the *only* way it will work sounds like a plot from a porno.
It will be a while until I see it, though, since that film is not one that I am inspired to pay for at a theatre. That’s a “see it on netflix” kind of film to me. (or a dollar theatre, but none of those in my area)
And no, I wasn’t offended by the anal joke from the first film – it was more rolling my eyes and feeling like it was there to offend some people rather than as a natural part of the film. Sounds like this one came across the same way. (no pun intended since I don’t know how the scene played out)
And no, I wasn’t offended by the anal joke from the first film – it was more rolling my eyes and feeling like it was there to offend some people rather than as a natural part of the film. Sounds like this one came across the same way. (no pun intended since I don’t know how the scene played out)
Yes, you’re exactly right on all counts. This isn’t a movie you HAVE to see in theaters at all. It was playing both in regular and 2D IMAX for me, and I saw the regular because I was thinking IMAX?!?!? WHY?!?!? So totally wait for Netflix or the dollar theater.
And since we’re now in SPOILERS territory, no, it honestly doesn’t come across as a porno at all. It’s not sexy enough and there’s not enough of it. It’s more like a Sacha Baron Cohen moment or something.
The conceit of the movie actually works. “Hey, we want to track this woman… so let’s put a micro tracer somewhere that she’s never ever ever going to find it.” And that’s actually fine. It actually totally makes sense in the logic of the movie. And if the film were sexier it might have worked better. But much like the first movie there’s zero nudity in it actually less, because you see Tilde’s butt later in the first movie… here there’s nothing. Like if they’d shown breasts or penis or anything leading up to it, it might have helped. But instead what you get is an extreme closeup of a woman’s crotch (with underwear covering it) while the man’s hand slips inside. And it lingers. It’s not really male gazey (even though I guess it wants to be) and it not really empowering in a “look, he’s fingering her because a woman’s pleasure matters!” way either (even though I think it wants this too). It’s more “Hey, guys look! Extreme close up of pussy! Anyone got a problem with that? Anyone! Come on! Someone complain!!!!” sort of the way it was done in Bruno, but without having the conviction to actually even show it nude, even though it’s an R rated movie.
Because putting it there is more logical than something like putting it in her food? Sure. Not sure I even want to get into the assumptions about sexuality involved with the “she’ll never find it here” attitude. ?
Oh. It’s a smaller tracker than that. It was explained as like a nano tracker that was absorbed through a mucus membrane and into the bloodstream. So they were trying to decide how to get it up her nose at first. It was a whole thing.
And the thing amounted to “convoluted reasoning so that we have an excuse to put an extreme closeup of a woman’s crotch on the screen to piss off the squares”
Also… btw… the woman in question is, as per the plot, a drug addict… so you know, getting it up her nose would have required exactly two seconds worth of planning.
Which makes it lazy writing. ?
Actually, I guess it wasn’t even lazy writing. It’s worse than that. It’s not like they were written into a corner and said “geez, how do we get out of this.”
It’s more like they said “ok, we need to get a female crotch on screen with a male hand masturbating it. How do we get there?”
Came for the Kingsman spoilers, got ‘It’ spoilers instead. 0/7, wouldn’t spoil again.
Great article, as always though.
But it totally says there are no Kingsman spoilers!!!! ?
I’m super excited for this movie. I also loved the first one, and your review is probably the first time I’ve heard that the rest of the world reacted the way I did to the first movie (i.e. “YAY YAY YAY… wait, why did they go with that joke? Gah, dumb.”) To be fair, I don’t read a ton of movie critiques and reviews, but still. Glad to hear I’m not alone. Bummed (pun intended) I’ll have to deal with it again in the next one.
and worse, the anal joke is way funnier than the moment in this movie. Like I’ve gone out of my way to not say what the moment is (other than in a comment to Nicole Freim above, which you shouldn’t read because of spoilers) but when you do see the movie you’re totally going to go “oh… that… WTF?”
You’re not likely to be offended by it. But you’re not even going to laugh as much as you might have with the anal joke. You’re just going to say “Yep… that’s the moment Mav was talking about… Really?!?!? Why?” and that’s kind of a problem.
Nope, nyet, no. I think the point is that society has advanced enough to discuss the fact that an age 11 gang bang is sick, not that Stephen King has had to walk back that scene lately out of prudishness run amok.
He hasn’t walked it back. People thought it was sick then and he still stands behind it now. He says he probably couldn’t have gotten away with it but he doesn’t regret it.
I’m kinda behind it. And I’m not even a fan of his. Great literature is often troubling.
Chris Maverick he did walk it back. He said he would not have written it today after the discussions started. Great literature generally doesn’t include the self-objectification of a tween. There is no literary value in de facto kiddie porn.
People are not really quoting that right. He said he COULD not have written it today and gotten away with it. But that he thinks it’s awful that people focus on the one sex scene rather than the dozens of child murders.
And sorry… but that’s just not true. Lots of literature involves that. LOTS. Like way more than you probably think. He was more explicit and he’s recent and pop culturey instead of “serious literature ™” but he’s not even rare. This is my field. Everyone from Shakespeare to Faulkner to Nabokov to Morrison to Eugenides has what you’d consider kiddie porn. And incest. And statuatory rape. And molestation. Juliet is only 13. Sex in literature is totally my field. And it’s super common to explore the tabboos of doing it with the super young.
Chris Maverick yeah. I’m familiar with literature. At a certain point, decency requires one to just say stop, enough, no excuse, this is perversion disguised as art. Same goes for the Virgin Mary story in my book.
Except that’s the point. It isn’t that simple. Perversion often IS art… Most of those authors I was mentioned didn’t write sexy scenes… not even Nabakov. They’re perverse and they’re supposed to be perverse. Like even in IT (a book, which as I pointed out in that review I actually don’t like) it’s not sexy… it’s not something most people could read and jerk off to. It’s meant to be disturbing and sick and indecent.
Art and literature aren’t about standards of decency. Often they’re specifically about exploring what is beyond those decency. Children have sexuality. Even infants. And adolescence is specifically a time of sexual awakening and confusion, which, because it is socially stigmatized is something that is feared by adults and so it becomes the writer’s responsibility to explore that anxiety. Even when that exploration is done in a way that is normalized and not traumatic, say in George RR Martin’s stuff.
I think really, that’s sort of what people like Vaughn are trying to do. It’s why he allows Hit Girl to be sexualized and vulgar in Kick-Ass…. to much greater effect than what happens in Kingsman. Art is just often indecent.
No. There are simply boundaries you don’t cross. There are legitimate discussions to have about motivations in all sorts of gruesome scenarios. A scene of child rape exists, at its core, to provide either the author or other characters (going back to author’s creation) a backdrop for power and humiliation. You may feel differently, but sometimes, it really is that simple.
I’m not sure what you’re saying there. So are you arguing that no story should have a child rape in it ever? Or that child rape stories are ok but child consensual sex stories aren’t?
(not a trick or an insult, I just don’t understand which point you’re making)
Chris Maverick I think that any author that employs child rape as a rhetorical device is not a brain I would be interested in getting to know, let alone a person. Child rape has nothing to do with consensual sex scenes. An 11 year old is incapable of consenting to sex in any meaningful sense of the word consent. That is the danger to me: normalizing this behavior because an imaginary girl somewhere once said “this would be a cool way to all be friends.” AT AGE 11.
Ah. Ok. I see what you’re saying now. Or at least I *think* I do.
So there’s several issues there though. The first is you not wanting to get into the head of a particular author who engages in a particular theme. And I agree with you 100% there. But that’s why we have choices. That’s not the same thing as me saying the author “shouldn’t” cross that line though. Just that I might not be interested in it.
The other points are exactly why I disagree with you. In King’s case specifically (not all cases though. This totally does NOT apply to Shakespeare or Martin) the whole point was supposed to be that it wasn’t something that was supposed to happen. They make a horrific decision because they don’t understand it and aren’t capable. It’s an exploration of the death of childhood that adolescence and sexuality imply. It is very clearly presented as “wrong”.
And that’s sort of the point. Even with analytic (non-religious) readings of the Virgin Mary story like you pointed out. We explore our morality through fiction. If that fiction isn’t there we can’t explore it. It needs to be there if only to have an artifact for us to argue about.
That’s the key point I’m trying to make here. I’m not trying to convince you to like it. I think it’s a shitty book. I’m saying that it’s wrong to say it has no literary value. Literary value is defined specifically by what it functions to do. It is implied simply by the fact that we’re having this conversation.
It’s a fine line, and one I don’t want to think about crossing in this particular instance, whether an exploration of morality provides a reason for a sick mind to say ” see? Kids DO want it!” Am I promoting censorship? No. Am I promoting vigorous consideration of knock-on consequences? Yes.
I’m not sure who the sick mind is here… the author or the reader?
The Marquis de Sade disagrees.
The Marquis de Sade did not believe in morality. And he was sick.
But no one complains about all the nudity and sex on every HBO, Netflix, and Amazon show now. I have seen some stuff on Netflix original shows that used to only be in weird foriegn movies. But for some reason I don’t see any blog posts about that. People are okay with sex in their own home, just not in theaters, I am guessing?
Also… and this is my own personal opinion. The nudity and sex on HBO, Showtime, and any of those big networks, as edgy as they try to be, it always ends up looking like a softcore porn film from the 90s. Soft lighting with nothing below the waste. You could put light jazz music on it and it would be hilarious.
But certain shows on Netflix and Amazon, their sex scenes tend to be more rough. The actors don’t have makeup and actually talk like people.
None of what you said considers underage children.
Who was talking about underage children?
Liz: I don’t think he is referring to underaged children. Since the blog wasn’t primarily about that. it was just the part you keyed into.
Domenic: I think she assumed you were referring to her thread above and I was pretty sure you werent
Brooke Shields was 13 in PRETTY BABY. That’s a good movie.
I know people got angry at the movie KIDS because the characters in that were teenagers. Even though the actors portraying them were over 18. People actually wanted it banned. That thought never even crossed my mind. I only read about that years after I saw the movie. I never considered fictional characters real.
I understand getting angry about Brooke Shields in PRETTY BABY. She was actually 13. But an 18-year-old playing a 13-year-old? I don’t understand.
Anyway, to Domenic’s actual point. There’s a whole different blog that goes into the visuals of nudity and its use in different kinds of narratives. I think there’s a reason to do every type… gritty and pretty… AND ugly even. There’s certainly a different aesthetic to Game of Thrones nudity vs. Girls nudity vs. Late night Cinemax (which isn’t really as much of a thing anymore) vs. Netflix’s Love. And much like any other cinematography nudity needs to respect that.
and yes, Pretty Baby is a classic film. As is Blue Lagoon where she was also underaged (14 when she filmed it, 15 at release). Kids disturbed a lot of people for many reasons, but it’s probably one of the most important movies ever made.
And the reason goes into what we were actually discussing in Liz’s thread. The same reason people are concerned about pornographic that is entirely generated with no real individuals whatsoever (paintings or or novels) or literature/art that lands somewhere in between. It actually returns to the point I was trying to make and why I brought up IT in the first place in the article.
Art/Literature often addresses our sociocultural anxieties. And in western (particularly american) culture this often relates to sex… ESPECIALLY in the case of minors. It is so engrained that we assume that laws against kiddie porn are to make the material illegal. But they’re not. They’re to protect the children who would star in it. The actual production of the material without the children is entirely constitutionally protected.
But people still find it icky and creepy because it plays against the stigma of child sexuality. So the idea of making a movie, like Kids, which is entirely about very young teens fucking… and getting AIDS is very uncomfortable. And it was designed to be. That’s kind of the point of the film.
But there’s also a problem with despite the stigma (and some argue that it’s because of it) we also fetishize child sexuality (fetishize in a very technical sense… but also in the common usage). So we end up in a situation where the film becomes even more anxiety producing because we know Chole Servigny is is 21 in the film even if she’s supposed to be 13 and so there’s a dissonance when understanding her very real adult sexuality which as a female film actress in america she is more or less defined by, being used to portray the sexuality of a 13yo who isn’t SUPPOSED to have any by cultural convention, but, as the movie points out… clearly does.
So because of all of that, it FEELS wrong and people respond to it.
Chris Maverick I think “Kids” will be required viewing for my children in a few years. But the age of the actors aside, that’s bc it deals with very real truths about disease, emotional immaturity, selfishness, being used, rape… that’s not the same as kiddie gang bang in IT by a long shot.
Kids being sexualized on fashion ads and shows FOR children disturbs me much, much more. I know a movie like KIDS is supposed to be ugly and understand the filmmaker’s intent. But a giant ad showing a teenage girl posing in a manner used in porn films outside of a clothing store for young girls REALLY disturbs me. That ad is directed toward young girls! I am a photographer. And there are lines I do not cross. If I take a fetish photo, I show it to the proper audience. I WOULD not plaster it in a school yard.
Also… Larry Clark is one of my heroes. If you haven’t seen his early photography from the 70s, you need to. When you see it, you will understand why he made KIDS.
Domenic Migliore I understand and agree. That does not speak to the scene in “IT.@
Clark fundamentally employed child sexuality as a horror mechanism. King employed it as an anti -horror, kumbayah mechanism.
The scene in IT was metaphorical. It represented them losing their innocence. Everything in that novel was. It was pretty on the nose.
Domenic Migliore if you say that was metaphorical, then so were 8 year olds being eaten. One being more socially acceptable than the other is a valid criticism, but “real” dies not wash.
I do think the clown was a metaphor. IT was literally FEAR. The fear they all had to overcome to grow to adulthood. IT is simply STAND BY ME (aka THE BODY) but with a monster clown.
I’m not calling King subtle.
Well, I no doubt agree that Kids is better in every way than IT. Like I said, I’d argue Kids is on of the most important films ever. But as Domenic pointed out. It was very misunderstood at the time (and continues to be today). I think one of the reasons is that Harmony Korine is absolutely brilliant and simply better (IMHO, this part is me just talking as me, not as a professional) than King. But (back to being a pop culture theorist) Korine is super controversial and people do complain about Kids for the same reason as IT. And they complain even more about Spring Breakers, which never achieved the critical acclaim of Kids, despite me personally thinking it was brilliant.
But I think it’s worth noting that King was, in effect dallying in the literal portrayal of adolescent sexuality with IT. Usually he does it through metaphor (like in Carrie) Korine has made it his entire career. And I don’t think we can really hold the relative quality against either of them… because I don’t think quality is what it comes down to for most people. Morality isn’t absolute. Everyone standards are in different places. I actually expect if you did a survey (just guessing) more parents would be in favor of their children reading IT than watching Kids, if only because knowing Kings name makes it “feel” ok.
But yeah, I agree. They’re very different. Even though I think the message that King was going for is probably pretty similar (and arguably better… King was trying to say “this is fucked up right here…” whereas Korine was actually going out of his way not to pass judgement on the horrors he was presenting)
Chris Maverick Again, no. Morality at a level is absolute. Do you believe cutting the hands off if thieves is right? What about marrying widows to their husbands brothers? On and on. Moral relativism is a pox and anyone with a conscience should fight it. I mean, what the fuck, we’d still have slavery if abolitionists had said, let’s go along to get along.
Also, IT is EXACTLY Stand By Me/The Body with a monster clown. And other wankery in the novel version. As I said in my IT review (which I’m amazed this conversation didn’t happen on) the thing that I liked about this version of IT is that they ignored all of the book’s wankery and concentrated on just being Stand By Me (which is still better). That said, by aging the kids up to 14 from 12, IT the film does actually deal with their sexuality way more directly than the book did – other than the gang-bang scene – even though they left that scene out. The scene where the boys lust after Bev as she’s sunbathing in her underwear is actually sheer brilliance in the way it portrays that.
I have never even considered comparing Korine and King. LOL. It’s like comparing an apple to an exploding head. I do however think King’s books are nearly impossible to translate to film. The worst King adaptations are the ones that take his work too literally. And Stanley Kubrick, the genius that he was, NEEDED to make those changes to THE SHINING, no matter how much King hated them. Though they do work in the book.
BTW… speaking of Korine, if you haven’t seen KEN PARK, you need to. Larry Clark also directed that one. Korine wrote it. I think it’s better than KIDS. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies.
I’m not arguing moral relativism. I’m arguing moral variance. There’s a huge difference. It doesn’t matter what I believe… even if I am right or more right than someone else. What matters is that I know that not everyone shares my morality. That’s a simple fact.
I’m not saying that it’s right to cut off the hands of a thief. I’m saying it’s important to have stories where we look at the ramifications of cutting off the hands of a thief (even if I think the ramifications are the wrong ones). That’s the key difference.
Am I in favor of 12yo having orgies? No. But I think it’s very important to investigate 12yo sexuality and that story is one way of doing it.
I actually own Ken Park, but I’ve never gotten around to watching it. I should.
Chris Maverick let’s do this: I will sit in on film theory, and you talk to actual 12 year olds who have been raped. You talk to their rapists. Then we compare notes about whether on the whole the cinematic depiction of child rape makes society better or worse.
Liz Winslow: I believe all those things are wrong. But then how do you explain the people who think it’s okay to do those things? Obviously criminals think it’s okay to commit crimes. They think differently. That’s what I mean when I say “morality depends on the person”. Like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. That doesn’t mean I think we should allow people harm others! Trying to understand a murderer/rapist is different from wanting to legalize a crime.
Domenic Migliore that is fair, and I can’t pretend to have numbers to back this up, but – every society on the planet at least in some glancing way criminalizes murder and a trove of other crimes. Not so sex crimes, which are quite normally zed already.
Also, slavery is a perfect example of what I am saying! At one point everyone thought slavery was okay. I would be crazy for suggesting otherwise. But know, people’s morals have changed. My argument doesn’t only apply to rape and murder!
Chris Maverick: I’m pissed they left out the talking space turtle.
I think these are two different conversations. Sex and violence in art and crime and punishment in society? I know audiences always want some kind of answers from art. But sometimes writers aren’t even thinking about the outside world. The Marquis de Sade was locked in an insane asylum when he wrote THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM on a roll of goddamn toilet paper. If you’ve read that book, it has page after page of child rape, murder, and is just the most disgusting thing ever written. De Sade’s brain was definitely not at the same place any of ours are at. He was considered crazy THEN! That’s why he was locked up. So I honestly don’t even know how to comprehend certain writers.
I have… and I read reports of them constantly. Like this is literally my dissertation. That’s my point. It’s not about whether the stories are entertaining or not. It’s about the importance of the examination.
I think (and I don’t mean to put words in your mouth if I’m wrong… but I think this is what you are arguing) you’re going with the theory that it is wrong to have literature (using this term broadly… “media” is what you’d probably say… but here I mean books, movies, video games, etc.) that promote immoral behavior, especially when the behavior encourages an atrocity against children.
It’s a pretty common belief. And in fact, it’s foundational in Seduction of the Innocent but Frederic Wertham, the book that caused the 1950s Congressional Hearings on Juvenile Delinquency which restructured how comic books were produced from then until about 6 years ago. Wertham’s theories are also the logic that Gore (Tipper, not Al) and Lieberman used for their crusade against video games and explicit music.
But the problem is he was wrong. His methods were flawed at best, and at worst he completely falsified claims. Modern psychology pretty much discounts the entire damn book. Unfortunately, it was so foundational that it sort of sets the way that Americans tend to think about perverse, immoral or indecent media to this day. Literature (again, broad sense) is actually really bad at changing the minds of an individual reader. It’s why we can’t just make people better by handing them a bible despite what so many christians want to believe. What happens instead is that people seek out the media that already appeals to them. So it FEELS like child rapists are created by kiddie porn because they seek it out. But they aren’t. They have those inclinations and so they seek it out. It’s not a chicken and egg problem. We know that they’re sick/immoral even without the media.
But what literature DOES do is structure the rest of society as a whole through discussion outside of the individual by forcing them to consider the things that might not occur to them. It’s exactly why you want your children to watch Kids. You’re not trying to teach them “hey, go rape your friends and get AIDS” you’re trying to teach them “be careful, because there are people out there who might try to rape you and give you AIDS.”
It turns out that we tend to be bad at addressing social ills unless they’re thrown in our face. You’re right. We ignore sex crime as it is. Domenic just used the example of slavery. Ad we ignored that. But what made people start paying attention to slavery wasn’t so much the plight of the actual slaves. It was Uncle Tom’s Cabin bringing attention to the atrocities. And the continuing atrocities of racism get far more attention through media than they do through personal experience. It’s easy to ignore things that affect you in real life because they’re too personal. The abstraction of literature fixes it. Even when the abstraction is in the negative.
So, to bring it back to King… again, I have to point out, the gang bang scene is NOT positive. Like at all. People miss that because most people haven’t read it (dunno if you have or not). It’s very negative. And to the extent that people like it, that’s because… well King isn’t a perfect writer. He never was. But people totally misunderstand Kids too… They really think Korine is promoting underaged sex. But even if he was, it would still be a valuable piece of literature because of the discussion from watching it, more so than then intention of the author. (Le morte d’auteur… the death of the author… Roland Barthes… brilliant French Literary theorist… basically the point being that the intention of the author is irrelevant because once the text is published it turns to the reader to interpret it and makes sense of it within the social context)
And the talking space turtle is exactly the King wankery that I am glad the movie ignored
Domenic Migliore great. I still don’t follow your point, if you have one, on whether gratuitous kid fucking is a) ok in the name of literature it v) sick and twisted as it might provide encouragement to wannabe kid fuckers. Who might be armed with more than a roll of toilet paper.
Chris Maverick no. Comics don’t make pedophiles. But they sure can encourage them.
But it turns out they don’t. That’s my point. It feels like it makes sense that they would. But they don’t.
Chris Maverick so then does the Assange idea of creating virtual child pornographers to spare actual victims wash for you?
there are two questions there. Am i interested in seeing it? Not particularly. Sounds gross.
Am I ok with him doing it? Absolutely.
Assange is a dick in every possible sense of the word. But artistically and psychologically the concept is just as sound as Servigny being 21 and playing a 13 yo.
Chris Maverick fuck. And this is why I still read your walls of text.
Hahaha… I’m not sure if that’s good or bad?
Chris Maverick I guess good?
The Marquis de Sade was locked up. Prisoners are allowed to write. Even Gacy painted in prison.
I see no problem with letting prisoners create.
We are getting into A CLOCKWORK ORANGE territory. Should a criminal have the right to choose, even if they choose wrong?
The theme of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Have you read A CLOCKWORK ORANGE? Burgess says in the introduction that the book is about having the freedom to choose is what makes us human. You cannot force a criminal to choose “good” over “evil”. Alex’s body is “cured” by the Ludovico technique, but his mind is not changed. He becomes miserable and sick whenever he tries to commit a crime. He is no longer human.
Domenic Migliore No, you can’t legislate morality. You can stop monsters from taking oversized dildos to rape middle aged women, however, a la clockwork orange. Some “people” are born anything but human.
The point of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is that Alex is a human. I don’t think you read the book or watched the movie.
Domenic Migliore I think you’re wrong and obnoxious. Ain’t America great – we’re all enttiled to our opinions!
I am not wrong about A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Anthony Burgess says exactly what I just told you in the introduction to his book.
OK. You have the one true writ. Good night, artiste.
I am not saying anyone is right or wrong… I am just saying there is more to this subject than “right” and “wrong”.
I am sorry for being obnoxious.
Liz Winslow: You might like Michael Haneke’s movies. All his films deal with violence and the media. He made the movie FUNNY GAMES (both the German and US versions). A lot horror fans I know hate that movie because it actually made them question what they were watching when they just wanted a standard slasher movie. He’s one of my favorite directors.
CACHE and THE PIANO TEACHER are also very good.