Monday, September 30, 2013

The Fictional Nonsense of Porn

Don Jon!

Have you seen it?

Every now and then I hear about a movie and know I need to rush out, buy a ticket and surrender myself to 90 minutes of inspiration. Which, admittedly, is an odd way for a happily married mother of two to feel about a movie that's ostensibly about porn addiction.

Just for the record, it wasn't the story of the self-styled Jersey Shore porn addict wannabe that resonated with me.

It was the movie's underlying concept; which spotlights how the media portrays human acts like love and sex and the way we, as a culture, often mistake what were always intended to be shorthand constructs, for the real thing.

The story, in brief, is about Jon, who hooks up with a different girl every night. Despite his success with the opposite sex, he prefers his computer porn because the women he brings home don't offer the intimacy and acceptance he finds alone. It dawns on him (SURPRISE) his existence is unfulfilling and he sets out to create a relationship that is, ultimately doomed, when his porn ideals clash with his girlfriend's equally unrealistic views that big screen romance is an accurate representation of a relationship.


For me, the movie was a reminder that the most engaging stories are both entertainment and a glimpse in the mirror of social relevance. The reflection we see is often most interesting when it's at its most accurate. Blemishes and all without a picture perfect bow.

It's also a reminder that, even though I can't change the culture where bikini-clad models eat hamburgers while the voiceover announces wink-wink, nudge-nudge that, "the newest sandwich isn't just another piece of meat," I can be aware of it, not be numbed by its constant presence.

Unchecked, the stream of media-ideal, fictionalized versions of women, sex and relationships has the power to warp all of our perceptions of reality. Don Jon reminds us these prepackaged items have no more sustenance than Diet Coke and are as unreal as the photoshopped models used to sell them.

17 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A lot of what we see on the screen is shallow and superficial. And yes, Photoshop is heavily used these days. No one looks real anymore.

Connie J Jasperson said...

So true Johanna! Love in real life vs love on the big screen... My grandmother who was born in 1890 had this to say about that when at the age of about 26 I was lamenting the lack of romance in my marriage. "Close your eyes and make it happen. Use your imagination." I didn't get what she meant until two husbands later, long after she had passed away!

Julie Flanders said...

Haven't seen this one yet but I want to.

It's kind of amazing when you look at photos of models from earlier decades, even as recently as the 80s, and see how different things are now because of photoshopping, implants, etc. It's pathetic that even the "beautiful people" are not considered beautiful enough without enhancements.

Joanne Noragon said...

When I made and sold clothing I set my size small at 10/12. Women loved it. But, I told them, Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12, and my standards had not changed. Another perspective on our modern world.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

With everybody everywhere talking about needing to see real, unPhotoshopped women in advertising and in movies, I was ticked off when I saw a Victoria's Secret commercial on TV. The woman was impossibly perfect. Not a bump or a mark to mar the perfection. "NOBODY LOOKS LIKE THAT!" I screamed at the TV. The TV didn't listen, and played the same commercial 15 minutes later.

I'll have to check out the movie. The actor dude (I forget his name) is a favourite of mine.

BY THE WAY - I took your advice and started watching House of Cards. EXCELLENT show, my friend! You have impeccable taste. I'm only a few shows in but I'm hooked. Boy that wife of his is mean as a barrel of hissing snakes.

Gwen Gardner said...

It's just too bad that what media leads us to believe we "should" look like and act like is so distorted. Even relationships have been trivialized instead of getting to the deeper intimacy that can really exist.

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, reminders of that are always good.

Connie, such great advice from your grandmother!

Julie, so true. Change over the last 30 years has been dramatic.

Joanne, good for you!

Cathy, I know! We scream and yet they keep airing those commercials.

Gwen, and such a great reminder as a writer to dig deep.

Michael Di Gesu said...

This movie definitely had my interest...

As for the modeling/fashion industry... HA... When I molded in the eighties and nineties we had a bit of airbrushing... DONE... and half the time makeup was enough.

NOW... PLEASE... IT saddens me because there is no real natural beauty anymore. The other day I was walking downtown and literally stopped in my tracks. This amazingly beautiful girl without a stitch of makeup breezed passed me. Wearing only jeans and a lose blouse. Her dark, straight, shoulder length caught in the blustering wind.

NO cover model would compare to her... The beauty was within and natural as ray of sunshine....

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I notice that British television tends to feature actors and actresses who are attractive without enhancements. They aren't perfect; they have flaws, and thank heavens for that. They look like real, good-looking people.

I have also always believed that the reason some people object to public breast feeding is that men don't want to have their ideal of the breast as a sex object disrupted by seeing it put to use as nature intended. Is there any other culture in the world that is so sex-obsessed while pretending to be prudish?

Carol Kilgore said...

I've heard of this movie, but haven't seen it yet. It's sad to see girls trying to imitate what they see from magazines and celebrities. Some have mothers who see to it they understand the difference, but some have mothers who don't understand the difference themselves.

Tammy Theriault said...

i was curiously wondering what that movie was about...not sure i'd see it knowing now. and the fact that scarlett won the part over me!

Marjorie DeLuca said...

Must go to see this movie. I love the themes you mentioned!

Ella said...

It is scary to think how artificial we are becoming. This sounds like a must see! Thanks for sharing your view :D

I hope life is good for you n' your family!

Misha Gericke said...

This sounds like something everyone needs to see.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :-)

Barbara Watson said...

Being happy with who we are and what we have seems an elusive concept to so many...

Naida said...

I did see the commercial for Don Jon. It's sad how superficial people can be, and a little scary too. No one can possibly live up to the images the media portrays as beautiful. Most of it is all photo shopped and fake anyway. Goes to show, parents really need to keep letting their kids know, true beauty is within.

Mark Koopmans said...

I haven't seen this, but you definitely piqued my interest (for the *right* reasons!!) to where I instantly thought about the English movie "Love Actually."

If you haven't seen that, you *must* but keep the kids out of the room:)