Monday, November 29, 2010

When Het Men Aren't In Denial or Busy Defending Patriarchal Atrocities, They Can Say Some Profoundly Truthful Things About Themselves

image from the movie, A Serbian Film, is from here
Case in point:
This kind of content – sexual violence as horror, and the male sex drive as monster - really hasn’t been explored this way on film before. I found myself reminded of the most distressing literary explorations of the subject that I have ever encountered: American Psycho, Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, but even more so than those – Andrea Dworkin’s Pornography: Men Possessing Women. Any heterosexual male who has ever read Dworkin has doubtless gone through the same cycle I did of being enraged by the assertions made of our gender, yet ultimately coming to the crushing realisation that everything said about the masculine was true: the drive to dominate, to brutalise, to attempt to satiate the ultimately insatiable appetite.
The above passage is from a review of a movie called A Serbian Film. The full review may be read *here*. There's plenty of sexualised violence against women in the film. And it's being discussed as if extreme misogyny something new in cinema. Apparently the author forgot about Snuff, and most films by Brian DePalma and David Lynch. Or mainstream pornography films.

The reviewer, Ben Bussey, seems to be making a simultanously pro-feminist and anti-feminist point: that men desire to torture women, and that men will torture women because men desire to do so. See, for example, this portion of his review.
This, I think, is the overriding theme that has made A Serbian Film the hot topic it is. At the screening, director Spasojevic reiterated his assertion that the film’s primary function is to serve as a metaphor for life in his home nation (and while I do not doubt his conviction, I must say I do not entirely approve of filmmakers promoting so specific a reading of their work; there’s a lot to be said for leaving things open to interpretation). But to my mind the film is really driven by the universal theme of the male sex drive, and of course the universal taboos of rape and paedophilia. It is not anti-porn per se - central protagonist Milos (the also remarkable Srdjan Todorovic) is portrayed as a well-balanced, down-to-earth family man, never frowned upon for his chosen profession – but tough questions are asked about where ‘good’ porn ends and ‘bad’ porn begins, and just how much it takes for a man to embrace those heinous impulses which, like it or not, on some level exist within us all.
If this is what he's saying, I will say that I don't agree with him that a rape-impulse (and practice) in men being an inevitability, or asocial. Or biological. Or natural. Or universal. Such a viewpoint, that men will rape women and that this terroristic action is not due to conditioning one gets in the political formation of patriarchal manhood in rapist-protecting societies, is one that MRAs and "anti-misandrists" ought to be getting their boxers in a bunch about. Because, as has been noted here many times: when men openly say what men do, when it is in agreement with what radical feminists notice about men's behavior, the men are not called out as man-haters by other men (or, for that matter, as woman-haters). It is only when radical feminists note what men do that men deny doing that those women get called man-haters, not woman-lovers, and not truth-tellers.


Owl Eyes said...

EEP! I will not watch a serbian film, i could not watch it. I do like Lynch though, a lot. Although I found some of his films to be overly "obscure" for the sake of "obscurity"

Seriously though, I'm not sure what drove the director to make A serbian film, films like it simply attempt to be controversial and then pretend there is some underlying message behind it.

Owl Eyes said...

When I bought the book "American Psycho" a few years ago, I was so upset and disgusted while reading it that I actually had to hide it on myself. Part of me wanted to read and finish it - but the other part was so upset, i actually got nightmares from it. The way he describes the killer in it is WAY too creepy and upclose and personal.

I did prefer the book over the film - the film was just silly. I realize the context of the book is screwed up, but I don't think Ellis reflects his deranged character...but then again I cannot know for sure.

The part about the rats etc...unbelievable. Who comes up with that shit? Seriously?

Julian Real said...

Like you, Owl Eyes, I too will never view this film. It sounds horrifying and like nothing I'd want in my head.

I suspect he's done this for publicity, although when one makes a film, one doesn't really know what kind of publicity it will get, so maybe he made it to bring attention to horrors happening to women but from what I can tell, it, in and of itself, is another horror happening to women. And, if that's what this film exists to do, by intention or by effect, shame on him. And I hope the film gets very little publicity. That's why I didn't put the title in this blog post--so it wouldn't come up in a search.


Sigh this film is not 'new' different or even radical - but it certainly is more of the old women-hating constantly emanating from so-called malestream (aka mainstream) horror films.

Radical feminists such as Deborah Cameron et al have analysed the misogynistic messages posing as 'horror' in their book 'The Lust to Kill.' So too has Andrea Dworkin in her book Pornography: Men Posessing Women.

Bottom line is no man was/is biologically doomed to commit male violence against women - he unlike women has a choice not to commit/condone male violence and misogyny against women.

After all women despite men's constant claims are indeed human - not men's sexual service stations, wherein their sole value and worth lies in being misrepresented as 'bodies' who are subjected to sadistic male sexualised torture in the name of 'male entertainment.'

But profit is the bottom line which is why this latest film adheres to all the old, old misogynistic lies concerning women.

Julian Real said...

@Jennifer - It's astounding to me, truly, that women like you, Dworkin, and so many others who state that men choose to be sexually violent to women, they aren't biologically programmed to be misogynistically violent, are called "man-haters"!

@Owl Eyes - I won't read or see American Psycho either. So fortunately I don't even know about the "rats" scene, thankfully.

Owl Eyes said...


I liked American Psycho as a comment on the 1980s mass consumerism and materialism, but i think the point could have been pushed in a less "graphic" was so gross at times.

But in terms of wanting us to absolutely hate the main character, Ellis succeeded! ha ha.

Julian Real said...

I have always, always found men's gorenography to be completely vile.

Given what you said, Owl Eyes, I kind of remember now how the main character was supposed to be, basically, CRAP personified.

That all men's violence against women, even if written about as deplorable, becomes "sex" for some men, is the problem. Well, one problem among many.

Dworkin wrote a book, a graphic novel, so to speak, called Mercy (have you read it, Owl Eyes?) about men's sexual violence, detailing the many forms of rape that exist--that men perpetrate. But it wasn't written for men to eroticise and I think she succeeded at the very difficult task of describing sexual violence that wasn't able to be eroticised by men (very easily, anyway).