On Saturday I watched Traffic (Odeon, Tottenham Court Road. Gotta love the 5 pound student concession), and later, Sex: The Annabel Chong Story on Channel Four. Two films with much fodder for moralizing/philosophizing/taking the piss, and I have to say that I engaged in all of the above.
As films go, both were absorbing, but for very different reasons. I thoroughly enjoyed Traffic, It took the hugely complex mess that is the war on drugs, and chose key elements within it on which to focus. It had a number of messages, but didn’t club you over the head with them. It had unlikely heroes, and unlikely villains, who eventually came across as believable and multi-dimensional, the way real people are. It had moments of genuine hilarity, and genuine pathos. It was easy enough to follow, but not predictable. It was gripping, thought-provoking, and genuinely entertaining, if you take the word in its broad sense. I came out of the cinema and was amazed that two and a half hours had passed so quickly. I think the most important thing about “issue” movies for me is that I don’t want to be condescended to or clubbed over the head, and I don’t want emotional rhetoric to obscure the hard facts. A guilty movie that comes to mind is Philadelphia. Traffic, however, didn’t strike me as falling prey to such weaknesses. Well worth my 5 pounds.
Sex: The Annabel Chong Story is a movie of particular interest to Singaporeans, given that we’re a country used to being famous for having the best port and airport in the world, or being one of the freest economies, but aren’t really used to having the world’s best gangbanger.
The movie tells you particular things about a)pornography, b)Singapore and c)Annabel Chong.
a) I hadn’t seen that much porn before watching this movie, but my primary reaction to what I saw wasn’t moral outrage or disgust but incomprehension as to why men find it arousing. Gisele Bundchen nekkid and seductive: understandably arousing. Annabel Chong nekkid and trying to be seductive: repulsive. The woman is hideously ugly. I don’t even understand how any of the 251 men could get it up to fuck her. The same goes for men. To me, Ralph Fiennes: sex on legs. Ron Jeremy: an advertisement for chastity on legs, and disgusting fat legs at that.
b) It’s annoying how I have to keep telling people this. I don’t feel oppressed in Singapore. I’m not brainwashed. I’ve lived in the “liberal democracy” of the UK for a year, and I love it. I’ll go home to Singapore in two years, and live happily there as well. Annabel Chong feels oppressed by Singapore society. I’d suggest that anyone who has willingly fucked 251 men in 10 hours is likely to feel oppressed in most societies.
c) I felt some pity, some disgust and not much respect for her. Pity because of the obvious unhappiness she goes through in the course of the film. Disgust at her pseudo-intellectualization of everything she does. If she’d said she’d done 251 men in 10 hours because she liked sex (or pain), or wanted the money, or wanted to set a world record, I’d say fair enough. Saying she did it as a feminist statement, and that it was a noble and empowering act for womankind, is ridiculous, and I’m pretty sure most of womankind would rather she empower us by putting her obviously capable intellect to work instead of her equally obviously capable cunt.
I don’t usually use the words I’ve used above, but the politer alternatives seemed inappropriate. Porn is about fucking, not sex; cunts and pussies, not vaginas. Sure, it has its place in a secular capitalist society, but I don’t think it should be made out to be anything more than what it is. It isn’t intellectual. It isn’t noble. It’s just something certain consumers are willing to pay for, and certain people are willing to produce. And the Invisible Fist does the rest.