So called guardians of morality wail constantly about all the sexual pervasiveness in popular culture. These are the people who see Satanism in Harry Potter. They think seeing Janet Jackson’s breast for a second will help the terrorists win. It seems like they are convinced that Hollywood will cause the youth of America to have multiracial homosexual sadomasochist orgies in the pulpits of churches while taking the names of Jesus Christ and Ronald Reagan in vain. Will no one think for… I mean… of the children?
But if you actually watch some movies, you’ll see that they can be just puritanical, just not as obvious about it. Promiscuity, alternative lifestyles, and sexually active unwed teenagers meet with tragedy for their “immoral” choices–and most of the time it gets them killed. Below are a list of movies where any step outside the sexual mainstream is a step on a landmine.
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Basic Instinct – Sharon Stone‘s character is a successful, sexually aggressive, bi-sexual woman. So of course, she’s a psychopathic killer. Michael Douglas is an alcoholic traumatized-rage-filled pile of hot mess. So of course, he’s the hero of the piece. Oh, where to begin: the opening scene where a little light bondage leads to an ice pick in the chest, how anybody in a lesbian relationship is homicidal, how women really enjoy being practically raped by their boyfriends? Only Joe Eszterhas could make misogyny and homophobia so sexy.
Dressed To Kill – Angie Dickinson plays a bored married woman who hooks up with a mysterious stranger at an art gallery. The passion is palpable. It is so intense they begin in the cab ride to his place. This lascivious behavior must be punished. Not only does she discover a medical report that states her mysterious stranger has a STD, she is stabbed to death by a strange woman in the hallway. Added to that is the twist which I will not reveal but it did certainly piss off people who lived a certain lifestyle.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar – Diane Keaton plays a young teacher who wants a little excitement in her life. She wouldn’t mind meeting Mr. Right but she’s cool with meeting Mr. Right Now in the singles scene of the 70s. Naturally this attempt to escape a stupefying bourgeois existence encounters disaster when she brings home a dangerous psychopath who rapes and murders her. Since she was a “bad girl,” she had to pay.
Endless Love – “She is 15. He is 17. The love every parent fears”. The tag line alone should tell you what this movie thinks about teenage sex. The parents allow the young lovers, David and Jade, some freedom but when they try to tone down their passion, he stupidly burns down Jade’s parents house. David ends up in a mental institution. The young lovers end up badly as well as the parents for allowing this in the first place.
Dangerous Liaisons – Why does the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) fall in love with the prudish oh-so-innocent Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer)? This is a perfect example of the myth that “virgins” have a power to attract bad boys and turn them decent and respectful. De Tourvel’s sanctimonious naivete is more desirable to the worldly Valmont than the intelligence and experience of Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close). That alone should label this movie a fantasy instead of historical drama.
Boys Don’t Cry – Teena Brandon was born a girl but identified as a man, Brandon Teena. When several friends found out that Brandon was transgender, they raped and murdered him. I can understand telling this story to create outrage and maybe motivate change. But I wonder how many people who wanted to live as the gender they truly believe themselves to be thought twice about that decision after seeing this movie.