Hicks nix sex pix

KinseySomebody on The Independent‘s copy desk loves wordplay, but wit does not always equal news. Consider “Alexander the (not so) Great fails to conquer America’s homophobes,” a breathless report by John Hiscock (in Los Angeles) and James Burleigh that says Oliver Stone’s latest film has “brutally exposed the cultural and moral divide which slices America in two.” Ouch!

The Hiscock/Burleigh report grants that the conspiracy-happy Stone is a controversial director, but concludes that still darker forces are at work in denying the auteur his rightful audience:

According to one online critic, Alexander is a flop because he is “as gay as a maypole.” Christians considering seeing the film have even been urged to “speak to your pastors immediately because Satan is attempting to enter your mind.”

By this report’s standards, ham-fisted satire on Rotten Tomatoes’ comments thread qualifies as holy writ among America’s homophobic masses.

Then there is this note about poor Stone taking flak from both sides of the cultural divide:

At the other end of the spectrum, militant gay groups are condemning Stone for not being more explicit in his depiction of the gay love affair — there is not even a kiss between Farrell and his co-star Jared Leto, while Alexander and his wife Roxane, played by Rosario Dawson, share a graphic sex scene.

Stone, no stranger to controversy after directing films including JFK and Natural Born Killers, has responded stoically: “I don’t think it’s hypocritical. As a dramatist, I wasn’t interested in it because it was suggested from the beginning that they were lovers. I think it’s all there. You don’t have to rub it in the faces of the audience.”

It’s a beautiful day in Irony Land when Oliver Stone is the voice of artistic restraint.

A sidebar cites three other films that illustrate America’s culture wars: Kinsey, Fahrenheit 9/11 and the ever-useful (if only slightly dated) Last Temptation of Christ (1988). All are examples of courageous cultural leftists facing harassment at the hands of know-nothing conservatives (The Passion of the Christ doesn’t make the cut, for some inexplicable reason). In a reverse-order list of abuses worthy of the late Richard J. Daley (“They have vilified me, they have crucified me; yes, they have even criticized me”), The Independent reports that “Temptation was protested against, picketed, subjected to boycotts and bomb threats and excluded by the Blockbuster video chain.”

In The Washington Post, Alan Cooperman writes that Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America are using “more subtle, highbrow tactics” in opposing the Bill Condon’s new hagio-pic, Kinsey.

Cooperman elaborates, providing a few helpful sneer quotes along the way:

Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based broadcasting empire of psychologist James Dobson, has been working for nearly two years — ever since it learned that director Bill Condon was planning to make the film — to enlist scholars outside the evangelical Christian community to help “debunk” Kinsey’s research, Hamrick said.

Prominent among them is Judith Reisman, author of the 1991 book “Kinsey, Sex and Fraud.” Citing her work, Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s group, has encouraged its members to go to theaters and politely hand out leaflets that accuse Kinsey, who died in 1956, of committing child sexual abuse as well as scientific fraud.

Kinsey was a “massive criminal” who cooked his statistical data and based many of his purported findings on interviews with convicted sex offenders, Reisman said in an interview.

On National Review Online, Frederica Mathewes-Green (a good and dear friend of this blog) shows how glibly Condon’s film distorts one factual detail:

And then we see Kinsey showing [his wife] a book titled Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology and Technique. He opens it and reads a few sentences, which convey prissy objections to two common items of foreplay. Kinsey is enraged and says, “It’s morality disguised as fact!”

You want to talk about facts? First published in 1926, Ideal Marriage was written by a Dutch gynecologist, Theodoor Van de Velde, and may be the best-selling sex manual of all time. Over half a million copies were sold in the United States alone, and it enjoyed equal success in Europe. On pages 169-171 of the 1930 Random House edition, Van de Velde takes up one of the items above, and describes technique at length. But rather than condemn it, he pronounces this activity “absolutely unobjectionable and legitimate, ethically, aesthetically, and hygienically” (italics his). The other is treated on pages 164-168, in much more explicit detail than anything the screen Kinsey tells his students. Van de Velde instructs husbands that if ministrations such as these are not sufficiently effective, it would be “both stupid and grossly selfish of the husband” to proceed to intercourse (his italics, again). This is not a prude’s book. Young couples who grab a used copy off the Internet may have even as much fun with it as their great-grandparents did.

Buy your copies now — including some from the dreaded 1950s — before the rubes who refuse to see Alexander or Kinsey outlaw all such literature.

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  • http://gayspirituality.typepad.com/blog/ Joe Perez

    Doug: 1. Hiscock/Burleigh: 0. Too bad these journalists were sloppy in their characterization of Christian homophobes. There are plenty of homophobic reactions by conservative religionists on the Net there was really no need to resort to quoting a parody.

  • Marty

    CWA is the nations largest womens organization?? Boy, that must really irritate the atheist dykes over at NOW :P

  • Richard

    Can someone explain all of the homophobic hysteria going on in the conservative faith community to me? Why does anyone give a rat’s ass about the goings on inside the bedrooms of consenting adults anyway? The whole issue about homosexuals in modern American life is ridiculous. If more people would take care of the business in their own lives and stop nosing into other people’s, we’d all be a lot better off. Isn’t it interesting a needless and immoral war in the Middle East isn’t of more comcern to more people. Oh yeah, we’re fighting a holy war against the non-Christian hoardes who inhabit some of the parts of this planet we live on. Suppose if more “Christians” would go read the Gospels with an inquisitive and discerning mind… Naa, they aren’t interested.

  • http://wetzell.blogspot.com/ dlw

    Richard, I write some about why the issues loomed excessively large at my blog.

    http://wetzell.blogspot.com/2004/11/ive-got-so-much-to-say.html

    Kerry made several serious cultural wars gaffes that he should have been counseled against.

    1. To say one is personally against abortion and then justify the absence of any concrete commitment to prevent abortions because of the separation of Church and State does not fly with “conservative” evangelicals. It neglects how the meaning of the separation of Church and State is in contest with the cultural wars. Does it mean the segregation or the autonomy of Church and State? Conservatives know that the more historical understanding of the autonomy of Church and State permits religious groups to lobby to make legal changes based on their religious beliefs. And, since they, unlike elites like Kerry, are most eloquent in speaking with a language of faith, they perceive the segregationists approach as preventing them from having a voice in the polity. Kerry needed to come out with a plan to prevent abortions. He could have championed Tom Daschle’s plan and vowed to reform the adoption system. He could have promised to make Planned Parenthood remove some of their more culturally offensive policies. He didn’t and played into the hands of Rove in helping to ensure a heavy evangelical turn out.

    2. Homosexuality is both chosen and not chosen. The biological facts of the matter are more complicated than either side of the cultural wars cares to admit. However, by stating with confidence that homosexuality is not chosen, Kerry set himself up as easily spun by those who view homosexuality as chosen as endorsing biological determinism/sexual libertarianism. It would have been better for him to make a distinction between chosen lifestyles and not-chosen or easily-changed sexual orientations. The reason why this issue is given so much weight by evangelicals like my mother is explained by the importance attributed to the marriage relationship by the right. As Pam Cochran, at the other journal, writes marriage is traditionally viewed as the foundation of society. Kerry’s statement, made without a proper understanding of how it would be perceived by the other culture, cost him the election because it was viewed as endorsing a view that would undermine society.

  • Richard

    dlw,

    Maybe I don’t get it but marriage is currently an amalgam of both the secular and the sacramental and to say it’s not flies in the face of that fact. We have, for a long time, made marriage a legal institution and at the same time maintained it as a religious one. As such I don’t know how it can be constitutionally denied to people who meet the current legal criteria for entering into it, after all, judges, justices of the peace and mayors can marry people. It may come as a shock to some folks out there but marriage is a legal contract, a fact which fails a lot of people until they decide to end the union, and as far as I know there are no areas in contract law where one can be denied the right to enter into a contract based solely upon their sexual orientation.

    Instead of talking about gay marriage why doesn’t the religious left promote civil unions with all of the legal benefits of marriage and allow marriage, as most people know it, to reside on the traditional side of the divide. I personally don’t understand how letting gays marry is going to “destroy” marriage as we know it. Isn’t there a middle ground where a majority of people can be accomodated? I think this is an issue that doesn’t deserve the attention it has received.

  • http://wetzell.blogspot.com/ dlw

    Richard,

    I think it is because of your basic point that some want to pass an amendment.

    A lot of it comes down to fallible associations. You might want to read Pam Cochran’s article that was in the other journal a while back.

    http://wetzell.blogspot.com/2004/10/theotherjournal-is-like-none-other.html

    People think that affirming homosexuality as not chosen implies that we can’t really choose to be faithful to our partners. And that in turn is seen as undermining the nuclear family, which is seen as the main pillar on which society rests.

    As such, for them, everything is at stake with the issue and the nugget of truth is that people may choose to engage in homosexual acts(Think Kissing Jessica Stein) and there is a role of cultural mores in affecting the forms of homosexuality that are prevalent, and yet those on the left, like Kerry, tend to focus on homosexuality as not being chosen.

    I think the best way to foster compromise is to be open about how homosexuality is chosen and not chosen and pushing for gay civil unions geared towards longer-term relationships(as I also believe marriage law should be geared towards), inasmuch such longer-term relationships will only be expected to persist for constitutional homosexuals.

    I wrote about this here.

    http://wetzell.blogspot.com/2004/10/why-i-oppose-naes-politics-of.html

    dlw

  • http://www.jonswerens.com Jon S.

    Mr. Perez,

    If I am *unafraid* to respond to your post, but still say homosexuality is disallowed by Scripture, am I still a homophobe?

    I mean, why “phobe”? Is it because whoever created that term can’t imagine that anyone could have an intellectual disagreement with his position, so he had to condemn it to the irrational?

  • JoJo

    Richard correctly notes a major problem, that marriage is both a legal and a religious union. But he stops one step short of a better solution, which is for government to get out of the marriage business altogether and to cede that authority to the church. In place of marriage, the state would offer something like civil unions but with an even broader reach. Call them legal households if you will. They would be great for people who are unrelated by blood but who otherwise act completely as a family. I can think of several older people who share much of their lives, including a home and finances. Why should we deny them the same legal benefits as a married couple, just because they are the same sex or they have no interest in sleeping together?

    If the government got out of the way then each church would have the freedom to define and bless marriage according to its own theology. After all, isn’t that how the Roman Catholic Church operates today? They can refuse to marry anyone who is divorced, who is not Catholic, who doesn’t intend to bear children, etc. While I disagree with much of RCC theology, it’s their right to marry as they see fit. And of course the government will not (and should not) force them to abandon their more restrictive standards.

    My hope is that doing away with legal marriage would actually strengthen the institution since marriage would be more clearly tied to the church. Frankly, I have a problem with a Minister of the Gospel presiding over a marriage ceremony when there’s no involvement of the church before or after the service. Let them have a civil union down at City Hall instead. If they want a real church wedding, then let’s talk beforehand about commitment to the community of believers.

    Why does legal marriage even continue to exist today? You don’t need it to live together or have sexual relations. You don’t need it to buy property together. You don’t need it to bear and raise children. Those who advocate legal prohibition of same-sex marriage cite a lot of reasons, but their arguments are baseless. Whatever they want to ban outside of heterosexual marriage will still be permitted, and whatever they want to happen inside of heterosexual marriage cannot be mandated. This last week our local paper included a letter that passionately argued that same-sex marriages shouldn’t be allowed because it is so important for children to be raised with one father and one mother.

    Like Richard I don’t get all this stuff about how same-sex marriage will destroy the institution. We ought to feel a lot more threatened by things like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” on primetime TV than when the occasional gay or lesbian couple decides to make a solemn vow to each other. It’s been a few months since Massachusetts allowed gay marriages. Has anyone appraised the value of marriages there to see how much it’s dropped?

  • Molly

    “Frankly, I have a problem with a Minister of the Gospel presiding over a marriage ceremony when there’s no involvement of the church before or after the service.”

    Which is why, as a pastor, I infinitely prefer funerals to weddings. In a funeral, I can actually function as a pastor; people look to me for comfort for their grief and I am sometimes able to convey the reality of the Eternal to people who have never set foot in a church.

    In most weddings I have performed, I am the necessary supporting actor in the black robe who has the important lines in the script. Once my part is complete, I am off stage and forgotten – as is the church. Folks are on to the reception at the expensive hotel whose availability is ususally the deciding factor for the date of the wedding. JoJo’s comment about “commitment to the community of believers” is a rarity in my experience.

    Although, my husband’s attempt to counter this phenomenon is to require extensive premarital counseling. (He has actually gotten prospective brides and grooms to attend worship once or twice.) He has never not married someone because of what he uncovered in counseling but he has been able to send people into their relationships with clear warnings about flags raised and he has given them some tools about how to work to keep their relationship afloat. This is his personal requirement, not the policy of the church he serves nor of our denomination. I think if we are really serious about the sanctity of marriage, we will look at what we require of couples seeking a church blessing before we give it.

    On a related note, I found the following bumper sticker hilarious:

    Protect the sanctity of divorce from gays!


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