Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hold a candle

I, like countless other gays, watched the Liberace glitztravaganza “Behind the Candelabra” over the weekend. Part of it was because who can resist that much rhinestone. And part of it was to see how one of the world’s most famous postmortem gays lived his life in the closet. And, OK, part of it was to see Michael Douglas and Matt Damon kiss. But I found myself having another interesting reaction to the film. This reaction at first may seem contradictory considering yesterday’s post, but – if you really think about it – is actually complimentary.

I wish they’d shown more sex between Douglas and Damon. Most of the sex scenes were the standard-issue kiss followed by the fade-out and finished with the sweaty roll off into crumpled sheets. You know, Movie Sex*. Sure, we saw a bare tush here and lots of man pecs there. But there was no full body shots of them engaged in anything sexual and only one fleeting in flagrante scene that served mostly to as a plot point to highlight how Damon’s Scott started out firmly against drugs only to later descend completely into them courtesy Dr. Startz**. It was, all in all, pretty tame. Though keep in mind this is a film made for HBO – a network currently reveling in the exposure of “Game of Boobs and Butts Thrones.”

So does the double standard remain? In mainstream and mainstream-celebrated films, does lesbian sex and gay male sex get the same treatment? If you compare reports from “Blue is the Warmest Color” and evidence from “Behind the Candelabra,” the answer would still be a hard “No.” Same-sex sex between women is celebrated and same-sex sex between men is still makes folks squeamish. Maybe this is because straight men – who are all too many of the creators and also consumers – also get off on lesbian sex, but shrink from the idea of two fellas getting it on. Also female nudity – gay or straight – has always been more casually accepted than male. Sure, you’ve got your Harvey Keitels and Michael Fassbenders who gave us the full monty. But it’s almost easier to count the actresses who you haven’t seen naked than those have. Le sigh.

It’s about time that cinema – literally and figuratively – nutted up. It’s 2013 and if a critically adored movie can feature “impressive scissoring” by on-screen lesbians then it can also feature impressive love-making for the fellas, too.

* We could talk for weeks about how bad, unrealistic, misleading and often unsexy all Movie Sex is in the first place. But, heavens, who has the time. Fade out.
** I would, however, watch an entire movie of Rob Lowe’s plastic surgeon/nightmare factory Dr. Startz.


Anonymous said...

Despite all the rhinestones, brocade, jewels etc. etc. it was a pretty depressing movie. So little true joy. The only ones who seemed to be enjoying themselves were the audience members at the shows.

I guess the caveat is that it was based on a book by Thorson, so there's got to be some bias, because Liberace comes off as a superficial cad.

And as for the sex - yeah, especially for a movie set in that time period, there should have been a whole lot more free and easy and steamy sex and nudity. From the behind-the-scenes etc they had on HBO, it really seemed like no one involved was gonna go for that. Kind of a shame.

The criticism for 'Blue is the Warmest Color.' has been that there didn't seem to be any lesbians involved in the making of the movie - it sort of seems like the same thing might have been true for 'Behind the Candelabra.' I am not saying it's required in a creative venture, but it certainly couldn't hurt and could have helped.

Carmen SanDiego said...

I'll just quote Seinfeld on this one

"The female body is a work of art. The male body is utilitarian. It's for gettin' around. It's like a Jeep."
- Elaine, in "The Apology"

tlsintx said...

It's still a straight man's world, seen through a straight male gaze. And that gets old for all the rest of us. Things are changing though... I find it pretty impressive that Michael, Matt and Rob even acted in such a film.

Frugal_Femme said...

I'd add another caveat that if you based your opinion of lesbian sex on films you'd presume its all soulful gazing and dramatic sighs... I dunno how many terrible terrible girlsex scenes I've had to stifle my giggles at... Films that *do* depict a more accurate sexual exchange get blasted hard for being "too sexually explicit," so its a conundrum.

Girlsex scenes that are really blatantly *not* about anyone actually fucking are all good, but support the continuing belief in the inherent hetero-ness of queer ladies.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was disappointed that they didn't have more in the way of actual man on man sex in the film. Well...I guess disappointed isn't the right word, because I wasn't actually looking forward to it...but maybe annoyed because it's just always shown in so many straight HBO films.

Also,just have to add, Bound has the best lezzie sex scene, a little more real (and hot) and a lot less of the usual leaving us with head scratching and thoughts of "do they even know how lesbians actually have sex? Women don't have magical pleasure holes in their upper thighs."

Anonymous said...

Damon and Douglas? You're more than welcome to them darling!

No siree Bob Snarks darling, we really don't share a taste in men you and I!


Florence said...

There's no sex scene? Then I don't get how this movie was labelled "too gay" for a theatre release and was only shown on tv. I mean, if all they do is kiss, why were studios so against producing it?
The lack of sex scenes may also have to do with the actors: Michael Douglas and Matt Damon probably weren't comfortable doing them.