Monday, October 01, 2007
Robert Benton on Sex and Violence in Movies
Matt Prigge, a film critic for Philadelphia Weekly, offered a highly readable
interview with filmmaker Robert Benton in the Sept. 26-Oct. 2 issue of the Philly alternative. Benton, of couse, was hyping his new film, "Feast of Love."
In the course of their chat, Benton had the following to say about sex and violence in American movies:
"We're frank about violence and we're not frank about sex. That seems odd. I think I'd rather be frank about sex than violence."
Odd? Not really, Bob. Think about it. This country was founded by angry Puritants - a bunch of people who were uptight and repressed about sex but had no qualms blowing off someone's head with a rifle.
These attitudes remain ingrained in American some 200 years later - epitomized by the American moviegoer's adolescent taste in movies in general (Beavis and Butthead, anyone?) and by the fire-and-brimstone anti-sex standards of the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board in particular.
In all my years as a movie critic, whenever a parent would contact me inquiring about a film's R rating, he/she would be concerned only about the movie's sexual content, never its violence.
Maybe that's why American movies are "frank about violence," to quote Benton, but not about sex. After 200-plus years, I don't see this changing - at least not in our lifetime.
(Artwork: Robert Benton, right, on the set of 1979'2 "Kramer Vs.Kramer" with Dustin Hoffman. That's producer Stanley Jaffe in the background)
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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com