A regular reader has taken issue with my reviews of You and Me and Everyone We Know and other films, and rather than snark at me in the comments emailed me, which I think is just fine. Please feel free to contact me through email if you would prefer. I post my email just for that reason.
While composing my response, it dawned on me I might have made some of my points better here than I have in earlier posts, so I thought I'd post it.
To put some of what follows in context, the reader said that most guys at 14 would welcome - to say the least - being the focus of a blowjob competition, and on that I would agree. But, as you'll see, I still think that constitutes molestation anyway. I know folks who got into sex at way too early of an age, and it has had an effect on their life I think they would've rather avoided, even if the sex was fun at the time.
So, here's my response. Also, SPOILERS ENSUE.
Well, it looks like we disagree again.
You state: "molesting includes an act being done against one's will." I disagree. I think molestation is coercing kids to engage in sexual activity, regardless of their consent. Before a certain age, they don't have the ability to give consent.
Yes, in real life, most 14-year-old boys would love to find themselves in that situation. But it is still too young to be engaging in any sex (other than jerking off, perhaps). And having girls who are seniors in High School do that to him is simply wrong.
Now, actually putting actors that age through the motions for the sake of a film constitutes abuse to me. Go read the Amazon.com reviews, filter down to the lowest rating ones, and you'll see others stating that same thing.
It wouldn't have mattered if it (the blowjob) were a plot point, as long as we didn't have to witness it. But the fact that we do makes the difference. And we're even shown the girl with the hope chest watching it.
Let me ask you this, would you want any of your children at the age of 14 starring in a movie where they had to lay down while a 17-year-old boy (or girl) pretended to give them oral sex for the camera? I think your answer to that is the answer to how you feel about the film.
If you're OK with that, then you simply disagree with my take on the movie. If you're not OK with that, then we probably agree in principle even you take issue with what I wrote.
Same with your 6-year-old being on chat and having someone/anyone on the other side responding to their request to pass poop back and forth between their butts with "I'm touching myself." I would flip out and get the cops involved, myself. (Though I wouldn't let my kids on chat in the first place.) Again, had an adult in the movie read the chat logs, or if some other means of revealing that information rather than a little boy actually say the lines, it would have made the difference.
I feel people should have the freedom to produce and consume movies like this. But then I have the freedom to grouse when I feel something's gone too far, is broadcast in an inappropriate market or time, or that I don't like it because it contains elements I find objectionable. I want children to have an environment of innocence when it comes to sex, violence, and other things that belong in the adult world. We had it, and I think it was healthy.
Another issue these days is that folks who express opinions like mine are attacked for being close-minded or bigots. Take, for instance, my posts on Brokeback Mountain. I don't object to the fact that the movie is about gay cowboys. I could care less, really. Rock on with yo gay self, I say. But, I do dislike the current atmosphere where if you say, "I don't wanna see it because I don't care to see men fuck," some folks feel that gives them license to call you a homophobe. It's silly.
My grandmother didn't like Richard Pryor's standup because he said "motherfucker" every two sentences. She just didn't care to hear that language that much. Let's say she had a blog and said so publicly, the equivalent response would be that she must be a racist because she won't watch Richard Pryor's standup. How small-minded of her!
That's how I feel about some of the debates over "Brokeback."
Hey, I'm not the audience for that, and I resent your (the universal "you," not YOU) implying or directly stating something must be wrong with me, or that I'm a bigot or homophobe, because I don't care for the subject matter. The culture police are trying to equate disinterest, or plain old dislike, with bigotry. And the media manipulators tried to square off Brokeback against Narnia as though it was gays vs. Christians, which was just as specious. (No one bit, thank God.)
There's a big difference between stating that "I" don't want to see a movie and stating that I don't want ANYONE to see it. (For those of you in the cheap seats, my view is the prior, not the latter.)
It's a very hard point to make because it's subtle, and when folks are more interested in browbeating me for supposed sins against other's rights, it's difficult to maintain that I'm not oppressing anyone, nor do I want to. I merely want the room (or the right) to say that gay movies, dwarf-tossing movies, f-bomb movies, violent movies, pedophile movies, hunting movies, animal rights movies, animated movies, Tom Cruise movies, slasher movies, sci-fi movies, and whatever the hell don't float my boat movies, are not for me. More for you! Enjoy!
I guess if I'm labeled a homophobe (unfairly) or close-minded (unfairly) moralist (probably fairly), I'll just have to put up with it, because what can I do other than state my case and hope for a reasonable reaction? Of course people should feel free to disagree with me, but I would prefer they don't try to connect the dots when those connections really don't exist. To be precise, I'm not a vegan hater if I don't want to eat brussel sprouts.
As usual, Lileks manages to say this with much more panache.