In the future, when a woman’s crying like that, she isn’t having any fun!–Louise Sawyer, a title character in the film Thelma and Louise–a film deservedly listed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
So last year commenced the 50th anniversary celebration for the film Deep Throat, a pornographic film credited with launching the ‘porno chic’ movement–a celebration in which the Feminist Sexpert did not take part, because she thinks the flick reeks. She wrote a column detailing the reasons behind her stance here.
Ah, but she’s not done yet.
Now comes the news that, to cap off the big ol’ Throaty Party, a campaign called #VoteThroat has been launched–a campaign that promotes the inclusion of the film Deep Throat in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
In this column, I would like to address and refute the reasoning presented behind this campaign.
1. The Throaty Committee claims that, despite a stated goal to list a full spectrum of films from all genres, the Library of Congress has yet to include an X-rated film in its heralded registry. This is incorrect. Midnight Cowboy, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Medium Cool all were rated X at the time of their release, as was Pink Flamingos–and all four are now featured in the registry. In fact, a number of sexually provocative movies are featured in this esteemed listing, including the aforementioned Cowboy, She’s Gotta Have It, Sex, Lies and Videotape, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Harold and Maude, Son of the Sheik, Jezebel, Mom and Dad, and many others.
This year alone, Dee Rees’ fantastic Pariah joins a handful of LGBTQA films to make the list.
It may be true that no pornographic film is featured in the registry–but why start with Deep Throat? The Feminist Sexpert, for example, would love to see Candida Royalle’s Femme, a movie that single handedly revolutionized the couples market and marked the inception of feminist porn as a marketable industry, on the list. Another likely candidate would be The Devil in Miss Jones, though I personally am not a fan. Andy Warhol’s Blue Movie was the first explicit sex film to be released nationwide in the United States. Boys in the Sand was the inaugural gay porno to receive a wide release. And Andrew Blake’s beautiful Night Trips was the first XXX film to win a top award at a mainstream international film festival.
2. They listed When Harry Met Sally. Why not Deep Throat? Sure. When I think of When Harry Met Sally, a wise, sweet, gentle romantic comedy, I also think of a porno movie about a woman who discovers that her clitoris is located in her throat.
But yes, the Throat Throng believes that, because of its featured and famous orgasm scene (I’ll have what she’s having and all that), new registry inductee When Harry Met Sally is comparable to Deep Throat. Here’s the problem: in her faked orgasm scene, Meg Ryan’s character of Sally was demonstrating just how easy it is for a woman to fake a climax; something far too many women do every day. In Deep Throat, by contrast, the audience is supposed to believe that the heroine gets her proverbial jollies solely from the performance of oral sex. In other words, just be a good girl and fall to your knees to please your man–only in this way will you find true happiness.
3. Deep Devotees insist that Deep Throat is woman positive, sex positive and fun to watch. This is the saddest, and most grossly inaccurate assertion put forth by the Throaters; that Deep Throat is a light-hearted, fun-loving film that makes a positive statement about women’s sexuality.
The movie’s star, Linda Lovelace, aka Linda Boreman, insisted for years that she was coerced into the making of the film Deep Throat–not by the film’s cast and crew, but by a manager husband who abused her for years.
Boreman’s story drew much support from legendary feminist Gloria Steinem, and credence from witnesses and the affirming results of several lie detector tests.
If you look beyond the blank eyes and childlike smile that she displays in the film, you see the bruises on her body. And as Roger Ebert stated in his brilliant review of Deep Throat, “It is all very well and good for Linda Lovelace, the star of the movie, to advocate sexual freedom; but the energy she brings to her role is less awesome than discouraging. If you have to work this hard at sexual freedom, maybe it isn’t worth the effort.”
And as far as being a peachy couples flick, well the immortal Ebert has an answer for that.
“The word just sort of got around: This is the first stag film to see with a date,” he wrote. “There were a lot of couples in the audience Sunday afternoon. Most of them, I thought, left the theater looking a little grim.”
Two points I will concede: Deep Throat exceeds 10 years in age. And it does indeed boast a female lead character–like the vast majority of porn flicks. Congrats on that.
The Feminist Sexpert herself never has attended a public showing of the film Deep Throat. She has, however, visited the film research room of the Library of Congress. When I was researching my book Ladies in Silver, a chronicle of women who worked behind the scenes in the silent film industry, I basked in the beauty and tradition of this hallowed hall–a place that people go to celebrate the very best in film.
Deep Throat has no place at the Library in Congress. Linda Boreman does have a place in history, but it was one for which she constantly had to fight.
During her appearance on the TV show Woman2Woman in 1984, Linda Boreman asked an adult theatre owner point blank, “Do you realize that whenever you show the film Deep Throat in your theater, that you’re showing me being raped?”
The woman said nothing for a moment before mumbling, “No, I don’t realize that at all.”
Then she looked away.