Saturday, March 7, 2015

...and you can stick it up the old gazoo

It's no wonder I grew up to be a bit strange, a little socially awkward, and rarely thinking too far into the future as far as planning my life. I grew up with popular culture telling me that World War III could happen any time and with my church and school concurring that, yes indeed, the world was ending soon.

Meanwhile, I'm seeing movies like Porky's, all about the pursuit of sex, when I'm being told by my parents, by my teachers, by the ministers at church every week, that sex (premarital sex anyway) is a sin, and I'm basically a sinner for even thinking about it.

But, first, a few things to think about when it comes to Porky's. Though the main cast spend most of the movie seeking out heterosexual sex, they never actually have any. Pee Wee is finally losing his virginity as the film ends, but none of the other main characters actually have sex. And, I pointed out yesterday that Tommy and Billy don't even have sex with Cherry Forever when it seems like they, for sure, have access to her. The one male character who has sex along the way--Coach Brackett--basically gets told he will lose his job over it. Heteronormative sex is effectively punished at the same time that it is exoticized. It becomes something unknown, unattainable--which makes sense for a film focused on a bunch of horny teenage boys. Sex should be some undiscovered country they just can't reach.

Plus, in the face of what would come to be known as AIDS getting attention as this movie was being made, it's no surprise that sex is also presented as something a little scary. The entire Cherry Forever sequence is setup like some twisted after school special about the dangers of bedding a prostitute. Then, add to that what happens when these boys first go to Porky's and sex is definitely not only something foreign but something that, well, the pursuit of which spells bad news. I'm reminded of Dennis Miller's Mr. Miller Goes to Washington (or the audio version, the The Off-White Album); he's got this bit about AIDS and how it has changed sex--meaning casual sex. The new rub: "You fuck, you die."

The thing about Porky's, though, is that whether or not these boys ever get to have sex is almost irrelevant to the main plot. They've got their crazy adventures either way.

But, there is something else worth mentioning when it comes to, say, queer coding in the film. First, go back to the Cherry Forever sequence again--Cherry sizes up the boys by inspecting them in a row, naked. She calls Pee Wee "needle dick" and comments on Frank's crooked penis, and calls "Meat" deformed. These young men are willingly lining up to be measured by their genitals. It's just a necessary step on the way to the punchline of Pee Wee running naked along the street to be found by the cops, except it also creates something important within the film: 1) a sense of masculinity, sexual prowess, being measured quite literally by the size (and shape) of one's package and 2) identity and sexuality are twisted together along with said package. Enter Brian Schwartz, a character that--at least in Tim's view--isn't the same as the others. And, it is, perhaps, no coincidence that his difference can be identified by his genitals (presumably, being Jewish, he is circumcised). Tim's father is abusive, and we don't know why. He just is. He's been in prison, but that doesn't really tell us anything useful. Upon his introduction into the story, he is mad at Tim because he "ran tail-ass from some nigger." It's no wonder that Tim is bigoted, calling Brian "Jew-Boy" and the misnomer "Kite." Like father, like son...

Or maybe, the problem is that the son is not like the father. The son is associating with the likes of that "negro" from the Cherry Forever bit. The son is associating with "Jew-Boy" Brian Schwartz. He is not the man his father wants him to be.

And, maybe I'm reading too much into it, or being cute, but when Tim gets into Brian's car and they ride off together, it plays like a usual plot point in any romantic comedy. And, Tim and Brian certainly fit Hinnant's (2006) sixth model of courtship from Jane Austen's novels: "presuppos[ing] an atmosphere of bitter animosity" but in which the two characters learn to appreciate one another over time (p. 297).

I think there's room for a reading of this film in which Brian's outsider status may be specifically identified by his Jewishness, but is really a stand-in for something else. The obvious culprit: homosexuality. As I pointed out yesterday, Tim tells his father that he would rather be queer than be like his father.

Then again, maybe the sexuality is so innocent--again, see yesterday's entry--in this movie that there's just no room to assume anything that interesting is going on under the surface... well, aside from the obvious chauvinism. Sex may be portrayed as exotic and unattainable, but women--they do not fare well at all, regardless of their sexual access. But, that is a discussion for, well, maybe tomorrow.

Works Cited

Hinnant, C.H. (2006). Jane Austen's "wild imagination": Romance and the courtship plot in the six canonical novels. Narrative, 14(3). 294-310.

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