Week 10

Linda Williams points to a relevant theme amongst the critiques of films depicting similar content which continues to claim distinct definitions. She brings up the notion of the “Triple Standard” which illustrates American standards in relation to what Williams coins as “relatively explicit” sex depicted in European art cinema. To debate whether these sexual depictions are pornographic, artistic, or hard-core erotocism is crucial, but it invites a debate on definitions which are largely based on cultural understandings. What appears to be pornographic to American viewers largely differs from interpretations of European audiences. Williams points that the challenging aspect of these art films is that they own “the drive to push aesthetics into unfamiliar emotional territory,” specifically for the American viewer (16). This argument furthers the notion of the American imagination of sex and the way in which according to Williams, it divides into either simple porn or an artistic representation that does not actually represent any explicit sex.

I remember watching Blue and being surprised by the content – which largely speaks to the films that I have been exposed to within American cinema. I think bringing these European films that contradict American evaluation of sexual representations is important because it challenges cultural and social interpretations. It allows us to redefine and expand our understanding of what exactly cinema can translate on screen when it regards to explicit scenes. It also makes us question why the American viewer feels more uncomfortable than the European, and illustrates the expectations of the American screen in contrast to the European arthouse.


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