Monday, March 09, 2009

What's so scary about a little kiss?

So I finally watched Y Tu Mama Tambien. People always assume I've seen it and when it came out, all my friends saw it. But I've put off seeing it. I didn't intentionally avoid it in the theater, but I miss most things in the theater unless Ben drags me there. Not that I don't like going to see movies, I do; but it just usually isn't what I'll chose to do unless someone else tips the decision that direction.

I have intentionally avoided it on video, however. Not that I haven't wanted to see it and on multiple occasions would have rented it except that I had read how most rental copies of it are edited and what is the point of seeing a movie that is famous for being a love story fantasy if it has been edited? Of course they will cut the best bits! Actually, who in hell wants to watch any edited movie? It is like reading an abridged book. Not that there are no stories out their which might benefit from well placed pruning, but books are abridged to make them shorter and easier to digest and movies are edited to make them tamer (and, if it is for tv, to make room for commercials). I knew that this cut was to make it less offensive and if I wanted a less offensive movie, I'd have picked one. So anyway, I've refused to watch this movie multiple times because I couldn't be sure to get the unedited version.

I remember now that I had refused to watch Ben's copy because a little questioning revealed it to be one of the chop shop versions, but I forgot this. I suppose I am glad I did forget, because I enjoyed watching it and otherwise would have continued my silent protest.

I was worried at the beginning of the movie when the quick disclaimer flashed by that it had been "edited for content and language". Yuck. And even with my poor language skills I was able to tell some of the language had been blurred, but it seemed more just for simplicity than prudishness. The cuss words were generalized or not completely literally translated (of course the cuss words are always the most familiar vocabulary for one like myself who only knows a little of a language), but who cares? They didn't blur the message and didn't really sanitize the story in that area. And at first I supposed they hadn't really edited the content that much. The movie opens with two naked people in bed and before the scene changes you see -soft, of course- a pecker, which is usually the first thing edited out of a movie. Male genitals are so terribly distressing to the idiots who rate movies. This isn't the last of the nudity either, male or female, and sexual acts are also shown, though rather as a side note that anything titillating.

Actually, the only way that I know this is a chopped version, even if it isn't a fully block-bustered bastard, is that the one thing which got so many panties in a wad and made the movie such an intriguing success was the one thing they cut out! The whole damn movie builds up to this love scene with both the boys and the woman. It builds and builds and then we get there, the crucial moment, during which the two guys kiss... except they don't. Here, they get back to the room, the chick begins making out with one of them... and cut! The morning after! The boys wake up looking at each other, but other than that we are left to just guess what has made them so awkward towards each other.

When this movie came out, the shared affair with the older woman wasn't the scandal but that the two male leads' friendship tipped over into the romantic at the climax with her. Every stupid interview with the actors asked them moronic questions about how awkward it must have been to kiss the other guy, which to their credit, they generally just brushed off. Two guys kissing shouldn't be a big fucking deal, but apparently it was and it got this movie tons of publicity and, truth be told, peaked my interest too. When it comes time to trim the movie down, for whatever fucking stupid reason they have, the kiss is the first thing to go. So we see the three leads naked, we see them urinate, we see at least partial sexual acts, but the two guys kissing is a shade too far. It is so fucking irritating.

Dean always complained that even in gay themed movies directed at gay audiences that you are more likely to see two men having sex than see them kiss. He got completely flustered and angry when we watched... damn, I can't remember the name of the movie. It is from Argentina and featured two bank robber lovers in their violent and sexual downward spiral. Completely out of character, I had suggested the movie when we went to pick something to watch. I can't remember the movie, but I remember the night because it was (at least before the movie) one of the most fun and silly nights ever with my friends. I was back in Charleston and rambling about with Dean, Michael, and Preot. We've all been friends for years but hadn't really all been together like that in a long time and all sort of queened out when we found a potted plant that someone had thrown out. It was actually pretty healthy, a very tall Diffenbachia with a few ratty leaves in a gallon pot and descending upon it, we started pruning leaves and propping it up and talking to it and about it like we were giving a make-over and as we walked away (carrying our new plant, I can't remember what we named it, Sheena maybe?) suddenly realized we had never been gayer in our whole lives. So we decided to keep the ball rolling and go pick out a gay movie and pop some gay popcorn and have a slumber party.

Burnt Money, that was the name of the movie. I had read something about it and I think it was the only gay movie that none of us had seen and it had gotten good reviews. I think Y Tu Mama Tambien had been suggested even though it wasn't a gay movie because of the dudes kissing, but also passed over because we had heard that scene was edited out in lots of rental copies. I totally loved Burnt Money, which was surprising because I am usually the one who complains that movies are too gorey or violent and this one was violent. Something about it I really liked, but it killed the fun mood for everyone else and at some point Dean pointed out how much sex there had been but no kissing. I think that the guys finally got their kiss towards the end of the movie and I think I argued just to be contrary, but he had a point. Tonight at least, he is right. More than sex between men, affection terrifies.


Benjamin said...

Two points. You must realize than whenever you post about film or literature...or really anything else, for that matter, I sometimes cannot suppress the desire to jump in.

One, editing can also salvage a hectic mess of film as well. You must remember my reaction to the director's cut of Donnie was a rambling, self-indulgent, and pedantic load of crap. The studio's editor, whoever s/he blessedly was, did a truly great service by attentuating the theatrical version into a pensive, ambiguous and stimulating final cut. Mary Mcdonnell would never have slung her merlot so meaningfully without that editor. Of course, this example is different from editing for sensational content, but I still wanted to counterpoint the tacit suggestion that editing is generally harmful.

There was a recent documentary titled This Film Is Not Yet Rated that examined the MPAA and its film rating practices. What it determined was that the most edited content was actually feminine sexual pleasure. Scenes that objectified women sexually were, unsurprisingly, left in tact with an R or PG-13 rating that allowed them to be distributed in all theater chains nationally, but scenes that imagined women actually enjoying sex or experiencing orgasm--even when the shot was only a close-up on the actress' face--were given an untenable NC-17 rating that virtually murders all chances of box office success. One of the great things about the documentary was that it exposed the actual MPAA raters, who have long hid behind a veil of secrecy, by hiring two super-cool lesbian detectives to follow them as they came to and from screenings. It's almost shattering to think of the influence these raters wield if you concede that film is one of the systems that shapes and determines the way many people process the world. They're prohibiting and limiting desire; it's downright Orwellian.

d.e.g. said...

I like it when you jump in. Please comment away.

And first, the Donnie Darko argument, which I thought about while writing this but decided that I didn't have to address because that editing was done in the filmmaking process, not post production. Editing is a part of the creative process, with books or movies or any work of art. You don't just pile on to create, but also have to trim away to make the final shape something worth sharing. I could have made more explicit which editing I meant: post production, done for reasons other than artistic expression. You could call sampling music a form of editing as well or collage or even excerpting from a book or poem in an essay, I crime of which I am certainly frequently guilty. The distinction is that in none of these cases is the alteration hidden or the altered product presented as the whole original work. The movie I watched was presented as Y Tu Mama Tambien, not a derivative of it, and the change was done to make it less iresome to some douche tards. So I agree whole heartedly with your point about DD and the usefulness of editing, I didn't meant to cut such a wide swath in my wrath.

And I need to see that documentary. Sounds awesome. Can we be friends with some super-cool lesbian detectives?