I Only Film What I Can See

In my opinion, there are two things that can absolutely not be carried to the screen: the realistic presentation of the sexual act and praying to God.” ― Orson Welles

 

Orson Wells believed praying like sex where two profound activities that could not be captured by film, in other words something deeper was talking place that could not be captured by the naked eye.

But alas, any show nowadays is awash with sex. I am no prude but it seems any good show on t.v now includes a gratuitous sex scene wether it is needed or not. It’s as if all the directors in the film world got together and decided that it was a prerequisite for any tv show.

 

Lately I have become am a bit more annoyed with this trend especially after watching the first episode of Orphan Black.

The TV series focuses on a woman named Sara who assumes the identity of one of her fellow clones, Elizabeth , after witnessing Elizabeth’s suicide. Seeing the uncanny resemblance between the two, Sara embarks on a journey to find out who this person was. At first, Sara did not know she was a clone so she digs into the origin of her story and how she came to be. The show raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning, and its effect on issues of personal identity and what it really means to be human. Truly a fascinating premise.

After watching it for a few minutes I was  hooked me and wanted to watch more. But, half way through the show, there was a scene in which we are shown two men cleaning up after sex followed by Sara having sex with a man she just met. Not sure how theses two scenes were suppose to meant to advance the story, but nevertheless they were added.

The director must have felt he was losing the audience so he added these scenes to make sure they stayed engaged. The additional scenes reminded me a book my teenage daughter wanted me to read a few years ago. The premise of the book was that the earth had split in two after a cosmic hurricane that caused 90% of the population to be wiped out and caused complete chaos on the earth, but the story was about to get worse because of a great rain that was coming. It wasn’t enough that the earth had split in two, it was the rain that was suppose to cause the real excitement of the book.

And just like in Orphan Black, the whole concept of cloning and its moral implications were not enough, the sex scenes had to be added to really spice up the show.

Yet our culture is truly saturated with porn which is totally free and ubiquitous. It has pervaded all aspects of entertainment and web content. Any and all explicit sexual acts are free and easily accessible to be viewed at any time. And yet even on the most random shows that we watch, the artistic community feels compelled to feed us more sex.

Because sex is so ubiquitous,I would think an artist these days would have more freedom to show the ideas without having to include a sex scene. The reason people watch a show like Orphan Black is because of the premise The viewer is not tuning in for more sex.

I think the truly avant-garde show of today would be to show  a series solely based on ideas, story and dialogue. Sex scenes, pre 1960’s, were alluded to but never shown. If the director wanted to make the point that the couples were about to have sex, a fade to black or a closing of the bedroom door was enough for the audience to get the message

But today in many films,  even bodily functions are filmed. Yes we are all human, so yes we do have to respond when nature calls but is it really something necessary to be filmed? In the great film Panic Room with Jodi Foster, she was filmed going to the bathroom, but for what reason? Art in its best form is meant to inspire and bring out the best in man. In this present day art form it seems we are more concerned on how low the human condition can go.

Viewership in all of the traditional media channels is in serious decline being replaced with on-demand devices. Audiences in all media  is a fraction of what they used to be- and maybe the cause is the decline of quality programming.

Years ago I heard an interview with Sherwood Schwartz who was the producer of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island. In many ways both shows are quite simple and can be easily dismissed as novelty shows of their era. The disk jockey, although not disrespectful of his work did not seem to appreciate Schwartz work or his shows.

Schwartz said that all of his shows have been in syndication for years and there is a constant demand by the cable companies to air these shows. “Take the show Gilligan’s Island about a group of people stranded on an island. The show had a cross section of people; the rich, the famous, the fool, the farmer, the scientist and the captain. All as different as can be and yet all coming together to work on a common goal. And so  for many they see a simple show, yet what I created in my small way was a show about struggle and about mans search to make his lot better even when stranded with little hope for rescue.”

“The reason why people still flock to watch that show is because in my own way I tapped into those feelings about what it means to come together and work for something greater than oneself. You might laugh, but my audience and cable companies still buy and watch that show because they know the message rings true.”

Our shows no longer even strive for this optimistic message any more as the anti-hero has displaced the hero in todays culture. People so flawed we find repellent- think Walter White or Don Draper. The sex we see on shows today is not meant to uplift but rather to debase us. To remind us how flawed we all are, and for that we are all worse off.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com