Sunday, 21 June 2009

FBI opens wide

Thirty seven years after the fact, the FBI has finally opened its files on a major investigation it undertook back in the early 1970s. But this particular case didn't involve shady politics, mafia activities or drug smuggling, it concerned a low-budget movie about a woman with an astonishingly accommodating uvula.

Written and directed by Gerard Damiano, Deep Throat made its star Linda Lovelace a household name, and ended up becoming the most successful film of all time - making over $500 million from a $25,000 investment. But the FBI was concerned about what it saw as a cultural shift towards more permissive entertainment. Audiences lined up around the block to see Linda's penile party trick, and the film became so much a part of the zeitgeist that its title even played a role in the downfall of a president.

Meanwhile, investigators were busy analysing the film's negatives, interviewing actors and producers, and even speaking to people who delivered the reels to the cinemas. The unfortunately named Mark Weiner, a constitutional law professor and legal historian, comments that "The story of 'Deep Throat' is the story of the last gasp of the forces lined up against the cultural and sexual revolution and it is the advent of the entry of pornography into the mainstream."

Ironically though, Weiner (seriously, could there be a more apt name for this guy?) continues: "Today we can't imagine authorities at any level of government — local, state or federal — being involved in obscenity prosecutions of this kind." But that's because self-appointed moral guardians have taken up the mantle of 'protector'. And there's still much work to be done.

Organisations like 'Christian Spotlight on the Movies', 'ChildCare Action Project' and MOVIEGUIDE® all spend their time diligently scrutinising films for 'unsuitable' content, in much the same way that horny teenage boys scour the channels for a late night flash of boob.

The worrying thing is, although primarily motivated by their Christian ethics, their goals are becoming increasingly politicised. Dr Ted Baehr, who I wrote about here, has just published another report about the movies that have been most successful overseas. But instead of just focusing on traditionally 'objectionable' content, he analyses movies for liberal philosophies, pro-environmentalist content and anti-capitalist sentiment. His highly subjective, scientifically dubious studies portray a movement looking to control what messages filter through to the populace, beyond good old sex and violence.

Still, as long as there are people with a desire to dictate what people can watch and think, there'll be film-makers and TV producers willing to push the envelope. So this blog is dedicated to Colette Burson and Dmitry Lipkin, co-creators of a new show on HBO called 'Hung' about a well-endowed, middle-aged gigolo. It sounds like a concept that even Ms Lovelace would have found hard to swallow.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever read about the FBI investigation into the ever-popular fratboy song Louie, Louie?

    It is on a par with the Deep Throat case.