Literature Class: Berkeley 1980. Ed. Carles Alvarez Garriga. Trans. Katherine Silver. New York: New Directions, 2013. Crichton, Michael, dir. Westworld.
Author: Shelton Waldrep
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
As film and television become ever more focused on the pornographic gaze of the camera, the human body undergoes a metamorphosis, becoming both landscape and building, part of an architectonic design in which the erotics of the body spread beyond the body itself to influence the design of the film or televisual shot. The body becomes the mise-en-scène of contemporary moving imagery. Opening The Space of Sex, Shelton Waldrep sets up some important tropes for the book: the movement between high and low art; the emphasis on the body, looking, and framing; the general intermedial and interdisciplinary methodology of the book as a whole. The Space of Sex's second half focuses on how sex, gender, and sexuality are represented in several recent films, including Paul Schrader's The Canyons (2013), Oliver Stone's Savages (2012), Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike (2012), Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac (2013), and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon (2013). Each of these mainstream or independent movies, and several more, are examined for the ways they have attempted to absorb pornography, if not the pornography industry specifically, into their plot. According to Waldrep, the utopian elements of seventies porn get reprocessed in a complex way in the twenty-first century as both a utopian impulse-the desire to have sex on the screen, to re-eroticize sex as something positive and lacking in shame-with a mixed feeling about pornography itself, with an industry that can be seen in a dystopian light. In other words, sex, in our contemporary world, still does not come without compromise.