Jon and the Repackaged Whore
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s much anticipated writing and directorial debut, Don Jon, is a romantic comedy about the shared struggle for intimacy between two shallow New Jerseyites, one with a propensity for porn and the other for Hollywood fairytales. Unfortunately, the film’s “satire” is so uncritical it mirrors the very problems it claims to critique. For starters, the filmmakers intended Don Jon to be a critique of negative media portrayals of women, yet the film itself fails to pass the Bechdel test.
Gordon-Levitt’s character, nicknamed for the legendary, womanizing libertine, occupies himself by rating women’s attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. He makes a rather sick game of seducing “10”s—or “dimes,” as he and his douchey friends refer to them—despite not actually enjoying the ensuing sex. In fact, after bland fucking with equally bland “dimes,” he scrambles from post-coital cuddling to his computer where he loses himself in the fantasy world of mainstream pornography. He prefers pornography, as the annoying voice-over informs us, because “real pussy can kill you.” Of course, this doesn’t make much sense considering he’s presumably face-to-face with “real pussy” every time he takes home a “dime,” but whatever… In any case, his love interest, Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, is meant to parallel the protagonists’ shallowness through her adoration of Hollywood chick flicks. Cause, like, dudes like emotionless fucking and chicks like romance, duh. [READ MORE]
(Photo by the Edinburgh Eye)
Last week in Cleveland, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, and Amanda Berry escaped from Ariel Castro’s “house of horrors” where he imprisoned the women in a nightmare of rape and torture for almost a decade. Castro has been arraigned on four charges of kidnapping and three charges of rape. The courageous women escaped with the help of Charles Ramsey, a neighbor who broke into the home after hearing Berry’s screams. A charismatic man, Ramsey became an instant celebrity after declaring he knew “something was wrong” when he saw that a “pretty little white girl ran into the arms of a black man.”
Everything about the Cleveland kidnapping case—from Ramsey’s critique of race to the captive women’s histories of abuse—has stirred important conversations about domestic abuse, sexual abuse, police incompetence, and race. Unsurprisingly, for those of us who follow trafficking hysteria, it’s also inspired a lot of talk about sex trafficking.
Oh yeah—we're going there. (Image of menstrual blood by Petra Paul)
I lean in to Dana and whisper, “I’m scared.” She is affectionately studying the Walgreens display of sex stuff. I pick out a sex sponge with innocuous packaging. Its white printing across a pale blue background and scientific language reaches its target population: overly educated hookers. I toss some tampons, makeup applicators, and condoms into my plastic basket.
“I really don’t understand,” Dana whispers back, cradling assorted vaginal cargo. “With all that shit up your, uh, pussy, how are you going to put a dick in there?”
Like many best friends, mine are easily prevailed on to indulge my wiliest adventures. Take Dana, for example. We’ve been known to enable one another; everything from breaking and entering, drug use, marriage, and other terrible ideas.
We stand side by side as the grisly Walgreens checkout clerk waves my incriminating purchases across the barcode scanner. Ignoring the multifarious ways in which we, together, develop bad, bad ideas, Dana and I determine that that the most steadfast way to mask my period while providing my weekend long Girlfriend Experience, or GFE, is to stick as many things up my vagina as possible.
I am preparing to fly across the country to see Greg, my John. I made the mistake of greedily accepting his lucrative business proposal before considering the time of the month. This is my first time selling sex while on my period. Although a somewhat devoted feminist, a few thousand dollars is enough to persuade me, although begrudgingly, to shave my legs and use feminine hygiene products.