... [T]he imposition of censorship in American film created prurience. Censorship divorced sex from romance, so that a whole generation of American viewers grew up thinking of romance itself as sexless and phony - and sex as something for lurid giggles, as in a Marilyn Monroe comedy. When the pendulum went the other way and censorship was lifted, movies went in a flash from being romantic but asexual, to being sexual but unromantic. The divorce of sex and romance in American cinema remains in effect today, which is why our love scenes are so awkward and unconvincing, in contrast to those in films made in Europe, where sex and romance never divorced.

--Mick LaSalle, in the San Francisco Chronicle

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There are two kinds of sex, classical and baroque. Classical sex is romantic, profound, serious, emotional, moral, mysterious, spontaneous, abandoned, focused on a particular person, and stereotypically feminine. Baroque sex is pop, playful, funny, experimental, conscious, deliberate, amoral, anonymous, focused on sensation for sensation's sake, and stereotypically masculine. The classical mentality taken to an extreme is sentimental and finally puritanical; the baroque mentality taken to an extreme is pornographic and finally obscene. Ideally, a sexual relation ought to create a satisfying tension between the two modes (a baroque idea, particularly if the tension is ironic) or else blend them so well that the distinction disappears (a classical aspiration).

--from Ellen Willis, "Classical and Baroque Sex in Everyday Life" (1979), Beginning To See the Light: Pieces of a Decade (1981)

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Gan Ainm

September 2010

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