T-Mobile recently launched at least two ads which make an interesting snapshot of how the mainstream views kink.
HBO’s Westworld TV series postulates a fantasy world where guests interact with non-human “hosts” in a simulated Wild West setting. The narrative, much like the previously discussed Dollhouse, explores the issue of what happens when people are removed from their usual social restrictions and are able to act on their fantasies and desires.
(Note: spoilers ahead)
For a while, I’ve seen references to a 1980 documentary about kinky people, aired on public television station KQED. Online searches turned up nothing, but I finally put in the effort to look up KQED and see if I could somehow get access to it, if only partially. After a few emails, they were kind enough to give me access to a stream of the 36-year-old documentary. I had to sign a fairly restrictive agreement, so I can’t share any of it.
Elliot and Ahsley continue their relationship, now into vanilla sex. This scene is fully in the conventions of softcore porn, with soft lighting and rich textiles in Elliot’s bedroom, instead of the hard lighting and concrete walls of his dungeon. He even makes her breakfast the next morning. While it’s competently done, it’s pretty standard, instead of the kink we were promised. I have nothing against romance, but you can get that everywhere.
This episode starts off with another soft-core BDSM scene in Nolan’s dungeon. It’s competently shot, with implied cunnilingus and male butt exposure, but doesn’t go into the characters at all, except for hinting that Dylan is getting jealous of the women she brings to him.
Most of this episode revolves around a party. Borrowing Linda Williams’ observation in Hard Core that sex serves the function in porn that singing and dancing does in musicals, this provides a premise for various subplots and couplings. Such as Elliot getting Ashley in his sights. She fascinates him more than Dylan’s latest acquisition for him, who promises “nothing is off limit”.
Lying somewhere on the boundary between affectionate fetishism and domestic violence, spankings between lovers or would-be lovers were a staple of Hollywood romance movies. Jezebel has a pictorial and essay on the subject, by Andrew Heisel. This was reflected in real-life practices of the time, when husbands were expected to treat their lives like children.
I suppose it was inevitable that, given the prominence of (a version of) BDSM after Fifty Shades and the creative opportunities of the golden age of cable TV, somebody would do a BDSM-themed TV series. To be honest, I went into Showtime’s Submission with low expectations.
I’m surprised at how much material from AMC’s Mad Men I find for this blog. First there was protagonist Don Draper’s masochistic sessions with a prostitute who slaps his face. Then there was the episode “Mystery Date”, which showed that Don was trying to be faithful to his wife, while a toxic cocktail of lust, fear and rage boiled inside him. Meanwhile, other characters had their own reactions to sexual violence.
And now, in “Man With A Plan”, Don goes full on dominant. Since the season began, he’s been having an affair with his downstairs neighbour Sylvia, the wife of a heart surgeon. While Don’s been lacking in sales meetings, he makes up for it by expertly playing on Sylvia’s Catholic guilt, setting her up for their trysts in the maid’s room.
For a limited time, Smart Pop Books has posted my essay “Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse: 21st Century Neo-Gothic” from the essay collection Inside Joss’ Dollhouse as a free read. Get it while you can.
This is one of the first paid published pieces that emerged from my research, and I think it turned out pretty well. I am, according to one friend, “the world’s biggest Dollhouse fan”, and I love it the way you can only love a child that died young after a long struggle.