Aug 152020
 

Bones S10E03, “The Purging of the Pundit”, aired October 9, 2014 IMDB

Unlike in the previous Bones episode, “The Girl in the Fridge”, BDSM is closely integrated into both the mystery and Booth’s character arc in “The Purging of the Pundit”. 

Forensic procedurals are all about the puzzle, and in this case the victim’s masochism provides the puzzle. The body of a right-wing media figure, “Hutch” Whitehouse, is found partially consumed by animals. His corpse shows signs of being bound and tortured, including repeatedly struck in the testicles, but it also appears to be consensual.

Fuentes: “It’s like he was enjoying being murdered.”

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Aug 072020
 

Eurotrip is a 2004 teen comedy. 

Eurotrip is a very parochial movie, with the American teens treating Europe as if it is a terrifying land of threatening depravity. The plot itself is premised on heterosexual gay panic: the protagonist doesn’t realize that he has become email pals with a German girl and thinks a man is propositioning him. When he realizes his mistake, he goes on a trip with some friends across Europe to find his love and make amends. 

Much of the comedy is the characters attempting and failing to enjoy European pleasures supposedly forbidden in puritanical America. (Two of the “vices”, cannabis and absinthe, are now mostly legal in the USA.)

Madam Vandersexxx (Lucy Lawless)
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Aug 032020
 

Family Guy, episode S02E14 “Let’s go to the hop”, aired June 6, 2000. IMDB

This is the episode of Family Guy with the infamous “your safeword is banana” scene. 

The town of Quahog goes into a moral panic about teenagers licking psychedelic toads. Lois and Peter discover a toad in the laundry, and their daughter Meg confesses to holding it to curry favor with the popular kids. 

That night in their bedroom, Peter and Lois talk about their fears regarding their kids while putting on fetish wear. Peter says he will talk to the school principal.

Peter’s “plan” is to infiltrate the school as a student, “Lando Griffin.” He solves the toad-licking problem with a musical number, and blunders into becoming the most popular guy in school. Most of the rest of the episode is Peter’s conflict between chasing highschool popularity and looking after Meg. The real underlying problem is the highschool social hierarchy, and the toads are just a symptom. 

Perhaps inadvertently, Family Guy provided one of the most non-judgmental depictions of BDSM in mainstream media. Peter and Lois’ conversation about their kids and drugs is played straight. It’s the kind of thing a married couple with teenagers would talk about while getting ready for a scene. It’s just something they do together for fun. 

You could interpret this scene to say that Peter and Lois are hypocrites for their panic over drugs while they indulge in kink, but that only works if you view kink as a problem. Showing them smoking a joint together would be a more pointed critique, but might not be allowed on television.

Jul 202020
 

Episode S05E01 “Carly Summers”, aired November 1, 2007 IMDB

Nip/Tuck is a drama series focused on a pair of cosmetic surgeons. In the season 5 opener, Doctor Sean McNamara and Doctor Christian Troy have just relocated from Miami to Los Angeles and opened a new practice. 

One of their first clients is Bob Easton, a high-powered studio exec. He wants them to cover up the bite marks on his chest. 

Mistress Dark Pain (Tia Carrer) at work
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Jul 142020
 

The General’s Daughter (IMDB) is a 1999 mystery/thriller. 

US Army Captain Elizabeth Campbell, a psychological warfare expert and the daughter of a famous general, is found staked out nude and dead on a training ground. Two warrant officers from the Criminal Investigation Division investigate and discover a web of sexual abuse and coverups. 

The discovery of Campbell’s body
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Jul 012020
 

Body of Evidence (IMDB) is a 1992 erotic thriller/neo-noir film starring Madonna and Willem Dafoe. It was part of the genre epitomized by Fatal Attraction (1987) and Basic Instinct (1992), but didn’t inspire their level of critical attention.

To quote Sean McGovern at The Film Experience:

Body of Evidence arrived at a particular nexus of Madonna’s career. Riding on the wave of Like A Prayer, pushing boundaries with the Blonde Ambition Tour and the exuberant Truth or Dare, Madonna’s imperial phase began to dip with her boundary-pushing take on sex and erotica; namely, SEX and Erotica. While Madonna would remain unapologetic, Body of Evidence, and the accompanying explicit period in career concluded with one of the most consistent criticisms of Madonna: rigid-perfectionism and managed-spontaneity…

[…]

The most grating problem with Body of Evidence is how reductive derivative it is. Released a mere 8 months after Basic Instinct, it’s shocking to see how much of it feels directly lifted from it and other films of its genre.

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May 172020
 

“Escape from the Dungeon!”, aired September 26, 2010

Bored to Death is an American comedy TV series (IMDB) about Jonathan Ames, a struggling writer who moonlights as an “unlicensed private detective”.

In “Escape from the Dungeon!” (S02E01), Jonathan meets Drake, a mounted NYPD officer, who needs his name removed from the hard drive of the BDSM dungeon he frequents before it is raided by the police. He says the dungeon is involved in money laundering, not that it will be raided for sex work charges.

Mistress Florence (Kristen Johnson) is not impressed with Jonathan
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May 102020
 

Episode S01E08, “Denna”, aired January 10, 2009

Legend of the Seeker (IMDB) is a 2008 fantasy television series based on the Sword of Truth novel series by Terry Goodkind. It’s pretty boilerplate, hero’s journey, high fantasy. 

Legend of the Seeker shares some production staff with the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, and the Spartacus TV series, which frequently hinted at or showed various forms of queer or kinky sexuality. In turn, those series are descendants of the sword-and-sorcery genre of fiction, which frequently referenced sadomasochistic sexuality. E.g. the covers of the 1930s pulp Weird Tales by Margaret Brundage. 

Unlike most of the media we’ve explored so far, Legend is set in a fantasy world of magic and strange creatures. Therefore, we should hold it to different standards of realism and consent. 

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Apr 182020
 

House is an American TV medical procedural drama. “Love Hurts”, aired May 10, 2005, is the twentieth episode of the first season.

The episode begins with a man in the Emergency Room with what appears to be a stroke. The patient, Harvey (John Cho), also has nominal aphasia (difficulty naming things), as his friend Annette (Christina Cox) explains. 

As Harvey has a metal plate in his jaw from an earlier injury, the doctors can’t do an MRI scan, and have to diagnose with other methods. They also notice oddities like how Harvey enjoys having needles inserted, and how Annette hovers around the patient. Finally, they find Annette in Harvey’s hospital room, apparently strangling him. 

One of the doctors, Chase, explains that she is a dominatrix. 

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Apr 062020
 

Love & Human Remains is a 1993 drama film. It tells several interwoven stories of people in the big city, while in the background a serial killer murders women. The main character is David (Thomas Gibson), a gay former actor who coasts through life as a waiter and nightclub regular.

Love definitely has some resemblance to Cruising: paranoid people in an urban environment, a serial killer who could be anybody, masculinity in crisis. We get glimpses of the killings on news shows, but the characters, too self-absorbed, skip past them. 

Benita (Mia Kirshner) seems to vibe on that urban paranoia. She’s primarily a dominatrix, often telling classic urban legends (e.g. “the guy with the hook” or “the baby sitter and the extension cord”) during her sessions with men in her apartment. 

Benita (Mia Kirshner) in full dominatrix gear
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