Recently, I downloaded a film called "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," hoping to relax over a story of British elderly visiting India. What I got instead was a lecture on tolerance for homosexuality, premarital sex, male prostitution and geriatric hyper-sexuality. If you have been to the movies lately, you begin to sense a vacuum of ideas, an utter absence of originality – and a blast of sexual incontinence.
I was reminded of this while reading descriptions of films to be presented at this year's American Film Institute's (AFI) film festival, AFI Fest, in a newspaper supplement. What I discovered was a banquet of prurient themes. Here are some examples:
In the "Young Americans" film category:
- Electrick Children: Rachel, a 15-year-old girl from a strict Mormon family, who finds herself miraculously pregnant after listening to a rock music cassette.
- Pearblossom Hwy: Friends Cory and Anna are drifting through life, struggling to find their place. Cory is sick of life in the desert and wants to be on a reality show so he can prove to his brother that he isn't a screw-up. Anna is in the country illegally, selling sex to save enough money to take her citizenship test.
- Starlet: The unlikely friendship between a young, rootless porn actress and a prickly octogenarian in a combative yet tender mother-daughter bond.
In the "Breakthrough" film category:
- Everybody's Got Somebody... Not me: A troubled intellectual woman has a love affair with an inquisitive teenaged girl. When her attentions grow suffocating, the girl must make a choice.
In the "New Auteurs" film category:
- Simon Killer: A young college graduate travels to France where he becomes involved with a prostitute.
In the "World Cinema" film category:
- Lawrence Anyways: When Lawrence decides to become a woman, he and his girlfriend brave the judgment of family, friends and society.
- Paradise: Love: The controversial film tells the story of a 50-year-old woman who travels to Kenya as a sex tourist.
- Our Children: In this psychological drama, a young mother is brought to the brink of despair, where she commits the ultimate shocking act.
Kuma: In Turkey, polygamy is rare, but alive. When Ayse marries Hasan, she is shocked to discover that she will be the second wife (kuma) of Hasan's father.
These examples are typical of what we can expect from cinema, an influential medium of expression. Under our Constitution, artists have the right to dump their trash everywhere, giving consumer swine enough slop to satiate. Fair enough, but free expression also means that we have the right to be critical of a dissolute industry mired in carnal excess and pushing a morally impotent agenda.
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