Barfing with a Boner
The New Pornography Leaves Critics Sickened
A new wave of filmmakers is throwing caution to the wind, creating a cinema of hardcore reality with an unflinching eye for scenarios featuring explicit (often nonsimulated and taboo) sex acts and brutal violence. Not surprisingly, Europe—and more specifically France—is the heartland from which this new epidemic of filth hails. Think of it as a final pained wail of decadence and creative freedom before the iron fist of fascism resumes its stranglehold on the continent. Following the return to power of Jacques Chirac’s center-right coalition in France, art is under fire and pornography is about to be effectively outlawed when a 90 percent tax is levied on its makers.
In response, French filmmakers and writers are working overtime to test the limits of artistic expression. Nicolas Jones-Gorlin’s novel Rose BonBon, written from the perspective of a pedophile engaged in the seduction and murder of innocents, was cited as child pornography and withdrawn from sale a week after being published. Last year’s cause célèbre, Baise-Moi [Fuck Me] was made by an ex-prostitute and a porn actress (Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi) and has been memorably described as “Thelma and Louise on crack.” The tale of two cock-hungry sluts (played by real-life porn actresses) on a manhunting murder spree featured anal rape, blowjobs, and violence aplenty, causing it to be banned outright in France.
It seems the French can’t make a film anymore without including at least one cum shot (The Pornographer) or sex scenes with minors (Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl). In Britain, a staunch supporter of film censorship in all forms, it has even been suggested that French “art” films should be regulated so that they can only be bought “under the counter” in sex shops.
The Orson Welles of the New Pornography is 31-year-old French-Argentinean director Gaspar Noe, a self-proclaimed image fetishist who makes films intended as succor for the body and not the mind. His latest work, Irreversible, a rape-revenge fantasy inspired by exploitation staples such as Death Wish, Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, and Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45, was mostly improvised from a minimal script. “The whole thing is much more about the image, the sound, and the energy,” explains the director, who has no problem with being branded a pornographer. “It’s a compliment for me,” he says with a laugh. “The fascist press said the same thing about Buñuel after the release of Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or, the first movies he made with Dali.”
Noe wanted viewers to be physically sickened by the scenes of extreme violence in his latest film (which includes a man having his face bashed to a pulp by a fire extinguisher in a seedy felching club and the prolonged rape of a woman in a filthy underpass) and he went to extreme lengths to make sure that they actually feel beyond nauseous. He added stroboscopic sequences that cause audience members to literally spaz out, and boosted the soundtrack with subliminal infrasound that makes you want to shit your pants without knowing why. “This sound has the same effect on the body that earthquakes have on a city,” boasts Noe. “You can’t hear it, but you can feel it because it goes straight to the pit of your stomach.”
He got the idea after reading an article about how American authorities often use trucks loaded with nonlethal weapons to dispel particularly bad riots in urban centers. Ironically, the psy-ops techniques that Noe appropriated for his film were first discovered and developed by French scientists during the Cold War. Noe has seen the effects of his labors firsthand. Several people passed out in front of him during official screenings at Cannes. Theaters have complained of excessive throwing up. Even his actors were uncomfortable shooting the film. “When Albert Dupontel had to stove in the head with the fire extinguisher, we used a dummy head filled with brains and blood. It went everywhere, and even the people around him in the club thought he was really killing someone. People were screaming.”
Critics have been screaming too, choosing to unleash their bile only after leaving the theater. One esteemed British film reviewer, Alexander Walker, has made it his mission to completely vilify Noe and condemn his lead actors—Italian starlet Monica Bellucci and her French husband Vincent Cassell—for behaving “like whores.” He speaks for most critics when he describes feeling “debased and exploited” after watching Noe’s film. What these critics fail to understand is that this is precisely what the New Pornography is about.
The VICE Guide to Travel: The VICE Guide to North Korea
VICE founder Shane Smith romps around the Hermit Kingdom.
VICE News: Aokigahara Suicide Forest
The most popular site for suicides in Japan.
The Westminster Dog Show... On Acid!
We took some drugs and hung out with a bunch of bitches at Madison Square Garden.
VICE Meets: The Biggest Ass in Brazil
The Watermelon Woman has an ass that we are literally unable to describe…
The Cute Show: Sloths!
They're taking over the internet. Very slowly.