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thu posted: Thu 2018-06-14 04:08:04 tags: beer, movies
Atlas Obscura: gruit ale

Our last Prime movie pick was "Miss Meadows" (2014). While it was rated R for violence and "some sexual content", it would be a stretch to call it a "sexy" movie. There was a very buttoned-down love scene, devoid of nudity, which results in a fully Modern Roman Catholic sequence of pregnancy, declarations of love, and marriage.

The 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case, Jacobellis v. Ohio, concerned the First Amendment vs. the state of Ohio's presumption of authority to ban a film (namely, the 1958 French drama "The Lovers") deemed "obscene". Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's concluding opinion in the case, regarding "the short-hand description of hard-core pornography", was "I know it when I see it". The phrase became pretty famous in law and the wider societal discussion about explicit media.

Back to Miss Meadows... few people would look at this and call it "pornography", much less "hard core". Does this love scene objectify anyone? If so, then how would the director dial back the revelation of this pivotal encounter to avoid an "objectification" rap? Or if not, how much more daring or explicit could the director have made the scene without tipping over into objectification? Digging into this question boils down more generally into a question of what essentially characterizes objectification.

The Jacobellis ruling said that in order to be deemed obscene, a film (or book, or necktie print, whatever) must be "offensive" to the average community standards. So the definition of objectification is important, because intuitively we grasp that we should feel offended by reduction of a human to an object-accessory for sexual gratification. It's what's so boring about so much mass-produced adult entertainment - sex is depicted devoid of context, body-objects meaninglessly bumping against each other in various configurations. Meanwhile back in the real world, we find great meaning in the context surrounding sex. Most of us grow out of wanting a disjointed series of meaningless, no-strings, casual and fungible hookups.