I’m giving up on Amanda for now. I liked the idea of having a female counterpart to discuss some of the artists in my pile of topics, but she keeps dragging her feet and coming up with excuses and blah blah blah, blah blah. Ain’t got no time for that, and I’ve been for waiting weeks and weeks for her to jump on the team and come on in for the big win. No more.
She and I have had some pretty intense arguments, particularly when it comes to sex, sexuality and erotica presented in art. Being that the topic of Richard Kern has resulted in more than one whiskey fueled screaming match between us, I had planned for this to be my first joint blog post. (Civil and sober no less.)
Maybe next time, Kiddo.
I don’t want to rehash her argument too closely by putting words in her mouth, when she’s not here to clarify, but I think Amanda’s issues with Richard Kern are the standard issues, anyone who has issues with Richard Kern would have.
We can break the Amanda view down into two segments.
1. Male depictions of sexuality inherently objectify the female form and historically, it is almost impossible for men to explore erotica and not be exploitative.
2. Richard Kern, particularly his early film work, doesn’t even have the pretense of being redeeming. His 80’s films are pure acts of gratuitous violence, nudity, sex and torture for the sake of shock. His “professional,” post Lydia Lunch canon is merely boilerplate cheesecake.
I of course, fly off the handle at both of these assertions, while not totally disagreeing with them.
Lets look at her first point. Male exploration of sexuality is and will always be problematic. It’s well, well past time that white male heterosexuals share the god damned spotlight in the equal creation of art. I mean, it’s only been a couple thousand years of dickish (pun intended) domination in the realm of western creative expression.
But I strongly believe the sins of the father (and grandfather and great-great grandfather) aren’t held on the shoulders of the son. How we view and discuss male-presented erotica could and should be discussed differently than it has in the past, both as future creative endeavors and retrospective contemplation, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid artistic expression.
Women tend to express sexuality in terms of exploring their own bodies. Males, inevitably explore sexuality in terms of… the woman’s body.
Annnnnnd I know the second I start getting into this territory where questions of the male biological programming to seek and possess the “objects of their desire,” no matter how many disclaimers and reassurances I make, will fall on deaf ears to some who will somehow feel compelled to attack me for just stating the observation.
But I will restate this again. Male artists overwhelmingly represent beauty and express sexuality through the female form. Female artists overwhelmingly represent beauty and express sexuality through the female form.
I think the question of “why” is one that can always be debated. It could be a complex and angering response to possession and domination and violent reproduction instincts and patriarchal social conditioning or it could be my assertion that…. naked dudes are gross.
I know more than a couple bears that would disagree. But really, no, naked dudes are gross. No matter your gender or sexual orientation, we all come crapping out of the womb, salivating and grabby for that sweet nipple full of dinner. Creation comes from the female form, it is the foundation of our existence and it is terrifying and mysterious and upsetting and curious and awesome and the ultimate expression of beauty. It only makes sense that Richard Kern and every other artist on the planet would want to create images of compelling women.
Now, on to the question of the merit and quality of Kerns work, which is where I seriously start swinging at my dear sweet Amanda.