One of the most immediately promising aspects of Bonnie Sherr Klein’s anti-pornography documentary “Not A Love Story: A Motion Picture About Pornography” is the fact it is a product of Canada, and as such will not be immediately weighed down with the typical obfuscating arguments that would have arisen had it had its genesis in the United States. Gone are the arcanely labyrinthine ACLU contortions of Constitutionally-based doublespeak, frustrating any discussion- outside of billable lawyer’s hours -as to the cultural and psychological ramifications of a society awash in pornographic content. A reminder is in order that that the release date of the film is 1981, light years away from the age of the porn engorged Internet, yet the cogency of the arguments within the film’s narrow focus are certain to retain their credibility regardless of any historical changes in the culture-at-large; though this also supposes that they are cogent and well reasoned on the basis of intellectual observation and analysis rather than strictly reactions of emotion. After all, relevant conclusions should be based upon fundamental philosophical cultural principles which contain certain consistent values despite the cosmetic trappings of technological and social trending, which, in the end, may be amusing diversions for the unenlightened but only offer the opportunity for critical waffling born of incomplete thinking.
The film, with a limiting running time of a mere 69 minutes, attempts to bite of more than is sensibly digested, with the field of pornography covered not merely printed and film materials, but also in the related sex trades of exotic dancing, magazines, prostitution and live sex shows. In a nutshell, the producers of the film are attempting the impossible task of encompassing the entire sex industry in its withering gaze, ensuring, at best, that the film may provide a primer on the subject but it may be impractical to expect much more than surface exploration of the subject, which leads to the danger that it could succumb to the very exploitative values it means to condemn. Unfortunately, this may be the case, though the cheapening of the subject derives less from the cataloging of depravity than in questionable intent for which these materials are used. Though there are explicit documentations of exotic dancing, live sex shows, porn film shoots and myriad examples of the most tawdry film clips, there is not a moment that even hints at a genuine erotic charge, a result achieved by the degenerate nature of the representative materials chosen and through a palpable bias of disdain toward the subject (understandable), its providers and consumer base. It’s almost impossible to view the film without the sensation of feeling unclean.
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