Friday, September 23, 2005


The movie This Girl’s Life is about a beautiful and classy adult film star who struggles to take care of her incapacitated father and struggles with the transition from working in adult films to another kind of life. The actress looks a lot like Angelina Jolie, a plus in my book! What I liked most about the movie is how it raises moral issues in an oblique way.

For example, at one point she goes on a blind date arranged by one of her female friends outside the porn industry. The poor guy has no idea that she is a porn star, and the date goes very well with him cooking her dinner and the two of them talking on the couch—obviously connecting and into each other. He then asks what she does for a living. There is a long pause, and then she tells him. He several times doesn’t take her seriously and keeps saying, “No, really.” Finally he gets that she is serious. Instantly, you can see how his whole attitude towards her changes, and how she is now disappointed and uncomfortable. It is then interesting to see how the guy struggles with what she does for a living and tries to see past it. Predictably, he wants her to quit the business, but I won’t say more than that about the plot.

At the beginning of the movie, our heroine is in a bar with a bunch of her girlfriends sitting around a table drinking, talking, and smoking cigars. There is a semi-clever movie technique regarding the cigars and the narration. What interested me during this part of the movies is how one of her girlfriends looks at a guy standing nearby and remarks, “He’s a 99 percenter” (or does she say 90% in the movie?). When the others ask her what she means, she explains that if an attractive woman comes up to an attached man and makes it clear that she wants to go home with him and have sex, most men will disregard their relationship and go home with the woman. However, if the reverse happens and a hot guy comes up to an attached woman and propositions her, 90% of women will tell the guy to get lost. In general, I would say this observation about men and women is correct. We can quibble about the percentages.

What does this say about men? What does it say about women? Are men morally weak when it comes to the offer of sex? Are men just built biologically predisposed to be promiscuous and unfaithful because sperm is plentiful and eggs are precious? In this scenario, it almost sounds like the woman tells the hot guy to get lost mainly because the proposition is an affront to her. He’s assuming she’s easy. He is too bold for his own good and needs to be knocked down a peg or two. There is also the safety issue: “I don’t know anything about guy. He could be a serial killer or rapist. He could beat me.” You could also talk about how a woman risks more than a man in a sexual encounter because she can get pregnant and has to bear the child for nine months. Or, you could point out how the penis is external to a man’s body, so perhaps metaphorically he can externalize or objectify sex easier than a woman whose vagina is inside her body and having sex is like inviting someone into her home. The woman may wonder how she will broach the subject of wearing a condom and safer sex practices with a relative stranger.

The rest of the movie in a way explores this difference between men and women, or maybe just about nature of temptation itself. Our heroine starts a service during the course of the movie where for a fee she will test how faithful your partner is. The movie skips through a parade of people who hire her. You get the sense that most people fail this temptation test miserably. Interestingly, she apparently is hired at one point by a gay man to see if his partner will cheat on him with a woman. I think she also tempts a lesbian as well. There are tiny cameras that record it all, and our heroine seems to let things go only so far before she ends the encounter.

The temptation piece of the movie fascinates me. Is it really fair to test someone like this? Is it morally right to tempt someone you love in this way? The logic to the people purchasing our heroine’s services is that they want to know how faithful their significant other is. Can I trust this person? Should I marry this person? I would rather know now rather than later if he will cheat on me, etc.

On the other side you have to wonder if those tempted would cheat on their own, or are they only cheating because a gorgeous woman is offering herself in a direct way, something that happens to most of us only in our fantasies. I have to wonder if some of those tempted people would normally go through their entire lives being faithful and not seek to actively cheat. There’s a what-if double-edged sword to all of this. How would this person have behaved during their life if he or she not been tested in this way?

Comments on the above are welcomed.


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