Monday, 4 March 2013


Though preceded by a title card indicating that the makers of Naughty! merely wish to present the facts around their subject matter, pornography, there can be little doubt where their loyalties lie and that this disclaimer was a convenient defence with regard to the censors. Put otherwise, this is the British equivalent of the US White Coater, that type of porn film which was allowed because of claims to be educational or otherwise have redeeming social value.

One moment in the present day which is particularly interesting socio-culturally is when the filmmakers (complete with phallic, as penetrating, hand-held camera) enter into a ‘bookshop’ and encounter the angry manager, before his responsible attitude is explained (i.e. not for minors) and then, having won his trust, they are permitted into the back shop. There we can briefly but clearly see a magazine cover showing an erect penis and two women fixated upon it in a pornutopian way.

All the vox-pop interviews ostensibly caught unrehearsed are in favour of porn, while the remarks of luminaries such as Al Goldstein and John Lindsay are unchallenged by anyone from the anti-camp, nor by the filmmakers. The filmmakers could have likely sought out existing footage from those opposed to porn or even interviewed some of them. That they didn’t, to make a Mary Long (cf: Deep Purple) appear even more ridiculous is indicative of a degree of restraint which strengthens their position.

If the filmmakers have an enemy it is less those who are opposed to pornography on principle than those whose position is a hypocritical one of public virtue and private vice, most notably the Victorians and, by extension, their contemporary counterparts. On the Victorians the filmmakers provide some informative material on those ‘Other Victorians’, as Steven Marcus notably termed then, even if their reconstructions frequently fail to convince.

Regardless of this, these reconstructions at least have the advantage of being in a broadly common language and only a few generations back. Accordingly they contrast favourably with a digression into ancient Greece, on the role of the (female) prostitute in the society and the normalcy of (male) homosexuality.

What’s largely lacking here are discussions of how the term pornography was itself a Victorian-era construction from Greek, as the writings of or about prostitutes, and of how (male) homosexual relationships appear to have been strongly determined by age and class, in terms of who was doing what to whom, or in Goatse terms the giver and the receiver. In this regard, another issue is the predictable syllogism of gay = camp within this section. In fairness to Long, however, he did have another crack of the whip with 1974’s On the Game.

The subject matter tends to preclude analysis of the direction, acting and so on. On balance I would say the contributions of those before and behind the camera are satisfactory, given that the important thing was getting the film in the can and out to theatres as soon as possible rather than producing a masterpiece for all time.

Library music is used, including the famous Gonk cue later featured in Dawn of the Dead.

1 comment:

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