2014-01-10

Do You Need A Therapist?

Part One:
"I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy that I literally could not hear... I'm so sorry. I really don't mean to disrespect you. I was just looking at him and going into this rage — this idea that he would talk to a woman like that... The idea, it just makes me sort of sick," she said choking back tears. "And I just want to apologize to everyone. I'm going to try to focus now, but if I space out, it will be because of that guy."
What could a man possibly say to a woman to upset her so completely in public?

Part Two:
Suppose you were to see an overweight, mostly unattractive man naked - not accidentally, but because he intended for you to see him naked. Now suppose that you objected to his doing this to you repeatedly, say, once per week, and his response was that if you do not wish to see him naked, you have a problem that must be addressed by a psychotherapist. Specifically, imagine that he said to you:
If you’re not into me, that’s your problem, and you're going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you've hired.
Would it be objectionable to suggest that this man had gone from being the perpetuator of a sexual assault to being the perpetrator of a mind game?

Part Three:
Suppose, on the other hand, that you had placed yourself in a situation in which you had reason to expect to see someone naked over the course of your evening, but you weren't sure who. It then came to pass that you saw an overweight, mostly unattractive man naked - not accidentally, but because he intended for you to see him naked. Suppose it was part of a show.
While I can't find a link to the script (alas!), there was a movie produced in the late 1990s called Carried Away, starring Dennis Hopper. In it, a middle-aged school teacher stuck in a depressing life caring for his sickly mother and carrying on a thrill-less romance with an old widow embarks on a romantic affair with a 17-year-old Lolita.

While the movie wasn't fantastic, it did have a few stand-out scenes. One such scene was a soul-crushing full-frontal nude scene featuring a middle-aged, overweight, largely unattractive Dennis Hopper. In it, he reaches his breaking point, hits rock-bottom, and in an argument with his widow, he removes his clothing and begs her for the kind of excitement that the young girl offers him, in a sort of childish, emotionally fragile tantrum that is at once both pitiful and moving.

The nudity is shocking, real, gritty, unpleasant, and entirely appropriate to the script. It makes the viewer uncomfortable, but it is there for a reason, and it serves its purpose perfectly.

It is also a single scene in the context of a two-hour feature film.

Part Four:
Imagine that the film contained that same scene, but also dozens of scenes depicting a nude Dennis Hopper doing average, ordinary things. Imagine that the nudity served no purpose in terms of advancing the plot or developing Hopper's character. Imagine the nudity was both non-sexual and entirely gratuitous.

First question: Do you think an actor of Dennis Hopper's caliber would ever have agreed to that kind of a film?

Second question: Wouldn't you get tired of seeing a nude, overweight, largely unattractive Dennis Hopper after a while? Wouldn't you be moved to ask what purpose the nudity serves to the plot?

The vintage pornographic movies, the old-school films, featured plenty of hairy, overweight people engaged in gratuitous nudity-and-beyond, but of course we all know what purpose that served. Even if it's not your thing, you at least understand that some folks out there enjoyed viewing those kinds of films for purely "salacious" purposes. Thus, if Dennis Hopper - or someone who looked like him back in 1997 - played a role in that sort of film, you might not understand what happened to Hopper's career, but at least you'd understand the purpose of the film's nudity.

Part Five:
So, for the last time today, I'm going to ask you to imagine that you watched a film containing pervasive, unattractive, unrealistic, unnecessary nudity from an overweight, largely unattractive actor, and you had the opportunity to ask the actor and the film's producer a question something like this:
I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show by you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, 'Nobody complains about the nudity on 'Game of Thrones,' but I get why they’re doing it. They are doing it to be salacious and, you know, to titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random times for no reason.
The last thing one would ever expect out of these situations is to hear the actor say indignantly,
It’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you’re not into me, that’s your problem, and you're going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you've hired.
So, what do you think? Would you need therapy? Or are the actors and producers involved the delusional ones?