Don Jon: Thoughts on relationships and pornography

On one hand, men consume hypersexualized female images that abound in our culture and media, while women get their kicks from far-fetched formulaic romantic tales and demand the same kind of chivalry and sacrificial spirit. What happens when two highly polarized sets of expectations must configure in the same relationship?

To me, that’s Don Jon in a nutshell. There are also discussions about pornography and sexuality. There seems to be an attempt made to address our society’s regulation of human sexuality, although I feel it wasn’t entirely resolved at the end of the film. Jon visits his church frequently to confess about his “sins”, which basically consist of meticulous accounts of his  one-night-stands, his masturbatory habits, as well as his spiritual endeavours. Oh, and by spiritual, I mean pornographic.

I do not understand why pornography generates so much disgust from a female person (stereotypically speaking, of course). What’s wrong with a guy being in touch with his own sexuality? Sexuality is part of being human, and being human is completely and utterly normal. Somehow the idea of a guy jerking off to a computer screen is as unimaginable as slaughtering puppies. Yes, pornographic sex is problematic because it promotes unrealistic ideas about sex. It perpetuates the consumption of female bodies as means for sexual arousal, with a major emphasis on moaning and plumbing. And plumbing.

Don Jon addresses this act of sexual consumption. The act itself becomes quite literal during a scene in which Jon’s father watches a hamburger commercial that features an extremely sexy, nearly nude woman on screen, promoting a hamburger with a sensuous and provocative bite with the camera highlighting her curves, her smooth skin, and her perfectly slender legs. While he is doing so, he is frantically devouring a plate of spaghetti (it might have been mashed potatoes, but that is not the point here), actively consuming the female body. Oh yeah, it’s more than just a piece of meat. I’m talking about the burger, of course.

It’s not porn, but same idea. Once the female body is reduced to a product, a market is born, and comparative shopping inevitably occurs. Basically, it is another aspect of our sexual consumerist culture that produces the act of approximating women’s worth based on a score averaged from numbers assigned to the face, the titties, and the butt. During this complicated process of profound calculation, a guy hopes to find his “dime”, a full 10/10 score, the perfect girl. Needless to say this kind of superficial “pre-selection”  does more harm than just being degrading to women. 

Anyway. That about sums up my thoughts on Don Jon. Personally I think we as a culture needs more movies that question our culture, especially in light of gender because we simply don’t get enough of that–and Hollywood remains one of the worst places constipated with racial and gender stereotypes as it is. To end, it has occurred to me that I tend to by gynocentric, but that is partially because, yes, I am female, and I care about what is being done to my gender. Having that said, I do have a Valentine-themed post coming up that will hopefully balance the scale. (Although, the “scale” is perhaps an inappropriate analogy for gender because that propagates the male/female dichotomy, when in truth gender is indeed more than two-sided.)

One more thing: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is so incredibly hot. That is the fan-girling portion of this blog post. Bear with it.

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