Spring Guide: France's Virginie Despentes Wants Some Blockbuster Hollywood Porn

Parisian novelist and filmmaker Virginie Despentes's controversial porn-punk film Baise-Moi (2000), in which two women go on a rampage after being gang-raped, scandalized audiences and was banned in France and Canada, probably more for its real sex scenes than its staged violence. In her concise, funny, and razor-sharp new manifesto, King Kong Theory, Despentes describes the real-life situation that inspired the film and resuscitates feminism with cutting critiques of "hooker chic," totalitarian motherhood, and the marginalization of pornography and prostitution. She also delivers a fresh and clever reading of King Kong, casting the creature as a polymorphous natural force rather than the usual colonized subject or male libido gone wild. 

Much of King Kong Theory discusses the toxic, oppressive relationship between heterosexual men and women, and the way in which women internalize their oppression. How do you think gay men and lesbians figure into this structure?

The toxic and oppressive relationship between heterosexual men and women is not, I hope, central in the book. . . . I tried to focus more on our own respect for gender duties. I'm surprised men barely question masculinity. I'm amazed, for example, that no male Hollywood actor complains that he has to carry guns or play soldiers, rapists, serial killers, stupid macho men. . . . Are they not fed up? Don't men want to show their legs in miniskirts and on high heels? Don't they want to dance like creatures on MTV? Don't they want to use the anus they've been gifted with for better sexual intercourse? Are they that happy to die for countries that won't give a goddamn fuck for them once they're back home? Most of them don't even enjoy the privilege of their gender. . . .

In this narrow frame, of course, gay men are the few. The elite. Trying something different. And lesbians, also, are the elite of womanhood. Obviously. Because who wants to have to deal on an intimate level with regular straight men? It can only be interesting if they might help you with money or your career. Otherwise, how depressing. Then, of course, gays and lesbians are still human. . . . We all live in the same shitty world. I guess only really hard drugs or death can be radical exits.

Your reading of Peter Jackson's film King Kong is quite unexpected. What made you see this latest version as a feminist fable? 

Because I was working on the book when King Kong was released in France. . . . It struck me that any article I read about the movie would start from the point of King Kong being a male character, when nothing in the picture itself says so. It could be an asexual creature. And it could be female. Kong makes no particular reference to masculinity except that the creature is strong and the blonde is weak. 

What effect do you think pornography has on desire? Does it make us believe that all of our sexual fantasies can come true?

Pornography feeds desire, helps the imagination, and lowers anxiety. The advertising we endure daily is more likely to make us believe that all our fantasies can come true. Pornography, I believe, does not: It's a message you can hardly confuse with reality. It's inconvenient that pornography has been kept in an economic ghetto, so we can hardly see quality porn. We could so much enjoy a huge-budget sodomic orgy filmed by Hollywood. Violence is good on the big screen, but nothing is better than sex. 

'King Kong Theory' is out in April (though available in some stores now). The Feminist Press, 144 pp., $15.95

Spring Books Picks

American Taliban
By Pearl Abraham, April

A spiritual quest goes terribly wrong for an earnest young American boy who has a great deal in common with John Walker Lindh, the Washington D.C.­–born seeker and Al Qaeda trainee captured during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Abraham's breathless, exhilarating style matches the timely subject matter as she grapples with the question of how a search for truth might lead a normal American kid into the jaws of the sworn enemies of his homeland. Random House, 256 pp., $25

Beatrice and Virgil
By Yann Martel, April

Canadian author Martel's second book, the Booker Prize­–winning Life of Pi, got so much positive attention that the author's follow-up focuses not on zoo animals in lifeboats but on a newly famous author, Henry. When Henry receives a copy of a Flaubert story and a play from a namesake fan in the mail, he embarks on a spiritual journey of a different type, populated not with tigers but acerbic, controlling editors. Which demographic, one wonders, has the sharper fangs? Spiegel & Grau, 224 pp., $24

Foxy
By Pam Grier, with Andrea Cagan, April

In 1973, Blacula bit her neck and made her a blaxploitation legend. Then she whipped razors out of her 'fro to use as weapons in Coffy, and gunned down and castrated honky bad guys in Foxy Brown. She was the first black woman on the cover of Ms. magazine, and the cousin of football great Rosey Grier. After Tarantino revived her for Jackie Brown, she became a regular on The L Word, but her greatest achievement was shedding the trashy trappings of her early grindhouse career and earning a heap of NAACP Image Award nominations. How'd that happen? Her autobiography isn't likely to be deep, but couldn't be less than fast, furious, and hard-hitting. Springboard Press, 280 pp., $24.99

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
New York Concert Tickets
Loading...