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Report: “Irreversible” “Homophobic Rants”

8 November 2004

Report: “Irreversible” “Homophobic Rants”

GayNZ.com has accused John Laws “an Australian talk radio host” of a “barrage of homophobic abuse” and an “alleged [NZ] comedian Mike King and low-rating [Radio Pacific] talk radio host Mark Bennett” of “homophobic rants” of an “offensive nature”(6/11/04). Laws is reported to have defended his comments saying that they were just “a piece of satire”. A free to-air broadcaster of King’s comedy acts has formally defended his comments that have been the subject of formal complaints from the “gay” community, as merely examples of light-hearted satirical humour.

Chris Banks a regular contributor to GayNZ.com and a host of the soon-to-be dumped “Queer Nation” TV2 programme (it finishes next week) is one of many “gay” ‘rights’ activists who liberally uses the word “homophobic” as a term of abuse directed at those who oppose the Civil Union Bill and/or “gay” marriage in order to try and stigmatise them. He has also used the term with deadly seriousness and to attack a filmmaker’s work, which has, been praised by one of New Zealand’s leading film reviewers as well as by a number of overseas reviewers.

In his review of the film “Irreversible” published on GayNZ.com on 1 June 2003 and entitled “Homophobic disgust and horror,” Banks described it as “the most homophobic film ever released”, adding:

“Its art-house pretensions have fooled many reviewers, but director Gaspar Noe’s own words in interviews have revealed this picture for the provocative, dehumanising trash that it is.”

[ Interview with Gaspar Noe: http://www.indiewire.com/people/people_030311noe.html ]

In contrast, Peter Calder, film reviewer for the NZ Herald, who described it as “very good” and ending in a moment that “comes close to mastery”, gave it a four-star rating. He felt it was “interesting in a way that the miserably inept Baise-Moi was not” (11/8/04). [The classification of “Baise-Moi” is the subject of an appeal by the Society, which comes before the Court of Appeal on Thursday 18 November 2004].

See Peter Calder’s review: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/entertainmentstorydisplay.cfm?storyID=3582717&thesection=entertainment&thesubsection=film&thesecondsubsection=reviews

The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), headed by Chief Censor Bill Hastings, a self-proclaimed practising homosexual, described the film in its classification decision dated 28 July 2004 as having “considerable artistic merit” and as having “some cultural merit and importance”.

Three months after the Society applied to the Film and Literature Board of Review for a reclassification of the French film “Irreversible” which features a brutal nine minute anal rape of a young pregnant woman by a homosexual man and extreme violence, it is still waiting for the Board’s decision. The Society wants the film classified “objectionable” (effectively banning it) or significantly cut.

GASPAR NOE’S DEFENCE AGAINST ‘HOMOPHOBIA’

Gaspar Noe addressed the sort of accusations leveled, by inference, at him by the likes of “gay” ‘rights’ activist Chris Banks, in an interview with the indieWIRE contributor Erin Torneo at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Noe: I often get the question “Are you gay or a homophobe?” [laughs] For the record, I’m straight. Because a man can be anally raped, a woman can be anally raped, and you are more in the head of Monica [the anal rape victim] than the head of the rapist, most of the people who walk out of the theatre then are men. THE GAY AUDIENCE LIKED THE MOVIE MUCH MORE THAN THE STRAIGHT MALE AUDIENCE. MAYBE BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALREADY EXPERIENCED PASSIVE ANAL SEX AND SO THEY HAVE FELT FEMINIZED.” [Emphasis added]

Noe argued that by personally taking part in the film as an actor and identifying himself with the promiscuous homosexuals portrayed in the S&M gay bondage bar called “Le Rectum”, he has addressed any criticisms that he might be “homophobic”. The “gays” he identifies with include subjects of bondage sessions calling out to be “fisted” by “gay” patrons, perverts who masturbate while watching a man brutally bludgeoned to death by a fire extinguisher and others engaging in sodomy and fellatio. Noe’s discrete “gay”-‘friendly’ appearance in the film was acknowledged in the interview in response to the question put to him: “Why did you put yourself in the film?”:

“Noe: Some people said to me, ‘You are going to get accused of being homophobic with the gay background.’ So I decided to pretend I was part of the club. I wanted to appear in the movie and it was easy to go back and match those shots. Also because I wanted an actor to appear with an erection and he didn’t want to so I said I’d do it. And so I started off with an erection and I WAS MASTURBATING but then all my crew – my cinematographer and assistant director – started laughing and so I couldn’t get an erection. IT’S JUST THERE FOR THE PLEASURE OF BEING ON SCREEN.”

A WOMAN PSYCHOLOGIST’S VIEW

Dr Meryl M McKay, Consultant Clinical Psychologist for the Hutt Valley District Health Board, was a consultant to the OFLC during the classification of “Irreversible” in 2003. In her report dated 18 March 2003, addressed to Jenny Matthews, of the OFLC, she raised concerns about the masturbation scene linked to violence.

She noted that the scenes in “The Rectum” sado-masochism (S&M) club link sex with violence – with a man shown in a bondage sling asking to be fisted [fisting involves the forcing of a fist up and inside a homosexual’s anus for ‘sexual pleasure’], along with scenes of sodomy, fellatio and masturbation. Marcus and Pierre maniacally yells at scores of tied-up S&M fetishists, demanding to know where the rapist is. Then Marcus has his arm broken by a club patron and is threatened with rape. During this scene, a man in the background appears to be masturbating as he observes the violence. The link between the extreme violence and the masturbation eroticises the violence – reinforcing such a link in the minds of susceptible members of the audience.

Dr McKay wrote:
"… the film aims to emotionally arouse the viewer and perhaps emotionally bind the
viewer to acts of dominance and violence

"The terminology used (e.g. Rectum Club, brown nose etc) is designed to further take the viewer on a journey that is likely to result in them experiencing an uncomfortable physiological state (e.g. emotional turmoil).

"Extreme violence - The violent scene in the Rectum Club .... gives the clear message that such acts are sexually stimulating. THIS IS EVIDENCED BY SOME OF THE ONLOOKERS MASTURBATING DURING THE VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR. There was little attempt to balance this with showing the consequences for the person when they behave in an antisocial and violent manner.” [Emphasis added]

CHRIS BANK’S WARNINGS OF “HOMOPHOBIA “

Chris Banks described the character of Marcus as “homophobic to the core” and warned readers of GayNZ.com not to attend “Irreversible” which he described as the “forbidden fruit”:

“This is a simple warning to anyone considering attending “Irreversible” at its once-only Wellington showing at the Becks Incredibly Strange Film Festival – don’t go.

“The story is a tale of seemingly innocuous decisions that lead to brutal consequences, but it is told backwards, starting with the cause and then showing us the effect. The philosophy of the film is stated by characters and in a title card at the end is “Time Destroys All Things”, an interesting truism, but an empty philosophy when taken in the context of what we are forced to see and hear.

“With the narrative unfolding in reverse, there are some details that we only become aware of later but they only serve to deepen the horror and disgust of what we have already witnessed.”

Banks then went on to highlight the “homophobic elements” from the Rectum S&M club scene:

“The film opens with two men being led from a club called “Rectum”. One is on a stretcher with his arm broken, the other seems OK but is handcuffed by police. A crowd of onlookers hurl a tirade of homophobic abuse at the two men.

“We then see what led to the event. Marcus and Pierre, the two men, force their way into the club in search of a man known as “The Tenia”, who we are later to learn has anally raped and beaten Marcus’s wife. This anal rape scene will be played out in a single nine-minute take later on in the film, and has been the source of most of the controversy surrounding “Irreversible”. The homophobic elements have been less widely publicised. It is pretty obvious that “Rectum” is a gay S&M venue, but it is portrayed as the scariest hell imaginable. All of the men portrayed in the club are engaged in various sex acts and reply to Marcus and Pierre’s requests for information on the whereabouts of “The Tenia” by begging to be *ucked.

“Marcus, in particular, gets more and more agitated when he can’t find “The Tenia” and starts to verbally abuse every man he comes across – “fag” and “faggot” are the only words used to describe gay men in this movie. When one man pushes the aggressive Marcus to the ground breaking his arm, Pierre steps in and knocks the man to the floor.

“As a crowd of men look on without interfering, Pierre takes a fire extinguisher from a wall and smashes Marcus’s assailant in the face with it. Repeatedly. In a single, unbroken take, Pierre continues to pummel the man until his skull cracks, his face is mashed and his brains leak out. Each onlooker then describes the scene as “awesome”. The character of Marcus is homophobic to the core. His entire motivation for the attack is homophobia – after a few unreliable tip-offs he seems content that he will find his girlfriend’s rapist in a gay sex club. Why? Because she was anally raped?”

Banks identifies Gaspar Noe as the ‘gay’ masturbator reveling in brutal violence.

“Renowned American director William Friedkin’s career was almost ruined when he released the 1980 picture “Cruising”, about a serial killer who preyed on gay men. Gay activists were up in arms about his portrayal of gays in the film, which was mostly set within the S&M underworld, despite Friedkin displaying a title card at the beginning of the film that stated that it was not intended to depict the everyday life of gays. NOE’S RESPONSE TO ACCUSATIONS OF HOMOPHOBIA IS LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT HE, A STRAIGHT MAN, IS ONE OF THE MASTURBATING BYSTANDERS WATCHING PIERRE SMASH A GAY MAN’S HEAD TO AN UNRECOGNISABLE PULP” [Emphasis added}.

One wonders whether others accused by Banks and “gay” rights activists of “homophobia” and who want to prove the charge false, should consider joining up to the local gay S&M club and advertise the fact to Banks!

As a “gay” man Banks is clearly sickened by the depiction of a happy “normal” (heterosexual) sex life when he wrote:

“The end of the film, chronologically the beginning, is even more sickening for the gay viewer, as it shows with pastoral beauty the happy “normal” sex life of Marcus and his wife before the irreversible events we have already witnessed. This is supposed to make the viewer simultaneously sad and touched, reveling in their happiness but unaware of the madness to come. By this stage, the last thing you care about is the shattered life of a straight couple, no matter how horrible the circumstances.”

One wonders whether this is an example of ‘heterophobia’ on Bank’s part!

To his ‘credit’ Banks was sufficiently discerning to give balanced coverage to the overwhelmingly misogynistic and racist elements in the film and not allow his fixation with “homophobia” overshadow these concerns. (Actually, he devoted only one line to this aspect!). To his ‘credit’ he highlighted in his review the time-consuming efforts undertaken by the Chief Censor, Mr Bill Hastings, to get this “brutally homophobic film” with its “provocative, dehumanising trash” into a film festival following months of “extensive consultation” with experts like clinical psychologist Dr Meryl M McKay and Rape Crisis.

“The Chief Censor’s decision (a link for which is provided below) to limit the film to two theatrical showings only, and banning any home video release was made after extensive consultation with psychologists, film reviewers, Rape Crisis, and members of the public. It has taken into account the disturbing nature of this film, which is also relentless mysogynistic and racist.”

It is noteworthy that those “members of the public” (defined as a “focus group”) consulted by the Chief Censor’s Office are regularly required asked to disclose their sexual orientation. The Chief Censor’s Office summary and decision on “Irreversible”, supported Bank’s concern over “homophobic elements” when it stated:

“The club, the Rectum, presented ‘more like a homophobic nightmare of what a gay sex club might be like than a realistic portrait.’ The film presents homosexuality as deviant and associates homosexuals with violent actions such as the anal rape of Alex by a homosexual pimp”.

See: http://www.censorship.govt.nz/PDFWORD/irreversible.doc

Many normal people would in fact consider homosexual practise and its promiscuous lifestyle as deviant.

Banks was very wide of the mark when he predicted that “Irreversible” would “not get anywhere near the mainstream audience”.

“One can only imagine the outcry which accompanied “Cruising” has not been forthcoming for “Irreversible” because it will not get anywhere near the mainstream audience, and that most have recognised it as a shallow gimmick from a director who has proclaimed on numerous occasions that he won’t stop making films until he makes one that is banned.

“If you feel you want to taste this “forbidden fruit”, I urge you to read other material available online so you know exactly what you are in for.”

Perhaps in reading the indieWIRE interview with Gaspar Noe Banks missed the important point he made:

“THE GAY AUDIENCE LIKED THE MOVIE MUCH MORE THAN THE STRAIGHT MALE AUDIENCE. MAYBE BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALREADY EXPERIENCED PASSIVE ANAL SEX AND SO THEY HAVE FELT FEMINIZED

The gay audience that has allowed this film to screen in New Zealand to those 18 years of age and older include Bill Hastings and the Deputy Chief Censor, Ms Nicola McCully, a known lesbian. The R18 classification that was issued this year without further restrictions, means that any broadcaster can screen this film on late-night television. Bill Hasting’s Office wrote in its decision that “it is mindful of the need to preserve the widest possible availability of the film”. Having given careful consideration to the potential release of this film on television it was prepared to promote the film for mainstream theatrical release.

Appendix I:

Reviews of “Irreversible” cited by Banks include:

“It’s a blasphemy wrapped in an atrocity. It’s stupid.” Washington Post “…the most uncomfortable few minutes you’ll ever spend in a cinema.” BBC Films. “.. an exploitation movie with a gimmick, not to mention a vacuous philosophy.” The Village Voice. “…a very violent revenge fantasy… and the most pointlessly nasty film I have ever had to sit through.” The Daily Mail

More reviews: http://www.mrqe.com/lookup?irreversible

Appendix II

An interview with the writer/director includes: “A lot of the people who were in the movie were not actors at all, for example the two guys who say, “revenge is a human right.” Those were the guys doing security for my movie. It’s funny, you start talking with people and they find their own words in heir own ideas.” Gaspar Noe

http://www.indiewire.com/people/people_030311noe.html

The Society is seeking to overturn the classification decision issued by the OFLC on 28 July 2004 that granted it a general R18 theatrical release to “Irreversible” with a descriptive note: “Contains sexual violence, graphic violence and sex scenes”. It is upset that this “restricted classification” would allow the film to be screened on late night television without the broadcaster having to get permission from the Chief Censor and sends a clear signal to the public and the film’s distributor that any future non-theatrical release in this country, on video and/or DVD format, will be classified as acceptable for adult home-viewing. More importantly it argues that if the law had been applied correctly, the film, regardless of format, would have been classified “objectionable” or cut.

For further reading: See: High Court Rules Against President of Board Re "Irreversible"
Posted on Tuesday 31 August http://www.spcs.org.nz/article.php?sid=40

See: Society's submission re Injunction against Rape Film "Irreversible" http://www.spcs.org.nz/article.php?sid=38

ENDS


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