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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

15

"Linda Lovelace As Herself"

It would be specious to claim that such a hastily and poorly produced film could anticipate and perhaps partially cause the events of the ensuing decade, except we know for a fact that it did. Deep Throat was perhaps the purest crystallization of the philosophy upon which the seventies were built. Afterward, when Linda attempted to unstick her symbolism from herself, she seemed to the public to be discrediting the cultural revolution she had inadvertently helped create—a revolution which, in a larger context, was soon associated not just with fellatio and miniskirts, but with Nixon’s resignation, the end of Vietnam, freedom of speech, and the monolith of women’s liberation. By disavowing her appearance “as herself,” she destroyed a keystone of one of the most important and highly mythologized periods in recent American history, and for many people active in that period, there was only one choice: to discredit, shame, and silence.

Hairpin Contributor Sarah Marshall goes blue in the current issue of Propeller with the tragic story of porn star Linda Lovelace.

15 Comments / Post A Comment

sintaxis

"I knew she had claimed she was abused, raped, and forced into pornography, and while I didn’t disbelieve her claims, I was also far more interested in Deep Throat as a social phenomenon than I was in Linda’s life story."

So the author willingly decided that their interest in watching porn was more important than the fact that they were going to be watching a woman's rape? Disgusting. I don't care if you hide behind cultural criticism and porn history- you actively seek to watch a woman getting raped then you're a scumbag. End of story.

Decca

@sintaxis This sentence gave me pause: "The more troubling question—relevant not just to Linda, but to every woman who experiences a similar notoriety—may be this: Can someone who has been transformed into a cultural symbol ever regain her status as a human being?". I understand that's the jumping-off point for the rest of the essay, but the way it was phrased struck me as kind of odd. Maybe it's because I'm too young to have first encountered Lovelace at the height of Deep Throat's original popularity, but my reaction is of course.

sintaxis

@Decca I think you're right about that phrasing being odd. But I don't think it's because the answer is "of course", the oddness comes from the fact that the question presupposes that Linda Lovelace at some point lost "her status as a human being". It uncomfortably reveals our attitudes towards women, and more specifically women who are in pornography even if it is against their will- that is, they are no longer human beings.

SarahP

@sintaxis I was under the impression from that statement that Sarah Marshall had known that at some point Linda Lovelace had been abused and raped, but hadn't known until afterwards that it was ongoing during/in Deep Throat. It was really only after later reading Ordeal that Marshall realized what Lovelace was going through.

itiresias

@sintaxis I mean, sad as it is, it's also history, and personally I don't think you should ignore something even though it's disgusting. Often, that quality is what provokes interest in most of us, and that doesn't make anyone less of a feminist/humanist/voyeur/person living in the 21st century looking back at a whole lot of shit that has gone down.

sintaxis

@SarahP "I knew she had claimed she was . . . forced into pornography". What do you call being forced to do pornography other than rape? Just because a camera is rolling doesn't change the facts.

sintaxis

@itiresias Sorry, but feminism actually does require some moral judgements and when you know someone says “every time someone sees [Deep Throat], they are watching me being raped” and you don't condemn watching it, then yeah, it does make you less of a feminist. And I will proudly be a member of the feminist police when it comes to the continual exploitation of rape and abuse victims, irregardless of whether or not a camera's rolling.

Nancy Sin

There's a different between studying a film, regardless of how tragic, and watching it for enjoyment or entertainment; you don't automatically lose feminist points for setting eyes upon it.

In the beginning, she had a vague knowledge of Lovelace's abusive past. I was under the impression that the 'gunpoint' quote was something she learned after watching the film, although I could be wrong.

Watching the film and being impacted by it motivated her to learn more about Lovelace's circumstances. In turn she wrote an evocative and sympathetic article. By throwing mud on a person who watched a widely available and socially significant film for academic purposes and saying they're complicit in rape and "less of a feminist" sounds hypocritical – the (female) writer of this article had agency to do so and doesn't owe the world an apology for observing that tragedy.

sintaxis

@Nancy Sin What does the author being female or the film being "widely available and socially significant" have to do with it? Lots of porn is widely available, lots of porn is socially significant. But here's the thing: if you watch these films, you are participating in the endless exploitation of a victim of rape. Linda Lovelace('s estate) gets no compensation. She is not merely "observing that tragedy", she is supporting the system of profiteering off a rape victim.

What exactly are you trying to argue with the fact that the author has agency? She had agency to watch the film. She did. She now knows without a doubt that she watched a rape. Yet she doesn't condemn it at all. That is anti-feminist, plain and simple.

Nancy Sin

@sintaxis I'm saying that it's not the author's obligation to condemn something, nor is it any feminist's obligation to condemn anything for fear of losing feminist cred. If her article celebrated Deep Throat as some sort of feminist triumph (as it was in some cases in the 70s) that would be one thing. But instead she's calling bullshit on those who did.

So, you're basically tearing down a female author for writing an article about a topic for viewing something that was elemental to said topic, instead of seeing the article for what it is. Terrible analogy, but if a detective or cop purchases suspected kiddie porn to determine if children are in it, is that detective guilty of being complicit?

I don't even think we read the same article. Where does this fit on your feminism continuum? I give it 8 out of 10 burned bras:

"This dissection of Linda’s life—in which the patriarchy, as represented by Traynor, is capable of tremendous abuses, but in which these abuses are repaired through a woman’s freedom to sexually gratify herself on film—is not inherently baseless. Many women find freedom of expression and a great deal of pleasure—sexual or otherwise—by performing in porn, or by taking part in the sex industry in general. But Linda did not, and we know she did not, because she said she didn’t. She didn’t express this opinion during Deep Throat’s popularity because she was still under Traynor’s thumb, an explanation that seems to leave nothing wanting—and yet the overwhelming reluctance to believe her story persists. Since Linda’s rise to fame, the question of when to believe a woman’s claims of abuse has loomed even larger in the public mind, often in the wake of well-publicized criminal cases, such as Bobbitt and Rideout. Yet few people seem to arrive at the simplest and most sensible conclusion: that we should believe a woman simply because she says so."

That doesn't sound exploitative to me. That sounds like a humanizing defense of Linda Lovelace.

Decca

Oof, that was difficult to read til the end. I sincerely hope that biopic that's been in the works for ages never actually gets made. I can't see how it won't be exploitative.

Megasus

@Decca I've seen shots from the set, so I think it's happening.

Terri Strange Inc@twitter

Linda Lovelace was forced to do many different awfully degrading porn films by her husband/pimp Chuck Traynor. She even had to do a film with a dog! This woman wasn't trying to be an icon of the 70s, she was threatened at gunpoint to get fucked by a dog. Now I don't know in what world people think women CHOOSE to make porn films where they're penetrated by animals but here we are. I think its pretty obvious from her testimony and the testimonies of other women that yes, women like Linda are forced into pornography and yes, we need to do something about it.

Her book "ordeal" is tragic, I highly recommend it for a hard dose of reality!

David Bertolino@facebook

The true LInda Lovelace story comes to the stage In January 2013. The Deep Throat Sex Scandal opens at the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles. This is the play about the movie you're government didn't want you to see! www.deepthroattheplay.com

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