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Ever since it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier this year, director Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color has been creating a ton of buzz in the film world, which should be pretty understandable—it did win the biggest award that Cannes gives out, after all. But the reason the film’s buzz has been a little bit annoying is that it’s not generally stemming from the quality of its performances or the raw emotion put on display by the young love it takes on as its focus, it’s stemming from the lengthy and explicit lesbian sex scenes that get peppered throughout its run time. It turns out lesbian sex is still the sort of thing that gets people’s attention.

Not only has there been debate as to whether or not Kechiche exploited his two lead actresses and forced them into performing acts that they weren’t comfortable with, but there also seems to be a debate raging as to whether or not the love scenes shared by the two girls should be viewed as pornographic and labeled appropriately so more uptight consumers know for sure what to boycott. Those heady sorts of debates are the complex yet still subjective ones that could rage on for an eternity though, so probably we don’t need to add any verbal fuel to their fire here. Instead, let’s focus on a new debate that has sprung up around these controversial sex scenes—the one that questions whether they’re even realistic enough to be worthy of discussion.

‘Posture Magazine’ has put together a video [via THR] wherein they show the scenes that Kechiche directed—where Adèle Exarchopolous and Léa Seydoux play a high school student and a college student who initiate a sexual relationship with one another—to a group of lesbians and then get their reactions regarding how much the hanky-panky on display reflects the reality of the intimate moments in their own lives. These scenes were shared by two seemingly heterosexual actresses and put together by a seemingly heterosexual director, after all, so if they were found by the people who would know best to be inauthentic moments that more accurately reflected a straight man’s fantasy of what lesbian sex is like than reality, it could provide some strong support for the pundits out there who find the film to be exploitive.

So, after seeing the scenes in question, what did the ladies say? Judging by all of the head shaking and giggling, the general consensus seems to be that they found all of the rolling around and frantic pawing to be fairly ridiculous. “I thought it was hot at the beginning, and then it got ridiculous when they kept switching sex positions every ten seconds,” one of the subjects observed. “It started to feel like an infomercial for a kitchen product, where they try and showcase all the things it can do. ‘It can chop, it can slice, it can dice, it can puree, it can eat out your asshole.’” That’s kind of a hard observation to deny. Despite the authenticity of the emotions the actresses are projecting, the cool detachment of Kechiche’s camera (which is conversely engaged in extreme closeups on faces whenever sex isn’t going on) and all of the flesh on display in his frames do make the sex scenes play like they’re something of an anatomy lesson.

It turns out Blue is the Warmest Color isn’t the only critically acclaimed film that’s recently been criticized because of its depiction of same sex physical encounters either. In an appraisal of director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave that James Franco wrote for Vice [via The Wrap] the actor/writer/director/renaissance man included an aside where he took McQueen to task for the melodramatic way his meditation on sex addiction, Shame, treated the act of male on male mouth massages.

“He wasn’t such an addict in my opinion,” Franco said of the film’s protagonist. “I mean, what did he do? Watch porn and screw a handful of people a week? I could point to quite a few folks who do that. And that scene where he’s at his lowest point and wants to fuck and goes into a gay club, and it’s depicted like the seventh level of hell… I mean, it goes back to the horrible representations of gays in the 70s where the gay club is meant to signify everything dark and depraved. Then the guy gets a minor blow job, from… Oh no, a man! The horror!”

Now that depictions of same sex relationships are becoming more normalized and are appearing in our media more frequently, it’s only natural that the subject is being tackled by a more diverse group of artists than it ever has before, so it’s also only natural that there’s going to be discussion surrounding whether or not filmmakers who aren’t actually gay have any business depicting gay sex acts that they don’t have any experience engaging in. Twenty years ago if you saw a movie that included depictions of same sex private time, chances are the person who made the thing you were watching identified as being gay or lesbian, but now we’re living in a horrifying reality where it’s possible that we could soon see a gay sex scene directed by someone like Michael Bay or, even worse, someone from the Happy Madison crew.

While it’s understandable that those who are active in the LBGTQ community would have their feathers ruffled at the idea of straight filmmakers misrepresenting their lifestyles, the unfortunate reality is that once the gay sex genie is completely out of the bottle it’s probably not going to be possible to put it back in. Sexual inexperience hasn’t stopped bookish or naive types from creating off-putting depictions of heterosexual sex acts all the way since the beginning of art, after all. No, as it turns out, these leering depictions of lesbian sex and demonizing depictions of gay blow jobs are actually having the effect of evening the playing field. Now, no matter what your sexual orientation, your particular form of copulation is going to be free to be made to look ridiculous by anyone with a camera and a shoestring budget. And this is only the beginning. Kechiche and McQueen are great filmmakers and the depictions of gay sex acts that they’re creating are already coming under fire. In truth though, the scenes they’ve shot don’t come close to matching the powerfully ludicrous stupidity of the worst heterosexual sex scenes that film history has provided us with already. Just imagine what’s going to happen when some real hacks start deciding that they want to take a swing at depicting a gay relationship.

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Say what you will about Kechiche’s attempts at creating authentic expressions of lesbian love while filtering it through the male gaze, the scenes he directed in Blue is the Warmest color surely have an astoundingly insightful view of lesbian relationships when compared to the insane way the Twilight series depicts heterosexual sexuality. The scene in Breaking Dawn where Edward and Bella finally consummate their relationship while destroying the bed they’re doing the deed in is a particularly egregious example of the series’ simple-minded boiling down of male and female relationships into destructive lust on the male’s part and a willing absorption of abuse on the female’s.

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And if you want to talk about the nuts and bolts mechanics of the act of lovemaking, the woman who talks about falling asleep with your face buried in someone’s butt in the ‘Posture Magazine’ piece certainly has a point, but nothing that we saw in any of Blue is the Warmest Color’s sex sequences comes close to having the abject misunderstanding of human anatomy and the methods people use to link themselves together that the infamous pool sex scene from Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls does. The series of churning, spastic, completely bonkers motions Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan perform in that sequence surely had to have been conceived of by an alien who was just learning about humans and how they interact, weren’t they?

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Or how about when you tear apart the nuances of how people show affection when they’re engaged in the sex act. You can criticize Exarchopolous and Seydoux for clearly being two heterosexual women who don’t know how lesbians really interact with each other in intimate moments, but certainly they must get closer to the target than actor/director Tommy Wiseau and his leading lady Juliette Danielle do in the opening scene of Wiseau’s infamously terrible The Room. What heterosexual couple has ever had sex that involved that much flower play, intricate lingerie, or sheer bed hangings? If straight filmmakers shouldn’t be allowed to depict gay sexuality, then surely Wiseau shouldn’t be allowed to depict human sexuality of any kind, because that guy is from a different planet.

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Speaking of which, let’s not forget the fact that there was nearly a sex scene in Howard the Duck. No matter how exploitive, how off the mark, or how demonizing and inappropriate a sex scene involving a same sex couple gets, it’s highly unlikely that its affects on the audience who watches it could come anywhere near to being as damaging and mind-warping as watching an underwear-clad Lea Thompson climbing into bed with an anthropomorphic duck and trying to seduce him. No matter how you feel about the depictions of gay love that have started to seep into mainstream culture, love them or loathe them, certainly we can all agree that the worst is yet to come. Ironically, it could be the fear of that reality that ends up uniting us all. Maybe we should just start leaving sex scenes out of movies altogether.


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