copyright 2005 by Pat Powers
The most significant point in the history of bondage imagery -- possibly all sexual imagery -- in the movies occurred this year, when Jennifer Connelly won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film A Beautiful Mind.
So far as I know, there's not much in the way of sexual imagery in A Beautiful Mind, much less bondage imagery. And it doesn't matter. Because the REAL significance of the award is that she won it AFTER she played Marion Silver in the 2000 film Requiem for a Dream. In Requiem there's a scene at the end where Marion and another women have LESBIAN ANAL DOUBLE DILDO SEX while middle-aged white guys in suits laugh and cheer and throw dollar bills at them.
(Note: there's an edited version for Blockbuster and other censorious video stores, so for God's sake don't go to Blockbuster to get this film, you will NOT see the good stuff. And considering that the good stuff is all ultra-fast jump cuts and the film is one long, depressing piece of art-film dross, don't get it at all unless you have a particular reason to do so, as I did.)
And Connelly did NOT use a body double for the scene, it's very clear that that's her butt being reamed all righty. And while I'm sure lots of A-list actresses have had their butts reamed in the process of becoming stars, Connelly is the first one to do it on camera.
Requiem is basically an art film about the dangers of drug abuse, and while I have no brief for drug abuse, I am sure that in future years hip young people will get high and laugh their asses off at it, as the ending montage that includes Jennifers dildo scene also includes shots of other druggies being amputated, working on a chain gang, and a family member getting electroshock treatment.
It's funny because it ignores the actual bad consequence of drug use in our society, which is more than bad enough -- getting sentenced to prison for years, where your experiences may include beatings and homosexual rape, and that's if you're one of the lucky ones -- in favor of weird, eclectic things like amputation and lesbian dildo sex. It's like the pot-smoking guy laughing wildly and calling for insanely fast piano playing in Reefer Madness -- very much beside the point. Take that drug, gals, and YOU'LL be the one getting reamed by a foot-long double-dildo stuck in another woman's butt while middle-class white guys in suits throw lots and lots of money at you! (THIS is gonna frighten young girls facing a career of flipping burgers for minimum wage, um, yeah, that's likely.)
What does all this have to do with bondage scenes in movies? Only this: Connelly's Oscar award clearly shows that you CAN do really wild, edgy sex scenes and STILL get top roles in A-list films and win Oscars.
I don't think it's any coincidence that Nicole Kidman did a nude bondage scene in Birthday Girl in 2001 and Heather Graham did a nude bondage scene in Killing Me Softly in 2002. This would have been well before Connelly's award made it clear that edgy sex scenes are OK in Hollywood. But Kidman and Graham both have a history of being willing to take risks with nudity and edgy sex, and obviously such scenes are "in the air."
The ironic thing is that all this experimentation, in conjunction with the general retreat from edgy sex scenes in Skinamax soft-core films, means that at the moment mainstream A-list filmmakers are ahead of Skinamax films in the edgy, risky sex department.
And with Connelly's Oscar conferring a blessing on actresses who take risks (in the "right" kinds of films of course, i.e., art house and indie films with a "serious" them) look for more A-list actresses to take such risks. Look for second-tier A-list wannabes to take even more risks in films that maybe aren't so "right." And look for unknown actresses to do stuff in indie films that would make hard-core porn actresses go, "You want me to do WHAT?"
It's already happening, as demonstrated by Rachel Hunter's nude bondage spreadeagle in Spun and Maggie Gyllenhaal's spreader-bar wearing submissive in Secretary.
As bondage is generally considered wild, edgy sex, look for some ground-breaking mainstream bondage scenes as well. If Nicole Kidman is willing to be tied to a bed face down and naked in Birthday Girl, who knows what some wild-ass wannabe out there will be willing to do?
I'll tell you this much. I'm looking forward to finding out. Thank you Academy Awards voters. And most of all, thank you, Jennifer Connelly for having the 'nads to take those risks!