I can hear the movie's defenders already: "Bozell, you haven't seen it! You have to see it to judge it." But do some films really need to be seen before we can form a judgment that they're revolting? Aren't there concepts (think "Auschwitz comedy") that can be -- should be -- rejected out of hand, without a need for three days of deep contemplation? The avant-garde elite ask us where we should draw the line, but that's not their intent. They are daring someone to draw a line they won't cross.
Then there's that other sick Sundance sensation making headlines. Twelve-year-old Dakota Fanning, the star of "Charlotte's Web" and other family films, like "The Cat in the Hat," is starring in a five-minute rape scene in a film titled "Hounddog."
Is this -- this -- enough to shock the critics into denouncement? C'mon. David Halbfinger of The NewYork Times was perfectly predictable. After explaining how Fanning's character gyrates in her underwear, wakes up as her naked father climbs into her bed, demands that a pre-pubescent boy expose himself to her in exchange for a kiss and, finally, is raped by a teenager with the promise of Elvis Presley tickets, he attacked the moralists: "She's growing up. Get used to it."
For her part, Fanning is insisting people see this spectacle and be "touched" when they "see the truth" of the movie's theme of loneliness on screen. She is 12 years old, and Hollywood has her telling adults how to "aestheticize the sleaze right out of it." The world's gone mad.
Thankfully, there are a few people willing to speak the truth. Former child actor Paul Petersen has been vigilant in condemning the concept of a "tasteful rape scene" with a 12-year-old actress. "Nothing excuses it," he says, adding reports that the movie crew was so outraged during filming of the rape scene that they walked off the set. But sadly, the Sundance festival sees the exploitation of minors as only another courageous episode in the "diversity of artistic expression."
This year's Sundance makes last year's "Brokeback Mountain" look like a Disney release. God help us next year, when these "artists" plumb ever deeper.
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