By Matt Berry, Guest Contributor
Last week’s Hollywood Reporter contains an almost comical story. Apparently, film industry insiders are blaming the poor box office performance of Basic Instinct 2 on the same people who started Global Warming and planned 9/11:
Paul Verhoeven, director of the first “Basic Instinct” (which scored $353 million worldwide) as well as “Showgirls,â€ attributes the erotic-thriller genre’s demise to the current American political climate.
“Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States,” said the Dutch native. “Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends.”
Of course, Basic Instinct 2 would have done better if it hadn’t been “banned.” It opened March 31, 2006 nationwide and was shown in close to 2,000 theaters nationwide. How would Verhoeven explain the box-office failure of Showgirls (1995) during the Clinton years?
Scribe Nicholas Meyer, who was an un-credited writer on 1987’s seminal sex-fueled cautionary tale “Fatal Attraction,” agrees, noting that the genre’s downfall coincides with the ascent of the conservative political movement.
We’re in a big puritanical mode,” he said. “Now, it’s like the McCarthy era, except it’s not ‘Are you a communist?’ but ‘Have you ever put sex in a movie?”
Observation #1: Who says American culture is “Puritanical”? Have they been confined in the Gulags of Russia since â€œLeave it to Beaverâ€ went off the air? Have they not watched Fox, CBS, NBC, or ABC every night of the week? We arenâ€™t even talking about cable. Have they not taken up amateur Ornithology and typed woodpecker into a Google search on the Internet before? Or have they not glanced through their little-sisterâ€™s Seventeen magazine?
Observation #2: Maybe Hollywood is so screwed up that normal American life does seem Puritanical.
Conclusion: Of the top 25 grossing films of all-time in the domestic U.S. only one is rated R: The Passion of the Christ. The remainder of the list includes puritanically boring films like Star Wars, E.T., Shrek 2, The Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and so on and so forth. Even the recently released C.S Lewis Christian-thriller The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe came in at #23.
Maybe America just doesnâ€™t want to see erotic-thrillers.
While Verhoeven and Meyer and the rest of HollyWeird get their kicks watching Grandma Stone take her clothes off, I will churn some butter, get in my horse and buggy, and go see something a little more puritanical.