Don Jon by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I don’t get to watch many movies in the theater these days, but last weekend I saw Don Jon with my bff when she was here to visit. When I went to see the movie, I didn’t realize Joseph Gordon-Levitt had also written and directed the film. I’ve always liked Gordon-Levitt, but in the last few years, he’s been blowing me away with his work. So, I was already cheering him on when I read the opening credits.

Don Jon is an impressive writer/director debut. It was as delicious blend of eye candy, low brow humor and content, but also had some really smart themes. It’s no secret that this movie is, partly, about porn. Porn accounts for many billions of dollars in the US economy, and so clearly we need to be talking about porn.

*Spoiler alert-ish* This movie is not just about porn or porn addiction. In fact, the overall message about porn is a little ambiguous. Viewers can draw their own conclusions–to an extent. I’m pretty sure some fans will come away from the film thinking that it is too “sex negative” in regards to porn. If you’re skeezed out about porn, you should definitely watch this film. It tackles interesting themes, but is not gratuitous (if that’s what you’re worried about).

The most important concept, or at least my take home message, was about how social obligations and expectations (especially surrounding religion, marriage, and family) can be detrimental to human sexuality. Of course, people also say porn isn’t real, and it ruins people’s sexual expectations. (I doubt that is always true. I think it is possible to separate the two.) However, beyond that, the film also addresses this really important point, which is how hegemony–not just pornography–works to create social obligations and expectations that probably have very little to do with humans enjoying themselves as sexual beings. This is really fascinating stuff to think about, and I’ve been mulling it over for the past week.

Go see the film. If you’re a “Barbara” or a “Jon,” try to get something out of the movie. If you’re an “Esther” go to the theater and clap at the end.

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