|Blogs > wiloma > The filmmaker's eyes|
In praise of Porky's
In praise of Porky's
I have many bad memories of the 1980s. Living in Reagan's America was a sort of commuted sentence, with no time off for good behavior. Awful music, detestable architecture and ghastly automobiles were threads of a poor story that wove together only just. Clearly the world was not only crazy but also about to destroy itself out of pure stupidity, greed and intolerance. I'm amazed people still cared enough about each other to hurl insults as they took time off from their incessant grooming of ego.
Beneath everyone's attempt to make tear-jerking blockbusters and overblown adventure movies, most films of the time were truly bad. But the teen sex comedies were bad in a unique way. Whatever one can say about the quality of such "gems" as "Private School" or "Porky's", one couldn't ever call them insincere. Everyone I knew watched them for the sole reason that it was a chance to see some genuine naked chicks, man. It was the last hurrah in many ways for the kind of drive-in movie that I grew up watching in the 70s. It was the last decade Joe Bob Briggs could still review drive-in movies constantly, without having to resort to videotape.
Teens no longer go to the drive-in with older brothers or permissive parents to see girls take off their clothes. Movies like "Hardbodies" are really a thing of the past. Unfortunately, there's nothing to replace the experience. Instead of the movies, with horny teens on the screen and a variety of naked starlets to be seen, teens see it all much less imaginatively but more explicitly online. Boys now go from knowing nothing about sex to having an unlimited license to whatever type of pornography they can click on from a computer terminal, and there is not much in the middle. The main problem here is that whatever faults the teen skin flicks had (and they were numerous, to be sure), when there was nudity or talk about sex, it occured at least in a context. Boys had to work in order to get a glimpse of tit, and girls had to work to get the naive boys into bed with them while still maintaining some illusion of eternal virginity. It was bullshit, but at least it said something about human relationships. And the flipside of this was the 80s horror film, in which horny teens became aware of the consequences of sex by dying painfully and gorily in dark, remote locations. Horror films were sort of the 80s equivalent of the Moral Majority, but at least the idea that sex was a human relationship (however lethal) still came through. The context was still there.
The explosion of the Internet as the biggest repository of human dreck in history has taken away the context. The mysteries of sex no longer occur within dramatized human relationships, but exist simply as images and hypertext not necessarily linked to anything other than the urge to masturbate. I'm not sure that's progress. The Internet has killed off the soft-core T & A movie, and in doing so it has really killed off human sexual mystery. I think it's also made people more jaded, looking for ever more weird and explicit variations in porn, all of which really looks like so much crap to poor folks like me. Whenever there are attempts to revive the genre, such as American Pie, or Band Camp, they are such conceited, self-reflexive turds that I fear for my stomach lining.
So now, while I'll never be nostalgic for the early films of Rob Morrow and Phoebe Cates, I'll always give them respect. I thought "Porky's" sucked, even when I was 13. I still think it sucks. But I miss it, somehow. It would be nice to have that sort of naivete back, but it's gone for good. I'm okay with that, too. I just wish there were something to fill that void.