Drive In Movie Review

So apparently there's a story today where Ted Cruz's campaign hired an actress named Amy Lindsay, but had to pull her ad because she was involved in something called "softcore porn." I wasn't sure what this category was supposed to mean. R-rated movies these days are sufficiently explicit that it's hard to imagine any territory lying between them and real porn.

Well, it turns out the lady has a page on Rotten Tomatoes that lists her filmography. I tried to find an online clip from "Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps" because the name was long enough that I figured it would be easy. All I found was a movie review without clips. I did manage to locate a couple of clips from "Bikini Airways," which I'm not going to post not because the clips themselves were offensive, but because the YouTube editor had added an intro piece of his own that might be too racy. Nobody in these clips is even unclothed, although the jokes are obscene (and very stupid).

The one she seems proudest of is a comedy called "Milf," which I'm not even going to try to find because I have a feeling I know what will appear if I should plug that term into the Google search box. The description the movie gives is, "Four horny college boys discover that older women have a ravenous sexual appetite to rival their own, and ditch their snooty co-eds to seek out ladies who know what they like in the bedroom."

Based on this brief bit of research, I'm beginning to think the real thing that distinguishes 'softcore porn' from R-rated 'romantic comedies' is low budgets and bad writing. Amy Lindsay is at least having honest fun with her work, or gives every indication of being so. Confer with Amy Schumer's high-budget 'romantic comedy' "Trainwreck" -- of which I have only seen clips of about the same length as the ones from "Bikini Airways," but which looks to be just as much a sex comedy -- and nobody minds having her show up to stand next to her cousin Chuck Schumer to talk gun control bills in Washington, D.C.

Chuck Schumer was right on this one. Cruz is competing for voters in the Bible belt, and I guess he thinks they'll hold it against him that he consorts with 'loose women' or something. If you find out he's having an affair with a racy actress, sure. If you find out he's a friend with a racy actress and likes to talk over political ideas with her, so what?

If you find out that a group of people he employed to make ads happened to employ her once without the two of them ever even meeting in person, come off it.

This concludes tonight's Drive In Movie Review.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Politics of perception rather than reality. I am reminded of Zell Miller discovering that even though 2/3 of the population supported allowing gambling, "the other 1/3 would defeat you." Makes no sense, but it's true.

Cassandra said...

I'm beginning to think the real thing that distinguishes 'softcore porn' from R-rated 'romantic comedies' is low budgets and bad writing.

The difference seems pretty obvious to me. The focus of rom-coms is a love story, sometimes served up with a few gratuitous sex scenes. You could take out the sex scenes and still have a movie that fulfills its purpose.

The focus of soft porn is sex, sometimes (but often not) served up with a small amount of dialogue and a plot line. You could take out the dialog and plot line and the movie would still fulfill its purpose.

They're not really comparable at all, except on the margins. But that could be said of any phenomenon with overlapping spectrums.

Cassandra said...

And no, I'm not a rom-com fan :p

I like action films, mysteries, and grand, historical epics (period pieces).

Grim said...

I haven't seen a 'romantic comedy' in a very long time, but my sense is that they've changed in recent years. "Trainwreck" apparently -- so the star says -- featured actual sex on film, not just simulated sex. If it had a plot that could survive the removal of the sex scenes, I'm not sure what it would have been.

"Bikini Airways," on the other hand, had a plot -- it was a paradigmatic example of the genre that Drive In Movie critic "Joe Bob Briggs" (a conservative who writes sometimes for National Review) labeled 'Save the Something With Breasts.' In this genre, a beloved landmark or family property or similar thing is going to be lost, but someone comes up with a great idea: beautiful women in skimpy outfits! Hilarity ensues.

Well, in theory. In this particular film the family property was Janus airlines, whose founder Hugh had died and left it to his daughter. (That's one of the 'hilarious' jokes: they took great pleasure in telling everyone that it was "Hugh Janus airlines.") She decides to restore prosperity by hiring sexy young stewardesses and having them wear bikinis in order to entice traffic.

I only watched the two clips, but it struck me as closer to a screwball comedy in tone than a sex film.


Zell Miller's state has changed a lot since he had so much trouble getting his lottery (although he got it, and it paid for my initial college education). The Georgia legislature this year is wondering if it couldn't license casinos.

In any case, I think Cruz is being ridiculous in his cringing away from this actress. This is a pretty robust standard of shunning -- 'I am ashamed that I hired someone who would hire someone like her, for one day only, for a single project' -- that seems absurd and unjustified.

Grim said...

By the way, Cass, I want to add that the other two movies I considered from the list -- I certainly didn't look at all of them, and some of them may be of a different character -- are likewise movies with recognizable plots. The "Saddle Tramps" movie is "Back to the Future III... with breasts." The "Milf" movie I didn't try to find clips for at all, but the description makes it sound like "The Graduate... with cornier sexual elements."

None of these are great works of Western literature, in other words. They're all derivative, Drive-In Movie style entertainment. I expect their intended audience is young couples for whom movie night was really an excuse to make out together in front of the VCR.

Should being a part of that world disqualify you from associating with 'decent people'? I can't see why. Should it disqualify you from participating in American politics as an equal citizen? I don't think so at all. Her opinions on politics are not less important or valuable because she was in some stupid movies.

Cassandra said...

Should being a part of that world disqualify you from associating with 'decent people'? I can't see why. Should it disqualify you from participating in American politics as an equal citizen? I don't think so at all. Her opinions on politics are not less important or valuable because she was in some stupid movies.

Did any of these things happen? How was she disqualified from participating in American politics?

I find it hard to understand where you're coming from on this one. On the one hand, I see you fiercely defending the right of religious folk to practice and defend their values (even those tenets that don't have wide acceptance in American culture). Here, you seem to be suggesting that religious people are terrible and wrong/bad for thinking what this woman has done is wrong, and perhaps that she is not the best spokesperson for a movement that seeks to bring traditional religious values back. Your description

You seem to be reading quite a bit into either my comment (where I would prefer to focus on what I did say) or the Cruz campaign's completely understandable reluctance to be associated with soft porn or movies that promote promiscuity and prostitution.

Judgement is the flip side of having standards that don't melt away the first time someone disagrees, and the moral standard set by most religions is higher than that set by popular culture.

I get it - you feel sorry for her. I feel less sorry - while I sympathize with her as a person, I also think it's kind of bizarre that she would act in an ad for Cruz without disclosing an obvious "gotcha" moment in the making. That seems deeply dishonest to me - any fool could have seen this would cause trouble for the campaign.

Had she told them, they could have made their own decision. But for reasons known only to her, she did not do so. That decision is far more damning in my mind than any stupid movies she might have made.

Grim said...

Sorry's got nothing to do with it.

I am a strong supporter of religious liberty. I also grew up under blue laws that prevented you from buying beer without driving to the next county. I find those laws irritating. I don't find them unconstitutional, but I advocate against them as objectionable -- as I advocate against shunning people based on the exercise of independent consciences that dissent from the imputed standard on female purity.

Which, by the way, really is imputed: I don't think Cruz was reacting to complaints from pastors of Southern Baptist churches, but to gotcha media having fun with him. He might have reacted just as well by saying, "I didn't hire her. I don't know her. She's an actress in an ad, and she did a good job. Her personal business is none of mine."

Cassandra said...

What on earth does not wishing to employ a spokesperson whose values in an area some Christians feel pretty strongly about (sacredness?) are pretty much 180 out from your own have to do with "shunning"? Your language seems awfully charged, considering the actual events in question.

I don't much like Cruz but there's no law involved here, nor do I see anyone being oppressed or shunned or prevented from participating in politics or told they can't be around "decent people".

I do see free people, freely expressing their values (which don't align with yours - or mine either. But then there's really no reason they should have to).

I guess I'm surprised at the strength of your reaction to something that strikes me as fairly unremarkable. This has nothing to do with laws (soft porn isn't illegal) or shunning. And it makes very little sense to me to compare Cruz's willingness to be associated with this woman to Chuck Schumer's willingness to appear in public with Amy Schumer (who doesn't make soft porn movies). The Left's professed moral standards wrt to sex and porn little resemble the evangelical Right's standards in that area.

Why does this bother you so much? I'm of the opinion that adults (in the old fashioned sense) ought to be able to make their own decisions in this area. This includes both the right to make soft porn movies, and the right of people to consider movies like "Confessions of a Call Girl" or movies about lap dancers and MILFs to be contrary to God's commandments in the area of sexual behavior.

As you know, I am not an evangelical, but even I understood that to be the case. Why should their values offend you?

Grim said...

I'm not offended by their values. They can value whatever they want. If they don't want 'soft porn' -- or real porn, or Amy Schumer -- in their lives, I think they should have every right to exclude those things from their lives. I've largely managed to exclude it from my life, indeed without much effort. I only know about the Schumer movie because a trailer for it ran the last time I went to see some other film.

If the language seems strong, I think it's appropriate. Cruz pulled an ad because an actress a firm he had hired -- who spoke one line in the ad -- had at some previous point done some work he thought someone might disapprove of morally. I say "shunning" because that's such a minimal degree of connection that to say even this is unacceptable means that only shunning would do for such a horrible woman.

Cruz has a legal right to do what he thinks best. I regard it as ridiculous, however, and inappropriately judgmental. Judgment that racy movies aren't appropriate is fine. Judging that someone who has engaged in racy movies can't be associated with you in even the most infinitesimal degree without sullying the virtuous image you want your political campaign to project strikes me as the kind of thing televangelists do. It's the conduct warned against in Matthew 6:5-6. It's the trumpeted public image of virtue, put up in place of virtue.

Cassandra said...

I say "shunning" because that's such a minimal degree of connection that to say even this is unacceptable means that only shunning would do for such a horrible woman.

Once again, you're projecting your interpretation onto Cruz. While you're free to interpret his actions however you like, I think that conflating refusal to appear to approve of what your faith considers an immoral act with condemnation (and a desire to shun) the woman herself is, to say the least, an exaggeration of exactly the same type the Left uses against the right all the time.

Example: righties who oppose homosexuality only do so because they think gays are horrible people who shouldn't be allowed to associate with decent, hetero folks, lest they contaminate us.

T'ain't a fair characterization there, either, my friend.

As to the Matthew verse, that has nothing to do whatsoever with this issue - it's an exhortation not to pray on street corners. Unclear what not wishing to hand your opponents a weapon to beat you over the head with in an election (or simply not wishing to appear to accept something your faith vigorously teaches is flat out morally wrong) has to do with praying in public.

Rick Santorum (whom you strongly supported in 2008) wanted to ban porn outright. Somehow I doubt he would have welcomed this association either :p

We'll have to agree to disagree.

Grim said...

I'm willing to agree to disagree. (Although the analogy to gays you present is inverted: the refusal to associate is demonstrable in this case, whereas it is theoretical in the other. Mostly conservative Christians do associate with gays even though they disapprove of their lifestyle: though they might not agree to participate in a 'gay wedding,' I can't imagine a Presidential candidate pulling an ad because it turned out that one of the actors was gay.)

I did support Santorum. I think Cruz is the best among the current Republican lot, for that matter. I reserve the right to disagree with them, too.

Cassandra said...

I can't imagine a Presidential candidate pulling an ad because it turned out that one of the actors was gay.

Only because that would be suicidal. At any rate, if there's a school of thought that people are born with an overmastering desire to make soft porn films like Confessions of a Call Girl or MILF, I'm not aware of it :p It's eminently possible to argue wrt to gays that they're "born that way" (and there's also significant popular support for that position).

I'm not sure one can say the same about choosing to star in soft porn films.

That said, fundamentalist Christians have argued that they shouldn't have to do business with gays (i.e., make wedding cakes for them, though marriage is not even close to being a solely religious phenomenon). If it were, one couldn't be married by a justice of the peace. Some people would argue that baking a gay couple a wedding cake is so tenuous a connection that refusing to do so amounts to "shunning" them.

And there's a fair amount of sense to this argument. No serious person thinks the marriage won't take place, "but for" the procurement of a cake. And no serious person would argue that selling a wedding dress to a lesbian constitutes tacit endorsement of gay marriage or homosexuality. Yet religious folk have demanded the right to freely associate themselves with persons of their choosing: a right which includes the right NOT to associate with persons NOT of their choosing.

It's the same right, and I support it in both cases. For the same reasons. :p

Grim said...

I'm not arguing against the right, but against the choice made in this case. Gay sex is also barred by traditional Christian teachings, but we don't refuse to hire gay actors or pull ads because it proves they happen to feature one. Fornication is not worse than gay sex according to the orthodoxy -- in fact, if you follow the argument closely, fornication is a big step above gay sex.

Should you have the right to refuse to hire gays? I suppose. Should you exercise that right so emphatically that, if you discovered you had happened to hire one by accident to say a single line in an ad about you, you pulled the ad? Obviously that would demonstrate an animus against gays that would be suicidal politically, as you say. But animosity towards women who don't adhere to traditional sexual limits or notions of female purity may be just as suicidal.

Not that political suicide should be the standard of what is right. What ought you really to do? Is it merely because it would be politically suicidal that you would not refuse to employ a gay man?