Zero Dark Thirty torture scenes, and Kink in the mainstream

So I guess the nice thing about living in Los Angeles is that we often get movies ahead of the rest of the country.  The BF and I already got to see Zero Dark Thirty.

Now, this movie, which is about what led up to the killing of Osama Bin Ladin, has been in the news quite a bit regarding it’s torture scenes.  Politically, the controversy is that the movie seems to imply that torturing prisoners provided information that led to Osama’s whereabouts, while many real life reports state the contrary–that torture did not provide any essential information, and that in fact many people in the CIA were against it all along (which is a viewpoint the movie doesn’t really provide).

While all that is indeed quite interesting, and there’s no shortage of articles discussing it if you’re interested (and it is quite interesting), seeing this is a kinky blog, I’d like to discuss that aspect, and what it may mean to our community.

Now, obviously, the key is context and consent.  Torture in these political scenes have no consent at all, which is a major difference.  The victim is an unwilling participant.  At the same time, I find it fascinating that in our world, once mutual consent is given, these same scenes are not all that different from what we see on countless kinky blogs and porn sites.  A guy is tied up.  Humiliated.  Put a collar on him, and is forced to crawl around.  Nudity as a tool of humiliation.  Placed in a very tight enclosed space, meant for maximum confinement.  Sounds like a hot time, doesn’t it?  All these are portrayed as unpleasant scenes in the movie.

The movie does show waterboarding, which is something that does draw the line even for us kinksters (as far as I know.  I’m not into breathplay, and I’d imagine even though who are, this is would be one of the more dangerous ways to go about it).  So that would cross a line, even with us.  And again, consent consent consent is a key difference.  I cannot stress that enough, even though it should be obvious.

Still.  It’s odd to watch a scene that causes revulsion and disgust in most of America and the world, and yet know the events of that same scene, in a different context with two willing participants, would be a turn on for others.  It’s a dichotomy that’s not so easy to resolve.

It’s also part of the reason that S&M is so hard to accept for non-kinky people.  They lump it in the same context as the torture seen in the movie, and can’t really understand how someone would want to be treated like that, and that a scene like that can in fact be played safely with mutually willing players.  Granted, it’s not easy to explain to someone not into it.

Another reason I personally feel it’s going to be tough for the kinky community to get mainstream support is that it’s considered too intimate.  Kinky sex implies, well… sex.  And in America, we’re quite uptight about sex.  I do think most are fine with whatever is done in the bedroom, as long as it stays in the bedroom.

Here’s a great example of what I’m getting to.  There was a movie called Edge of Seventeen, which is a semi-autobiographical film about coming out in the 1980’s.  I loved this movie (and they guy is very hot).  There’s a scene where he gets rimmed for the first time (it’s not explicit, and even played a bit for laughs… this is a coming of age story, not a porno).  The writter’s mother saw the film.  After viewing, he asked her what she thought of it.  She said she was a bit uncomfortable with the sex stuff.  He thought, “Aha!  You’re still not quite comfortable with me being gay!”  She replied, “I’m fine with you being gay.  But I didn’t need to know every detail of your sex life.  Would you want to hear me tell you how your father had me on all fours as licked whipped cream off my clit?” 

Okay, she didn’t say the last part.  But you get the point.  I imagine most of us wouldn’t want to hear every detail of our parent’s sexual lives.  So for similar reasons, they don’t want to hear about ours.  Thanks to @vagabondageBoy, I was made aware of an article about the gay kinky scene perhaps becoming future leaders in the gay movement.  It was removed due to protests.  I think part of the reason for that was for what I stated above… even our own gay community feels it’s too intimate to discuss.  And I also think most mainstream, non-kinky people, gay or straight, just don’t understand consensual BDSM.  They just jump immediately to what they know from movies such as Zero Dark Thirty.

I think the tide can turn.  But it’ll be very slow, and very gradual.  People like Tynan Fox, lecturing at the college circuits (which is a perfect age and audience for receiving new, open minded ideas) will be a great asset.  The growing number of kinky blogs and tumblrs will increase our reach.  Events like Folsom and Up Your Alley in San Francisco help.  But even those events are being tamed down for open public nudity, and I have a feeling a lot of people go for the curiosity and “look at these freaky people” attitude than we’d like to admit.  I know when there’s a kinky section to the LA Pride Festival, called Erotic City, it’s a mix of people into it, and people looking on with wide eyes–and not always the good kind.

While this all seems fairly despondent, it’s also the reason I think kinksters are the most open minded, close knit community people out there, embracing of many different aspects, and not being terribly judgmental whatever your kink is, even if it’s not our own personal one.  We know what it’s like to be discrimination for a myriad of reasons (being gay, kinky, leather, bondage, slave play, etc.), so we’re much less judgmental with others.  It’s a family, in a strange way, and a pretty cool one.

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