Thursday, August 25, 2005
Please Make Me Want to Do What I Don’t Want to Do
I just finished watching the 2002 mini series version of “Dr. Zhivago.” It's a tragic story on both personal and socio-political levels, a serious film indeed. But for this blog entry I am focusing on one small aspect, a trivial one, so bear with me for setting aside the more important themes of the film.
My subject today is particularly Sam Neill as the evil but sexy Victor, who corrupts young Lara years before she falls for the good and noble Doctor.
It’s not easy to pull off a role in which you must evoke two opposing reactions from the audience at once. Sam Neill must make us feel repugnance (“he’s old enough to be her father, and such a terrible man—she should rebuff him!”) and attraction (“but wouldn’t it be fun if she gave in—after all, he’s really attractive in a deliciously evil sort of way”) simultaneously.
I have been haunted by the image of Keira Knightly’s Lara in Victor’s clutches, her expression alternating between despair and bliss. I can just imagine what he is doing to her below the line of the camera’s vision. And when she begs him to leave her alone, only to capitulate under his kiss, a person has to marvel at the potency of his charms.
I just love the “Please Make Me Want to Do What I Don’t Want to Do” Phenomenon. In this case, I imagine myself as this young girl who wants to be a good, pure person, to be with a noble young man of character. But my curiosity leads me to yield to the rich, powerful, sexy older man, just to find out what he would be like. Unfortunately for me, he happens to be an experienced master of the arts of pleasure. And even more unfortunately, I realize my involvement with him will cost me heavily: after all, he is a bad man, and what I’m doing is a scandal. So I’ve put myself in the position where I don’t want to do the very thing he makes me want to do…and that makes it twice as hard to resist.
Why? Because there if pleasure is so intense that it overcomes all our better judgment, it must be very potent indeed. The very act of giving in convinces us of this fact. The more we want to stop doing it, the greater kick there is in giving in.
Nowadays everyone understands the importance of the concept “no means no.” But when you’re talking about fantasy, I have to hark back to that old clichéd line of dialog, “Your lips say no, but your eyes say yes.” We have to admire the villain who is so confident of his sexual prowess that he sees through the rejection and recognizes the secret lust. It’s hard not to hope he won’t “press the point” so we can experience that wonderful moment when hands stop pushing away and start groping and caressing.
Just some light and trivial thoughts in the midst of the Bolshevik Revolution...