Deborah Gyapong: Our taxpayers dollars are funding porn star Sook-Yin Lee

Our taxpayers dollars are funding porn star Sook-Yin Lee

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera on a Saturday afternoon and was appalled by an interview host Sook-Yin Lee did with a guy who reported on a computer conference and efforts to combine various sex toys with virtual sex online.

The dirty schoolboy/girl tone of the interview matched its graphic content and ever since I've been meaning to write to the CBC or to the Heritage Minister to protest.

Saturday afternoon someone could easily have had the radio on with children listening.

Now I see there's another reason why my tax dollars and yours should not be supporting the livelihood of this outrageous libertine.

From the Ottawa Citizen today:


Explicit sex -- with or without violence -- is an honourable tradition in Cannes, going back to such provocations as Gaspar Noe's Irreversible, Vincent Gallo's Brown Bunny and even David Cronenberg's Crash.

And now there's another Canadian connection: John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, an explicit comedy-drama about a group of young New Yorkers on a voyage of self-discovery, most of the time with their clothes off. The cast is headed by Sook-Yin Lee, host of CBC Radio's Definitely Not The Opera, in a performance that is -- and let me be the first to say it -- definitely not.

We meet her character, Sofia, leaning stark naked on a piano and having several varieties of what appears to be unsimulated sex with her husband Rob (Raphael Barker). Although Sofia is a sex therapist -- "I prefer relationship counsellor," she keeps saying -- she has never had an orgasm, and her journey on Shortbus includes encounters with an impressively rubbery vibrator and the insertion of a vibrating vaginal egg that is activated by a remote control. In a moment typical of the movie's wicked humour, the remote gets misplaced and someone uses it to try to change channels on the TV.

Sook-Yin Lee was almost fired by CBC when it was announced she was taking the role. "There was confusion and fear on the part of my bosses," she says now, adding that she was fascinated how they all supported the idea of the film, but they all said that the boss above them didn't want her to do it. The threat of firing was dropped in the face of a public protest supporting her decision.

"It was the most beautiful thing because in the end, my bosses just went 'Phew. You are allowed to do this. Go do it.'"


And there's more on the movie, via Dr. Sanity.

A US film featuring actors performing real sex is a "call to arms" against President George W. Bush, the director told journalists at the Cannes film festival.

"Shortbus," an explicit, largely improvised arthouse flick that includes a rendition of the American national anthem during a gay sex scene, is a direct provocation, director John Cameron Mitchell admitted.

"It's a little bit of a cri de coeur to us, a little bit of a call to arms" against the prevailing conservatism, he told a media conference, adding that his country was living in "the era of Bush, which is about clamping down, being scared."

The 43-year-old, whose previous work was "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," about a transsexual rock singer, said the film was his own small act of defiance against Bush.

"If you can't do elections you might as well do erections," he said.

Although the first half of the film is filled with sex, including orgies and masturbation, the act itself is not meant to be erotic but rather to challenge the audience and make it confront issues such as loneliness, the illusion of self-sufficiency and other seemingly unrelated problems, Mitchell said.


Dr. Sanity diagnoses the director:

This is the same kind of "artist" that delights in placing dung on an image of Mary and thinks he is making a serious statement about religion. The only serious statment he is making is about himself.

Most young children believe that their excrement-- and all their other bodily excretions--are pretty serious and special stuff; and for a brief time in their young life, they are correct (at least according to their parents). But real adults are expected to manage their exhibitionistic tendencies and not subject the rest of humanity directly to their unresolved shit. Great art--meaningful art--finds a creative way to transform those childhood conflicts into something positive.

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