Don Jon

Don Jon

It's a considerable task put to Julianne Moore's Esther for her to present as the preferable alternative to porn as porn and our porn-watcher are presented here, and I don't think she manages it. Jon--the watcher--has his life perfectly compartmentalized. There's his time at the dinner table, his time at the gym, his time at church and the confessional, his time at the bar with his friends, his time in bed with this week's select girl, and his time afterwards in porn--summed up nicely each time with a single crumpled up tissue sent into a black waste bin--and in none of these activities does he feel a disadvantage. I mean by this that though he's a millennial and not an owner of a home, nor of a job that puts him outside of being defined as a loser or as underclass servile--he's a bartender--he's not mastered in his family home, his job place, amongst his friends, nor anywhere else, exempting sex, whose for-him arduous quality requires a besting amendment. His life seems perfect, an already commendable, substantial realization for anyone fraught with being a mastered young man ill-placed to make any kind of stake against the world, until rather than settle for his usual 8-or-9-in-hotness babe he goes after a 10, and he starts loosing leverage over his life. Scarlett Johansson's Barbara culls Jon to her powerfully, and each step towards her she uses to adulterate him in a way more amenable to her. Julianne Moore is too old to be within the echelon of women Jon and his friends would even rate, and is more like someone sage--an Obi Wan ... or a croon, even--needling him insights to loosen and unroot him from an allegiance to a sun-radiant sashaying shrine of a woman he can do little but obey and forbear. She also gets him to rethink his attachment to porn, by showing him that a great, nurturant, reciprocal relationship with a woman--with her, in this case--can give him the high he thought only obtainable through it.


In effect, what she's doing is akin to unrooting someone to their obsession with, say, texting, to spend more time directly involving himself with people. Once you know how great a real-life conversation can be, you'll lose your interest in the shallows of more generic and detached conversations ... ostensibly. But clearly to millenials there is worse than something detached and not entirely satisfying, and that is, that whatever is too pronounced and of too much affect can subjugate your shallow defences and eventually overwhelm and subjugate you. That phone call that you think communicates more than the text, that is obviously a better, a richer, form of communication, is to millenials an affect-loaden, commanding mother's harague that can't be dialed down into something just font and text, on a device never stripped of its potency as an authoritative cultural object to diffuse everything communicated into it into a community that has been messaged the same thing before. So her learning him to be a responsive partner and to enjoy reciprocation and conversation development, may be a genuinely helpful learning, until his ability to imagine himself a kind of device which powers down people's ability to dictate terms to him, lapses, and he becomes a kid who has lost his varnished advantage--his youthful alpha perfect form and sexual potency--to a crackening, wise older woman, who has hard-earned won the argument over who should be allowed to break in every part of innocent, ignorant him. She's a superior Barbara, that is, in that there's no one out there to lesson him on how he might be better off without her. Which may be why the film inflicts her with a periodic tendency to shut down, broken over rememberance of her lost family, so to become sort of a null object he can actually act over from time to time.

If this film was true life, Jon would forgo her the first moment possible--making his switching off at some moment where she had curled into herself once again in pain. He'd bookend her experience with her with it lending him the authority to talk back to Barbara and acknowledge the rightness of his feeling neglected by her (guys are going to like this moment in the film), and perhaps with his gaming how he schedules and goes about his life a bit--a bit of social mixing it up with basketball might be better than just the familiar routine of weights--but otherwise return to what he had, with maybe also a bit more sass at the church, and so not just with his dad. He'd forgo the commanding 10s this time, spot out the less-fielty-owed 8s and 9s, and every week, catch one. He'd take them to bed, which though it punished him with missionary sex which hardly flatters the form of his mate, reducing them to compressed, blockened slabs of somnambulist flesh, though it means felatio which terminates just when its getting good, or which from the start--when he's eating her out--is pretty rank and foul, is still something which might lend life into his follow-up routine of amended sex through porn. He's a hunter who can claim more from his follow-up routine of administrating, handling, and plying apart his prize stalked prey, than can the big game hunter readying things with a blooded carcase for a later feast.

In short, a device clearly used to make guys who watch porn not feel like they're losers--he's a guy who's got an active sex life, and with total scores--probably has most of them thinking that though they like the involvement of the Obi Wan Kenobi female friend, they'd just-fine take what Jon has from the start. And you can understand why apparently some porn companies cooperated with the film. Here presented is a fully honest account of why guys go to porn, and apparently it's as innocent-dewed as Playboy magazine in the 1950s. Guys go to it for better tits, better ass, and a feeling of empowerment and satisfaction they don't always so much feel in sex, which can turn servile. Not ideal, maybe, but understandable, and hardly character defining--a bit hen-afflicted man still turning his head at the gorgeous young blonde strayed into his path ... quintessential manhood. But go to a porn site, and see if this is what you see. Do you perhaps instead see something a little bit more disturbing than just chasing down the perfect ass? Or even, something more salutary than just cold sex, stripped of any genuine sensuality that might have been more evident in porn during the free-love 1970s? Maybe what you get is a lot that is damning men, making them beyond recoverable--a heightened longing for revenge, not compensation. Rape fantasies. And maybe also a bit that is genuinely buttressing them, giving them some company that is actually teaching them a thing or two about mutuality, but delimited by being entirely under their control.

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