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CTMP 3304 (1)
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Lecture

Bonnie Klein

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Department
Contemporary Studies
Course
CTMP 3304
Professor
n/a
Semester
Winter

Description
Bonnie Sherr Klein Not A Love Story: A Film About Pornography Suzann MacKinnon 12/06/2011 GWST 3304.01 Professor S. D. Hamilton Bonnie Sherr Klein was born in Philadelphia in 1941. She attended Akiba Hebrew Academy, a Jewish highschool, which introduced her to Tikkun Olam. This is an ideology that translates to "healing of the world" and teaches "a sense of responsibility to make the world a more tolerant, peaceful, and compassionate place" ("Library and Archives Canada", 2010, para. 1). One could say that this idea has been present in all of her films, including Not A Love Story: A Film About Pornography, which is the film that this paper will analyze. Bonnie earned her Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College in 1961. She also got a teaching certificate from Temple University and studied theatre at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and at Stanford University in 1962-1963. It was after watching documentaries made by the National Film Board of Canada ("National Film Board", n. d.) that she switched from theatre to film. She received a Master of Arts in Communication with a major in film and television in 1966. The following year she moved with her husband, Michael, to Montreal as Vietnam War resisters. In Montreal she worked as director and producer for the NFB program called Challenge for Change. It was in 1975 when Bonnie joined Studio D and worked on various documentary films as either a producer or director. Some of the films she made while working with Studio D was A Working Chance / Du coeur à l'ouvrage (1976), Harmonie (1977), Patricia's Moving Picture(1978), and The Right Candidate for Rosedale (1979) ("National Film Board", n. d.). She tackled various issues and in 1981 she "took on the phenomenon of pornography" ("Library and Archives Canada", 2010, para. 10) in Not A Love Story: A Film About Pornography. During her time with Studio D she continued to be not only a filmmaker but an activist as well. She was on the NFB's program committee for years and continually brought a feminist perspective to what she 2 felt was the "invisible institutional bias toward male filmmakers, subjects, ideas, and audiences" ("Library and Archives Canada", 2010, para. 12). In 1987 when Bonnie was 46 years old, she suffered two strokes that caused her to become quadriplegic and she needed a respirator to breathe. A surgery was performed to remove a tumour from her brain later that year, which was successful in that she could breathe on her own and move her body. She spent the next three years in rehabilitation and can now get around on a walker or a scooter (of which she named it 'the Goddess') ("Library and Archives Canada", 2010). Ten years after her strokes, she published a book about them and how they changed her life. In 2004, seventeen years since her last film, she made a documentary called SHAMLESS: The ART of Disability about disability and art. Of all of her films, Not A Love Story: A Film About Pornography is her most well known ("National Film Board", n. d.). According to Library and Archives Canada (2010), "the film initiated huge debate wherever it was shown. It served as briefing material for a federal standing committee, an educational resource for police, and ammunition in a 1983 nation-wide protest against allowing Playboy on pay television. It was banned in Saskatchewan. In Ontario the Censor Board refused to classify it but this only led to hundreds of private screenings. Not a Love Story went on to become one of the most popular and commercially successful films the National Film Board of Canada ever made " (p. 10). The film is centered around Bonnie and Linda Lee Tracey, a stripper, as they travel through the world of pornography via peep shows, strip clubs, and sex supermarkets. Both of the women are interested in pornography in regards to the various forms it takes, the 3 reason(s) why it exists and how it affects relationships between the genders. The viewer is brought into different strip clubs as well as interviews with feminists and self-help groups as Linda Lee and Bonnie discuss issues relevant to pornography and what it means in terms of patriarchy, capitalism, and relationships between men and women. The film includes interviews with workers, both men and women, within the pornography industry as well as critics and opponents to the industry. The film opens with a series of valentines that range from 1940's soft-core to late 1970's/early 1980's hard-core style and proceeds to show the viewer Linda Lee and her Little Red Riding Hood strip act. Linda Lee is the star of the film because, even though Bonnie accompanies her throughout the film, it is Linda that is the central focus. As well, she is the only character in the film that is the film's dramatis persona, in that she is the one person who is "transformed within the film by the very experience of making the film" (Rich, 1983, p.58). Part way through the film she makes a comment about how her journey into the world of pornography is starting to get to her on an emotional level. The film ends with Linda Lee speaking about her feelings towards the things that she had seen and done during the course of the film. In particular, it was the pornographic pictures that she agreed to have taken that made her realize the inherent objectification in pornography. She felt that she was "moulded into sexlessness, into an object, a common rehearsed just-add-water sex Goddess" (Klein, 1981) and that she was "seduced by the stare of all the pretend men in the eye of the camera" (Klein, 1981). It is this focus on heterosexual pornography and the exclusion of all other types of pornography that I found to be of interest. One would think that if you wanted to create a 4 film to start a discourse on pornography you would want to include all forms of it - or at least homosexual pornography, including lesbian pornography that is largely created for a male audience. Perhaps the reason for the focus on heterosexual pornography made for a male audience is simply due to the era it was filmed in. This film was released in the early 1980's and much of the focus of the film was on how pornography became such a large industry throughout the 1970's. The reason for its noticeable growth during the 1970's could be because of changes happening in many other areas of society. For example, there was a growth of more equal relationships in heterosexual households as well as a growth in the gay movement, patriarchal ties started to loosen, there was a dramatic rise in divorce rates, more pre and extra-marital sex, and easier availability of birth control and abortion. (Thorton, 1986). All of these changes helped to change the way people "experience, express and live out the sexual part of their lives" (Thorton, 1986, p. 26), which could be the reason why there was a change from "soft" to "hard" pornography, along with the increase in strip clubs and sex clubs during the 1970's. Not A Love Story can be described as a feminist film, or even a radical feminist film, yet the point of view of the film is that of the objectifying male gaze. For example, the scene of the strippers performing their act are shot from the audience and this turns the viewer into the male customer. In the masturbation booths in the sex shop, the women communicate with men via a telephone and they can see each other through a pane of glass. Bonnie shot the interview with the woman in the booth in the exact spot the men sit in, almost as if she were shooting it over the shoulder of one of the men. No second camera is ever used in th
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