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Review :: Gender
Bucky Larson As Fairytale: An Alternative Movie Critique
by Jeffery James
18 Sep 2011
Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star is, actually at times, a funny movie—although it is lewd, crude and cruel. Unlike most of today’s pornography it does have a storyline, some character development, and it is, at least to some extent, a sophisticated movie, even if it is awkwardly presuming about social acceptance. The acting is surprisingly good—especially Nick Swardson’s Bucky, the buck-toothed pornstar-want-to-be, with his fate of “dinky” penis but equally winsome, that is handsome, personality. But this movie is not about an individual so much as it is about the porn industry and its influence on sexual manhood. It is not a particularly good movie and brings to light so social issues worthy of consideration—topics of this essay.
Bucky Larson As Fairytale: An Alternative Movie Critique
By Jeffery James
Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star is, actually at times, a funny movie—although it is lewd, crude and cruel. Unlike most of today’s pornography (one subject of this movie) it does have a storyline, some character development, and it is, at least to some extent, a sophisticated movie, even if it is awkwardly presuming about social acceptance. Still it’s a romance story with implausible circumstance that includes a Don Quixote moment.
The acting is surprisingly good—especially Nick Swardson’s Bucky, the buck-toothed pornstar-want-to-be, with his fate of “dinky” penis but equally winsome, that is handsome, personality. And if his character is not particularly masculine—as he seems somewhat girlish—it makes him out as more humane and dear. He certainly is not a bully type. Intuition suggests he likely didn’t try out for wrestling title or win any such title. But he openly gets excited about life’s prospects and some of its volcanic rhythms. So you would not readily classify him as a Roman stoic soldier. In fact he even has lights that flicker in his running shoes. Plus he experiences sparkles in his head—a fairy type for sure. So this movie gets a star for good acting.
[Note: This critique is not meant to be a typical review that walks you though all the important details. This essay is meant more as social commentary taking off on some issues that may have been stumbled upon in the movie but nevertheless are worthy of some consideration. You may want to read other reviews to get the basics or see the movie itself.]
Does this movie deserve criticism as a cheap shot with its delirious hitting below the belt with such embarrassing concepts as a small penis size or ugly teeth? Yes. One reason this is so is because our American society is not one you would readily agree is all that sexually and socially sophisticated. Nor is it one that is nearly as preoccupied in understanding the mental health of sexuality as it is in creating crime shows and locking up prisoners. Furthermore this is not a society in which most people suffer from “too” much self-esteem. But people try to find their esteem anyway—which could include the knocking down of other people to their own level. But Americans are not flocking to this show seemingly advertised as an act of derision. After all there are many kinds of ugliness that a film producer could mock if he or she had such propensity.
Does Bucky Larson deserve to make a lot of money and be viewed by lots of people—dubious at best and probably not. (But we will not call it a bad movie—save for some of its perverse audacity. It actually has a humane point and arguably, feel-good, happy ending. So “…You go girl…” in an era where it is not so politically correct to be picked on gays. So this showing is not simply picking on stigmatized defects of some vulnerable person. (Still there is little “noble” about attacking shun-able features of physical deformity such as buckteeth since this is, in reality, a stab at families that cannot afford expensive orthodontic work—even if it is true that a “lot” of money is paid to dentists to do such work around the nation—and even if it is also true that a “lot” of money is paid to cover up a “lot” of kinds of imperfections—presumed or real.) After all we live in a society where groceries stores throw produce away at the slightest blemish. But hey we are not spoiled in our expectations and taste.
Does this movie seem different in that it touches on some subjects most movies do not? You betcha!, with attempt at innocence but not so tactfully. But are there subjects “too” sacred or too taboo to even discuss or make fun? Probably there are some but not so many (yet we learn about social rules and norms sometimes by violating them). Besides sexual issues, in general, ought be grist for the social mill—because sexuality is, supposedly, part of our humanity and part of our animality. Therefore the movie gets another star for at least bringing up some social issues plenty hide in the darker reaches of the human psyche—not that you are really provoked to think much—it is about the heart.
After all what subject is more loaded with more potential layers of shame, guilt, ridicule, but equally fascination than sex, be it related to one’s self-esteem about physical presentation or other matters of fantasy or practice? (Or why does a pornography industry even exist if it did not meet some kind of need?) It would not be surprising if most people in this society didn’t have some fantasy they would “not” want shared with everyone and anyone because after all, plenty of people tend to be highly judgmental, tend to be misinformed or smugly prejudiced, or tend to be sadistic or stupid. Not everyone is all that much fun to associate—especially in the “mortal” world from which fairies have pretty much disappeared. So sexual prying as predation and the stealing of secrets, such as from cell phones, can be another form of social terrorism. And oh the rumor mill churns as miscreants with no exciting life of their own ending being concerned about other peoples’ issues. (Satisfied people don’t care much about other peoples’ issues and dramas.)
But there are fewer handicapped subjects left that haven’t been officially declared politically incorrect to tease, taunt or spoof. For example, it wouldn’t be kosher to make a movie that pokes fun at a hair-lipped person. But then, like the pornographic industry itself, some like to push the envelope to see what gives. If a boy-man dork with buckteeth as big and wide as a snowman’s plow, and with a penis as small as a soda straw isn’t the trick then what is—because, after all, in this culture, such caricature will make others feel better about their own sexual self-esteem. Imagine that. Did we need a shot in the arm or what?
Perhaps we did. In this American world of macho manhood, crude sound-bites, rap rudeness, and pricks everywhere (maybe even maintaining “secret” prisons where torture and sexual humiliation may be still happening), we ask ourselves what could be more funny than a blonde guy with a Swedish name from the corn-country of Hicksville, Iowa, with his 70’s homemade haircut cut by a bowl over the head, and girlish disposition, trying to compete against “sophistic” studs out West where the “real” men live and thrive (at least their egos strive)?
[Note: as side trivia it was a man by the name of Stieg Larsson from Sweden who wrote the NY Times bestseller “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. He was an expert on the study of right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. Whereas in California dreaming has plenty of tattoos but even such people don’t really have much in the line of a dragon spirit. This is to say that people here, on average, are just as mediocre of mind and attitude as anywhere else.]
The reason this movie works as a comedy is because Bucky is socially retarded—that is he doesn’t already understand he is a looser in other peoples’ eyes—because he has “not” internalized the shame of not “measuring up” to the standards of this society—irrespective of how those standards have come to be. He’s mesmerized by the fairy glamour that his “internal” beauty will carry the day. So as the movie goes with this theme it becomes a romance in which an ugly frog with a pretty heart gets kissed by a pretty princess (although the “hoax” is that this would never happen in real life—especially in our narcissistic culture in general and Hollywood and the porn valley in particular—which is why this story is a fairy tale). After all since when was physical beauty not a requirement to be a movie star? And you can bet many attractive women here have criterion lists that are fairly long about who and what is acceptable as a soul mate and a lover. So if you are waiting for attractive California to notice your eternal beauty you may be waiting a long time.
But the plus side to being rejected as less than worthy is that you are not trapped with the responsibility for being a breeder—no matter how nice the house or cosmetic the décor. So face it: Bucky ain’t getting married to a movie star—period. He’s living in some Disney world.
Whereas if you have ever dealt with handicapped and retarded people (say with IQ below normal) you might find some are enjoyable to laugh with—even more so than “normal” people within one or so standard deviations of the norm of American intelligence. They can sometimes laugh at and create dirty jokes with real insouciance—which is not so true for most people socialized to the normal prejudgments of culture.) For example they don’t automatically know that pink is obviously feminine in color, or that cosmetics are equally, obviously feminine. (In truth such things as dress and costume are conceptual fabrications of culture often created by gay fashion designers. There is nothing obvious that men wear their short and women long—it is a convention.) Still they don’t assume the obvious as so black and white and common-sensical.
Bucky really was “not” destined to be a porn star. Granted, there are some flabby-ass, less than handsome, men who make it into the porn industry. A few may even have dildos crafted after their own image. But they are not particularly handsome—yet they have, according to the American standard of materialist, super-studdism—the donkey-dong—which is what is required (at least a premise of the movie and plenty of pornography). How much talent and personality does one need in films that have no story line or depth of character save sexual arousal, action, and climax (or the splattering of seed onto a façade of a thing called a face)? It doesn’t take a genius.
Nevertheless we have an issue worthy of consideration—the American penis (because this movie is not about Iowa and Republicans who think Michelle Bachman is the great, new, hope). But consider that in the philosophy of aesthetics a dominant theory says the “perfect” average of features creates beauty. Yet apparently this does not apply when it comes to male genitalia and pornography. Anyway, “elitism” of size is the standard people are supposed to honor as worthy here in the land of the free and brave. Nevertheless once there were statues and pictures of naked men in ancient Greece and Rome that one did not include exaggerated pendulous penises, and we can suppose that people didn’t automatically think about how “dinky” the materialism.
So when Christina Ricci (as Kathy the cute waitress) with her apparent love for Bucky confesses she too is a virgin and would like to consummate her virginity with “him” she devises a condom for safe sex out of a piece of a soda straw—to communicate more explicitly how small a “part” she is dealing. But as parody of the grotesque, we should objectively compare this detail to all the “big” dildos (and humor toys mocking the little “pink” penises, such as drinking straws and pencils often found in porn shops).
This better informs us to what is not too much discussed as strident joke from this industry and retail market. But supposedly the steadfast objects as vibrators are reliable, mute, and safe, and they come without the hassle of dealing with the messy human psyche and its relational baggage. But some dogmatic literature tells us it is “men” who use pornography to evade intimacy. Still we should not feel deprived if such objects haven’t created any competition away from the realm of human interaction.
Nevertheless the pendulum is swinging the other way as social commentary on a running joke about big and little parts—irrespective of who or what is the butt of this kind of humor. Because humor is not represented as residing in one organ. Rather it is part of one’s personality—and personalities, as well, have sex and harbor fantasies. You could claim one’s humor resides in one’s mind just like some sexologists might argue the brain is man’s biggest sexual organ (but then if people knew that it might go to their head and we would have people bragging about hat sizes).
An American-Jewish professor, who taught in a Humanities department once attacked the student newspaper because something that pretended to be funny was really racist. He said people reveal more than what is obviously supposed to be funny in what they claim to be just a joke. So when we produce art, or when we judge things, or when we criticize others we reveal part of ourselves as well. Things get a little subjective as even the names and labels you use to classify and call others say something about you.
There were a couple of jokes in this movie referring to Bucky’s buckteeth as that of a rat. This reference, to some extent, reflects mankind’s idealization human beings are “above” all other animals in the animal kingdom, and so any hint of “rodentia” (tooth gnawing) traces, such as going back to a rat would not be particularly appealing, even if some have also learnt in biology class many organs in a rat are uncannily similar to those in a human carcass. (Yet there are probably more psychologists interested in the rat’s brain and it’s behavior.)
Many are not terribly comfortable with a simian (ape) past either, yet some of the footage has Bucky masturbating, as if re-examined, looks a bit like something a primatologist would study for facial characteristics revealing emotion. Nevertheless, the last time you were at the zoo did you notice that the most prominent part of the ape and chimpanzee were their penises swinging too and fro within the trees and thus casting down shadows everywhere so nothing could grow?
We digress, anyway, soon after arriving on the bus from Iowa Bucky is technically a homeless person. By a stroke of luck he finds a place to stay, unfortunately with a jerk, but later is invited to a party, put on and attended, by the San Fernando Valley crowd of pornographers and its actors. This invite is by an Afro-American producer after Bucky inappropriately stripped down his pants in an audition form a cheese commercial.
We note it was apparently politically correct to not have black men in this movie portrayed as pimps or ones dominating in any way the male side of heterosexual skin flick industry. Some author once wrote that it was OK for black men to be having sex with white women because when blacks were slaves white men had sex with black women. One wonders how such a rationalization goes over with black women. Equally an Aftro-American actor in the porn industry was apparently interviewed and he said something to the affect that he didn’t understand why there was a market for titles like Black Bros and Asian Ho’s or Blacks On Blondes but apparently it served some need by the insecure white man? Apparently it’s like producers in the music industry making it cool for white teenagers to want to act black and rap—rather than being themselves—but who is really producing this stuff?
So we see plenty of attractive white women at the pornography party all dolled up like girls from Sex In The City—as honestly representative. But as far as studs go it had mostly white men. And guest what—the biggest stud in the business was a “blonde” guy played by Stephen Dorff with stage name as Dick Shadow—when in fact in the real business few blonde men are even in heterosexual films—similarly to oriental men seldom having such roles—and so this is not particularly honest. In fact if you go into a strip club in a city of size and you likely see plenty of blonde female strippers but even the male staff of bartenders or barbacks, DJs bouncers, etc., are not much blonde men as representative.
So one question is why was it necessary for Nick Swardson to take a Swedish name and become blonde as an unsophisticated rube from the Midwest hinterlands going to the great Mecca of porn in Hollywood? Is there some kind of message not being articulated? Is there some kind of joke not told—like the fact that the small towns of America are providing the toot soldiers as fodder to fight in wars others in urbane America are less inclined to volunteer? Are we sending the barbarian hordes to kill off darker peoples and Semitic Islamic peoples in lands we don’t really know much about? After all Iowans don’t really have much say in the U.S. capital—because with their “nice” Midwestern charm they might actually think Palestinians should be treated like human beings—irrespective of what powerful lobbies such as AIPAC thinks.
But still it was interesting this movie to so readily portrayed the rural farmer community as living back in time of innocence and bestiality assuming the rural hick to be particularly prone to regional jokes—even if it true that city urbanites keep plenty of pets of their own where even nubile and presumably sophisticated women like to walk their dogs in California cities (and occasionally one might see a picture advertisement, being a tad suggestive, with a sexy woman with dog on leash close to her leggy legs as occasioned on glossy, posh magazine).
But this not-so-funny commentary is not in the spirit of Bucky Larson’s Born To B A Star. The movie was meant to make light of issues people generally keep in the dark or take too seriously—such as embarrassment and shame about physical aspects of the conscious and socialized self. Besides there is nothing automatically wrong with movies that try to poke fun at various kinds of whimsy of genetic caprice. Still people born with “ugly” traits are already rejected personally many times over their lifetimes for their defects as a thousand natural shocks that soul is heir to. They don’t need to be humiliated from the rooftops of public exposure—even if they volunteer like some kind of autistic person to undress in front of others and act in bizarre and frenetic manner.
So then the “risk” of this risqué movie left its creators open to questions about their intent and attitude because you can’t say it is not a lowball movie. Still even the “rational” human is not so perfectly calculating and omniscient in his affairs. He does not always know the ramifications and consequences of his choices. Sometimes he just acts from impulse or some unconscious desire—irrespective of how many people may have “authoritarian” and “caustic” points of view on the matter.
But consequences don’t always come without emotional baggage whether it is choice of humor or sexuality. It was Nietzsche who first said: “Stuff happens—get over it—after all you are just human”. We don’t really appreciate that nature is deeper and sometimes more powerful than human rationality. We humans like to impose our expectations on nature. For example we may adhere to some dogmatic believe that women should have an orgasm too and so if a male emitted before then he had a so-called “premature” ejaculation. Yet this is human ideology—that is this label that helps sell Viagra and the ideal that a man should last a “long” time—as if the proper male thing to be is not too sensitive.
And we have plenty of sex words with negative connotation like swear words and denunciations. The whole enterprise seems fraught with traps and mines. And whatever you do don’t make a social mistake when it comes to sex, fantasy, and desire because the world will not easily forget it. Even though the instruction manual on how to be social and sane when it comes to sex in the U.S. sucks you are nevertheless expected to be ever so perfect and correct. Otherwise “pervert” will forever be a scarlet letter on your forehead.
But we might ask why there is not more light shown on the porn industry itself as being kind of bestial with people—given there is so much money made in this business? Isn’t there any room for improvement here and also in society’s attitudes? You cannot humanely argue that porn has no redeeming value—that it is all trash.
Still why would anybody want to become either a movie star or a porn star given the abuse they seem to endure one way or another—such as the paparazzi willing to photograph for publication whatever degrading or embarrassing picture they can gain? Or why would people want to have sex on film like all they are—is so many organs and orifices in physical maneuverings—that is repetition again and again—either with or without the Viagra and chemicals?
Even if we forget self-righteous diatribes by some sanctimonious feminists who claimed “all” pornography is male violence against women. Quite arguably this is not true. But it is seemingly true that “some” seems either violent or degrading—not to mention not particularly hygienic. And apparently for the most part male run and create this industry primarily for men’s pleasure with a profitable margin. Yet perhaps behind the scenes some persons are not all that perfect in every sense—no matter how urbane and worldly they may think themselves? Maybe they may have never bailed hay or shoveled manure physically but just maybe there is a bit more ugliness to this industry, than say, the ego’s concept about the size of one’s tool?
And notice there seems to be almost no anxiety about the size of women’s genitalia—even if somehow this culture has managed to create plenty of anxiety about the size of breasts). Have you ever heard of a man rejecting a woman because of the size of her vagina? (But hey no double standard here.
More importantly, and paradoxically, the penis, at least constitutionally, does not seem to be masculine—despite it having physical structure as male identity. It is not composed of muscle and bone like much of the human anatomy and therefore it is not as subject to human “will”. You could say, for it being thought as some mechanical “part” (as in this movie’s advertisement: “…There are no small actors just small parts…”) it is mostly affected by the central nervous system and un-scene chemicals such as hormones. It is primarily composed of tissue and nerve—in fact a “lot” of nerve endings. It is basically like a balloon. And it is sensitive—but don’t tell men because it might sound feminine to call his erection sensitive. (This way big city urbanites can maintain conceit that size is what matters most—the more extreme the better, and the more activity, and the more orgasms, etc. the better. It’s all about quantity and about conquest.
So in this jerky world of frenetic activity will there be any attention given to “sensuality” with a more relaxed manner? Or must we continue to watch how fast and furious she gives head as if one must be overloaded with stimuli?
You might think being human would include an appreciation for the animal nature of the human animal, and that sexuality can not be reduced to simply mechanical realities and technical issues, and that sex is not easily isolated from personality or other social concerns, and that this could lead to more satisfaction in life. But it is not easy to navigate such seas in a culture that basically has a stultified and condemnatory attitude in general and an “American” porn industry that is hardly perfect—reflecting back on culture—for both the good and the bad of it.
“You go girl!” because if you ever wake up to reality you may notice others are ugly in their own way—which seems to summarize the point of the movie.
This work is in the public domain