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Friday, August 13, 2010

Nazi Sex

Do some scenes go too far?

In Schindler's List, the movie opens with the Commandant of a concentration camp in full coitus with a pretty blond. He stops mid-coitus to randomly shoot prisoners who seem to be waiting around for target practice.

I stopped watching.
A half hour went by and no hero. I already know the villains, The conflict could have been established with one line of dialogue explaining why Schindler felt compelled to do all he could to help. I was bummed. I love Liam Neeson.
I was told they were trying to establish villainy.
What? Your job is to work people to death while starving them and this fails to establish villainy?
Man, and people say I'm a hard sell.

I believe there are stories strong enough to stand without gratuitous sex.

Inglorious Basterds had a sex scene only thirty seconds long. The point of view character meets another French woman and envisions her as a Nazi sex toy. The scene didn't bother me as the character saw the woman as a traitor. The image was compatible with her point of view.

The Diary of Anne Frank was mandatory in sixth grade. As it stands now, it is an uplifting story about a girls' faith in humanity despite the fear she was forced to live with.
"Despite it all, I believe there is good in every one." The last diary entry is one that has wrenched the hardest hearts and inspired people to believe that love will ultimately triumph.

The diary is now old enough to go into public domain (along with Mien Kampf)
There are those who wish to add more sex to her diary.
Please keep in mind Anne was 12.
She was locked up with two teen-agers, and five adults. Any sex added would have to be affairs her father or another adult had.
Now that all involved are dead, there are some who want the diary to be a tell-all.

The diary has survived this long because of the innocence and faith behind a little girl's words.
As authors, we are told we write to entertain. Sex is part of life and entertaining to the reader.
Anne wasn't trying to entertain.

She was a brave girl who lived each day she was given before the Gestapo found her. Her story needs no "spicing up". This is a story strong enough to survive on its own merit, and has for decades.

When I chose the cover for "Kindertransport" the edelweiss flower is growing from the middle of a swastika. The flower represents pure love. Its growth against a fading swastika represents love overcoming hate.

This is what Anne Frank has taught us.
Please respect her message.


Cathie Dunn said...

I agree completely. I hadn't heard that there are suggestions to spice it up and I find the thought appalling. Why would anyone do that? Surely the reader - the 'audience' - should get the message without added and unnecessary spice.
We'd be a really sad society where it requires sex to tell such a harrowing story.

Robinbird said...

There is a book being published (I can't think of the name or female author) that adds more to Anne and Peter's relationship. There was some heavy discussion about it over on a historical fiction forum I'm a member of. I find it appalling.

If sex is what "sells" and writers feel their work won't interest readers without it, then that explains a lot about what is wrong with the world today.

catslady said...

I totally agree. As a reader or one who watches movies, it's usually obvious when it is just gratuitous and I don't like it!

Elizabeth said...

Great point - I think it's so sad that in today's world publishing houses, or whoever is calling for this move, would go to this point to sell a story. The story is already wonderful as it is, there is no reason to go muck it up with some lurid 'tell-all' BS. It angers up the blood!

Anonymous said...

Do I think that Anne Frank's story needs a little sexing up? NO! However, I think that it's important to remember that the book we read was edited by her father. he left out parts that he felt were damaging to his wife's memory, her feelings about Peter, among other things. Anne received that after the war they were going to be looking for diaries etc to chronicle events of the war, and she was writing and editing her diary for that purpose. If what is added are Anne's words, and part of her story -- I'm okay with it. Her story should be told in full, I don't think it would lose any value.

Now, if someone adds a little something to spice it up - thats a different story.

Arianna said...

One scene that comes to mind when you say "Nazi Sex," is the rape scene from the mini-series Holocaust with Meryl Streep. I never read the book, but it seemed like every time I stayed home sick from school, the movie was on t.v., so I watched it about a hundred times as a kid.

That stayed with me for a long time. I felt, even as a kid, that it was a powerful scene depicting the stripping away of humanity, safety, and innocence of regular people. I don't remember the character's name, but I remember how the experience caused her to lose her mind.

I do not like using sex scenes, particularly in stories based on factual situations, as pure titillation. However, if it adds to the overarching theme or issue, it may not be gratuitous so much as metaphorical.

Robinbird, I assume you are alluding to Annexed, by Sharon Dogar. I can't vouch at all for the book, but after my initial recoiling from the entire idea of Anne Frank and sex, I was thinking that, despite Anne's age, if they try and emphasize the intense circumstances, they may manage to describe a visceral physcial relationship between the teenagers in an attempt to show a desire to embrace life while they can, it may not be as gratuitous as it seems.

On the other hand, it could see be utter crap.

Jen Childers said...

Thanks for commenting.
I would feel differently if the diary passages were in Anne's own words.
Because the book is read around the world by preteens, I would be inclined to keep the diary as is

I have conflicting feelings. On the one hand I think censorship is bad, but on the other, I don't want to compromise the power of the message.

Lisbeth Eng said...

Hi Jen,
Another fascinating blog post! Schindler's List is one of my all time favorite movies but strangely, I don't remember that sex scene at all (though it has been a very long time since I've watched it). What resonated with me most about that movie was the redemption of Oskar Schindler's soul -- his realization that although he did much to help the Jews under his care and protected them from the really bad Nazis, at the very end he regretted that he didn't do more to help them. I love stories about the redemption of even one signal human being. It actually made me cry at the movie theater when I watched it, not because it was sad (parts of it certainly were) but because I was so moved. If there had been gratuitous sex scenes, those where not what stayed with me. I have avoided watching Inglorious Basterds. I've seen enough movies with gratuitous violence and "bad" Nazis. But I can't really judge it since I haven't seen it. I prefer to watch a movie about one good German than one about a bunch of stereotypically "bad" Nazis! Das Boot made me cry, too! It's also one of my favorites.