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Why Don’t More Queer Movies Show Explicit Sex?

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Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Let’s call it by its name

There is a scene in André Aciman's 2007 novel, Call Me by Your Name, where the story's narrator and protagonist, Elio, takes a reprieve from the dog days of summer at his family's Italian countryside home. Up in his bedroom, he lays on top of his bed, closes his eyes, and dozes off into a dream, in which Oliver, the university student under Elio's father's summer apprenticeship, quietly enters the bedroom, undresses, and they engage in sweaty, passionate sex. It's erotic, sensual, and bursting with youthful desire. (Elio is, after all, still a virgin and only now discovering his sexuality.) It's a scene that doesn't progress the narrative but provides ample fuel for it as it shows us, the reader, how overwhelming and natural these newfound urges are. It's a scene that is unfortunately not included in Luca Guadagnino's devastatingly beautiful screen adaptation of the novel.

Though it may not exactly be as pivotal to the story's arch as the much-talked-about peach scene is—and I have to say Guadagnino and Timothée Chalamet (who plays Elio) do a spectacular job highlighting Elio's undeniable infatuation and longing for Oliver—it brings to mind the question of why something that character building would be omitted. Even the climactic sex scene between Oliver and Elio is shown through brief foreplay before the camera pans to the right, holding focus on a very lovely tree as the moment of Elio and Oliver's big moment of truly joining together happens outside of the frame. The sex the pair engage in during their final trip together, too, is hinted at, but not shown. For a narrative that's as specifically queer as Call Me by Your Name's, the omission of the sex acts between its two main characters is a bit of a head-scratcher. It also highlights just how far the LGBTQIA community still has to go when it comes to visibility in popular media.

For reasons rooted in homophobia, queer sex—especially man-on-man sex—has always been seen as pornographic. Todd Verow, an independent queer filmmaker in New York City, has shot both heteronormative and homosexual sex scenes; the former has led him to no trouble while the latter has resulted in film processing labs refusing to process the footage or even (questionably) losing the footage all together. "The real problem right now is online [distribution] companies and their even more vague and secretive 'standards,' where there is a definite bias against independent and queer films and the big studio product," he says.

"What is sexy or explicit differs from person to person," Gary Kramer, the critic for Gay City News and Philadelphia Gay News and author of Independent Queer Cinema, says. "It's oftentimes easier to let viewers imagine rather than present." That is, if the viewers want to. A major focal point in the 1995 documentary on LGBTQIA representation in Hollywood, The Celluloid Closet, is the idea that movie audiences project some part of themselves onto the characters on screen; a filmmaker (and distributor) asking an audience member who may not support the LGBTQIA community to empathize with an LGBTQIA character may be taken as an offense and, sadly, result in backlash and a decline in ticket sales. At this point in queer representation in the media, we're still at first base while heteronormative coupling is scoring home runs. 

"Because film is a commercial enterprise, profitability sometimes comes into direct conflict with art, and sexual content is often the greatest source of friction," Erika Couto, a queer business and media strategist and film reviewer, says. "Television, meanwhile, has different regulations, and with the creation of specifically LGBTQIA-focused stations, there are more opportunities to show complex, beautiful, and messy relationships." And yet, HBO's big gay show, Looking, barely showed any queer sex, let alone male nudity. Queer culture, it would seem, is wanting both to see queer sex on film while also normalizing queer romance so as to not play into stereotypes.

The fear of marginalizing audiences into thinking queer people are defined by what they do in bed is a tricky one. Kathleen Archambeau, the author of Pride and Joy: LGBTQ Artists, Icons and Everyday Heroes, cites the taboo perception of queer sex acts by the masses. "Everyone wants queer sex to be dark and quick," Verow says. And it better be either between two very masculine, very handsome men or two women. Remember when Black Swan came out and one of the main talking points of the film was the sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis? Though the folks that made it tried to steer the conversation away from that scene, the talk alone was enough to get thirsty bros to see the movie. Films like John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, which set out to normalize queer sex through non-erotic depictions of explicit auto-fellatio, gay anal sex, and multiple ejaculations, didn't really normalize it. As Kramer says, "It seemed to be more sensational for what it did than how it made [queer sex] more acceptable."

The only way of normalizing such acts is, of course, by daring to show more of it. Guadagnino's Call Me by Your Name does well in doing so, despite any problems I, personally, may have. For many, the romance between Elio and Oliver shown onscreen may be the most they can handle right now. It's a beautiful romance, as gut-wrenching and as relatable as it is fantastical. It's a solid step toward showing queer sex in what Verow calls "all of its exciting, frantic, fun and sloppy glory." 

Call Me by Your Name hits theaters November 24.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube www.youtube.com

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Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

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Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale youtu.be

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

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