Her by Sarah Fielding Photo courtesy of filmdispenser.com
Sex is arguably the most basic and powerful of our human drives. What happens, though, when sex as we know it is not possible with the one you love? The new movie “Her”, written, directed and produced by the great Spike Jonze, explores this question and others. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, a personal love letter writer who is in the process of being divorced by the wife he is still madly in love with. He has become introverted, cancelling plans with his friends and staying in his apartment alone. One of his only sources
of interaction is cyber-sex with others he meets online at night. Theodore lives in a futuristic Los Angeles, where owning a supercomputer is normal (to give you an idea of a supercomputer in our day, China’s Tianhe-2 can perform 33,860 trillion calculations per second). In Theodore’s world, everyone walks around seemingly speaking only to him or herself, not even acknowledging anyone else. Soon an operating system with exceptional artificial intelligence is released, meant to mimic exact human characteristics. Theodore chooses the female version and
this is how Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha is born. Johansson does an exceptional job using only her voice to convey these human characteristics. She speaks to Phoenix’s character about her yearning for more human experience and her astonishment behind understanding feelings like love, jealousy and betrayal. Samantha gives Theodore a way to escape from his problems and make him the person he used to be again. Amazingly effective, Jonze’s directional skills coupled with the
actors’ talent makes you really believe that they love each other. The “couple’s” first sexual attempt may make you slightly uncomfortable. But it’s all part of the journey that is “Her.” The ensemble cast including Amy Adams and Rooney Mara along with the retro clothing choices also added to the movie. “Her” is a new type of romantic movie for our generation, forcing us to ask ourselves what it really means to be in love. And does falling in love happen just at the physical level or does it happen primarily in the mind?
Museum of Sex by Zachary Rosenbaum
The first thing you’ll notice as you approach the Museum of Sex on 27th Street and 5th Avenue is the broad assortment of sex toys in the window—dildos and vibrators of every size, shape and color imaginable, looking like a retail display. Innocent passersby ogle at the merchandise in the windows like kids in a candy store. Most people giggle and walk away. Mothers shield the eyes of their children. I smile, and take a moment of gratitude to be living in a city where such a museum is a fact of life. The team at the Museum of Sex is great at turning sex (a subject normally deemed taboo or inappropriate) into something that most of us love: art. The two are enjoyed in completely different ways, but
both certainly pleasure our senses and our imaginations, putting more more glam and glitz in our workaday lives. The gift shop on the ground floor is nothing short of mesmerizing. It’s an entire retail space dedicated to all things sex. Some objects speak louder for themselves than others. I found myself staring at certain things in confusion until it clicked— “Oh! It’s a spanking paddle!” Here, all things have a sexy significance, and there is an incredible selection of Valentine’s Day gifts. Other merchandise include novelty condoms, sex-themed home décor, coffee table books and “sex coupons.”
The first floor of exhibition space is dedicated to sex in the context of the world’s rapidly growing technology and media industries. Sex has been significantly changed due to film, pornography and cellular phones, and this is illustrated with perfection at the Museum of Sex. 50 years ago, who’d have thought that sexting would be a thing? Walls are filled with TV screens, flashing with scenes of sex. There’s an arcade game that lets you create a one of a kind digital art piece using cute Japanese clip art (kawaii, anyone?). In a corner, red old school telephones Photo courtesy of Zachary Rosenbaum hang on the wall,
tempting you to pick one up and listen for the erotic recordings on the other line. Perpendicular to that installment is another—keyholes are illuminated; the closer you get, the easier it is to see the screens that are behind them, playing footage of couples unknowingly being taped in the act. A whole wall of this floor serves as an image database, spelling out and illustrating every sex category you can imagine—sort of like a porn archive. Tranny, ametuer, bondage, lesbian, fetish and “fat sex” are just a few of them. Every piece of art is accompanied by an artist’s name, caption and thorough description of the work. According to the museum’s brochure, “MoSex engages the world’s premiere scholars, artists and visionaries to bring the public the best in current scholarship on social, cultural, scientific and artistic aspects of human sexuality. ” The issues that the museum touches upon are a mixture of hilarity and sadness. There’s mostly joy and jaw-dropping facts, but there’s a dark side to sex that can be frightening, like sex addiction and rape. Sex comes with many emotional ties, and it’s strongly linked with perhaps the most powerful human emotion—love. The Museum of Sex offers visitors coverage on the topic of sex that is both broad and fairly thorough. The third floor showcases a carefully curated exhibition telling the story of Linda Lovelace, the infamous porn star and actress who, after years of scrutiny and scandal, denounced pornography and refused to be involved with it anymore. Lovelace, born Linda Boreman in the Bronx, became immensely famous after her role in the X-rated film “Deep Throat.” The exhibition showcases her rise to fame, her abusive and destructive relationship with husband and manager Chuck Traynor and her eventual retirement from
the sex industry. She turned to the antipornography movement and, along with feminists of the time, shot down porn and nudity in media. Images of Lovelace line the walls in metal frames. In some, she wears nothing but a cellophane wrapping— clothed in hardly any of the photographs. A massive screen shows a projection of her performing Fellatio; it demands your attention as you enter the room. Of her performance in “Deep Throat,” Lovelace later said: “When you see the movie… you are watching me being raped. It is a crime that movie is still showing; there was a gun to my head the entire time.” The last room in the museum brings you back down to earth. This exhibit is entitled “The Sex Life of Animals,” and it shows visitors “the tremendous complexity of animal sexual behavior.” It’s humbling to be reminded that sex is part of our nature as organisms. My eyes widened as I learned the sexual anatomy of a Bonobo Monkey, or that sexual cannibalism indeed exists. This exhibit spells out the science of sex in the animal kingdom, and it’s sure to clarify a few things that you may have been wondering. The Museum of Sex is just a couple of blocks from the FIT campus. It houses a permanent collection of over 15,000 sexual artifacts and they have procured more than 15 exhibitions in their 10-year tenure. It’s equipped with a coat check (where visitors are encouraged to “take it off”) and a bar/cafe (think sensuously crafted cocktails and aphrodisiacs). If you’re looking for a fun Valentine’s Day date this February, take your babe to the Museum of Sex and get your self sex-educated—you won’t regret it!