Monday, June 9, 2008

Totally Recalling Awkwardness


The first female breasts I ever saw were on that three breasted mutant lady on Total Recall. You know how the ending to Casablanca reminds you that, even with our propensity to do untold harm to each other, human beings have the singular capacity to find goodness within themselves, that no matter how bleak the situation might be, we maybe able to illuminate it with the sliver of light within each and everyone of us? That’s what it was like. Except replace the problems of “three little people” with “three medium sized breasts.” I turned off the vcr and ran and told my parents. “That movie had scenes I shouldn’t be seeing. Also, uh, couple of questions…”

We had strict rules about movies. No sex. No sex at all. If I was watching a movie that they had rented for me that had sex, I was to turn it off and go tell them. And I did it everytime. What was worse, though, was when scenes would show up during movies I would watch with my parents. The rules were simple. Bury my head in the pillow as my dad fast forwarded through the offending scene. It was worst when you could kind of see it coming.

“Hey, thanks for helping me with the Nazi brigade back there. You wanna come up for some coffee?”
(Oh shit. No. No please don’t go up for any coffee. My mom and dad are right here.)
“I don’t drink coffee.”
“Well, honey, you won’t have to.”

Cue the very specific windy/whirry sounds of fast forwarding as I bury my face in a pillow.

It felt horrible, just the implicit acknowledgment that sex was about to occur, that I somehow knew the kinds of wordplay and verbal jousting that led to these scenes. I certainly had moments where I mistakenly buried my head in the pillow expecting love making. And then had to emerge from my pillow of shame a little embarrassed when the scene changed. “I totally thought she was into him.”

Here is the worst of these occurrences. Watching a movie with my parents, the sex scene happens, I bury my face in the pillow. Except there is no fast forwarding. My mom yells my dad’s name. “Fast Forward it!” “I don’t think the battery is working.” And then I sat there, my face in a pillow, the sounds of simulated sex filling the air as my dad fumbles with the remote control, trying to change batteries. The moaning gets louder with each fumble, or maybe it just seems to get louder. My mom is yelling my dad’s name, I can hear my dad trying to get the batteries in the right way, as the two people on screen moan towards faked ecstasy. One giant moan, and then silence. And then, when its obviously too late, the windy whirring sounds of fast forwarding. There has never been a bigger disconnect between the way characters have felt on screen and the way that an audience has felt watching them. Or, in my case, hearing them. What I felt was the exact opposite of having sex. We all emerged from the episodes changed. That moment took something from each of us.

The weird thing, however, was that we could watch the most violent movies ever made. And that was fine. Somehow, watching a man kill another man was better than watching the natural act of sex. I watched all the Rambo movies, all the Rocky movies, and every single horror movie I could get my hands on. I still don’t really understand this double standard. We watched the most gleefully sadistic scenes without a hint of awkwardness, but then would be reduced to quivering heaps of embarrassment as soon as two characters decided to spoon. What would get a worse reaction from my parents:

“Mom, dad, I had sex for the first time last week.”
“Mom, dad, I murdered someone for the first time last week. You know, one thing led to another, and next thing I know…”

Now that I think about it, I actually wouldn't be surprised if it was the former.

"What did you do? Have you no shame?!? This is not how we raised you!"
"Go hide in the basement. We'll bring you food down twice a day. We love you very much."

Also, what awkward sex movie moments have you guys shared with your parents?


Aalap said...

I don't have any specific scenes that I remember but I recall that my siblings (both older) and my parents once rented Coming to America and I had to stand in the adjacent room just listening and not watching to the movie. The silly part was that I'd already seen the edited tv version.

Emily said...

Here's mine, and it wasn't even with my parents! They weirdly didn't care about us watching sex scenes, but my sister made me leave the room one time when Def Leppard's Love Bites was on MTV.

Ok, so I'm sleeping over at my cousin/best friend Krystal's house. We're both probably about 9 or 10, and we were allowed to rent our own movie, and I picked Loverboy, the classic Patrick Dempsey gigolo movie. We're all watching it together while eating pizza, and the mom was growing increasingly alarmed by all the innuendo. When it got to the scene where Patrick Dempsey has sex with the Asian lady in some weirdo pseudo-tantric way, she walked over, turned off the TV, and just glared at me. It would be years before I could finish the film, and even now, when it comes on TV, I blush at that sex scene.

Jay said...

I went to the movies with my mom and saw the trailer for Show Girls. It's probably one of the raciest trailers ever made and it was very uncomfortable too think about it later that night when I was alone with my hand gel...

Mo Diggs said...

this charles bronson movie-a sex scene came up and i was mad at my mom and step dad so i ran to my grandma and i told them they were showing me a sex scene. my grandma yelled at them and my mom punched at me hard

Chris said...

The top-of-the-fire-engine scene in 'Backdraft.'

I was eleven.

My parents were too old to be seeing that movie.

Billy Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh creating their own (blazing inferno? four-alarm-fire? backdraft?) on top of that truck really opened my eyes to all the sex I could have if I became a brash young firefighter - half in love with death and fearless in the face of city hall.

MMR said...

My father was a film critic for most of my childhood, so there was almost no parental censorship of what we (my brother and I) could and couldn't watch. He'd be like, "kids, this is 'The Shining.' It's a classic!" and then we'd have horrible nightmares, because we were only 10 and 8 years old, etc. But then one day he brought home "Midnight Cowboy," and we all sat down to watch it as usual. We get quite a ways into the film, when suddenly my mom turns to my dad and goes, "Honey, I just remembered what happens to Jon Voigt in this movie," and my dad's like, "what?" and she gives him this really significant look, but he still doesn't get it, and then she goes, "he gets raped." And there was this pause. Then my dad goes, "oh, right." Then another pause. Meanwhile the movie is still playing, and my brother and I, who are in like 3rd grade probably, are sitting there thinking, "he gets RAPED? what the fuck?" and then finally they turned it off and we didn't watch a movie that night.

But the point is that to this DAY, I have yet to actually finish "Midnight Cowboy." I have this weird sense of dread instilled in me, like whatever mysteries that movie contains must surely be too much for my fragile heart. Even though obviously I now know what happens to Jon Voigt and it's certainly not as bad (or at least no worse) than any number of other things I've seen in films.

This story is mainly disturbing because it showcases my mother's vague but always-troubling homophobia (which was later cured by a viewing of the film "Philadelphia." I guess my family watches too many movies).

oh ALSO, one time we were awkwardly hanging out with my grandparents, and you know how it is when you've budgeted too much time with the grandparents accidentally, and you no longer can think of anything to do? My mother had recently seen "Frida," and was freaking out about how amazing it was. She insisted that my brother and I go, and that we take our grandparents. We did not want to do this, because my grandparents are weird at movies to begin with, but I also suspected the film was going to have a lot of awkward sex in it. So my brother and I specifically asked my mom: "Does the movie have a lot of sex in it?" and she was offended. "No! It's a beautiful movie about a woman's spiritual journey! There is no sex at ALL."

Somewhat comforted, we went. And of course LITERALLY THE OPENING SCENE is a fairly explicit sex scene involving Salma Hayek being all "OH GOD I'M SO CLOSE" and stuff. I literally could not believe it. We were so mad at my mother, but she still claims not to remember that scene (or, apparently, any of the MANY other sex scenes in that film).

MMR said...

btw when I mentioned the "vague homophobia" Midnight Cowboy brought out in my mother, I was NOT intending to mean that I believe male-on-male "rape" to constitute the gay sexual experience, but rather to draw a negative parallel between the verboten scene in "MC" and the many, many movies my family HAD watched that involved male-on-female rape, that my mother apparently had no problem with. So maybe this makes her more of a sexist than a homophobe, so I apologize for any confusion. Also, my mother is a beautiful woman. Peace, I'm outta here!

Vivek said...

I would always try and sit in front of our glass cabinet so that when a scene came on I could turn around and face the wall, except, and here is where I was a genius, I could totally watch the whole thing reflected in the glass. It worked once. got totally busted.
Here are my top 2 awkwards in a random order:
1) Dad brings home Kung-fu movie "Superman vs. Bruce Lee". I almost pee myself in excitement. Superman! And Bruce Lee!! fighting each other! Turns out it was a horrible movie with neither Christopher Reeve or Bruce Lee. But with some awesome shots of naked people. Which I, filled with shame, fast forwarded through....then rewound..then fastforwarded through..multiple times. My dad came home and wanted to watch it with me. I threw a huge hissy fit about how it was the MOST BORING MOVIE EVER and WE SHOULD NEVER WATCH IT. not sure if he ever watched it
2) Visting the in-laws. Wedding crashers is on TV. Great movie! Hilarious! The scene where Borat's wife gives Vince Vaughn a handjob under the table is great!! not when you are in a room with your wife, mother-in-law and father-in-law. then it's the longest and worst scene in the entire history of cinema. Worst. WOOOORRRSST.

pete said...

The scene with Kevin Costner and President Roslin in Dances with Wolves. Even though it's barely PG-13, the moment was especially awkward because I was watching it with my whole family in the theater.
I think it's worse at the cinema because you can't leave easily, there's absolutely no way to fast-forward, and you can't pretend not to pay attention, thanks to the wonders of 20-foot-tall screens and THX sound.

A close second (although it didn't actually involve a sex scene) would be just this past January when I found myself watching The Simpsons with my crazy Austrian friend and her terrifying monosyllabic Austrian parents. Somehow the German TV station had managed to dredge up several of these weirdly racy early Simpsons episodes, which I'm pretty sure are NEVER shown in the US anymore. The creepy German dubbing made it much worse, hearing Teutonic Marge pontificate about "die Sexualität"... Still makes me kind of uncomfortable to think about it.

Parker said...

I was watching "Kentucky Fried Movie" on the VCR while my parents went out for dinner. They walked in right during the scene in the "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble" skit where two naked women chained in a dungeon are being whipped by a midget in a clown suit. Perfect timing.