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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Monday, April 03, 2006

Oboy! It's The Sequel To *Basic Instinct!*


All the rage about the first Basic Instinct–and Sharon Stone herself as being a “serious actress”– was because she flashed her vagina (above, as she crossed and uncrossed her legs).

And so, over a decade later, she titillatingly hinted at more of the same to promote the sequel and create a buzz.

After all, doesn't everybody want to see Sharon Stone's vagina?

(Republicus hasn't seen the sequel--nor the first, actually-- and doesn't know the extent of skin, but would heavily wager that there is plenty of it)

"HURRY! Don’t miss it! You MUST see it! I mean her! I mean…!"

But the sequel is bombing.

Why?

Well, as far as the audience that is drawn to that sort of thing is concerned, when the first one came out (1992), pornography was relegated to the video store on the other side of the tracks and cellophane-wrapped magazines in some bookstores and was still a deviant product, so the first movie gave the mainstream no-porn popcorners a cheap thrill of porn without having to actually look at X-rated porn.

It was like: “No-no, I don’t look at porn, but I saw Basic Instinct eight times!”

It was, after all, rated R, not X, and even had Michael Douglas in it, so there was nothing to be embarrassed about.

But come on. It was all about Sharon Stone’s vagina.

Now, however, pornography has become ubiquitous and even mainstream, and the very gimmick that Basic Instinct had to make it the blockbuster it was over a decade ago (i.e. a glimpse of Sharon Stone’s vagina) is anticlimactic (no pun intended) and even trivial and certainly not worth the seven or eight bucks and the endurance of two hours or so of crap just to get cheap and fleeting glimpses of a naked Jenna Jameson-Lite (i.e. a "nude" Sharon Stone) when you could get 80 proof for free and in an instant in the privacy of your own home off of your own PC (if not at work), or wait for the DVD release to pause and zoom at your pleisure. I mean pleasure. I mean leisure.

Ahem! Anyway, and so, ironically, the gimmick that made the first movie such a big deal (i.e. a glimpse of Sharon Stone’s vagina) contributed to the mainstreaming of that very gimmick over the last decade and made the second coming of the gimmick (no pun intended) no longer a big deal.

Another reason for the bombing is, to one extent or another, the conservative revival which has made people who never appreciated that sort of thing to begin with (but often naively stumbled into it) now conscientious boycotters who are privy to Hollywood’s intentional exploitation of the sex drive (or of the "basic instinct," as it were).

The drummed-up “excitement" about the sequel to the notorious Basic Instinct and Sharon Stone’s own shameless teasing confirmed that very privy, knowing that Hollywood's stimulation and exploitation of the sex drive is achieved by the prostituting of actresses and the peddling of nigh-pornographic imagery in lieu of a good story, consequentially contributing to the coarsening of the culture that the conservative revival is--here and there-- reversing (by political activism and product boycotting).

And Stone didn't do her mass appeal any favors by brazenly recommending oral sex for teens who were being pressured to have sex.

Essentially, her advice to American teenage girls in compromising situations was not "Just say no," but "Just put it in your mouth!"

(Because that's not really "sex"!)

And, of course, if you want your career to take off and to be considered "serious," just flash your vagina!

Hate to break it to ya, Sharon, but this ain't the Clinton 90's no more.

And so the movie bombs.

But, in all fairness to Hollywood, it is conforming to the conservative sea change which is demanding a supply of more story-driven, wholesome, family fare.

And Christian-themed movies are bringing in sizable box-office receipts.

Mel Gibson single-handedly lifted Hollywood out of the economic doldrums with The Passion.

And the Christian allegory and family-friendly Narnia has been in theaters now for a long time.

But, presumably, the Left would consider that a bad thing (proof of the Bush "theocracy").

A healthy society should be paying money to see Sharon Stone’s vagina, you see, and not Azlan the messianic lion.

16 Comments:

Blogger the liberal samurai said...

Finally, something we can agree on (At least 99% of the post anyway). Hit the nail on the head with the porno/Basic Instinct correlation. Also factor in that Basic Instinct kickstarted the whole Scinemax sub-genre and Hollywood should've known that no one was gonna see this movie. But as a proffessed Lefty, I don't see a plethora of Family Friendly films being a bellweather of politics. Just a step change in Hollywoods target market, film geeeks like me and yuppy 20-30 year olds have invested heavily in Home theaters and drive the DVD market as well as the festival circuit. Kids are the ones who want the theater experience (Big screen, popcorn, candy...) hence the success of Ice Age, Narnia, etc. I'll go and see stuff like X3 or Superman, but most of the other stuff I'll just pick up on Netflix and throw on the big screen.

5:13 AM  
Blogger John said...

Hey Sanjay, I'll respond to your comment presently...

But isn't it wild how the release of some movies coincide with actual events of the same subject matter?

For example, you had the movie *The China Syndrome*--about a nuclear power plant near-meltdown--released on March 16, 1979.

While the movie was still in theaters, just 13 days later, on March 28, there was the near- meltdown at the nuclear power plant at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island.

Similarly--13 days ago-- you had the charges dropped against Debra Laface and the national speculation on how much her sexual prowess influenced the dismissal.

I don't know if there's a trial sequence in the *Basic Instinct* sequel, but certainly Stone's character's sexual discomfitting and manipulation of the trial proceedings in the first movie--now evoked-- certainly coincides with the "basic instinct" assumptions regarding the dropping of charges against Mrs. Lafave!

6:46 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I have to agree with Sanjay on the part where the DVDs and kids come into the picture.

Because of the content of most movies these days and the cost of taking all the kids to a movie, we chose to wait for the DVD to come out and then have it to view over and over. MUCH CHEAPPER!! that way.

We rarely get to a movie just as adults because so few (non kids) movies have content worth watching.

10:01 AM  
Blogger amy said...

Pardon me for sounding *ahem* simplistic in all of this, but is it possible that maybe "Basic Instinct 2" just (for lack of a better phrase this late in my day) sucked? Does there have to be a political reason for why every movie doesn't succeed?

And as far as the crazy antics of actors go, Tom Cruise was halfway to postal last summer and people still went to see "War of the Worlds." So I don't buy Sharon's comments on oral sex as the reason why they stayed home.

However, I will give Sanjay credit on the DVD thing and the overall cost of going to a show. My husband and I (stretched thin while I'm the only one working while he's in law school) hardly see movies in the theatre anymore because it's just cheaper to spend the $5 and rent it 5 months later.

4:33 PM  
Blogger John said...

Right, right, and right.

All four of us are experts on the "why" of this because it is people just like us who make or break a movie, but as I explored the social and political angles in the post, I did overlook the important factors of economics ($8.00 for the ticket, and eight more for large popcorn and soda--close to the price of a DVD which you could view many times and keep forever like a book) coupled with the new technologies (DVD players, home theater systems, etc.) that are causing the transition away from the traditional, theater-going experience.

I overlooked that here but acknowledged the same dynamic elsewhere recently, in the March 25 post "LOL The Right-Wing Valkyrie Is Right On!" when Coulter--like me here--quipped about the falling circulation of once-powerful and now-Left-leaning papers (like *The Washington Post*) because of the conservative seachange.

I responded to that:

[Note by Republicus: Republicus has friends who work for The Washington Post. One of them works in the headquarters in downtown DC, and the other works for the Online version in Arlington, Virginia.

What is happening is that while print circulation is indeed falling, the Online service is growing. This phenomenon is occuring in the entire printing industry as civilization is ineluctably transitioning from print to digital publication."

And newspapers I used to pay money to get my hands on I can now read for free online, so there is the economic factor working in tandem with the technological one.

And yes, as all of you have correctly pointed out, the market phenomenon applies to the entire movie industry as well, as consumers transition from celluloid theater to digital home viewing

However, I also added this:

"But yes, Coulter is right: The American people have gotten the liberal media's number and, overall, competing conservative publications--and broadcasts-- have eaten into their formerly-reliable profits."

So although I'll agree with you all in attesting that a reason to be considered for the anemic (versus the projected) reception for *Basic Instinct 2* is the seachange in technology conditioned and even steered by economic forces, I will also stand by the cultural factors, i.e. the insouciance towards porn plus the conservative reactionary forces against it tag-teaming to sink *Basic Instinct 2,* the latter force pointed out by Coulter as a contributive factor to the declining sales of the "liberal media's" newspaper industry.

As in the newspaper industry, economics and technology has hit the theater industry across the board, accounting for weaknesses at the box office for practically every movie but the big, blockbusting extravaganzas that Sanjay and I--and perhaps Amy & Kelly too-- probably drop 30-45 bucks to see more than once (like Gladiator and Spider-Man, right? YUP! lol)

But other factors must be considered to explain why it--*Basic Instinct 2*-- is near the bottom of the list among other movies that must contend with the *same* economic and competing technological factors, and I think the ones I touched on were accurate assessments.

Will *Basic Instinct 2" be like *King Kong,* which had similarly disappointing box-office receipts but has taken off on DVD sales from day one (I myself didn't see the movie, but quickly bought the DVD!), making *King Kong* the perfect example of what we all agree are the economic/technological factors accounting for weak theater attendance?

I doubt it, for the reasons outlined in the post.

Sanjay said:

"Finally, something we can agree on!"

Cool.

"Also factor in that Basic Instinct kickstarted the whole Scinemax sub-genre and Hollywood should've known that no one was gonna see this movie."

What do you mean? I'm ignorant of *Basic Instinct's* role in Scinemax. Can you elaborate?

"But as a proffessed Lefty, I don't see a plethora of Family Friendly films being a bellweather of politics. Just a step change in Hollywoods target market..."

The step-change IS the bellweather.

Remember back in 1992 when Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the cultural "message" that Hollywood's pregnant but unwed Murphy Brown transmitted?

He was viciously pilloried for that, as the "Family Values" platforms of the conservatives was relentlessly ridiculed (and contributed to the defeat of Bush 43).

Now, almost a decade and a half later, that very same demographic (the conservative, Family Values crowd) is no longer maligned and marginalized as social troglodytes, but has "Liberal Elite" Hollywood jumping through hoops for them because they're willing to spend big bucks on the right movies (they were--hitherto--overlooked for a long time as a viable target market).

"...film geeeks like me and yuppy 20-30 year olds have invested heavily in Home theaters and drive the DVD market as well as the festival circuit."


Right. I just got myself a 34" Toshiba.

I think it can wash dishes, too...

"Kids are the ones who want the theater experience (Big screen, popcorn, candy...) hence the success of Ice Age, Narnia, etc."

Yes, but those movies have to pass muster with the parents who accompany the kids.

"I'll go and see stuff like X3 or Superman..."

Yup. That's where I'm at.

But I skipped King Kong...

"but most of the other stuff I'll just pick up on Netflix and throw on the big screen."

Yup. Technology.

Kelly said:

"I have to agree with Sanjay on the part where the DVDs and kids come into the picture."

Me too.

"Because of the content of most movies these days and the cost of taking all the kids to a movie, we chose to wait for the DVD to come out and then have it to view over and over. MUCH CHEAPPER!! that way."

"Because of the content of most movies these days..."

They're cleaner than they used to be, Kelly.

"We rarely get to a movie just as adults because so few (non kids) movies have content worth watching."

Well, when the popular culture begins to pay attention to the needs--and sensibilities--of children, the culture's the better for it.

It's cleaner. More innocent. Happier.

Simultaneously, something else is harming our children...

Amy said:

"Pardon me for sounding *ahem* simplistic..."

You mean "basic," don't you?

"...in all of this, but is it possible that maybe 'Basic Instinct 2' just (for lack of a better phrase this late in my day) sucked?"

Sure. But the point is that when it first came out, no one cared if it sucked or not. They cared about--and now remember--one thing and one thing only.

That was the draw, that's what made it a Hollywood groundbreaker, a "classic."

Now it's no big deal to the pornogrofied, and a turn-off to the conservative family values crowd who instead go see movies, as Sanjay pointed, like *Narnia.*

"Does there have to be a political reason for why every movie doesn't succeed?"

Not every movie, but some, sure.

There's a fine line between politics and social trends, and often a symbiosis.

For many literary and movie genres in American history (and even fashion trends), there was a corresponding president and/or policy or even political phraseology they reflected and/or themselves influenced.

"And as far as the crazy antics of actors go, Tom Cruise was halfway to postal last summer and people still went to see *War of the Worlds.*"

You know, I don't get that. Why did Cruise's psyched couch-jumping on Oprah ruffle so many feathers?

I was happy for him. I'd do the same thing if I had Katie Holme's affections.

The critics said that the whole Katie Holme's thing was a mutually-beneficial publicity stunt for both *War of the Worlds* and *Batman Begins,* but that proved false as we see Holmes about to pop.

So why are people still annoyed with the referenced show of romantic exuberance on Oprah?

More inexplicably, the Victorianesque astonishment and peevishness at the bouyant and bouncing display of psyched affection comes from the very crowd that accused conservative sensibilities of being "uptight"!

What's up?

What's wrong with Tom Cruise jumping up and down for Katie?

That was hilarious, and we should be happy for him after a string of breakups.

"So I don't buy Sharon's comments on oral sex as the reason why they stayed home."

I think she lost a huge audience share with her in-your-face sexuality, Amy. She was obviously banking on the gimmick of the first movie (her genitalia) and thought that would bring the sex-obsessed sheep in, but it backfired for the reasons I outlined, it appears.

If she does a pull a *King Kong* on DVD sales, well then I miscalculated and misanalyzed.

But I don't think I did. I don't think the direct-to-DVD sales will be Kong-like.

"However, I will give Sanjay credit on the DVD thing and the overall cost of going to a show."

Yes.

"My husband and I (stretched thin while I'm the only one working while he's in law school) hardly see movies in the theatre anymore because it's just cheaper to spend the $5 and rent it 5 months later."

Right. It's the economics. And it's changing the entire industry.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

In our family, the theater is really only for the 'big ticket' items and the DVD takes the rest. We saw all of the Lord of the Rings series, Star Wars series, as well as the X-Man and Batman movies in the theater. A big screen is fun sometimes. But it is an expensive hobby to do that when a coke and pop-corn costs $10. Never mind the ticket prices. As far as Sharon Stone goes, my father put it best when he told me that "he would not cross the street to see her."

I do not think it is a political thing for him, and really I could not care less what the hollywood types think about politics. I rented "War of the Worlds" in spite of the fact that Tom Cruse has apparently forgotten to take his medication lately. The really funny thing here in Dallas lately is the word that John Travolta (another spaceman) is being cast as JR in a remake of "Dallas." I keep having flashbacks from "Urban Cowboy" and I wonder if JR can line-dance......

8:25 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

In the last year I saw very few movies in the theater...two in fact.

Fantastic Four and The Hitchhikers guide

We were out of town for both of them and looking for something to fill an evening

There are probably some good movies that come to the theater, but we have lost faith in what Hollywood puts out...for the most part.

As far as politics...sometimes that comes into play in my book. I won't, for instance, see a movie starring Robert Redford. I won't support his politics. In my view, they are hypocritical. He tries to tell Utah how they need to embrace his environmental stand (preventing growth in a nearby canyon) while building up his Sundance resort in the very same canyon.

8:54 AM  
Blogger the liberal samurai said...

Scinemax (late night cinemax soft core stuff) was basically non existant before Basic Instinct. Now after 11 pm on Cinemax you've got movies like bikini cops or something like that. that whole sub genre of Direct to video "erotic thrillers" was kicked off with basic instinct. Like you said, why bother going to the movies to see Soft Core when I get the same stuff on cable in the comfort of home.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I found this applicable quote by Ronald Reagan...

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."

6:06 PM  
Blogger John said...

Phelonius said:

"In our family, the theater is really only for the 'big ticket' items and the DVD takes the rest."

That's exactly where I'm at.

And that's Hollywood at its spectacular, blockbesting best.

"We saw all of the Lord of the Rings series, Star Wars series, as well as the X-Man and Batman movies in the theater."

Ditto.

"A big screen is fun sometimes. But it is an expensive hobby to do that when a coke and pop-corn costs $10. Never mind the ticket prices."

Yes, and the movie industry--particularly at the theater level--is bracing for a major overhaul because of those very economic deterrants.

I love the traditional movie experience with the big-ticket items, but they only come up several times a year.

And I like the cineplexes, but they may be the first to go.

There's even talk that Hollywood is considering DIRECT TO DVD "big ticket" productions.

That would be a radical change.

"As far as Sharon Stone goes, my father put it best when he told me that 'he would not cross the street to see her.'"

Me neither. She turned me off.

"I do not think it is a political thing for him..."

BUT, cumulatively, American citizens making choices about what type of mass produced item is pleasing or acceptable--and why-- becomes a political issue.

"...and really I could not care less what the hollywood types think about politics."

They're just make-believe types trying to make you believe stuff they believe outside of the theater.

"I rented *War of the Worlds* in spite of the fact that Tom Cruse has apparently forgotten to take his medication lately."

LOL!!!!!

"The really funny thing here in Dallas lately is the word that John Travolta (another spaceman) is being cast as JR in a remake of *Dallas.*"

No kidding... I think he might be able to pull it off...

"I keep having flashbacks from 'Urban Cowboy' and I wonder if JR can line-dance......"

lol

Kelly said:

"In the last year I saw very few movies in the theater...two in fact."

Me too. 3-4.

"Fantastic Four and The Hitchhikers guide."

Ditto. Movies like that. And no nudity whatsoever (the only naked woman in the *Fantastic Four* was Jessica Alba, who took a shower in the nude but as, of course, "The Invisible Girl!".

Alba--probably gunning for the crown of "America's Sweetheart" that Julia Roberts coughed up-- just the other day threw a fit at PLayboy for putting her on the cover of an upcoming issue, her grievance being that it suggested that she was posing nude within.

Hef called her up and calmed her down, though (I don't how big the check he wrote was).

"There are probably some good movies that come to the theater, but we have lost faith in what Hollywood puts out...for the most part."

Yeah, I bet I'm missing a lot of good movies. Titles I blew off when they were in the theaters I then randomly catch on cable and they're fine movies.

"As far as politics...sometimes that comes into play in my book. I won't, for instance, see a movie starring Robert Redford. I won't support his politics. In my view, they are hypocritical. He tries to tell Utah how they need to embrace his environmental stand (preventing growth in a nearby canyon) while building up his Sundance resort in the very same canyon."

Right. I get turned off too with some actors/actresses or even movie themes (if I discern that they're propaganda pieces).

LS explained:

"Scinemax (late night cinemax soft core stuff) was basically non existant before Basic Instinct. Now after 11 pm on Cinemax you've got movies like bikini cops or something like that. that whole sub genre of Direct to video "erotic thrillers" was kicked off with basic instinct."

No kidding. I didn't know that.

"Like you said, why bother going to the movies to see Soft Core when I get the same stuff on cable in the comfort of home."

Gotcha. Thank you Sanjay.

Kelly said:

"I found this applicable quote by Ronald Reagan...

'It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.'"

Very apropos.

10:09 PM  
Blogger John said...

Hm. *Narnia's* out as a DVD, but it's still playing at AMC...

8:50 AM  
Blogger John said...

*Basic Instinct* is basically extinct at the box office.

8:40 AM  
Blogger amy said...

I realize I'm really late on adding another comment to this post, but I don't honestly see politics as the reason why certain movies succeed or fail. Maybe it's because I don't give generic American citizens enough credit, but then again, I never have because I think they're mostly dumb, lazy schmoes.

That being said, the people that these movies are being marketed to are the same people who won't even get out and vote every 2 years, so I don't think we can rely on them to be the harbingers of Hollywood change.

Sorry, but I just don't buy it.

1:22 PM  
Blogger John said...

Amy said:

"I realize I'm really late on adding another comment to this post..."

No problem. Just don't expect an immediate response.

"...but I don't honestly see politics as the reason why certain movies succeed or fail."

How about a certain movie called *The Passion?*

Or Michael Moore's "documentaries?"

Or *Brokeback Mountain?*

You don't think politics had anything to do with any of their audience share?

How about the fact that Kelly--a movie-goer--got turned off by Robert Redford's hypocritical politics and won't see his movies?

"Maybe it's because I don't give generic American citizens enough credit, but then again, I never have because I think they're mostly dumb, lazy schmoes."

Yeah. I mean, 60% of American citizens "approved" of Clinton in the midst of his Impeachment because it was "just a blowjob."

Why? Because "it was the economy, stupid?"

"That being said, the people that these movies are being marketed to are the same people who won't even get out and vote every 2 years, so I don't think we can rely on them to be the harbingers of Hollywood change."

I disagree, Amy. "The same people" you refer to are people like Sanjay, Kelly, James, yourself, and myself, who are, in a sense, political activists who vote with our buying power as much as by our poll-taking and lever-pulling/screen-touching.

"Sorry, but I just don't buy it."

I know there was no pun intended there, but bingo. You don't "buy" my presentation, and I consquentially lose a vote of confidence for it.

If this post was a preview for a movie, you wouldn't buy a ticket.

If I shaped this and stumped this as a political policy, you wouldn't vote for it.

But I think I understand where you're coming from:

The primary definition of "Politics" is: "The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs."

So I understand your hesitation in granting a nexus between West Coast Hollywood (the center of the movie industry) and East Coast Washington (the seat of government power), and in crediting the influence of the former to explain large shares of the movie-going audience who may just as well hate politics, as primarily defined, and are actually engaging in escapism.

However, further down the list of definitions for "Politics"--but no less valid ones--are:

"Political attitudes and positions," and "The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society."

The "Family Values" crowd would be examples of those (even if no one in that crowd holds a government position), and I stand by my belief that entire demographics--political blocs-- can make or break certain movies which invoke or directly deal with politicized issues.

Like sex.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I just have one last thing to add to the "Basic Instinct" line of thought...

When Brokeback Mountain came out one of the local theater owners refused to show the movie because of its content. This local theater owner is also owner of our local basketball team (The Utah Jazz).

It was a very political move on his part. Hollywood fought back by ridiculing him and our entire community.

Many of the locals made a decision to support this guy with their pocketbooks ... they would go to see a movie in his theater, by a car from one of his car dealership, or attend a Jazz game.

It had the opposite affect from what Hollywood had hoped.

The "Family Values" crowd often spends money where it counts. Money talks!!

7:34 AM  
Blogger John said...

Kelly said: "Money talks!"

What about hush money?

11:33 PM  

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