Saturday, December 8, 2007

I Have No Desire to Be Kissed By You or Anyone Else

Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) spoke those words to Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) seconds after he kissed her in the bookstore where she worked in Stanley Donen's 1957 musical Funny Face. He replied with, "Don't be silly. Everybody wants to be kissed--even philosophers."

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Shortly after he leaves the store, she sings "How Long Has This Been Going On?"

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Jo muses, "I was taught that I ought not expose my inner senses. Had no plan for a man, I was full of self-defenses. Now I feel that I really must face the consequences. My philosophic search, has left me in a lurch. I must find why my mind is behaving like a dancer. What's the clue to pursue for I have to have the answer? I could cry salty tears, where have I been all these years? How long has this been going on?"

In other words, Jo's intellectual pursuits have somehow side-tracked her interest in or perception of physical intimacy. For the normative audience, for people who subscribe to the dominant fiction (house, wife, two kids, half a dog), which is the majority of society, wanting to be kissed, held, caressed, and deflowered is about as natural as breathing and as expected as the aspirations to change the world. True, not everyone believes in marriage or has any conscious aim to find a spouse (even own a house, have the kids, or half a dog), but most of these people still crave that kiss, touch, and passion--love as expressed through physical intimacy (or in some cases physical intimacy without any emotional investment).

Nonetheless, there are individuals living amongst the normative-loving citizens who desire one but not the other or neither. They still want emotional closeness but have no interest in the joining of two bodies such that reproduction might occur if precautions are not taken. Or, they crave neither emotional nor physical bonding. Solitary creatures to the core.

Preferring to be alone isn't a problem. It's not that uncommon (observations across various discussion boards across the internet), but it goes against the dominant fiction. Loners tend to be romanticized in narratives that involve mysterious, tall, dark, and handsome strangers or the gunfighter heroes of the Old West.

Sociologically speaking, it makes sense that society's members agree upon what is right and what is wrong. A concept of courtesy, consideration, and that stealing and killing is wrong (and illegal) is designed to provide structure and monitor human behavior. Believing that certain kinds of killing is more acceptable than others (due to context or parties involved) is fine. We have to support this view, otherwise killing in self-defense would mean absolutely nothing in a court of law (not to mention what occurs during war times and sting operations).

Anyone who strays too far from the acceptable philosophical and intellectual areas surrounding the act and consequence of causing or contributing another person's death, in other words they might actually kill for sport, is deemed "abnormal." Something surely is wrong with an individual who would want and choose to kill someone else for fun. These people need to be stopped.

Not wanting to feel someone from the inside should be the last item on society's "To Do" list. Unfortunately, the human species (and thus society) survives solely because of sex, dating, and intellectually speaking, marriage. Society is able to replicate its norms and mores not simply because they're passed down orally or graphically (or unconsciously), but also because of the recreation of certain stories. Boy doesn't exclusively meet girl (or in the non-heteronormative version, boy/girl doesn't exclusively meet boy/girl) in the romantic comedy. They meet in action films, dark comedies, film noir, action, mystery-suspense, and horror/thriller. Love subplots don't always have to end in or be about sex, but they frequently are--because more characters in films already have friends. Or, if they don't, they have some kind of friend surrogate (co-worker, law enforcement partner, boss, teacher, religious leader). They either search for or stumble upon what they don't have. Conventional society determines this lack must be someone to have kids with--even if nobody wants kids.

Aside from any ideological, neurological, or psychologically motivated differences that would lead to committing crimes, people who think and behave differently have always had to deal with the same kind of questions and criticisms (Galileo). There's a pretty big range of what is considered normal and abnormal and for some reason, little to no desire to copulate or express affection through physical intimacy is the weirdest of them all.

Funny Face is my favorite musical. Despite its indication that emotional and physical connection trumps an intellectual one, the message is still that a real connection trumps a fake one. That Jo Stockton suddenly becomes aware of physical sensations is ostensibly incidental and operates primarily to complement the plot.

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