The Audience Member: The Administer of the Blow Job
An Analysis of Andy Warhol’s Blow Job (1964)
Like a film projector presents images to a blank canvas, the viewer projects his or herself onto Warhol’s Blow Job, for which what is unseen- yet promised, must instinctually be created in the viewer’s own imagination. These personal and intangible depictions vary from viewer to viewer, and may not even remain static during the film’s progression. The unseen provider of fellatio in Andy Warhol’s Blow Job (1964) is therefore the audience member, an idea facilitated by the film’s structural film form- and its importance to the film’s sociopolitical response to mainstream film and sexuality, provide an increased attention to the spectator’s experience.
Screwball Comedies: Exposing the Production Code and Gender Roles
“A kiss could last three seconds. We just kissed each other and talked, leaned away and kissed each other again. Then the telephone came between us, then we moved to the other side of the telephone. So it was a kiss which opened and closed; but the censors couldn’t and didn’t cut the scene because we never at any point kissed for more than three seconds. We did other things: we nibbled on each other’s ears, and kissed a cheek, so that it looked endless, and became sensational in Hollywood.”
– Ingrid Bergman: My Story, 1980, p. 160
A ban on three second kisses sparked the creative back route through which Alfred Hitchcock portrayed Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman’s palpable and often cited chemistry in Notorious (1946). Without this restriction, this scene (above) may never have taken place. The ban, stemming from the Production Code, guided the morals of Hollywood films from 1934 to 1967. Passed as a response to a series of scandals involving sex, profanity, and drug use; the code was the final arbiter of what was deemed acceptable on screen. Containing a list of Don’ts and Be Carefuls, the Hays Code forced Hollywood screenwriters to think outside normal convention in order to portray salacious stories. A genre of film that grew out of this limitation was screwball comedy, in which Denison University professor Jane Greene defines as an American cinematic genre with an emphasis on slapstick comedy, eccentric behavior of the leading couple, and witty verbal sublimation- components which all work together as a substitute for sex in order to ensure that the film would not procure difficulties from censorship.1