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  • WORD dirty movie

    DEFINITION: Any motion picture the Average Joe considers to be obscenely pornographic.

    Admitting that he was unable to "intelligibly" define what hard-core pornography was, United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously went on to say, "But I know it when I see it." Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964). So it would appear that obscenity -- like beauty -- is in the eye of the beholder.

    In a landmark case previously before the Supreme Court, the Justices had established what has come to be known as the "Roth test" -- the high court's test for determining what constitutes obscene material unprotected by the First Amendment. According to the Court, obscenity is material whose "dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest," as decided by the "average person, applying contemporary community standards." Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).

    Kurt Vonnegut quite possibly was satirizing the Supreme Court's "contemporary community standards" yardstick, when he created the following scene in his 1973 novel "Breakfast of Champions" :

    EXAMPLE: ' The movie theater where Trout sat . . . showed nothing but dirty movies . . . Trout made up a new novel while he sat there. It was about an Earthling astronaut who arrived on a planet where all the animal and plant life had been killed by pollution, except for humanoids. The humanoids ate food made from petroleum and coal.

    ' They gave a feast for the astronaut, whose name was Don. The food was terrible. The big topic of conversation was censorship. The cities were blighted with motion picture theaters which showed nothing but dirty movies. The humanoids wished they could put them out of business somehow, but without interfering with free speech.

    ' They asked Don if dirty movies were a problem on Earth, too, and Don said, “Yes.” They asked him if the movies were really dirty, and Don replied, “As dirty as movies could get.”

    This was a challenge to the humanoids, who were sure their dirty movies could beat anything on Earth. So everybody piled into air-cushion vehicles, and they floated to a dirty movie house downtown.

    ' It was intermission time when they got there, so Don had some time to think about what could possibly be dirtier than what he had already seen on Earth. He became sexually excited even before the house lights went down. The women in his party were all twittery and squirmy.

    ' So the theater went dark and the curtains opened. At first there wasn’t any picture. There were slurps and moans from loudspeakers. Then the picture itself appeared. It was a high quality film of a male humanoid eating what looked like a pear. The camera zoomed in on his lips and tongue and teeth, which glistened with saliva. He took his time about eating the pear. When the last of it had disappeared into his slurpy mouth, the camera focused on his Adam’s apple. His Adam’s apple bobbed obscenely. He belched contentedly, and then these words appeared on the screen, but in the language of the planet:

    ' THE END

    ' It was all faked, of course. There weren’t any pears anymore. And the eating of the pear wasn’t the main event of the evening anyway. It was a short subject, which gave the members of the audience time to settle down.

    ' Then the main feature began. It was about a male and a female and their two children, and their dog and their cat. They ate steadily for an hour and a half—soup, meat, biscuits, butter, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit, candy, cake, pie. The camera rarely strayed more than a foot from their glistening lips and their bobbing Adam’s apples. And then the father put the cat and dog on the table, so they could take part in the orgy, too.

    ' After a while, the actors couldn’t eat any more. They were so stuffed that they were goggle-eyed. They could hardly move. They said they didn’t think they could eat again for a week, and so on. They cleared the table slowly. They went waddling out into the kitchen, and they dumped about thirty pounds of leftovers into a garbage can.

    ' The audience went wild. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 5 (Page 59 – 60).

    January 13, 2014