That is not to say that this cop-buddy action movie featuring surf dudes and incompetent FBI agents was intellectual or thought-provoking or challenging in any way, because it certainly wasn’t. But this particular film had a huge impact on me regardless.
As a fresh-faced eighteen year-old, I watched Point Break in open-mouthed fascination. From the very opening frames of the movie I was captivated: there, on the big screen, was a sequence that changed the way I viewed films and my sexuality from that point on.
Picture the scene: Keanu Reeves soaked to the skin in a torrential downpour. The tight t-shirt he wears clings wetly to his taut, muscular frame. Manoeuvring himself with great agility around a firing range, he rolls around on the ground, splattering his curvaceous body with wet mud. The camera lingers, lovingly, over the round of his arse; it glides gracefully across his chest, highlighting his erect nipples poking through his wet t-shirt; it tilts down his torso, allowing us a full view of his crotch. Shot in poetically fluid slow motion with a long lens narrowly focused on Keanu’s toned physique; we get to see every ripple of his body in glorifying close-up. The camera adored him and it beckoned me, the viewer, to do so too.
I hadn’t experienced this before: I don’t recall ever seeing men sexually objectified in this way. Sure, there was Top Gun a few years prior, but I was too young to enjoy the torsos on display back then (and Tom Cruise makes me want to vomit). But when Point Break was released in 1991 I was - with a body full of raging teenage hormones - at the perfect age to appreciate it. As I watched that opening sequence I knew that this film was different: that it was offering me something different too. And when I obtained the film on VHS tape, I rewound that scene, over and over, filling my head full of the sexy imagery that I would use later to pleasure myself.
Prior to watching Point Break, I had felt something was wrong with my sexuality. I knew I liked to look at men’s bodies; I was aware that I found them attractive and erotic, but I felt isolated by this. In the movies I watched, the camera always seemed to focus on the physical attributes of whatever woman was on screen but never on the bodies of the men, so I assumed my wanting to see a male body was weird somehow. In the opening of Point Break, I was revelling in the fact that not only was I offered the opportunity to look at a man’s body in all its glory but I was invited to indulge in it too. This validated my sexuality: it made me feel it was OK to openly enjoy looking at a man in a sexual way.
Point Break also made me question why so few films objectified men: perhaps this was related to the fact that most movies are directed by men? Knowing that Point Break was directed by a woman (the terribly under-rated Kathryn Bigelow) confirmed it to me: if we want the female perspective on-screen, we need more female directors to portray it. This was the movie that first propelled me to seek a career in the film industry, so you could say that it had a serious affect on me.
Certainly there have been some other films in recent years that also pander to the female gaze but that have been directed by men (Troy, 300, Casino Royale etc), but a handful of movies which include a few oiled-up male torsos to get female bums on seats does not balance out the sexual (and sexist) inequity that exists in all media.
Women like to look at men. We like to fuck men. And we like to look at men and imagine fucking them – and have a wank about that later. My saying this isn’t new, or profound or even original, but I think it needs repeating. It’s 2007 and when it comes to sexual material for the heterosexual women, I’m bored of only being offered female imagery – as if everyone, men and women included, should find that stimulating.
I want to see images of men, sexually ready, willing and able, who will be the object of my desire. I want to see magazines being openly marketed to women (rather than solely at gay men) which allow us to look at hard cocks. I want to turn on the television and see a hot naked man on a programme featuring sexual content. Basically, I want to have, at my disposal, the visual materials which will give me the same ability to sexually objectify men, as men do with women. And I want to be able to say, as men can, that what I have seen will “go into my (wank) bank for later.”
I’m all for a more open and uncensored sexually liberated society, but if women are still going to be marginalised purely as objects for men’s pleasure and not as the subjects seeking and obtaining pleasure in their own right, then I’m destined to be a moody fucking bitch who will not shut up about it.
I’m currently at the Edinburgh TV Festival, where today (Saturday), I may end up saying a few words at a debate about sex on television. Rest assured if I do, I will be arguing the usual: that is, we need to see erections on-screen, an end to faked female orgasms and a proper, equal, balance of men being objectified – in all their sexy glory - too. I understand Ofcom will be there: I expect a fun discussion about penises might be had...
[If anyone reading this is at MGEITF, do come up and say hello if you see me about. I’ll be the loud-mouthed girl with the five inch heels and frizzy hair]