Erica Scott: Life, Love and Spanking

Ruminations, opinionated observations, darkly humorous blathering and the occasional rant from an outspoken spanko and unapologetic attention wh–, um, hog.

Now I understand

Sometime in the late 1980s, I was still deeply in the spanking closet, had zero experience with it, and knew nothing about scene practices, dynamics or ethics. Because there was no Internet, I blindly grabbed at whatever I thought would show me a glimpse into this mysterious world.

So I rented 9 1/2 Weeks. All I knew about it was its stars, and that it involved some sort of kinky activity. And eagerly, I popped that VHS tape in the VCR and began to watch.

I remember liking it somewhat in the beginning. I never cared for Kim Basinger; there was something coarse and unpleasant about her character and I didn’t relate to it. However, let’s face it; before he did God-knows-what to his face that totally destroyed it, before he got bloated and fake-tanned and scary-looking, Mickey Rourke was freaking hot.




Yeah… I’d take orders from that too.

But as the film went on, it grew distasteful to me. Something felt off, and then felt more and more off until it played out and finished, leaving me feeling a bit skeeved, but not knowing why.

Cut to last night, when I was up late channel surfing, and the Sundance channel was just getting into 9 1/2 Weeks. So I watched some of it, this time with a more educated eye. And I know exactly what I hated.

For one thing, this film exhibited all kinds of stupid, including Kim’s character trusting a guy whom she knows absolutely nothing about except for his first name and a vague idea of what he does for a living. Things get darker and more and more non-consensual as the relationship developed, and you watched Kim grow unstrung to the point of a nervous breakdown, so totally and negatively obsessed was she with this guy, who started out charming and got more sinister. But the ultimate sin, what trashed the movie for me?

They totally screwed up what could have been a really hot spanking scene.

Oh my God, the buildup was perfect. She’s left alone in his house, so she snoops in his closet and drawers. He then calls her, and almost as if he had a hidden camera on her, he asks if she was being a “nosy Parker” and snooping in his things. His voice is low and silken and cajoling, and she confesses that yes, she was. He says, “Shame on you” and hangs up on her.

Next minute he’s back at his house, and she’s waiting, looking very nervous. He walks in, looking grim, and says with little preamble, “You were a very bad girl, Elizabeth. I want you to face the wall and raise your skirt. I’m going to spank you.”

“You’re kidding, right?” she blurts. “No, I’m not kidding,” he answers.

Now here’s where she should have meekly and reluctantly complied, as she did with all his other orders up to this point. But for whatever reason, this struck a nerve, and she gets incredibly pissed off, starts to flounce out, then stomps back in, screams “Who the fuck do you think you are?” and slaps him in the face. A struggle ensues.

OK, the scene still could have been salvaged. He could have wrestled her to the nearby dining table, bent her over it and given her that spanking. That would have been steamy as hell. But instead, he pushes her onto her back on the table, rips off her panties (you hear fabric tearing), and rapes her.

Yeah… that’s totally acceptable, but spanking her wouldn’t have been?? How lame! Way to represent us, Hollywood.

I shut off the TV after that point. No need to watch the rest again; I had my answer.

I suppose a lot of people liked the film and would disagree with me, but I thought it sucked, as far as representing a kinky relationship. When it comes down to it, Secretary did it a whole lot better. And Maggie Gyllenhaal absolutely nailed the innocent sweetness, vulnerability and trepidation of a new bottom; Kim Basinger didn’t even come close.

I know it’s an old movie and probably has been discussed to death, but since I just saw it again last night, it’s fresh in my mind. What do/did you guys think of it?

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28 thoughts on “Now I understand

  1. I know, it was such a waste of a scene! I haven't watched that movie in so long that I don't remember anything else about it, but I first saw it way before I got online and found the whole spanking scene. I felt so let down when it didn't go in the obvious direction!

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  2. Jen — not only that, but the direction they DID go it was so wrong!

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  3. Bobbie Jo on said:

    I never saw it and since I read a lot of the book when I sat on the floor of the college library (yeah, that long ago!) for several hours searching for anything I could find about masochism. I didn't need to see it. Of course, I was actually looking for info on TTWD, but I didn't know it at the time. Anyway, I thought it was a true story, which it isn't. I won't be seeing it any time soon. Not interested.

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  4. Anonymous on said:

    I've never seen a spanking film that I felt got everything right, so I pick off the parts of each that I really like. You mentioned it above – I think his voice and commanding authority were such powerful parts of the scene all the way through when he tells her that he's going to spank her. Then it took an awful tumble for me.

    But I could see how a well-dressed, determined man who mouthed those words into submissive ears (in a consensual relationship) and then *followed up* would be responsible for many a pair of wet panties πŸ™‚

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  5. Bobbie Jo — ha! I remember sitting in bookstores flipping through books for the possible spanking scenes. I never read this one, though.

    Anonymous — oh heavens, yes. πŸ™‚

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  6. I would say 'forget the movie and read the book' (Nine and a Half Weeks; A Memoir of a Love Affair by Ingeborg Day writing as Elizabeth McNeill). It's a short book that is supposedly based on an affair the author had while she was at Ms Magazine. As I recall, the movie keeps the basic plot but not much else.

    The New Yorker published a piece on the author a couple of years ago and her autobiography (Ghost Waltz) has been waiting for me on my e-reader ever since. I just checked and that New Yorker article is available on-line (http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/who-was-the-real-woman-behind-nine-and-a-half-weeks).

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  7. Almost all scenes like that go in the wrong direction. I think the subject scares a lot of people who make movies. Mainstream movies that try to put it in as a real thing and not some joke make the characters damaged (Secretary makes me crazy because of that), because they can't understand that those of us who are into it aren't all damaged because we like it. We need one of our own to make a movie about how it really is, something that can be amazing when done right, with characters are whole and mentally healthy and having a great time doing it.

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  8. Cam — what an amazing article! Thank you. It does sound like the book was very different. The characters in the book didn't even have names.

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  9. The overriding theme of 9 1/2 weeks as well as nearly all films made for an American audience is that sexual pleasure and expression must be punished. And that's how I eventually understood the film and why I also cannot watch it again. Equally, Secretary was a much better depiction of a D/s dynamic and didn't follow the formula as it were.

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  10. Potomacker — agreed. Even though in Secretary, the Lee character was disturbed (which a lot of people rightly objected to), I loved how she blossomed and grew confident in her D/s relationship, so it was a good thing. In 9 1/2 Weeks, the Elizabeth character was nearly driven to a breakdown because of the D/s. Very negative.

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  11. Erica, I loved the book! The movie was such a disappointment and had only a vague resemblance to the novel. I just read the article mentioned above – so interesting! The only thing I didn't like was her breakdown at the end. That old masochism = instability theme again.

    I think the movie version of Exit to Eden was much the same – the only similarity to the novel was the name and a vague reference to SM.

    Hugs,
    Hermione

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  12. sixofthebest on said:

    Erica, that is why the movie “Secretary', along with “Roots of Heaven”, will always remain two of my all time favorite 'spanking' films. Maggie Gyllenhaal did a fantastic job of acting, the 'spanked' role.

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  13. Anonymous on said:

    Erica,

    I watched 9 1/2 Weeks and I had a very different interpretation, especially where the spanking scene is concerned.

    (spoilers ahead)

    I don't see 9 1/2 Weeks as a kinky/BDSM film. To me has very little to do with the kink world or spankos. The movie is, to me, a story about a naive woman who enters into a sexual relationship with a man she knows is a bit dangerous, but she dives in anyway because he's hot and the danger is kind of exciting. Over time his true colours come out and he gets increasingly aggressive and abusive until she finally realizes she's in too deep and leaves him. It's not a film about a BDSM relationship, Basinger's character isn't kinky nor particularly submissive. The make lead is just an abuser who preys upon women with his good looks and pushy attitude.

    The spanking scene which you suggest could have been hot isn't supposed to be about punishment, it is about the male lead trying to control and abuse the female lead. Keep in mind she isn't kinky and she's not a spanko. There is no consent involved, having her take the spanking would only make sense if she were a spanko. She doesn't because she sees him hitting her as abuse (which it is in this context). As is the sex/rape which follows.

    I quite like Basinger's character in the movie because she eventually wakes up to the fact she's in an abusive relationship and leaves. It's a story about a woman getting sucked into a bad relationship on a sexual high (as many people are) and then being brave enough to walk away when things get too bad. I think it's a good example for many young women who get caught up in bad/abusive relationships.

    Secretary was a completely different genre. That's a kink/BDSM movie, one that shows people finding themselves and each other, gaining a needed spark in their lives. 9 1/2 Weeks isn't meant to be viewed, in my opinion, as a kinky movie, but a dark romance that goes wrong. A sort of warning by example.

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  14. Hermione — it sounds like I really need to read the book!

    Six — I've never seen Roots of Heaven. Perhaps I should.

    Anonymous — you make very good points. Thanks for taking the time to write that out.

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  15. Don't know the book – but somehow the movie was way too much of, I'd say, an outsider's perspective and, also, made for outsiders.

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  16. MrJ — probably.

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  17. No doubt about it, Mickey was hot as Hell. It's a damn shame injuries from his boxing hobby morphed his appearance so much.

    Initially I was thrilled to possibly see a contemporary movie containing an actual spanking. But it's been years since I saw the movie. I think the “spanking” scene was a major let down. It went majorly awry in a way like the one in the Godfather movie where Talia's Shire's character got spanked with a belt by her husband. Asshole began erratically beating the curtains!
    Didn't Mickey's character scream at her and order her to crawl on the floor? NO effing way that tone of voice would get me to comply with a lover/top. From what you said regarding the rape act-THAT is definitely more unsettling than a “pervy” act such as spanking.

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  18. Kelly — I thought he had a bunch of plastic surgery, as well. He has that weird Bruce Jenner kind of look.

    Yeah, I think the crawling on the floor scene came later.

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  19. I share a boxing interest with Mickey and from what I know he had facial damage due to boxing; followed up by botched plastic surgeries and extensive reconstructive surgeries. He is starting to look more “natural” these days.

    I am with anonymous just above in that I never really saw this as a kinky relationship movie. (Secretary by far is a better representation of kink). It is more of a passion led dangerous relationship that is destined to derail; as it does. Interestingly, most people I know just think of it as soft-porn and nothing deeper really.

    I was also really disappointed with the threatened spanking scene as well for obvious reasons. Such a buildup and then sudden let down. Also because I really would have loved watching Kim Basinger getting spanked at some point in her career.

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  20. Enzo — my issue is, if it wasn't meant to be a kinky relationship movie, then why all the instances of kinky activity? The blindfold. His dominant behavior. The whip. The mention of spanking. The rough sex. Etc. And the book from which it was taken was definitely about an S&M relationship. The movie watered that down enough so that it was left ambiguous.

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  21. My point/main reference is the movie. The book describes a different “deeper” relationship. I believe the movie was meant to sell only based on the subject of a sexual relationship; not a kinky one per say. All the activity described is really vanilla with chocolate chips sprinkled on top that plenty of people are OK to dabble in (where a true kink relationship is at best an ice cream sundae). Thus the appeal to the masses in my opinion.

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  22. Enzo — definitely chocolate sprinkles. I think in their effort to make it mass appeal/vanilla, they ruined it, and instead made something that was both unsatisfying to the kinks and semi-squicky to the vanillas.

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  23. Hi Erica — I never seen the movie, but I take your word for it πŸ™‚ getting raped turns me off and it is scary. Rape has nothing to do with a spanking. So this movie doesn't sound interesting to me.Much Love and hugs from naughty girl Jade/ Emily Jean

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  24. Jade — you're not missing much.

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  25. I thought it sucked as well……
    Always
    Ron

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  26. Ron — *snort*

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  27. I totally agree with you. I heard it was a kinky movie so was excited to watch it. Then there wasn't even any spanking! I think he maybe swats her with a belt while she's crawling around at some point? It's been a while since I saw it. But yes, definitely a missed opportunity for a great scene.

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  28. Lea — I don't recall as I turned it off before that scene, but I think (?) he was actually striking the floor around her as she crawled.

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