What was so controversial about The Brown Bunny?

I’ve never seen the film but have seen it’s title bounced around here often enough that I read through the wiki article on it.

Is the entire controversy the fact that they showed a real bj on film? That’s it?
Have these people never seen porn before?
Or is there some taboo line drawn between porn and film? Porn: Yeah, whatever, people doin it, no big deal, it’s been around for decades.
Film: OMG! You can’t do that in a movie!

It said that it was shown at Cannes and people walked out on it or booed it and it immediately became the worst film ever made.
Because of a real bj? Seriously?

What am I missing here?

There were two versions. The first version was widely panned. It was recut, and this new version got much better reviews. Roger Ebert was one critic who wrote about how he hated it the first time and like it much more after the recut.

It’s a number of things. The bj certainly had something to do with it. This wasn’t some anonymous porn starlet. It was Chloe Sevigny. And it wasn’t faked at all. But it also wasn’t a good movie. Indulgent crap is more like it.

It was probably booed because it was a bad movie.

And there is a line between porn and film. They are distributed very differently. Commercial films in theaters usually don’t show explicit blow jobs.

I think Short Bus also has a non-stimulated blow job in it. But other than those two films I can’t think of anything else.

Bolding mine:

Now that’s a bad review!

**Short Bus **also had *quite *a lot more than just a blowjob. There are some other films notable for featuring unsimulated sex between non-porn actors, like “Intimacy” & “9 Songs,” but rarely is it ever with mainstream well-known actors.

About 90-minutes of unbearable self-indulgence. And you can probably find the video of the infamous scene online. It’s pretty needlessly degrading.

ETA And I say this a fan of Gallo’s Buffalo 66, though even that dragged.

I didn’t even make it to the blowjob scene. The first twenty minutes of the film (yes, TWENTY, or thereabouts) were just Vincent Gallo driving silently. Fuck that, I turned it off and never watched it again.

Well I can imagine the 10 minute scene of Chloe Sevigny blowing Vincent Gallo raised a few eyebrows. Pretty tame by the standards of porn, true, but these are supposed to be “legitimate” actors, which I guess makes it all the more shocking.
Also as someone mentioned above, Roger Ebert created a big stink about how much the original uncut version sucked (no pun intended). Vincent Gallo in turn said he put a curse on Ebert, sparking a war of words.
Personally I didn’t think it was that bad, but yes it is very self-indulgent. It’s really the type of movie you’d only want to see once.

You’d think that directors would look at Manos: the Hands of Fate and then NOt repeat things there, but nooooooo…

Boca: The Mouth of Fate.

Ebert’s original review (in which he called it “the worst movie ever seen at Cannes”), a bizarre conversation with Gallo, and the revised review are in his book “Your Movie Sucks”. Ebert said the problem he and other reviewers had with the movie was much more the endless scenes of driving than the infamous sex scene. The movie was so devoid of action that there were two different scenes of Gallo getting gasoline. Ebert pointed that his fellow critics were so bored that when the film showed Gallo getting out of the car to change his shirt, the audience broke into cheers.

Short Bus was full on hard core porn…with a plot, it was actually a good movie, I’ve been meaning to rent it again.
Brown Bunny was awful. If you take out the blow job scene, it’s an hour and a half of him driving in a van. Really, that’s all it was.

I don’t really get what the hang-up was about the blowjob scene. Celebs can film private sex tapes that leak to the Internet and still have a successful career (Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, etc etc) afterwards, but showing the same thing during one of your films is verboten? I don’t get it.

Chloe Sevigny still has a successful career.

I find it to be extremely creepy for the guy that decided that there be a real blow job in the movie also be the recipient.

And IIRC it was his IRL ex-girlfriend.

Well, I guess the difference is that the Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton tapes were (ostensibly anyway) never meant for public consumption. The Brown Bunny was.
Also let’s face it. Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson, unlike Chloe Sevigny and Vincent Gallo, have always been better known for their (ahem) physical assets than for their acting abilities.

I disagree that it was porn. It was an attempt to make a movie about relationships and sex without leaving out the sex - without coy camera angles, flesh-colored pasties or body doubles. It was honest.

Personally, I don’t get the distinction. If a scene in a movie shows two characters having sex, why is one “porn” if it shows that sex more clearly? Why is it “not-porn” if the female actor is shown only from the back of her head and the male actor has a sock over his penis? If that’s the same, the “Hard R” versions of “couples friendly” porn films are also “not porn” - although in that case the male is not wearing a sock and actual sexual activity is happening during filming.

There was a wonderful line in one of my favorite films, “Topsy-Turvy”: Unfortunately, your avocation as an actor compels you, on occasion, to endure the most ignominious indignities.

Did people assume that Chloe Sevigny had never given a blowjob before, and were honestly shocked? Or is this just faux shock? She is an actor, and as such, her body is her tool (I wish I were arguing this point with a better film.) She has had to kiss other actors, had other actors caress her body, and appear to have sex with other actors. She was just willing to go a single step further. *

Where is the distinction? For instance, the movie Body Heat was a very erotic film featuring Kathleen Turner at the peak of her beauty and featuring some pretty near-explicit scenes between her and William Hurt. What if the director had gone one step further and shown penetration? Would it suddenly have become “porn”? I’m not talking about some film like Body Heat, I’m asking how that exact film would be perceived if Lawrence Kasdan had included explicit sex?

A more recent example would be David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. There were two sex scenes in the film between Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello. One is loving and sweet, the other aggressive - arguably rape. If Cronenberg had gone one step further and shown Mortensen’s penis entering Bello’s body, would it have invalidated the rest of the movie?

It seems like this is the last frontier of prudery.

  • That may also be a generational thing - the belief that oral sex no longer qualifies as “sex”, instead it’s seen as “fooling around”.

I could see it blurring the line between art and porn, but there was plenty of unsimulated sex in that movie that made no attempt to hide anything. No it wasn’t Jenna Jameson/Peter North type porn, but it also wasn’t the soft core stuff you find on Cinemax.
Either way it was a good movie and I need to remember to add it to my Netflix Queue again.