Comments on: ‘Call Me By Your Name’ may be an Oscar contender, but it’s rotten to the core https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/ Greater Pasadena's Free News and Entertainment Weekly Sun, 19 Aug 2018 03:54:07 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 By: gil https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-700 Wed, 07 Mar 2018 10:23:59 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-700 Values and rules of conduct are essential for any society in order to facilitate interaction affecting physical or material well-being. In varying degrees of significance ‘Drive on the left’, ‘Don’t kill’ or ‘Respect contracts’ are based on values or majority agreement in the light of experience, and determine much needed rules of conduct.

When it comes to emotions, it is much more difficult. Emotional concern about loved ones and the genuine belief that we are helping them can be as sincerely felt behind ‘He’s much older than you’ as behind ‘You shouldn’t go out with him, he is black.’ It is really difficult to come up with a situation in which killing or driving against the traffic should be encouraged, as difficult as it is to find a rule for love/sex between people legally entitled to have sex that can’t be immediately disproved by cases around us. At the risk of repeating myself, I believe matters of love and sex are best left to the protagonists, particularly if they are old enough, and judged case by case. In the case of CMBYN, the novel makes clear that Elio is affected by the loss of Oliver, not by the episode in itself, which he himself says becomes less significant in his love life as time goes on.

I’m not talking of paedophilia, or coertion in sexual relationships. One is a psychic disorder, the other abusive behaviour. Both require prevention and sanction.

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By: mikew https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-699 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 21:33:13 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-699 You make some good points, too. I do think there’s a gray area in the situation that makes it interesting. I do think that a person can bring preformed, well-examined values and rules of conduct to the conversation without being a zealot or fool.

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By: gil https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-698 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 20:55:23 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-698 I haven’t read the book, as I said. The responsibility of older people to younger people is no doubt a fundamental issue in civilization, but I think it’s better to confine opinions to the subject being considered, not on the basis of universal rules.
One of the problems with this film and America is that America is essentially a puritanical culture with a huge overload of religious fanaticism influencing the culture. At least for those of us who, although close to America for many reasons, do not live there nor share the puritanical root. Puritanism and religious zealotry are invariably based on universal rules people have to follow. You may not find this recognizable in American Christianity (I’m particularly talking about the ghastly clappy cheery churches most people attend), but if you think about it in the context of Islam and Saudi Arabia you’ll recognize it immediately.

We can agree on the universal rule of the older looking after the younger, but what do we describe as ‘older’? In the case of CMBYN Oliver is 24, educated but not exceptional. Elio is exceptional for a 17 year old. When I look back (I’m a grandfather), the difference between my grasp of the world at 17 and at 24 wasn’t that colossally improved. To me,the age factor comes into play in CMBYN because it is much easier when you are 17 to turn someone older into a god/dess. Elio is turned on by someone older. That is not objectionable or worthy of praise, is what happens to him.

It would be objectionable if the older person is manipulating the younger one. That is not at all the case in CMBYN. Oliver resists Elio’s advances at first, but he is attracted to him. Oliver has no power over Elio. Oliver does not treat Elio differently than he treated Chiara, with whom he must have had a brief affair. He is someone with his personal life in a state of flux, uncertain of what he wants. He may hurt others in the process, but anyone who has gone through youth, and I’m not talking 17, and didn’t hurt anyone in the exploration of love, deserves a monument.

The only objections to this film come into being if you start from universal rules. As puritans, or religious zealots, do.

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By: mikew https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-697 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 20:03:57 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-697 It wasn’t Victorian England, it was in a rather licentious New Orleans. The general theme of the morality of older people’s responsibility to younger ones is relevant, I believe.

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By: gil https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-695 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 17:10:44 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-695 In 1821 the depiction of pubic hair in art was unacceptable, and not long afterwards in many Victorian houses the legs of pianos were covered with fabric, apparently to prevent lewd thoughts.

Of course it’s not possible to generalize, but I wouldn’t take 1820s in America or other places as a reference for contemporary sexual norms.

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By: mikew https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-694 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:36:47 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-694 It takes place in about 1821. The decision was presented as one of moral responsibility.

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By: gil https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-693 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:22:19 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-693 I haven’t read Feast of All Saints, so I don’t know where it was set. If it was in America, where it seems that age of consent in most places is 21, the teacher did not reject the student out of moral principles, he would have lost his job and gone to jail if found out. In any country sex between students and teachers, particularly at high school, is frowned upon or heavily sanctioned.

None of that is the case in Call Me By Your Name.

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By: gil https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-692 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:17:48 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-692 For someone who allegedly reads books on argumentation, your dishonesty clearly has not been affected by them. Either you take the story at face value, a 17-year old ( in a country where is free to engage in sexual activity with whoever he/she chooses) falling in love with a 24-year old (Oliver’s age in the book, the film doesn’t say how old he is) who falls in love with him. Or you judge the story on the basis of the true age of the protagonists, a bizarre way of looking at creative work, but apparently you do. In which case Chalamet was 21 at the time of filming, Hammer was 30.

I’m not particularly affronted by a 17-year-old, if he/she is legally of age, having sex of his/her own free with a 24-year old, it happens all the time at university. It may end up badly, it may not, love doesn’t come with guarantees, sex even less. Neither am I particularly affronted by a 21-year old having an affair with a 30-year old, particularly if the protagonists are in love. What is pure bad faith is what you do, to use the real age of the protagonists to qualify fiction. I’m sure you have no problem with Lady Bird, where Saoirse Ronan is actually 23 in real life but she has sex with a 17-year old boy, Chalamet’s age in the film. If your dishonest appeal to real age of actor has any moral credibility, then go indignant at Lady Bird too.

You won’t because this has nothing to do with the actual films you are watching, but your baggage of prejudices, and how you tailor what you see in order to let them loose.

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By: mikew https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-691 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 02:24:01 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-691 An interesting juxtaposition to the choices made in this movie are found in Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints. In that book, a young-adult male teacher and his male teen student fall in love. At the moment the younger one offered himself to the older, the older had to SHOVE the younger away to stanch his own desire and stop the coupling from occurring. He later explained he did it because the teen needed to go through his youth freely, unencumbered by the formed opinions and tastes of an older lover. Hard not to respect his choice, which I think may put Oliver’s to shame.

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By: mikew https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2018/02/08/call-name-may-oscar-contender-rotten-core/#comment-690 Tue, 06 Mar 2018 02:17:02 +0000 https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/?p=101112#comment-690 I wrote a response to the original review a few weeks ago — see it below — that is somewhat at odds with Sanya’s view, yet I don’t disagree with her. Sanya’s viewpoint is more that of a protective mother, highly suspicious of the whole affair, and demanding accountability from the older character Oliver. Sanya’s take is totally valid, coming at it from an all-together different set of emotional concerns. Notice – unlike Kozlowski, Sanya didn’t say it was a bad movie. She just didn’t LIKE it or Oliver. I find her tit-for-tat tracking of Oliver-as-pedophile or Oliver-as-user facinating. The possibility that Sanya is RIGHT is what makes the movie interesting. Her observation regarding Oliver’s choice not to negate a 17 y/o’s shame about sex is well observed – a 17 y/o’s brain is still maturing. There were risks here for Elio! Despite the movie’s convincing portrayal of joy, Sanya digs down to what makes us uneasy about it all. In truth, we do not know if the affair was good for Elio or not.

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