Exploring the porn world with ‘Lovelace’ starring Amanda Seyfried and James Franco
Lovelace, in my opinion, an underrated and misunderstood movie. It is the story of Linda Lovelace (played by Amanda Seyfried), a woman who gained overnight fame in the early 1970s as the star of a popular pornographic work titled, ‘Deep Throat’.
What is fascinating about the film is the format, showing the viewer the same events twice and from two different perspectives, helping to tell the story: not that porn is evil, but that porn is a lie.
The first half of the movie can only be described as the “porn version” of Lovelace’s life. It had some dark undertones, but mostly it provided the version of her life and career that the Deep Throat promotional material was putting out. I’m old enough to remember when Deep Throat was released, and I must say they captured the tone of the promotion very well, and Seyfried brings the 1970 Lovelace to life.
Linda Lovelace was presented as a young woman who enjoyed acting in the film because she found it personally and sexually liberating. She turned up at screenings smiling and provocative, exuding wholesome sex appeal, apparently enjoying the attention and happily talking about how the movie freed her from inhibitions and helped her enjoy sex more, and could help other people as well. Linda represented joyful, unrestrained female sexuality and freedom from outdated morality.
It turns out that was all a pleasant illusion, rather like pornography itself, as we learn in the movie’s second half, which is intended as a revised, truthful, fantasy-free version of the first half, based directly on Lovelace’s memoirs.
In reality, if the memoirs are accurate, Linda Lovelace was coerced into making the movie by a husband who controlled her, and who introduced her to the pornography industry. She had seen her uninhibited husband as an escape from her harsh, puritanical upbringing, but instead her marriage placed her under a tighter form of control. She was treated as a commodity and a plaything by the filmmakers and by Deep Throat’s prestigious fans, and had no direct access to the money her work brought in. Ironically, and perhaps in keeping with the entire theme, the public accepted the story that Lovelace found making Deep Throat fun and freeing. It was only when she started talking about her real experiences that she was called a liar.
Linda Lovelace came to hate the pornography industry and speak out against it. This film shows us where that anger originated. As she came to describe it, in porn, women are shown as endlessly obliging, willing and happy to perform any act, however demeaning or dangerous, regardless of how unattractive or brutal the man in question may be. It’s a fantasy, but the women acting the part are real. Lovelace—the woman and the film—questions whether tolerance for conventional pornography partly equates with tolerance for the debasement of women. The movie could well make people uncomfortable and defensive by putting a living face on that conjecture.
At the very least, Lovelace could serve as an effective conversation starter.