What's in a D*ck Shot

Written by Armand Manoukian

Illustrated by Shamayam Sullivan

Armand Manoukian is a 22-year-old journalism and political science student from Los Angeles, California. He grew up in the suburb of Glendale, known for its large Armenian community, and was raised by two Armenian parents who immigrated from Iran following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The Armenian community has a heavy influence on his interests and beliefs. His love for fashion stems from his father – the best dressed man he knows. He’s a huge sports fan (mostly of London’s Arsenal Football Club and the Los Angeles Lakers) as well as a big hip hop head and politics nerd.

Armand Manoukian is a 22-year-old journalism and political science student from Los Angeles, California. He grew up in the suburb of Glendale, known for its large Armenian community, and was raised by two Armenian parents who immigrated from Iran following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The Armenian community has a heavy influence on his interests and beliefs. His love for fashion stems from his father – the best dressed man he knows. He’s a huge sports fan (mostly of London’s Arsenal Football Club and the Los Angeles Lakers) as well as a big hip hop head and politics nerd.

Filmmaking is an incredibly deliberate act.

Screenplays include minor details and set designers create easter eggs and directors shoot from specific angles. It is the hope, if the job is done correctly, that everything on the screen, and everything off the screen, is where it is on purpose.

This is especially the case with nudity in film.

Including genitalia has serious implications for any film from a marketing and production standpoint: an erect penis on camera will “force” the Motion Pictures Association of America to change a film’s rating from R to NC-17 (and before you ask, yes, that is a double standard that does not apply to full-frontal, female nudity).

But hogs in cinema are worth examining. For one, they’re relatively rare, but they also carry a wide range of meanings. What is a movie saying when it shows you a penis? I watched five films of different genres to figure it out.

You see, Dear Reader, I am no artist. I cannot tell you what it’s like to expose the most intimate part of your body first to a film crew, then to a worldwide audience. I am a coward, unable to or paralyzed from making my own creations. History will remember me, if at all, as a heckler, hurling unnecessary factoids or overwrought analysis at an indifferent audience. I’ll tell you a secret, Dear Reader: I pitched this article idea as a joke because I couldn’t come up with anything else for the theme. But here we are, me opining my own shortfalls to you, you inexplicably reading on. I guess you’d like to know what it means to see penis in a movie.

1) 7 Days in Hell (2015) Directed by Jake Szymanski. Dick shown: Chris Romano.

“7 Days in Hell” is an HBO Sports comedy mockumentary starring Andy Samberg and Kit Harrington. It tells the story of a fictional Wimbledon match that lasted seven days because of various extraneous circumstances. It only runs 50 minutes, and I won’t spoil much but this thing is incredible, and I love it dearly. I had seen it multiple times prior to embarking on my Cock-Shot Odyssey.

We see the dick — soft of course — on a naked streaker (Chris Romano) who interrupts the tennis match. Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg) calms the streaker down as security steps back, and then the two engage sexually. They have sex for so long that the sun goes down and the remainder of the match must be played the next day.

This is a classic comedy Dick Shot. The penis is the punchline. Romano starred in cult classic “Blue Mountain State,” where he also showed hog to the camera, so he was clearly comfortable with this being his role.

The penis, and the homosexual sex that follows its exposure, is an encapsulation of Williams’ spirit in the film. He’s the brash, drug-loving rockstar of the Tennis world. The inciting incident of the movie features him disrespecting the historic tournament’s traditions, and his foil character is a clean-cut, posh British athlete (Kit Harrington). The mockumentary confessionals then explain to you that Samberg’s character used the streaker tactically and made the choice to have sex for so long as a way of avoiding facing his more skilled opponent.

Samberg’s character also has intercourse with a female streaker in the same scene, and then he uses his raw sex appeal to bring the two streakers together themselves. It’s hilarious.

2) Bad Lieutenant (1992) Directed by Abel Ferrera. Dick shown: Harvey Keitel

“Bad Lieutenant” follows Harvey Keitel as a drug-and-gambling-addicted lieutenant who abuses his station to a fault. The schlong is revealed early on in the film, as character exposition. We are shown a day in the life of Keitel’s titular Bad Lieutenant: he drops his stupid kids off at school, goes to a crime scene, walks around it and demands someone or other to pick up some evidence and ask some witnesses questions, and then he drives off to a dimly light apartment where two scantily clad women await him. They drink and do drugs and dance around in the intensely moody red light, and Keitel and the women become more and more undressed as time goes on.

In the quintessential “This character is an alcoholic,” shot, the lieutenant pours himself a glass of vodka before tossing it to the side and opting to drink straight from the bottle. We see his soft penis in the next

few shots.

Keitel’s full-frontal scene is meant to evoke disgust. This man is hollow. Fueled by substances and gambling and adultery, Keitel shows us who his character is so that the rest of the movie comes as no surprise.

He stands in front of a doorframe, arms stretched out, balancing and teetering, like his soul is on a tightrope. He starts babbling and weeping like a baby with his body as naked as he was when he was born. That’s why the dick shot is necessary. Without it, the visual symbolism of infanthood — while not totally erased — loses its weight. This is the audience’s first glimpse into Keitel’s vulnerability in this long stretch of character exposition: he knows he’s fucked up. The proceeding acts of corruption and degeneracy hardly feature Keitel in more than his face. In the first scenes we have with him, he never looks even slightly hesitant or unsure of his actions. This provides uber-valuable character exposition as we embark on his arc.

 

There are movies in which a man bearing his body is a triumphant, masculine and sexy moment — Ryan Gosling’s 6-pack reveal from “Crazy, Stupid Love” comes to mind — but this is not that. The entire scene and all its elements spiral downwards in sync. The bottle pours get messier just as the dancing gets sloppier just as our protagonist gets naked-er. It’s gross in the best way.

3) Trainspotting (1996) Directed by Danny Boyle. Dick shown: Ewan McGregor.

“Trainspotting” is the story of young, Scottish heroin addicts grappling with addiction and adulthood. It is sharply written and, similar to “Bad Lieutenant,” spares no detail in showing the audience its characters’ living standards.

Obi-Wang Kenobi shows us his Scottish knob around the halfway point of the film. The sequence has three simultaneous sex scenes intercut between one another; after a night out at a club, Renton (McGregor) and his friends all get lucky, but we only see one dick: his, the main characters. But we don’t see it during sex, while we do see the naked body of the woman. We are shown his soft penis after ejaculation. Nearly the second he’s done, his woman comes off him and tells him he can’t stay the night.

This dick is one of defeat.

One of unwantedness.

None of the three sex scenes have “happy” endings, really. A couple gets into an argument because they can’t find their homemade sex tape, another character passes out and shits the bed, and Renton learns in the morning he slept with an underage schoolgirl (the actress herself was not underage).

But in the larger context of the film, this happens while Renton is trying to get off heroin. He narrates about how everyone goes out to try and have sex, and that maybe finding a woman to sleep with will quell his urge to relapse (it doesn’t).

But the immediate consequences of an ill-advised hook up, both being told you can’t stay the night and then learning the person you slept with is underage, is encapsulated by Renton’s floppy, sad dick attached to his confused, sad body.

The fact that he’s fully naked in this moment of rejection is,

I think,

essential to the punchline of the scene. The quickness of going from “I just came” to “I got kicked out” is the gut-punch Renton needed to get. And this wouldn’t have hit as hard should he have been clothed.

4) The Danish Girl (2015) Directed by Tom Hooper. Dick Shown: Eddie Redmayne

“The Danish Girl” tells the true story of Lili Elbe, a famous transgender Danish artist in the turn of the 20th century who received one of the first sex reassignment surgeries. I will address this now and then never again, because I am unqualified to discuss trans representation in film as a cisgender, heterosexual man: Elbe is played, both before and after reassignment, by Eddie Redmayne, who is a (very good) cisgender male actor.

Elbe’s penis is shown, just barely, behind her pale, skinny hands in a pivotal scene in the film.

Elbe is realizing her identity, as she stands in front of a mirror in a closet full of women’s clothing — something that, throughout the early parts of the film, causes the then-male Elbe to seize up and wonder who she truly is. Elbe undresses, and then, in manifesting sexual reassignment, tucks her Danish Johnson behind her legs and puts her thighs together.

Perhaps this is one of the most literal meanings a penis can have in a film: a designator for the sex one is assigned at birth. This shouldn’t be here, Elbe thinks. Not all trans people undergo assignment surgery, it must be stressed, but considering Elbe’s historic surgery — both as a medical achievement and as a social one considering her prominence as an artist — hiding the penis serves dually as visceral bodily impulse and foreshadowing.

It’s also one of the most necessary uses of a penis in a film. A phallic symbol to represent manhood. Incredibly on the nose but appropriate nonetheless.

5) A Room with a View (1985) Directed by James Ivory. Dick Shown: Simon Callow

“A Room with a View” is based on the English novel of the same name, is a romance film about a young in stuffy, repressive Edwardian England falling in love with a free-spirited man. I wanted to watch this film because it does, just as briefly as many of these other films, include full-frontal nudity, but the backdrop of it, and of the whole film, is regal, polished and proper.

“7 Days in Hell” is an hour long Andy Samberg SNL sketch. “Trainspotting” features Ewan McGregor sinking, with his whole body, into a filthy shit-filled toilet. But this movie is about how stuffy the English are! It’s a period piece! It won Oscars and BAFTAs and Golden Globes. And so a dick contrasted with a movie that very much screams, “Nothing untoward here!” is worth looking at.

We see the penis of Simon Callow’s Mr. Beebe, a reverend. He’s on a daytime excursion as a sort of chaperone to our main character Lucy’s brother and the free-living George. As the boys strip their clothes to take a swim in a pond, Beebe stands on the bank. We don’t see the boys’ hogs as they jump in. But they encourage Beebe to have some fun for once, and he’s convinced. He strips,

we see his penis, and he jumps in.

 

It’s a dick shot of freedom. It’s one of fun. There is nothing sexual about it, as with a majority of the cocks I’ve told you about. It’s boyish innocence from a man well into his golden years and repressed naturally by his occupation; the entire film revolves around grappling with a repressive society, and the one character who’s gone against that grain since the beginning is who convinces Beebe. It is emblematic of George’s influence and his role in the story: everyone who meets him thinks

he has a point about all this stuffy bullshit.

 

They are, of course, caught by the Society authority figures promptly, and Beebe is admonished for enjoying himself. A child he is not, fun this world is not. Put your pants back on, Reverend.

Amidst braindead Twitter Discourse™ claiming that sex scenes are unnecessary because they don’t move the plot along (which, by the way, is an incredibly loser thing to believe), I’d like to go on the record and say I wish more films had full-frontal nudity, both female and male.

Society is being far more explorative with masculinity, gender and sex in art, and based on the five entries I’ve discussed above, full-frontal male nudity can mean a litany of things and is just as potent a symbolic gesture in film as anything else.

It represents essence in character in a reverend getting naked to swim in a pond or a lieutenant butt-naked whimpering like a newborn. It can also be a punchline! Dicks are incredibly funny for some reason, so when two non-gay men hook up or a dick flops around as its sad owner is getting owned by a girl, it’s hilarious! And of course, cocks can be representative of manhood, so if someone is realizing their gender identity, they’re a useful visual tool. It all makes perfect sense. |