The Neon Demon: The SSL Review

About The Neon Demon
I got a text from Charlie as I was leaving work this past Thursday that said we need to see The Neon Demon 'cause it's the last day it's showing in Indy. I agreed. Now, I actually hadn't seen anything about the movie, which is my preferred way to go into an artsy ass film. I knew vaguely that ol' crazy Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn had another movie coming out, but that's about all I knew. I kinda like that dude as a director because I have both loved and hated his movies. Well, hate is a strong word. His movie Valhalla Rising was so boring and not at all what I like in a movie that you couldn't pay me to watch it again. You know, that's strong too. In the scope of things, watching it again is just 2 boring hours out of my life, and I like money a lot...in all reality, I'd probably watch it again for like 20 bucks.

Anyway, my point here is that his movies are an exciting endeavor for me. I don't know what I'll be getting into, but I know he'll takes risks and sometimes come out with surprising or new or beautiful or moving shit. The particular risks taken might not be everyone's cup of meat, but it's somebody's and it's something you don't find in any ol' movie. I feel the same way about directors like Sofia Copolla or PT Anderson or Ang Lee. I'll just go see any movie they make just because. But there are also tons of movies both indie and mainstream by directors I don't know names for (I don't know a lot of director names, really) that surprise and excite me in this way too, so really I just love the adventure of cinema, and getting back to The Neon Demon, for me it delivered. I thought it was an absolutely gorgeous movie. It made me look up the cinematographer, Natasha Braier, to see what else she's done. And, oh, the GLITTER. You know I love glitter. I love it, and it might have been the most beautiful glitter I've seen in all of cinema. So, there's that too.

If you don't like artsy movies or horror, I don't recommend this, but if you are cool with either or both, definitely check it. It got a lot of bad reviews from critics, but make your own mind...Valhalla Rising somehow got 71% from critics on Rotten Tomato and The Neon Demon only got 46%...so...

The SSL Review
Now that the intro to the movie's out of the way, here's why I'm writing. There was one SSL Reviewable scene in it. To remind, that means there was a depiction or discussion of female orgasm or masturbation. So, I absolutely must SSL Review it (see all the SSL Reviews HERE)- which means I critique the depiction/discussion based on the realism and on how the depiction/discussion reflects our sexual culture and how it adds to the cultural discussion about female orgasm and female sexuality in general. This is a 2nd SSL Review for Nicolas Winding Refn. His movie Only God Forgives was given a 4 Vulva Rating back in 2013. It was also for a female masturbation scene, although it was slightly more complicated and back when I'd reviewed less realistic lady-bation scenes.

The Scene
I really don't want to give away much in the movie, so I'm not going to use character names, and I'm not going to go into a lot of detail. So, let's just say a woman gets a little horny thinking about another woman, and she just happens to be near a dead female body lying face up in a morgue. Let's also just say that she decides to climb on top of that body, face down, and start masturbating herself and kissing that dead women. Let's just say that happened because it did. Here's what you need to know in bullet point form.

  • We do not see exactly what her hand is doing, but we do see that once she gets on top of the body, she reaches down to her vulva area and seems to be both grinding her hand up against herself and grinding her hips, so to me that is a pretty clear indication that she's stimulating the outer vulva/clitoral area with her hand. There is no reason to believe there is any penetration involved ('cause contrary to popular belief that doesn't seem to be a way to elicit lady-gasms), and so what she was doing is a completely sensible depiction of how a woman might actually stimulate herself to orgasm. Bravo.
  • And, she does seem to orgasm by the end of the sequence. She doesn't porn scream it up or anything either - which I love. If I recall correctly, she does some realistic enough staccato breathing with a final moany kinda sound thing - something to let us know she finished - much like we see from guys orgasming in movies. 
  • She kisses the dead body - which I'm fine with, I guess. But...you see, I HATE the sound and sight of sloppy tongue kisses. I just do not like it, and we get this close up of the sounds and of her tongue going in the woman's mouth and all that. Anyway, if you want to know the worst part about that scene, there it is.

The Vulva Rating
So, The Neon Demon had one SSL Reviewable scene, a masturbation scene. The physical elements of it were realistic, and so all that's good. It's not necessarily progressive or non-progressive. I'm going to go out on a limb now after all these years of SSL Reviews and say that having a woman masturbate in a realistic way is pretty status quo now. No, I don't think it's depicted or discussed as much or as causally as male masturbation, but when it is depicted, it's usually depicted sensibly. I think that's because, well, women don't masturbate by ramming dildos up their junk. We masturbate almost exclusively by stimulating our outer clitoral/vuvla area. Even if we decide to add some extras with vaginal or anal penetration in the mix, the clit still gets the love it needs.

So, somehow, I think as a culture we have come to somewhat of an understanding that this is how women get themselves off. It's when the female-male sex scenes start happening that we forget how women get themselves off and assume a dick moving in the lady-junk will do it. So, I hope that the realism in lady-bation will start to seep into other sex acts, that people will begin to put together that how women bring themselves to orgasm should be reflected in how women orgasm in a male-female sex act, but so far I haven't seen that. In fact I've never seen any TV or movie sex scene that involved both penetration of the vagina and manual stimulation of the clit. It's like one happens when she's alone and the other happens when she's with a dude. We've still got a ways to go.

For now, though, I'll take the good masturbation scenes. That they are status quo now, is pretty awesome and shows progress. I am going to give this movie a 4 vulva review because it's realistic...and I won't even deduct a vulva for the horrible tongue sounds.


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