Representing Sexual Inexperience in FilmeBook - 2010
In Virgin Territory contributors consider virginity as it is produced and marketed in film. With chapters that span a range of periods, genres, and performances, this collection proves that although it seems like an obvious quality at first glance, virginity in film is anything but simple. The essays in Virgin Territory destabilize assumptions about virginity and connect moments of virginity in film to their larger social significance.
Editor Tamar Jeffers McDonald has assembled a range of contributions by noted film scholars to consider virginity from numerous perspectives, including both the male and female quest to lose virginity, the role of virginity in horror film, issues of sexual agency and desire in both historic and contemporary depictions of virginity, and the complications of self-pleasure and masturbation. Films considered include classics of the Production Code era, like Marjorie Morningstar, Pillow Talk, and Bonjour Tristesse, as well as more recent films like Porky’s, Losin’ It, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, American Pie, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Scary Movie. Contributors also consider particular stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Doris Day to investigate the positioning of virginity on an actor’s physical body.
Across different eras and genres, different films have different methods of representing virginity, relying on costume, mise-en-scène, and performance to convey the virgin status, while some film stars are associated with the quality to both the furtherance, and the frustration, of their careers. Virgin Territory explores the contrasts and continuities in films’ attempts at representing this internal state to fascinating effect. Scholars of film and television history as well as cultural studies will enjoy this significant volume.