‘Sex and Violence from a Pair of Furies’: The Scandal of <i>Baise-moi</i>

Leila Wimmer

in The New Extremism in Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641604
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651221 | DOI:
‘Sex and Violence from a Pair of Furies’: The Scandal of Baise-moi

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X-rated in its home country and censored throughout the world for its graphic sex and violence, Baise-moi (France, 2000), Virginie Despentes's notorious first feature, is a highly controversial example of the new extremism in French cinema. Co-written and co-directed with porn actress Coralie Trinh Thi and starring Karen Bach (Nadine) and Rafaëlla Anderson (Manu), the film's combination of low-brow, hard-core pornography within a violent neo-noir female revenge narrative provoked such a scandal on its release in Paris on June 28, 2000 that its commercial life was brutally interrupted. This chapter contextualises Baise-moi and draws attention to its structuring absences. It suggests that what ultimately unsettles is the film's exposure of difference, a strategy which calls into question the rhetoric of universalism that is a staple part of French national identity, and reveals unresolved anxieties and concerns about ethnicity, citizenship, gender, and sexuality that are at the heart of contemporary French society. As the chapter notes, the censorship of the film was ultimately a means of displacing these anxieties on to the more manageable category of ‘pornography’.

Keywords: Baise-moi; sex; violence; Virginie Despentes; new extremism; French cinema; pornography; exposure of difference; rhetoric of universalism; censorship

Chapter.  5295 words. 

Subjects: Film

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