It was not Shakespeare or Spielberg. But the film’s title, Juranal Park, certainly rang a bell. And the 18-and-older crowd filled the Marvin Center ballroom Thursday night for Program Board’s showing of “XXX Adult Entertainment.”
“We show a variety of films to meet a variety of students’ needs,” said PB Films Chair Ian Zeitzer. “It’s all about having a diversity of programming, and PB felt that there was a demand for this type of film.”
Zeitzer and students who attend PB’s open film meetings select three to six movies to be shown on campus every month, and the PB executive board and administrative advisers must approve them.
“So far this year, we’ve shown comedy films, dramatic films, art films; we even have a 3-D film coming up,” Zeitzer said. “So why not show films that many students are just watching in their dorm rooms anyway?”
Zeitzer said Student Activities Center administrators supported PB’s decision to show adult entertainment, treating it as “a First Amendment issue and encouraging us to present it in a tasteful way.”
The evening began with a 7 p.m. presentation of Ever After: A Cinderella Story, a PG-rated Cindarella romance starring Drew Barrymore.
After the film, James Willson-Quayle, assistant professor of political science, spoke on the topic of “Pornography and Society” to an audience of about 35 people.
“Pornography becomes a problem in liberal democracies,” he said. “Free nations have laws protecting freedom of speech and of the press, so defining exactly what is pornographic and then outlawing it is a difficult challenge against those freedoms.”
He said Western civilization’s degradation of women runs deeper than pornography. Notions of women’s inferiority can be traced to Plato, who told his followers that women’s uncontrolled bodies led to national instability. Aristotle, Plato’s student, suggested women served one purpose – to satisfy men’s sexual desires.
The rise of capitalism only made matters worse, Willson-Quayle said.
“In every capitalist society we can find women who are willing to give up their bodies for money,” he said. “And then we tell them they are free.” Willson-Quayle, Zeitzer and PB Executive Chair Brian Nathanson fielded questions from audience members following the lecture. By the time the feature presentation began, an estimated 350 GW students crammed into the ballroom, many hooting and howling at the on-screen action.
“It was funny with all the heckling,” said junior Joseph Dunsay. “I’d never seen a public showing of (adult entertainment) before and was curious to see how it would go. For once a year, I guess it wasn’t so bad to show it.”
Freshman Yei-sung Kim said she came to the show to support the American Civil Liberties Union and free speech.
“It seems like most porn tries to hit the male genre,” she said. “I think it’s time for more female-oriented porn. Society shouldn’t send the message that it’s OK for guys to like this stuff, but women have to be ashamed of their sexual instincts.”
Kim said this was the largest crowd she had ever seen at a PB-sponsored film and said she thought PB was making an effort to respond to student interest.
But not everyone agreed with PB’s decision to show adult entertainment on campus. Zeitzer said PB had to respond to a several telephone calls and e-mails protesting the event, including one letter sent to President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Linda Donnels, after publicity for the event began two weeks ago.
“Most of the people who didn’t like the idea were just concerned that University funds and support were going toward the showing of pornography,” Zeitzer said. “PB does not support adult entertainment, but we support a variety of programs for a variety of interests.”
Zeitzer said PB members screened the film to be sure there was no “degradation of women . beyond general adult themes that one would expect to find in adult entertainment.”
Zeitzer said several other universities have shown adult entertainment for programming purposes in the past.
Rights to show films on big screen can run PB between $800 to $900, but Juranal Park cost less than $20 for several nights of rental from Tower Video.
“I think the response was very positive from the people who attended the film,” Zeitzer said. “Between the two films and the lecture, PB attracted more than 400 students. That alone is a success.”