We zip by her sublet house on the way back to campus. Stacks of porn videos decorate her office, including Butt Slammers 7, All-Girl Action Tapes 1-9 and 11-17 (what happened to No. 10?), and the all-male Knight Gallery 2. Obviously a different office than that of her father, William Bright, a renowned linguist who spent years preserving indigenous languages in California with a wire recorder. (On second thought, one could argue the Butt Slammers series is also an indigenous language of California.)
"They're probably drying," explains Bright. "They probably went to the beach, or went surfing."
Back in the classroom, Bright cues up a gunfight scene from Sam Peckinpah's 1969 opus The Wild Bunch. The sequence lasts several minutes and is vintage Peckinpah -- blood squibs everywhere, people falling from heights, each gun capable of firing 17,000 bullets without reloading. The editing makes the violence oddly serene and romantic, as does the use of slow motion. The guns finally stop, leaving the scene littered with fresh corpses.
"What's it like watching this after weeks of watching fucking?" asks the instructor.
"Disappointing," says one guy. "You can see this on the news."
"I didn't identify with this in a personal way at all," adds a girl.
OK, let's try the 1967 classic Bonnie and Clyde -- an extremely controversial final ambush scene, where Beatty and Dunaway are blown to pieces by the authorities. Death is portrayed as erotic, romantic, poignant, and a bunch of other adjectives often used in such classrooms. The students are not very impressed.
After I Spit on Your Grave, the class is running late, so Bright asks the students if they want to stay for the last film.
"Snuff!" they answer.
Snuff was made in 1976 by Michael and Roberta Findlay, also released as The Slaughter. The original poster type read, "From South America ... where life is cheap!" This film launched the urban myth that genuine snuff films actually existed: Distributor Allan Shackleton gave the myth legs when he tacked a faux real-life murder scene onto the end of Snuff and purposely rated the film X to capitalize on a nationwide panic by concerned citizens' groups, still recovering from the popularity of Deep Throat. The president of one Christian group even demanded an FBI investigation into the film. Mainstream media then blew the snuff idea completely out of proportion, and terrified parents across the country.
Kind of like the Internet.
The film is supposedly based on the Manson murders, and features some truly awful dialogue dubbing. As the lights are dimmed, we see a pack of wild hippie girls tie a guy to a tree and whip him, after which one gleefully castrates him. A man and pregnant woman are then stabbed to death in bed by the evil hippie girls.
The scene awkwardly cuts to the set of a movie, and as if by magic, the voices are no longer dubbed English. A woman and man start making out on a bed. The guy begins torturing her. He snips off a few fingers with little shears. The students laugh at the ridiculous special effects. The guy then starts up an electric saw and cuts off the woman's hand. He slices open her stomach -- obviously a fake body, with the rest of the actress hidden underneath the bed -- pulls out a mess of intestines, lifts it to the heavens, and screams.
The lights come up to a roomful of jaded students. One sniffs, "Were there people who thought that was real? That's what scares me."
It's been a full afternoon of sadistic rape, protracted gun battles, blood-soaked evisceration, and multiple castration. Myths have been shattered. Everyone has been proven to manipulate the truth, from film directors and distributors to Christian decency groups and, yes, feminists.
But more important, the kids dug it.
As the smiling class files out, Susie Bright announces, "Next Monday ... racism!"
Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, c/o SF Weekly, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; fax: (415) 777-1839; e-mail: Slapshawtsaol.com
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