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Scotch Porn

at CCA

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Trio of pornographic shorts is momentarily intense but doesn’t linger

Image of Scotch Porn

@CCA as part of the Scottish Queer International Film Festival 2018

Scotch Porn is a collective showing of three Scot-centric shorts : Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, AJ Alexander And Rick Lous, and Scotch Egg. As part of this year’s SQIFF festival, the screening catapults us into some hardcore content immediately, with varying degrees of impact and intention.

The first, Smoke, is the most experimental of the trio. Comprising a montage of scenes, it juxtaposes (often literally, with images superimposed on top of one another) homemade, intense penetrative scenes with whimsical vignettes of cross-dressing men skipping and playing through gardens and forests. Oddly, the explicit shots remove any sense of eroticism, despite initial titters from the CCA audience. By focusing on torsos, limbs and genitalia rather than faces, director Dylan Meade presents hardcore anal sex as simply a plaything: an adult evolution of boyish games. There are also visual hints at witchcraft, pagan ritual and worship that intrigue but don’t really give the viewer enough to explore or to come to any conclusions.

The second short is, in some ways, the strangest choice of the collection. AJ Alexander and Rick Lous is sports-gear fetish porn… and not much else. It fits the Scottish-made brief and one of its performers (Alexander) also stars in the subsequent piece, but there’s nothing particularly artistic happening here. It has its purpose for its demographic and the inclusion of a deaf actor is a positive nod to diversity. The nineteen minutes outstays its welcome in this arena, though, and unless this is a social experiment on SQIFF’s part to stir our thoughts on audience boundaries, not much else is achieved.

Finally, Scotch Egg is the most technically proficient of the three films. Actor AJ Alexander reappears as a hyper-stereotype, drunkenly spewing out Scots dialect and idioms in a gay leather bar in Berlin. The audience is split at this venture: some laughing hysterically, some confused. Director Bruce LaBruce‘s intention no doubt is to set up the idea of the outsider, further reflected in Alexander’s female counterpart, performer Candy Flip. Her part is that of a straight cis-gender woman who fantasises about experiencing sex as a gay man. So powerful is her desire (and Alexander’s intoxication), that they have sex under an illusory veil. The male character convinces himself he is sleeping with another man and therefore achieves ecstasy, despite the physical reality of the situation. The point, as Alexander unravels in a post-show Q&A, is that our ideas of what we lust after are often more potent than what we literally experience. The film itself is ambiguous, though, and doesn’t necessarily make this clear, arriving to SQIFF with an online trail of controversy around various interpretations of its message.

The short running time of Scotch Porn (65 minutes) is perfectly acceptable. The three pieces provoke us to an extent and create an opportunity to consider our reactions to pornography, particularly in such a communal space, and whether or not it can have more artistic merit than we might at first assume. However, there’s nothing especially transformative here and it feels like the shock and spectacle outweigh anything else.