Watch the complete short film here>> IN THEIR ROOM (nsfw)
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In Their Room is about gay men, bedrooms, sex and intimacy. The film
veers into the bedrooms of eight different men where you see them
doing everything from the most banal to the most erotic. Complimenting
the revealing nature of their everyday activities are confessional interviews
about fantasies, turn ons and vulnerabilities. You never leave their
bedrooms, but this is unmistakably San Francisco of the present.
The film was featured to great praise in Butt Magazine, and later won
“best erotic film” at Good Vibration’s Indie Erotic Film competition.
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At a few points during the semester we talked about pedagogies of pleasure and intimacy. What kind of stories do we tell about our intimate lives? about our desires? “In Their Room” is a short film directed by Travis Mathews which takes a look into the private worlds of young gay men living in San Fransico by filming them as they inhabit their bedrooms. What do we find? Perhaps what you might expect: they make phone calls, they listen to music, they masterbate. (Okay, so they also cross-dress.) But these kinds of banal private activities are represented to us in ways that feel like we are peeking into the private, hidden and the intimate worlds of these young men….into one of the most vulnerable spaces.
I think sometimes we forget that the representations of sexual practices are somewhat limited to a few forms and to a few select groups of people. Mostly straight, mostly white, mostly heteronormative….(of course there are pornographic genres for pretty much every kind of fetish you can think of). “In Their Room” draws on some of the techniques documentary, erotica, pornography with a voyeuristic twist. As stated above the aim of the film to “reveal.” It might also shock us, or bore us, turn us on or off; perhaps make us want to know more.
I decided to share this indie erotic film because, unlike specifically political issues major and minor, this film focuses on everyday life, how people live it, and how they feel about it. And I feel that in some ways this is just as important as the political. Or perhaps it is political…perhaps what kinds of things we are allowed to say or show or do relate directly to the political. The contemprary philosopher, Jacques Ranciere, refers to this as ” le partage du sensible” – the distribution of the sensible- as way of means of politicizing aesthetics. For Ranciere, political struggle occurs when the excluded seek to establish their identity, by speaking for themselves and striving to get their voices recognised as legitimate and heard. Politics is thus a struggle between the established social order and its excluded ‘part which has no part’. Perhaps this is one of thinking about the ways the aesthetic suture queerness and race to the political, as addenda to Audre Lorde.
“In Their Room” will for some audiences just seem like artsy gay erotica, but for others it is a new mode of representing the “private” (the space of sexuality/pleasure/intimacy/vulnerability)…of giving the private a public.