Roll the List #16: Dalton’s Take

Head-to-Head Controversial Netflix Movies

So after a far-too-long break from the Roll The List segment, Kyle and I are back to deliver a rather interesting topic. We are going head-to-head, putting each other’s Netflix choices for most controversial film against each other’s logic and ego. The goal here is not to determine which film is better, but which film is more controversial. Kyle’s selection is Teeth. My selection is Red State.

Firstly, to briefly defend my own film, I found it to not only be by itself controversial, but to ooze controversy from every angle. Red State attacks the controversy of Westboro Baptist Church-like barbarians, while also tackling the government’s inability to properly handle said scenarios, all packaged within a controversial product from both its inability to be categorized in a specific genre and its critical reception, and delivered by the polarizing Kevin Smith. Dividing topics to say the least.

Meanwhile, I am given the Saw of female anatomy films to dissect. That sounded disgusting and controversial in and of itself, but hear me out. Teeth is a film that tells the tale of a girl that suffers from vagina dentata, a mythological condition in which a girl’s genitalia grows teeth and proceeds to consume the unsuspecting male’s penis. As the film plays out, you find that the concept is far more disgusting than the execution, similar to the likes of the first Saw and Human Centipede films. If you were brave enough to watch either installment, especially by today’s standards of gore, you will find that the mind fills in the disgusting blanks more so than the film itself. Such is the case with Teeth. Despite a couple of glances of dismembered male genitalia, the film is rather bland in controversial actualities onscreen.

In manners of nudity, the film is not shy, hence the R-rated label. But controversy does not an R-rated film make. By its definition, the film audience is prepared for such gratuitous amounts of sexuality, so I do not consider this controversial. By European standards, Americans have it backwards. As film nudity is commonplace and violence rarified in Europe, the two are reversed in the United States. As much as I enjoy my horror and action films, I would have to agree with the European logic. Sex is a completely natural act for procreation, and we as the human race are naturally attracted to such behavior. Therefore, it seems less socially-degrading to show sex rather than violence. By that philosophy, Teeth is a somewhat tame film…I guess…beyond the violence that takes place during the sex…

Having said all that, I concede that Teeth is by no means a bland film when it comes to its subject matter. But I hold strong to the truth that Teeth falls into the category of controversial marketing more so than controversy itself, in that the rumored controversy of the film is stronger in its pre-release campaign and in the mind’s eye than in the film itself. Teeth falls in line with Saw and Human Centipede, in that you are grossed out by what you expect more so than what you actually end up experiencing.

Red State poses controversy from every direction, from its conception to its reception, whereas Teeth rides the wave of its controversial subject matter without ever fully pursuing it in a perverse fashion that would make it truly controversial. I would not call it tame, but by the definition of controversial, I find it lacking.

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