Nov 18, 2013

Sex-Business - Made in Pasing

With his second narrative feature film San Domingo (1970)—an updated adaption of the story Betrothal in St. Domingo (1811) aka Die Verlobung in Santo Domingo by German romantic poet Heinrich von Kleist set in a hippie hellhole commune that acts as a warning of sorts to the kind of cultural degeneracy that would engulf Germany as a result cancerous counter-culture ideologies—Prussian master auteur Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (Hitler: A Film from Germany, Parsifal) basically announced to the world that he was not a loony far-leftist bent on destroying the Fatherland like most of his kraut cinematic comrades of German New Cinema and naturally he became a favorite target of film critics thereon afterward. Of course, despite being heavily influenced by kraut commie philo-Semite Bertolt Brecht, Syberberg's ‘nationalistic’ persuasion can be seen in his films predating Santo Domingo, with the director’s documentary Sex-Business - Made in Pasing (1969)—a cinéma vérité-like work centering around Bavarian pornographer Alois Brummer—being a thinly disguised indictment of the degradation of both Teutonic cinema and kultur as a work that demonstrates that artless erotic films had eclipsed art films in Germany in terms of popularity and monetary profit. Centering around a rather rotund slimy and sleazy Aryan degenerate who is the German equivalent of a Jewish caricature straight out of National Socialist propagandist Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer newspaper who states regarding his main interest in making films, “Well…if it’s not business, what else could it be?...It can only be for business,” Sex-Business depicts an era when the most superficially 'nationalistic' form of cinema was of the low-camp comedic pornographic sort. Essentially softcore pseudo-erotic spoofs of the Heimatfilm (“homeland-film”) genre—a völkisch film style that was popular in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria from the late 1940s to the early 1970s and was typically set in rural areas that gave a mystical ‘blood and soil’ appreciation for the land and promoted traditional family values—Bavarian porn flicks mainly appealed to the post-WWII generation who bought into the lies of the sexual revolution and counter-culture movements.  Like its liberal ideological counter-part, the anti-Heimat (i.e. Hunting Scenes From Bavaria (1969), The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach (1971)), the Bavarian porn flick sought to undermine the traditional Heimat film by mocking and satirizing the conventions of the genre. In Sex-Business, Syberberg deconstructs the Heimat porn flick by revealing the vulgar and parasitic nature of its central figure Alois Brummer—the main producer and sometimes director of Bavarian porn with no real interest in the art of cinema who got in the movie business after selling his truck business and buying four movie theaters. A proud braggart of a sleazebag who proudly admits his knack for pornography as a result of his “primitive instinct,” the belligerently boorish Brummer unwittingly reveals in Sex-Business that pornographers are typically nothing more than odious opportunists who proudly profit off of targeting man’s basest and most archaic instincts, thereupon degrading man to the same level as the farm animals in his films. A documentary made a couple years before Syberberg discovered the films of Werner Schroeter, reinvented his aesthetic, and directed his first ‘celluloid Gesamtkunstwerk,’ Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King (1972) aka Ludwig - Requiem für einen jungfräulichen König, Sex-Business is a discernibly stripped and minimalistic doc of next to nil aesthetic value that derives the majority of its potency in sociological study of the post-WWII counter-culture phenomenon of Bavarian pornography. 

 As revealed in an inter-title at the very beginning of Sex-Business, “Financially, Graf Porno und seine Mädchen (1969) aka Count Porno and his Girls, produced by Alois Brummer, is ranked third in the first quarter of 69 among all films shown in Germany at the time, including foreign.” By the conclusion of the documentary it reveals that the film’s central subject, porn producer/director Alois Brummer was awarded the German “Golden Screen” award for selling 3 million movie tickets in a single year for one of his bawdy Bavarian porn flicks. Despite initially facing trouble from the FSK (German motion picture rating system) and German film industry as the “black sheep” of Teutonic cinema, Brummer's latest film Graf Porno und die liebesdurstigen Töchter (1969) was cleared on the same day he won the Golden Screen, thus demonstrating that pornography had finally become mainstream in krautland. In the first scene featuring Brummer, he is documented refusing to increase an assistant cameraman’s wages despite the fact his latest film has made millions, stating like a proud miser, “It’s like that…if one film was a success…I can’t just increase the fee 50%. I don’t do that and I never will. He can look for something else…not with me! Plain and simple.” As for his ‘performers,’ Brummer preys on young, self-conscious blonde girls with low self-esteem who are willing to strip their clothes for next to nil. Apparently, “Nice, folksy naïve sex” is the “best and most interesting” sort of porn in Germany as nothing is more delectable than a wholesome farm girl from a proud Catholic family who is willing to get naked in a barn and be buggered like an animal while cows with big udders stand in the background. According to Brummer, “Vulgarity and the Mediterranean type, that’s not in demand here” as even Teutons in the post-Nazi era prefer blonds. As for why Italians are not in demand, Brummer states, “Take a look at the Mediterranean type, the dark moustache…The strange skin tone…It doesn’t appeal to Germans…Blondes are more appealing…” and that even regarding foreigners, “If anything, they like the German mentality even more.” Despite using a somewhat passive and skittish fellow named Günter Hendel (So Much Naked Tenderness, Erotic Center) to direct some of his films, Brummer is essentially the ‘auteur’ behind all of his pornographic works as demonstrated by the fact he can can seen throughout Sex-Business dictating over his film sets like a slave-driving fuck film Führer, threatening to kick any girl off the film if she refuses to bare all. When Brummer shoots some nude scenes in a barn, he and the film crew are attacked by the lady of the farm who believes “the whole mountain will be talking about us” due to the somewhat unconventional debauchery going on around the home, but that does not stop the woman from allowing her baby boy to be totally exposed to the profane display of Southern Teutonic degeneracy at the porn shoot. In the end, the irked farm woman attempts to shovel cow shit on Syberberg for filming her freakout. As revealed at the beginning of Sex-Business, 50% of all German films made in 1968 did not earn their production costs back, but Alois Brummer is laughing all the way to the bank. 

 As Syberberg would later state of Sex-Business in his book Syberbergs Filmbuch (1979), “For the first time [critics] could see the world of cinema in which they lived as it actually was: practical, proletarian art, commercialized, unimaginative, perverted, clean German sex made in Bavaria. The opposite of blue movies and international porn – witlessly funny, an unintentional joke…Alois Brummer, the genial, harmless Lower Bavarian as the most cogent joker symbol of the inhuman wheeler-dealer cinema in its currently lowest stage,” thus demonstrating his keen cultural pessimism in both the German cinema and political world. Indeed, in no other film aside from Sex-Business can I think of a film that so cynically yet oddly objectively demonstrates the mockery that was (and still is) the modern cinema world and the sad thing is that the figure of Alois Brummer seems rather benign when compared to the sick kind of pornography pumped out around the world today. Undoubtedly, now people, including Germans, are no longer able to get turned on just by some blonde babes doing a silly slapstick routine as demonstrated by the proliferation of miscegenation, cuckold, scat, tranny, foot fetish, amputee fetishism, sadomasochism, feederism, gerontophilia, paraphilic infantilism, rape fantasy fetishism, and various other films of mental illness-based digital video degeneracy that the porn industry pumps out like an overflowing sewer. Described by German New Cinema scholar Thomas Elsaesser as a “sarcastic, deadpan deconstruction of this deconstruction” due to its biting demystification of Bavarian pornography’s debauched demystification of the Heimat film, Sex-Business fits perfectly into Syberberg’s oeuvre in that it uses Brechtian techniques against the left itself in its up-close-and-personal portrait of Alois Brummer—the mastermind of the porn genre and a true ‘people's director’ who produced the sort of films the proletariat really wants to see as opposed to the soulless pseudo-intellectual celluloid commie crap defecated out by directors like Alexander Kluge and Jean-Marie Straub. Indeed, Bavarian left-wing auteur Peter Fleischmann would also attempt to satirize German porn (albeit this time focusing on the pseudo-sexual educational skin flicks that were popular in Germany at the same time) with his work Dorothea's Revenge aka (1974) Dorotheas Rache, but unlike Syberberg’s Sex-Business, it is just as debauched and aesthetically repellant as the pseudo-sex educational films it haphazardly attempts to mock, albeit featuring less aesthetically pleasing chicks. A sort of anti-anti-Heimat film in crude yet captivating cinéma vérité-like form, Sex-Business may be one of auteur Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's least aesthetically ambitious works, but is also another work that once again proves that the filmmaker was one of the few voices of reason and sanity of post-WWII German cinema as a man who once stated of modern German art that it is, “filthy and sick... in praise of cowardice and treason, of criminals, whores, of hate, ugliness, of lies and crimes and all that is unnatural.”

-Ty E

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