Over at SBS Film I revisit Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour (screening in SBS Two's French Classics Season next month) and wonder at the remarkable coincidence of its 1967 release only a few months ahead of the Velvet Underground's first album.
Both brought S and M into popular culture via characters named Severine/ Severin and could hardly be less inimical to the free-love inanities of that year's hippy summer of love.
Extract: "By a fluke of timing Buñuel escaped the worst ravages of the puritanical brand of feminism that took flight in the 1970s and according to which all prostitutes were victims of the patriarchy. But it’s also important to note that the film, while never politically correct, is about a woman who is bored and frustrated by her social role as a dutiful, stay-at-home wife and determined to rebel.
"Like all of Buñuel’s work, though, the film’s real politics are less about conventional left versus right notions than a personal brand of anarchy in which the unconscious rules. Perversity and human cruelty are forces impossible to deny, and where social and religious hypocrisy (and note the allusions to Séverine’s Catholic guilt) are the great enemies. It still makes for compelling viewing."
Postscript: After reading the SBS piece linked above, the ABC radio broadcaster, Mark Colvin, took exception to my mentioning the soft porn best-seller 50 Shades of Grey in the same sentence as Belle de Jour on the grounds that it diminished Bunuel's masterpiece. I should point out that the SBS piece in no way attempts to argue for the aesthetic equivalence of the film and book (which, having not read, I have no opinion on). Rather it intends to points out how just how far ahead of the curve Bunuel was in terms of his choice of subject matter. I'd thought this was obvious from the context, but obviously at least one person felt this needed further elucidation.