Writing in OC Weekly, Dave Barton writes of the new exhibition at UC Irvine of a work by Yoshua Okón, entitled “Salo Island.”
“The Marquis de Sade was rotting away in the Bastille of pre-revolutionary France when he wrote one of his first pornographic novels, 120 Days of Sodom.
: “A mind-boggling litany of sexual perversion, the plot is about a foursome of wealthy French elite—a Judge, a Bishop, a Banker and a Cardinal—who kidnap a group of boys and girls, take them to an isolated castle, and then humiliate, rape and murder them. Heinous masturbatory material that it is, it’s also a grimly funny social commentary, with the degenerate Marquis pointing fingers at fellow travelers in his own social class, people who were doing things he only fantasized about.
“In 1975, Marxist Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini used the infamous book as source material for his film Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom, considered by many critics the most controversial movie of all time. Changing the setting from France to the last Fascist holdout of Mussolini’s Italy, Pasolini’s film doesn’t have the Marquis’ mordant sense of humor; playing things deadly serious, the bold visualization of the novel’s atrocities turns the political tract into cinema’s first torture porn.
“Shortly before the film’s release, Pasolini was brutally murdered, supposedly by a teenage male prostitute who ran over him with his own car on a desolated beach. Believed at the time to be a sex deal gone bad, the murderer (who had right-wing ties) has since recanted his confession, claiming Pasolini was assassinated for his politics, as well as his open homosexuality. Fascists apparently don’t take kindly to portrayals of themselves as ass-licking, shit-eating, child murderers. Continue reading “The social commentary of Yoshua Okón’s “Salo Island””