Misunderstanding Relationships In Boogie Nights Essay

1625 words - 7 pages

The film Boogie Nights provides an interesting case study of the unique nature of human relationships, specifically love and friendship. It presents a crisscrossing mash-up of various combinations of traditional love categories: friendly (plutonic or nonsexual) love, family love, lust, master/servant or apprentice/teacher love, etc. Besides being entertaining, Boogie Nights presents these combinations to provoke an insight on our part into the nature of love. This insight is exemplified in Jack’s notion of the ideal pornographic film. His ideal film also serves to echo the same flaws found in Plato’s ideal forms. Boogie Nights attempts to demonstrate the false nature of a definite, meaningful love by disrupting its categorization and presenting the absurdity of its definition. Jack’s movie cannot exist by definition, and as a product of natural language neither can the common conception of love.
The primary relationship in Boogie Nights is that between Eddie, Jack, and Amber. Though he lacks a positive family background, Eddie Adams can be seen as a participant in the bond of familial love with Jack and Amber playing the roles of father and mother. Amber is tender and nurturing toward Eddie, and she is seen in several scenes offering him comfort and motherly affection. Conversely, Jack is a strong figure directing Eddie and mentoring him. He cares for Eddie, but he is also tough with him. He is more than willing to throw him out to teach him a life lesson, though ultimately his fatherly nature allows him to forgive Eddie. This kind of interpersonal dynamic stands in stark contrast to the more immediate and physical nature of their relationships. Amber has sex with Eddie, something the love of a mother should, by definition, preclude as abhorrent. Similarly, Jack uses Eddie for his pornographic films as a source of profit. His exploitation of Eddie’s body is an act almost as contrary to familial love as sex between a mother and son. Yet, despite this it is clear in their behavior and dialogue that they love each other as a family, and this establishes a paradox. Familial love and erotic love cannot coexist by definition. There are several other relationships that serve as secondary examples of unusual, often paradoxal love combinations: Scotty J interprets friendly love as erotic love in his relationship with Eddie. Little Bill’s love for the idea of his wife is at the same time matched by his hatred of his actual wife. Buck settles for, loves, and marries the first person who pays attention to him. These examples emphasize the point that the traditional definition of love as a divisible, categorical entity is untenable. Love is far too fluid and individual to be categorized in any useful way beyond casual assumption.
In theory, the types of love should exist, if only due to empirical fact. For example, traditionally mothers don’t have an erotic attraction to their children. In reality, love can only exist as a general concept; as a name for a...

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