Spanking the Monkey: The most controversial masturbation scenes
Bollywood comedy Veere Di Wedding sparked controversy in India and Pakistan after it featured – and we hope you’re sitting down for this – women drinking, having casual sex, and masturbating. In the West this would obviously not be seen as a big issue.
In fact, you’ll be pushed to find grown up material that doesn’t feature at least one if not all of those sordid lady activities – and hallelujah for that. Claim what’s yours, ladies! However, that’s not to say that Hollywood hasn’t had its own controversies with movie scenes of people having some “me” time. Brace yourself, because here’s our ranking of the ten most controversial in cinema history.
In 1998, Gus Van Sant made a shot for shot, color remake of Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic horror film Psycho. No one can remember why he did this and we’re not sure he ever really explained – or maybe it’s more that we just never cared to find out. Either way, the one shot that isn’t in the original is the completely pointless edition of a scene in which Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn) yanks one out while watching Marion Crane (Anne Heche) through a peephole. Why Van Sant did this – much like the making of the whole film – is a goddamn mystery to everyone.
It’s a movie that ends with a dude’s dick being cut off, so of course there’s also a scene in which a hot young hustler (Johnathon Schaech) sneakily watches a couple (James Duval and Rose McGowan) have sex while he quickly and excitedly pleasures himself before eating his own cum. Of course! Thanks for memories, Gregg Araki (Kaboom).
One of those films that seemed to aim for controversy instead of just causing it, Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, features a scene in which Jesse (Elle Fanning) – after not being able to have sex with Ruby – goes to her day job at a mortuary and rubs herself on the body of a recently deceased woman. In between this scene, it also cuts back to Ruby who is just casually rubbing one out on her couch. It’s a happy ending all round.
7. The Exorcist
There’s still some debate about whether poor possessed Regan (Linda Blair) was actually pleasuring herself with a crucifix or – actually we’re not entirely sure what else you could argue she was doing with that thing down there. The point is audiences were horrified by the scene, perhaps failing to realize that was the entire point.
This fairly light-hearted goofball comedy about a group of men who all fall in love and then mercilessly stalk a young woman features a masturbation scene where Ben Stiller (Zoolander) jerks off before going on a date with Cameron Diaz (Gangs of New York). All because his mate – who’s also stalking her because it was the 90s and totally cool – told him to.
Naturally Diaz’s character mistakes his resulting gelatinous love goop for hair gel and gives herself a weird hair erection with it. Again – it was the 90s. But even at the time people where surely asking the question: “If you really wanted hair gel that bad would you literally take it off someone else’s ear and put it into your own hair?”
David Lynch’s (Blue Velvet) modern masterpiece has many incredible things in it, but one of the lesser spoken about scenes is the one in which Betty (Naomi Watts) has a savage cry wank. The scene is only a minute long and ends with the masturbation becoming more of an act of self-hatred – like the crucifix wank scene from The Exorcist – than any kind of actual pleasure, summing up perfectly Betty’s sense of loneliness and frustration.
Alan Parker’s (Evita) cautionary true story of Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) who was caught trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey is famous for many of its pretty harrowing scenes, most notably the scene in which Hayes’s girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle) visits him in the prison. In the knowledge he’s probably going to be in for a long time and maybe never see her again, Billy asks her to press herself against the prison glass while he pumps out his passion for her. It’s as grim as it sounds.
Todd Solondz’s (Wiener-Dog) dark comedy is pitch black. So pitch black, it’s practically an abyss. It’s also very, very funny and rightfully revered as a masterpiece. It also happens to feature not one, but two controversial masturbation scenes: one in which Allen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) sticks a picture to the wall with his own cum and another in which the anguished son of a pedophile Billy (Rufus Read) finally jerks one out before a dog eats his fresh load. We told you it was pitch black.
2. Being There
Hal Ashby’s (Coming Home) satirical masterpiece about the machinations of power is rightly remembered for its iconic final scene in which Chance The Gardener (Peter Sellers) walks on water to the sound of a voiceover that declares “life is a state of mind”.
Earlier on in the film sees a brave scene featuring Shirley MacLaine (playing Eve Rand) as she pleasures herself for what is quite some time in film terms while in the company of Gardener in a hotel room. Gardener in his innocence and naivety doesn’t really have a clue what’s going on but seems happy to have made her happy.
With a title like Spanking the Monkey, it’s no great surprise that David O. Russell’s 1994 feature film has masturbation as one of its key themes. The controversy is mostly in that its lead character Raymond Aibelli (Jeremy Davies), who is looking after his injured mother, is always trying to find time to masturbate (which is constantly interrupted by things like the dog barking) before he ends up just having sex with her. Yes – his own mother. Doesn’t get much more controversial than that!