Music, Movies, Second Life and Other Musings…

Mysterious Skin – Full Movie

Any thinking person must realize there is no simple answer to the nature/nurture debate, but rather an inextricable combination of the two. I hold there is also a third piece, how one’s nature responds to the respective environment, which may vary depending on circumstances and available resources for support as well.

I’ve been known to say that violent child abuse is preferable to sexual abuse in some ways, since the latter confuses ideas of love and affection. But I possibly spoke out of line having never been violently assaulted (I don’t pretend to begin to fathom the effects of abuse that was both violent and sexual). What I can say with certainty is that childhood sexual abuse has absolutely given me cause to mistrust my loving and affectionate feelings, never being convinced they wouldn’t result in more strife, grief, estrangement, loss and chaos. And so they have, over and over and over again. It has made me ashamed of my not-inconsiderable desireability, in much the same way Oprah has claimed her eating disorder stemmed from her sexual abuse, in order to make herself undesireable to her victimizer and to protect her. And we aren’t exactly the only ones; the stats on childhood sexual abuse are shocking- about 25%. If anyone who knew me ever reads this, they might recall my mentioning that it seems I’ve known more people who were victims of it, than not.

The following full-length movie starring Joseph Gordon Levitt is horrifying in its realism, and is as incredibly sad as it is touching. I felt it was important to share with those who are ignorant of the long-term effects of sexual abuse and who would misjudge its victims. As ugly and unpalatable as this subject is, I do believe the more it is discussed and exposed, the less it shames and stigmatizes us. Roger Ebert astutely notes in his review for the Chicago-Sun Times of Mysterious Skin: “It is not a message picture, doesn’t push its agenda, is about discovery, not accusation. Above all, it shows how young people interpret experiences in the terms they have available to them.”

“Where normal people have a heart, Neil McCormick has a bottomless black hole.” – Neil’s soul-mate Wendy


“There are some among us who live in rooms of experience we can never enter.” – John Steinbeck

Edit: This movie is no longer available at the youtube link above but is available at Netflix and Hulu. .

3 responses

  1. phoenixdreamfyre

    just finished watching this last night. it is certainly dark and disturbing. no hollywood happy ending, no satisfying payback for any of the creeps. it is a powerful statement on the long term effects of child abuse. and you are right, it seems to me that almost every woman whom i get to know well enough to divulge such things, has been abused at some time to some degree. and there’s really no telling with men, because i think very few would ever disclose it, even to their best friend – remember ‘prince of tides’? and it’s hardly ever some unknown creep hiding in the bushes, it’s someone who was known and trusted and should have been protecting them. and then, to top it off, they are far too frequently told by others who should be protecting them that it didn’t happen, that they should keep quiet about it, that it is their own fault. issues that definetly need to be discussed and addressed far more often, however unpleasant they are. excellent movie and post, thanks for sharing.

    July 9, 2012 at 2:08 am

  2. Hey, thanks for watching this. This film strikes a delicate balance between being informative and offensive, and expressing understanding versus sympathy, and in that I find it an impressive achievement. Did you notice how Kyle perceived his abuse as an actual initiation into ‘true love’, and how naturally he pushed boundaries with even the small boys at the ball park? Based on a book, I have to wonder how much of it was drawn from first-hand or second-hand experience and I suspect a harrowing lot of it. The book won a Lambda award and its author a champion in gay literature, but what registered most for me is the genderlessness of the effects of sexual abuse. Inner confusion and conflict, obviously, know no gender lines. Good point about the ‘Prnce of Tides’, however, in my estimation of sexual abuse survivors I’ve been close to and witness to the devestating effects, I include two men.

    July 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm

  3. Here’s the documentary I’ve been telling you about. Hope it’s not triggering for you. It documents a different type of abuse, more subtle but obviously no less potentially damaging, and I think it is very well made. Only 18 minutes long. Watch when you get a chance and feel up to it. http://vimeo.com/3906848
    I’m not surprised by our differing experiences with men who have been abused. I think it might be easier for a man to reveal something of this nature to a woman he feels close to than to another man.

    July 29, 2012 at 4:06 am

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