I’m sure that you all have already heard of Green Porno, Isabella Rossellini’s short film project documenting the sex lives of invertebrates using stylized latex suits. It’s been buzzing (ha!) around the blogosphere and even the mainstream media for months now.
In concept, I found this as funny as the next guy, but I wasn’t expecting the actual videos (which you can watch now by clicking the link above) to be all that entertaining. At best, I figured it would be like a high school biology class filmstrip classed up by the presence of a slumming A-list actress. The sex, if any was actually shown, would surely just consist of some brief shots of Rossellini mounting a stuffed animal, with all the naughty bits tastefully concealed. (This is pretty much what we saw in the promotional images, like this one.)
And indeed, the lesser entries in the series, like Dragonfly, this is pretty much what we get. But I was a little surprised by how much intensity Rossellini would bring to lines like “But first, I will clean her vagina… so that she will only have my babies” (from Dragonfly), or “I will die… without my penis… I will bleed to death” (from Bee). The main thing that separates Green Porno from your average filmstrip is that Rossellini isn’t slumming. This is her project, and she throws herself into it with gonzo enthusiasm. (And with genuine acting talent, which is just as important.)
Also, I was COMPLETELY unprepared for how far she was willing to take the concept. Rossellini doesn’t disrobe, but the latex costumes are anatomically correct – or sometimes, like with the nipples and pubic hair they drew on the snail suit, anatomically incorrect in a sexualized way – and the sex can get gleefully pornographic. All manner of insect appendages and bodily fluids are on proud display. Before you watch Snail, you need to ask yourself one question, which is: Am I, in my psychological development as a human being, ready to watch the woman from Blue Velvet take a dump on her own face? (A simulated dump, sure. And not a particularly realistic one. But if Muppets shat, this is what it would look like, and it is disgusting.)
People have speculated as to Rossellini’s motivations for this bizarre little anti-vanity project. Is she honestly trying to educate people? Is it all an elaborate joke? Is she just crazy? Well, you certainly come away from these videos with a deeper knowledge of invertebrate sexuality. And there’s obviously a little bit of madness involved, although it’s of the inspired variety. But on the whole, the second answer seems to be the correct one. I think it’s a joke. In particular, I think it’s the kind of elaborate, uncomfortable, confrontational non-joke that the guys from Stella have built their careers around. And if I’m right about this, then Rossellini has drunk their god damned milkshake. It’s the most perfect example of this kind of humor that I have ever seen.