The Bi Chick Always Rings Twice: Basic Instinct and Female Sexuality

The Bi Chick Always Rings Twice: Basic Instinct and Female Sexuality

Sure, Basic Instinct exploits women, lesbians, bisexuals, casual daters, recreational drug users … wait, where are we going with this?

Basic Instinct WTF?! (Part 2)

Later, Nick bumps into police psychologist/sex puppet Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn), goes with the brunette (this is important!) back to her apartment and then date rapes her in a very clear-cut “she said no and I held her down anyway” sorta way, followed by a cuddle session. Because no means yes.

Also! Beth’s ex-husband was murdered, Catherine knows things about Nick that only the police department knows, and Catherine’s lesbian lover Roxy has jealousy issues, which seem mostly to be an excuse for Verhoeven to show hetero porn-informed lesbian nightclubbing, for Nick to call Roxy “Rocky” and ask her to have a “man-to-man” conversation with him, and for Beth to take sitz baths until she’s ready to be sexually assaulted again. Because no means yes.

Later, Roxy tries to kill Nick in Catherine’s car and winds up dead, because that’s one of two ways to deal with lesbians in film before the mid-90s. The other one is Ben Affleck.

Basic Instinct, WTF?! (Part 3)

Confusion builds, Catherine wears austere clothing and also really short dresses, and it’s discovered that Beth had an affair with Catherine in college, where they were both – oh snap! – psych majors. Get it? Like with psychology, which is totally the study of mind games and people who kill people and other stuff? Where people get smart about how mind games work and maybe even learn how to be better mind game players themselves? Raising all sorts of meta-narrative concerns about whether non-geniuses can write criminal geniuses successfully?

Beth, due to being a shrink, also has access to some confidential information about Nick’s mental status, which he realizes she may have given to Catherine. When confronted, each women claims the other was obsessed with her. It also turns out that a professor was murdered with an ice pick while the two attended college.

Nick’s partner Gus is lured to a building and killed in a manner described in Catherine’s new manuscript, but then Nick finds Beth in the stairwell and shoots her. An investigation uncovers a blonde wig and other evidence that ties her to the killings, and it’s assumed that Beth is the sole murderer.

In the final scene, Nick is in bed with Catherine, having steamy reformed bisexual sex, and then the camera pans down to show an ice pick under the bed.

Double snap. More occasional music. Roll credits.

8 Comments on “The Bi Chick Always Rings Twice: Basic Instinct and Female Sexuality”

  1. stokes OTI Staff #

    I remember reading somewhere that the outfits Sharon Stone wears in Basic Instinct are the same ones – in order – that Kim Novak wears in Vertigo. There’s probably a halfway decent film studies paper waiting to be written about Vertigo’s sleazy afterlife in films like Basic Instinct and Body Double.

    And hey, that brings up an interesting question. You imply that you would be a lot more critical of Verhoeven’s attitude towards sexuality and violence if he was American. What’s your read on Brian De Palma?


  2. callot #

    Woo feminism! I’m really glad that “Verhoeven Week” has turned out to be “Verhoeven is a Misogynist Week.” Needs to be more feminist philosophy on this site.


  3. Matthew Wrather #

    Needs to be fewer sweeping, unsupported generalities on this site. Especially from our own writers.


  4. Matthew Wrather #

    Also: Really interesting post, Diana. I’m glad you’re back writing guest articles! Keep it up!


  5. Diana #

    Stokes, I would love to see that Kim Novak thing verified, though I’m not sure I have it in me to 1) put myself through Basic Instinct again so soon and 2) do so with a special eye for Sharon Stone’s personal appearance.

    On Brian De Palma I have less to say, mostly because I’m really only familiar with Carrie, Scarface, and the Untouchables — I’ve seen others in pieces or long ago, but my experience is probably too limited to make credible points on the whole of his work. On the issue of being American or not, in many cases where two cultures differ in their approach to sexuality, each culture’s way of doing things can seem pretty nonsensical to the other, sometimes to the point that the other way doesn’t even occur as an alternative. If I had to guess, I’d say that for Verhoeven it probably breaks down to about 1/3 serious issues with women that just kinda creep into his work, 1/3 childlike wonder/total obsession with the very process of making movies to the point that he’s kinda blind to issues that would seem huge to others, and 1/3 intentional satire/criticism that plays straight to most American audiences, including Hollywood decision-makers, but not so much in Europe.


  6. Diana #

    Wrather, thanks, it was a lot of fun to write!


  7. James #

    It was such a stupid film. A simple DNA test would have proven that Catherine was the murderer.


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