It’s Oscar week — the time of year when we have to endure Hollywood’s unending fascination with itself. I didn’t watch the Oscars, nor did I see most of the movies that were nominated. But reading this morning’s paper, I did take note that Natalie Portman won an Oscar for best actress for her role in Black Swan. To me, this is a telling sign of current ideas surrounding female sexuality.
In the movie, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a dancer, is chosen to compete for the lead role in the “Swan Lake” ballet. However, the lead must maintain an adequate portrayal of both the delicate, virtuous “white” Swan, and the evil, sensual “black” one. Nina’s precise technique makes her an ideal casting for the White Swan, but her director, Thomas, claims that she lacks the sexual passion for the latter role. When Thomas forces a kiss on her, her fierce response convinces him that she just might have the capacity for darkness, and he gives her the role.
The remainder of the movie chronicles Nina’s emerging awareness and experimentation with the dark side of her sexuality. The audience watches as she masturbates, hallucinates about having sex with her understudy, Lily, and envisions a three-some encounter with Thomas and Lily. As Nina gives way to her violent and passionate dark side, the white and black aspects of her personality battle with one another, but in the end, Nina is able to hold both together in the performance of her life. The film draws to a close with Nina staring up at the stage lights while whispering “I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect,” as the screen fades to white and the audience chants her name.
Now you may think that this is just a Hollywood movie, but the ideas about female sexuality it promotes are dangerous, and becoming more and more pervasive. Today, young women are inundated with the idea that they need to explore and discover their dark, seductive, sensual side through masturbation, pornography, same sex and/or multi-partner sex. Until they do, they will remain frigid, undeveloped, and incomplete. Sexual experimentation is how a woman gets in touch with her power. Embracing both “darkness” and “light” brings out her true beauty. It is what made Nina “perfect.”
The lie is as old as time. Satan tricked the first woman into believing that “white” was boring… incomplete, lacking passion—and that “black” was beautiful, harmless, and oh-so-desirable. He convinced her that God’s rules were ridiculously restrictive, and that she’d attain a greater level of perfection by indulging in the forbidden fruit. The temptation to believe the lie was—and still is— incredibly powerful.
I have not seen the movie Black Swan — the storyline and graphic sexual images would not be healthy for my soul. But I know that many young Christian women have seen the movie, and have secretly been intrigued with thoughts of darkness, as the main character, Nina was. To all who are tempted to look, think about, or indulge in darkness, please DON’T! Hollywood entices you to think that doing so will make you as beautiful as Natalie Portman’s Black Swan. But this could not be farther from the truth. Darkness mars the spectacular beauty of light. It turns white swans into messed-up, crippled, ugly ducklings. No woman is as dazzlingly attractive as the one who turns her back on darkness and passionately embraces the light.
In Black Swan, Portman presents the lie that embracing sexual darkness leads to beauty and perfection. And for this convincing act, I suppose Hollywood got it right. She probably does deserve an Oscar!