Why organ transplants are important to the movies

Organ transplants: Dirty Pretty Things (2002). The movie takes place in London. As I remember it, there are no Caucasian faces in the film unless you count Audrey Tautou playing a Turk. This is because we are dealing with organ source, not organ destination. In the old days, the movies could tie a guy up but then they had to either let him escape or kill him. Now they can harvest his valuable body parts. What does this tell us about the relationship of technology to culture in cinema?

Well, take this example: in Mondo Cane (1962), there is a segment about hair transplants. Hair plugs, that is, back when they had just been invented and meant something. Is hair an organ? No. But Burt Reynolds was Number One, “Numero Uno,” as he liked to brag over drinks at the Cat N Fiddle, or whatever was there before the Cat N Fiddle – I remember the location but not the establishment, and I remember the bragging, although Burt is really a sweet guy – Number One at the box office for several years, but now,  in all the years since his hair fell out, he’s never made a single movie that I know of without wearing a rug and I mean, a rug that you know is a rug. But you could never say that about his retinas if he had new ones swapped in.

Similarly, take a movie like Percy (1971), which deals with penile replacement. Two elements of the organ issue stick out here. The first is that Elke Sommer and Brit Eckland, in spite of being stars, were forced to take roles in which they were confronted with a damned second-hand penis. It’s an outrage! Art should reward art, not consign the artist to a position aproximating that of pawnbroker to the genitals. Sure, the two women are Scandinavian and so can laugh off the awkwardness of the situation, but note that their hands remain in their pockets throughout their interviews with the gossip rags. The second issue is that in real life, before pharmacogy came up with the blue pill, surgical intervention meant implanting walrus bone in the limp member, leading to a permanent, but fake, state of arousal. The price? Never to wear a Speedo at Masters lap swimming again.

See where I’m going here? Do you remember that movie where a hand creeps around on the back of a couch strangling people, and then, in that movie or some other movie, I forget, a concert pianist gets the hands of a strangler sewed onto his stumps, and after that, every time he plays Chopin, he tries to choke himself to death, which, even when he includes a “warning advisory” on the programs for his concerts, messes the concerts all up? Medicine is out of control and it’s because of the profit motive. So I don’t blame the  movies for this.

You need a heart, have to have one, but a movie doesn’t. Ironically, if it’s got one, it might steal yours too. If you have half a brain, you can tell when a movie has no brain. You can see it. If you aren’t sighted, you can hear it. Helen Keller was said to go to movies, but it was to use her sense of touch on the thigh of the guy next to her. She said that even when you’re completely senseless, a movie with soul can enter through your soles. She’d laugh at this, so apparently it was a joke.

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