is ‘The Girlfriend Experience’ a commentary on film critics?

Walt Gilbert in the Louisville Conservative Examiner thinks maybe it is. Some highlights:

There’s been some debate as to the central point of the film, with some critics feeling a bit lectured by Soderbergh’s use of a particularly distasteful character portrayed by film critic/blogger, Glenn Kenny. The vehicle for the perceived lecture is a self-appointed reviewer of Manhattan’s sex industry who attempts to use his power as a “respected” critic to extort the services of Grey’s character for free in exchange for favorable coverage and, in failing, unleashes an excoriating critique of the services he never employed. Soderbergh denies that this is an allegory on film critics in general. Not having seen the film, I won’t deign to make the call.

Still, the director’s sentiments and motivations notwithstanding, there’s certainly something to be learned about the industry and its critics based on the coverage this film has received heading into release. While the mainstreaming of porn is not exactly a new phenomenon, the publicity this film has received in respected media outlets is revealing and instructive in ways that perhaps neither Soderbergh nor film critics fully realize.

In essence, Soderbergh has announced to the media that he is manipulating them into covering his latest work by appealing to their basest, most prurient impulses, and the media are not only complying, but congratulating him on his ability to manipulate them.

Whether Soderbergh’s Manhattan sex industry critic is an intentionally drawn composite of its mainstream film counterparts is something only he will ever know. But, in creating this film and placing Sasha Grey in its lead role, he has given his Hollywood critics their own Girlfriend Experience.

[F]or the rest of his life, Steven Soderbergh gets to pretend that he made a film about the intersection of high finance, high-priced hookers, and the law of supply and demand rather than a clever indictment of his critics in which they become just another one of Sasha Grey’s johns.

Please read the whole piece — it’s fascinating, whether you agree with it or not.

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