Halfway through viewing Dangerous Liaisons, a remarkable contrast as well as a huge parallel came to mind. The film's principal characters' treatment of their promiscuity was quite different from what we see today. They were quite covert about their sexual relations, and often concocted cunning plans to assure the secrecy of their activities. Today we find quite the opposite taking place on our news programs and talk shows. It seems to me that the cause of this whole difference in treatment of sexuality is due to the advent of mass media. That pre-Revolutionary French society was not completely different from today, however. Like our treatment of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, the common people of the late 18th century French society were quick to ridicule the Marquise for her promiscuity revealed. We, as a society, are still just as quick to gossip over someone else's sins while being guilty of the same. It is simply a condition of being human. In short, the story set forth in the film Dangerous Liaisons shows both a striking contrast, due to technology, and a very remarkable parallel, due to a double standard brought on by the human condition, between the way sexual relations and promiscuity were viewed in the late 18th century and how we view them today at the close of the 20th.
The importance of stealth in promiscuous relations to the French aristocracy pervades the entire film. We see throughout the film that the Marquise is quite fond of entertaining guests in her domicile, which is flanked by a wall of mirrors. Early in the film we learn that there is another set of rooms entirely behind the wall, her "private" bedchambers. It...
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... French revolution. Most of us really don't care if the rest of the world thinks, or even knows for sure if, we are carrying on promiscuous lives. Sex is just another daily event. It is pop culture thanks to mass media. Our cunning Valmont would probably be very bored today, for his sexual conquests would just be too easy for him. The Marquise would probably be having sex on the other side of the mirrors. However, when the truth about them is known for certain, I bet we would treat them just as badly as we are treating the leader of the free world. Our society is quick to judge, even when we could easily be judged for the same offenses. We are humans after all.
Heinein, Maryam. "Couple plan to lose virginity online" Los Angeles, CA Channel 4 News Home Page. 16 July 1998. <www.msnbc.com/local/KNBC/111301.asp>
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