This link, “”Real” Orgasms” at the blog, Some Came Running might be considered slightly NSFW for language. The post is an interesting meander through the depiction of female orgasm on film and what an audience invests in its interpretation:
I sometimes wonder the extent to which the much-celebrated Katz’s Deli “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner’s 1989 When Harry Met Sally affected the sex lives of the Joe and Josephine Popcorns, if you’ll excuse the phrase, who have seen it over the years. The scene is a classic for a reason; Meg Ryan’s Sally hoists Billy Crystal’s Harry by the petard of his own sexist presumption but good. But one reason the movie is as cozy a concoction as it is has to do with the fact that after the punchline, it never returns to the topic of female orgasm; the discomfort Harry feels after initially sleeping with Sally and then fleeing from her prior to the inevitable fateful facing of facts and return to romance has nothing to do with this particular facet of sexual or emotional exchange. Someone might expect, in the depiction of their growing intimacy, a query from the acceptably neurotic Harry along the lines of “how do I know you’re not faking it with me?” But the viewer is left to presume that they’ve worked that all out. Actually, given the way the movie progresses to its conclusion, my feeling is that the filmmakers were/are hoping that you’ve pretty much forgotten about the whole thing. This is When Harry Met Sally, not The Mother And The Whore. The viewer is meant to feel pleasant feelings, not particularly complicated or uncomfortable or unpleasant ones.
This idea as it pertains to comedy, and to romantic comedy, is changing—see Girls on the one hand, and the Hangover movies on the other (what they share in common is the view that pretty much all sexual relations are somehow predicated on hostility)—and it’s also changing as it pertains to drama, and romantic drama. The ideas change, but the issues of representation remain just as fraught. Next to race, the depiction of sexuality on screen is about the most fraught thing ever, and right now it is as fraught as it ever has been. And critics, depending on their ideological perspective, direct and/or unique experience, or just plain contrarian pissiness (to name just three of what could be dozens of factors) will unpack a given work dealing with this representation in sometimes wildly divergent ways.
Thanks to JE for the link.