Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Naked Foot: Cheaters Never Win

For most actresses looking to establish themselves in mainstream Hollywood, it seems an inevitable choice will have to be made; to do a nude scene or not. Despite the use of nudity in creating mood, plot, and story development, actresses must face the fact that at the end of the day, they're privates will be shown to the world. Even if organic to the plot and full of artistic merit, there will be a community out there that will simply view the scene as a "free shot at their goods." Does Mr. Skin ring a bell? Yet, going nude, if done strategically, can catapult an actress to the a-list status. It's worked for Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone, Angelina Jolie, and Charlize Theron. Even established stars have used nudity to their advantage. A young Demi Moore bared her breasts in 1988's The Seventh Sign, which got her noticed. Yet deciding to bare it all for 1996's Striptease allowed her to command a salary over $20 million dollars, the highest for any actress at the time. This system of compromising one's sexual intimacy for fame and fortune has been in place for decades now. And while some have given into it, others have not, choosing their own sense of value, self-worth, and ethics over a hot shot to the top. Yet, a new factor has arisen, the foot fetish, and it's a game changer to the established system of sexual compromise and fame.

At the heart of this is famed writer/director Quintin Tarantino. Tarantino films have gone from low budget indy films to big budget productions. His films, which features a stylized narrative that is unmistakably unique, has launched, or rejuvenated, the careers of actors like Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Ving Rhames and others. Naturally, actors and actresses flock to auditions involving a Tarantino film because it will add notoriety to their careers. However, almost as famous as his edgy storytelling, it's common knowledge that Tarantino has a foot fetish, and often writes in scenes that appeal to his fetish and to those that share his fetish. An actress knows going in that she'll have to display her bare feet for Quintin, as well as the rest of the world. This may seem, on the surface, that this is an opportunity to cheat the system. After all, it's just feet right? It's not like breasts, butts, or genitals. Bare feet don't warrant an "R" rating. Maybe, but it's not that easy. Since they know the director is sexually aroused by women's feet, they are still  sexually compromising themselves. They are knowingly arousing sexual desires in a man that they hope in return, will reward their compromise with fame and fortune.

So, maybe they are cheating the system. While Demi and Sharon will one day have to explain to their own children why their friends all can see their Mommy's privates, women who cater to the foot fetishist do not. But has it worked out? How has showing off their naked feet for the arousal of their director and the foot-fetish audience rewarded them? Let's take a look at those ladies who showed off their cute tootsies in a Tarantino film, and where they've gone from there.  

Uma Thurman - No stranger to Quintin Tarantino films, Uma and her feet were featured in Pulp Fiction, and front and center for Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2. While all three films were well received, Uma's post-Tarantino career has been, at best, less than stellar. Films like The Avengers (1998), Batman & Robin, Les' Miserables, Prime, The Accidental Husband, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend has kept her working, but failed to bring success to fans or the box office as she goes from forgettable role to forgettable role. 

Salma Hayek - Even if you don't have a foot fetish, the idea of a young and sexy Salma shoving her toes in your mouth and making you slurp tequila off them has to perk your interest. Or maybe you don't have a pulse. Salma got her big break as a vampire-stripper in Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn. Since then, Salma has remained on the Hollywood radar, however films like Hotel, Spy Kids: 3D, Grown Ups, Americano, and Lonely Hearts aren't keeping her there. As of this writing, Salma is starring in Savages, which looks to be a hit, especially in the competition heavy summer. Time will tell.

Juliette Lewis - An incredible actress, Juliette Lewis has had many hits. Ironic then, that most of her hits came before her role in Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn. Her big break came in the now Holiday favorite Christmas Vacation. She went on to put in a very good performance in the sleeper What's Eating Gilbert Grape, holding her own with the likes of Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. Kalifornia, the Basketball Diaries, Cape Fear and Natural Born Killers had her riding a wave to the a-list. However, post-Tarantino, Juliette has been in smaller roles in films like Starsky & Hutch and Whip It. Catch and Release and The Evening Star failed to deliver at the box office. Indeed, it seems Juliette's potential has diminished after her Tarantino experience.

Bridget Fonda - This actress showed off her bare soles in Jackie Brown. But long before Jackie, Bridget has had her ups and downs. First appearing (uncredited) in the acclaimed Easy Rider, Bridget Fonda has appeared in Army of Darkness, Point Of No Return, Single White Female, It Could Happen To You, Godfather III, and Doc Hollywood. Then her career began to wane with Camilla, Rough Magic, and Grace of My Heart all flying below the radar. So an opportunity to star in a Tarantino film comes along and all she has to do is let Quintin film her barefoot. The result was a return to mediocrity with Lake Placid, Delivering Milo, and Monkeybone. In fact, 2002 marked her last year of appearing in a major motion picture with The Whole Shebang.

Diane Kruger - Making her debut in 2002 with The Piano Player, Diane found her career rising, at a slow pace with both National Treasure films, the big budget disappointment of Troy, and other so-so films like Wicker Park, Frankie, and Goodbye Bafana. But it was in 2009 that she got to star in her most acclaimed film, Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards. It's only been three years since, so her long term career is yet to be played out. However, with roles in forgettable films like Lily Sometimes, Inhale, and Special Forces, it isn't looking good.

The moral of this evolving story seems to be, cheaters don't win. We at Real To Reel certainly don't judge actresses for the choices they make, yet it seems clear. If you won't go nude and decide to make it with hard work, integrity, and keeping your privates private, that's commendable. If you decide to roll the dice and bare it all and see if that grants you the jackpot, we respect that too. But trying to cheat the system and knowingly perform bare foot for a director who finds feet sexy and arousing, hoping it'll do for you what it did for other actresses who showed the full monty, well, it seems to have backfired. There is no having your cake and eating it too. A bare foot is t&a to a foot fetishist true, but you're right, to the mainstream audience a bare foot is just a bare foot. You're going to have to bring more to the table than that if you want your role in a Tarantino film to account for something later.