John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus Still Stimulates After 15 Years

Shortbus is a movie that depicts the New York of that moment with beautifully broken accuracy. Mitchell showcases a city attempting to put itself back together while its inhabitants search for new ways to connect and explore their own metamorphoses.

Gay/straight, dom/sub, Black/white — it was a time when identity was no longer viewed as either/or, and fluidity began to emerge. The idea that life is fleeting, so you’d better live it the way you see fit, became an ethos. Fifteen years later, Shortbus — now being rereleased in stunning 4K by Oscilloscope Films — feels as contemporary as ever.

“It really began with a formal challenge: How can I use explicit sex — real sex — in a story that wasn’t pornographic?” Mitchell says. “It’s a medium, rather than a genre. I used sex to tell a story that wasn’t about sex. Other films did it, but the ones at the time were very grim.” Mitchell wanted something more reflective of his city, humorous but grounded.

“I was seeing porn becoming digital culture, weirdly separating us from each other,” he says. “When you’ve watched porn for years before you’ve actually had [sex], you approach sex differently. I see Shortbus as an antidote to porn. As an antidote to digital isolation.”

This story is part of The Advocate’s 2022 Love issue, which is out on newsstands now. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

Read the full article here: originally published by The Advocate on March 3, 2022.

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