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S & A’s Audience Reaction To “Shame” Makes Steve McQueen Incredulous

S & A's Audience Reaction To "Shame" Makes Steve McQueen Incredulous

So here’s the deal. On Tuesday I met filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen (twice actually at two different events), who, along with Michael Fassbender (a really approachable, genuinely nice, honest and down to earth guy) are currently on a U.S. and European publicity tour for Shame. McQueen himself is a pretty fascinating guy. VERY intense, talks 100MPH a minute, but who somehow instinctively knows what you’re going to ask him, and says it even before you can ask him. Also with a really great sense of humor, so it’s all not gloom and doom with him.

Of course I had to tell him that his film, Shame, perhaps more than any other film we’ve dealt with recently on S & A, has gotten more heated and angry comments than any other film – especially from people who haven’t seen the film yet – on the site. (Well actually more angry comments from two certain people whom, I’m sure, because of their self-absored, self-centered, overbearing egos will no doubt have something to say about this)

McQueen was genuinely stunned when I told him this. He had, as I called it, a totally incredulous look on his face. He found it really hard to believe that anyone would be that angry about his film. But whenever someone deals with sex in a film, especially in the raw, intentionally emotionally cold manner that he does in Shame, it will raise the hackles of some people. (i.e. prudes, frigid or ain’t getting any)

In fact, he at first thought that people were upset because it’s a black director who’s dealing with a subject like this, that would get some black people upset. I told him that perhaps it could be for some. There are those who like our black directors to be as safe and as tame and as non-threatening as possible. But there are those, however, especially myself, who love to see a black director going “outside the box.”  But he said it was all “very interesting”, in his understated British way, that people were reacting in such a way to his film; especially the ones who haven’t seen it yet and who, no doubt, never will.

And let’s be honest, Shame is not a film for everyone. It is a tough and brutal film, but one that I think is fascinating, intense and maybe brilliant at times. It’s in the top three of the best films I’ve seen this year. All the raves you been reading about are totally justified.  But despite the sex in the film (which for those who have never watched a porn film, will be graphic; but for those who have, it’s pretty tame), it’s not about sex. It’s about two psychologically and emotionally damaged people (Fassbender and Carey Mulligan who plays his grasping sister), who are unable and afraid to communicate honestly  with other human beings; People who are internally scarred and desperate for any kind of direct human contact. People deal with this in their own way through drugs, or alcohol, or food, or self destructive behavior. In Fassbender character’s case, it’s through sex. Which is why his big scene with Nicole Beharie has such an emotional weight. She’s the first person he’s met for whom he forms a real emotional bond. As a result it has a devestaing impact on him.

I urge you to check it out. It is a challenging film and there are those who hate, more like are afraid, to be challenged; but why not take the risk?  It’s a risk-taking film, but there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Sometimes you fall on your face and sometime you succeed, but it’s always worth it.

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Don't want to see it.


The movie was amazing. I have to be honest. I avoided discussion here because I knew I'd see something that would get my blood pressure up and I'm getting too damn old. I don't want to spoil but I will say that I can see how a *surface* interpretation of Nicole Beharie's role can happen but only if you are expecting wholesale black "uplift" in your movies AND if you misinterpreted what was going on. Also, the movie wasn't about sex. Look people don't hauve to like the same things I do, but I'd appreciate them ratcheting up the level of thought when thNe film, as in this case, calls for it.


Unlike some people, I don't judge a film by its subject matter and especially before seeing it. I will be seeing "Shame" opening day and supporting anything else McQueen cranks out, he is a force to be reckoned with and one of those rare black directors you rarely hear about these days. By the way, "Hunger" was incredible.



But Sergio,
Iam somewhat surprised and stunned at your word usage. We have been here before and I believe we agreed that if a person gives a smile they will receive one. Also, when a person gives respect they will receive such in-kind. Until that happens, I have to tell you as I have told you before, I promised that I will not be the epicenter and focus of you continual deep throating of Steve McQueen and Shame. Although I know this is your party thus you can cry if you want to, however if you want to cram the movie shame down our throats leave me out of that mess. Lastly, who was really angry, not I nor the other commentor that you mentioned. So please, the next time you meet your new buddies tell the story right! I hope these are appropriate words for the old Negro from the South side of Chicago. I used those words because you have frequently championed your neighborhood as the badger of courage and a sign that you are all knowing which is obviously not true.

Sincerely Carey from Iowa.


Our friend Sergio (from my side of town in Chicago, incidentally), is gonna mess around and drive ol' CareyCarey away — then who are we gonna have to defend Tyler Perry's crappy, bullsh*t-ass films on these S & A boards?!


Ms. Stone, I'm with you: "I love Shadow & Act! I love Steve McQueen!" — and will most likely love "Shame!"

U of I Alum

Wow, Simone, I think what you said is T-shirt worthy:
"There is not superheroes in real life!!!"

Carlton Jordan

Hahaha @ CareyCarey


Shame is a great fucking movie. That is all.


By the way,im in love of michael fassbender.


keep your mind open!!!there is not superheroes in real life!!!


saw the film. though not a fan of the 'character study' type of (non)storytelling, was very impressed with mcqueen's command of the craft. the NC-17 rating is absurd. i imagine the rating was for the menage scene which was BRILLIANTLY executed by both fassie and mc.

mc is most assuredly a lovely filmmaker.

Ms. Stone

I love Shadow & Act! I love Steve McQueen!


Saw "Shame" this past weekend and it is BRILLIANT. A masterful character study touching on a really tough subject. My fingers & toes are crossed that the Academy gets over its love for the status quo and nominate Fassbender for Best Actor. As it's been said already, it's not for everyone. Only mature people with open minds and hearts can appreciate this film. But it's definitely worth the price of admission. And I love the fact that Steve McQueen doesn't limit himself to making "Black" films, whatever that even means. He is a talent to be reckoned with.


Well said. It's not a film for prudes or self absorbed, self righteous jack asses.

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