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Comedy, Confession, and the Heroic Narrative Like most comedy, sex, lies, and videotape progresses toward the final re-pairing of couples and the revelation of secrets that have held the characters in destructive stasis.

Michel Foucault's statement that "Western man has become a confessing animal" (59) could have provided a compelling epigraph for Steven Soderbergh's 1989 film sex, lies, and videotape.

In fact, Foucault's discussion of confession in The History of Sexuality helps explain in aesthetic terms how Soderbergh managed to create a film that subtly exploits the pleasures of erotic fascination at the same time that it seriously explores the ethics of human relationships.

is "a distressingly spiritual sort of pornographer" (Grant): he is "the unlikeliest moral hero in recent movies . Sex, lies, and videotape effects this discomforting mix of eroticism and ethics by vexing the culturally disposed moral empathies and antipathies that audience members bring to their viewing of the film.

Soderbergh's accomplishment lies in his ability to elicit these contradictory extra-filmic contexts: eroticism is given free play even as the film treats sexuality more as a discursive subject than as a visual motif, and the viewer's moral judgment of Graham is suspended even as the film makes him the representative case in its moral commentary.

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