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This review is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

COME AGAIN? RAE ARMANTROUT, Money Shot (Wesleyan University Press) $22.95

In the good old days, 'money shot' was the movie industry term for a film's climactic moment, the scene that clinched the whole narrative, either emotionally or cinematographically, and created the atmosphere that drawsthe audience into a connection with what is happening on the screen. The 'money shot' could refer to a film's most expensive scene, such as the chariot race in Ben Hur or the burning of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind, but more frequently it was the moment ofrevelation or catharsis that captures the audience's attention and makes them identify with a character or characters. Now, with the pornification of society, 'money shot' has taken on a different meaning. In porn films it is the depiction of the male orgasm in order to establish that an actual sex act has occurred, not been simulated. And to show this climactic moment, the discharge has to be seen. So the unsavoury and demeaning convention of the 'cum shot': the male performer (actor isn't quite the right word) shown splattering semen onto the face or breasts of the female performer. A climactic moment indeed, although perhaps not of the kind envisaged by Northrop Frye or even Orson Welles. And one doesn't want to dwell too long on the kind of audience involvement that this kind of money shot entails.

All of which raises the question of why Rae Armantrout called her latest book Money Shot. The jacket copy tells us that, 'Just as the money shot in ...


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