Historical omission and psychic repression in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights
Exquisitely filmed in Altmanesque style and drawing on scenes from the films of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, Boogie Nights continues to this day to be proclaimed an ultra hip and daring look at the so-called Golden Age of pornography set of the 1970s. In this essay I attempt to document what this film leaves out of the historical record, and to show how historical suppression dovetails with psychic repression. Instead of history we are presented with melodrama. Instead of a historical document, Boogie Nights gives us, again, Oedipus. Like most elegies, the negative or undesirable aspects of the subject are minimized or omitted, although they come back to haunt the text.