A fish-sex movie won big at the Oscars, and the bright spotlight seems to have heightened discomfort around the erotic interspecies romance at the center of The Shape of Water. Fox Searchlight Pictures The film incorporates elements of magical realism, certainly, but both its plot and sense of place are resolutely grounded in the Cold War-era tensions between the Americans and the Russians. By the end, the fish-man god thanks Elisa by making her extraordinary like himself. After all, this whole thing is just an allegory, right? To some extent, it's the universal appeal of the unknown.
Anyway, the point is, the fish-man has a penis hidden somewhere up there, and boy does he know how to use it. Chelsea Reynolds, an assistant professor of communications at California State University Fullerton who studies sexuality in media culture, explained "they can sometimes serve as allegories, but other times as expressions of our fantasies and phobias. By the end, the fish-man god thanks Elisa by making her extraordinary like himself. Del Toro's contradictory attraction and rejection of his own creation is apparent throughout the film, and falls short of truly finding the humanity in everyone. His real accomplishment with The Shape of Water is that, for many viewers, he can. Sexualized aquatic creatures like mermaids further embody the dark, mysterious pull of the sea, because, "Humans can't dominate the ocean. And, as a whole, leaning into both their animalistic qualities implies a complete surrender to the "deviant" sexual desires they represent. That's crystallized in the character of Colonel Strickland Michael Shannon , who fetishizes Elisa's muteness through non-consensual domination fantasies. Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Frog, for example, show how, "an ugly and unruly man may be tamed with enough patience and care from a woman. From film critics to Twitter, people appear most conflicted over what is arguably the film's true climax: So maybe you left the movie theater feeling horny and maybe you started to feel like the freakish monster — persecuted for your natural instincts and desires. And yet those scenes are precisely the kind del Toro seems to suggest unfold. But there are still nontraditional forms of sexuality we struggle to embrace. In the very next scene, those of us who are intensely curious about the physical logistics of a woman—fish-man relationship get what we came for. The film incorporates elements of magical realism, certainly, but both its plot and sense of place are resolutely grounded in the Cold War-era tensions between the Americans and the Russians. A fish-sex movie won big at the Oscars, and the bright spotlight seems to have heightened discomfort around the erotic interspecies romance at the center of The Shape of Water. To some extent, it's the universal appeal of the unknown. Elisa Sally Hawkins , our mute heroine, lives in a flat above a movie theater next door to Giles Richard Jenkins , an artist who works in advertising—or did, until, one presumes, he was let go for being gay. At home, in her bathtub, she disrobes in front of our aquatic bachelor, a sculpted, if not briny merman, and engages in what viewers are left to imagine is some form of steamy salty? Not even for its own director, who repeatedly insisted he designed the fish monster so people could fall in love with him. Werewolves and vampires, for example, were often imbued with homosexual undertones, painting them as a threat spreading their dehumanizing disease. Fox Searchlight Pictures When addressing the existence of the Shape of Water dildo, Guillermo del Toro lamented to The Wrap that other Oscar-nominated films like Dunkirk don't "have this problem," adding with a certain level of contempt that it's "some form of fan art I thought 'Hubba hubba,'"he told the Los Angeles Times. Sure it's a movie that luxuriates in the fantasy of erotic fish-man romance. Cut to halfway through the film, after Hawkins and the fish-man played by frequent del Toro collaborator Doug Jones have shared an intense emotional moment. By way of demonstration, Hawkins puts her hands together flat, and then flips them around so that two of her fingers are protruding.
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