Spanking Obsessions In Film

The Obsession with Spanking Scenes In Film

“Spanking, Always Up For A Bit of Spanking!”

Discovering Spanko Sexualities Through TV and Film

It’s a commonality among spankos that one or twice in our lives, we’ve watched spanking scenes on TV. Quite often, some of our first memories of spanking are of us being very young and witnessing a spanking scene in a TV show or film when we were innocently minding our own business.

(My first memory was the Beatrix Potter animated scene of Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit being switched in the garden on VHS for the first time, manually rewinding that scene over and over. Quite a bizarre and unglamorous kink awakening: illustrated rabbits. I also remember being fascinated by a rather cruel beating in a bleak re-make of Oliver Twist, noting that I was horrified and riveted while the adults wanted to skip past it or turn it off).

At that time – and probably until we joined the wider community and normalised our fascination – spanking scenes in vanilla media were essentially a guilty pleasure. We’d watch on laptops alone and clear search histories, shamefully having rewatched the “shovel scene” from McLintock until it was burned into our minds. For a lot of us, this was the only acknowledgment we had of a deep-rooted part of our sexuality.

Without references in books, films, and TV, we would grow up with no understanding of why our minds were so fixated on an activity that was meant to be punitive. And if we were lucky enough not to be traumatised with spanking in our childhood in the form of discipline, then our spanking obsession would still seem as bizarre and abstract to us as being obsessed with bananas or going into a cold sweat whenever we saw a yogurt ad. And definitely, our obsession with making our dolls bend over and spank each other for no discernible reason would have been seen as odd or worrying to any poor adult who stumbled across our confused childhoods.

Genuinely, I did not realise as a child why I was fascinated with spanking for no good reason. But I knew I wanted to be on the receiving end in every fantasy or roleplay. Scenes in TV and film and books were at first my obsession, and then – when I was sixteen and beginning to understand my sexuality – an eye-opening awakening. It finally clicked why I had YouTube clips from The Steel Claw and Weeds bookmarked in a secret Word document. Right, I get it: this is my sexuality, and it’s the only thing that turns me on. I’m probably not going to be able to thrive or function in a completely vanilla relationship that doesn’t start and end with spanking.

As much as I blamed myself at the time for feeling perverted and weird and being absolutely perplexed as to why I had this bizarre obsession … Sometimes I think it wasn’t actually my fault that I was exposed to these scenes in the media with no way of understanding it. Where I had been looking for innocent entertainment, I’d unexpectedly found the complex mystery of my sexuality … all from cartoon rabbits spanking each other without warning!

Share If You Love Spankings

Warning: May Contain Spanking

Unsolicited Spanking Startles in Film
The Red Room From Fifty Shades Of Grey

There’s never any warning or age certificate saying “Contains spanking scenes”. In hindsight, maybe that’s a good thing to prevent hundreds of spankos from having an easier way to flock to even the mildest spanking references without just typing “spanking” into YouTube. If spanking scenes even registered on an age certificate rating, it might be included under the vague umbrella term of “violence”, “distressing scenes” for the deliberately abusive portrayals, or potentially “scenes of a sexual nature” if it is …. 50 Shades of Grey? There’s never any warning like “hey spankos, maybe don’t watch this with your entire family because it will be really awkward when we startle you unnecessarily in the first five minutes”. Or “you were a normal person once, but watch this and you will forever carry Disney’s The Practical Pig as your guilty shame movie”.

But perhaps the lack of warning is entirely the point. Spankos call it a “startle” when a typically vanilla film introduces a spanking scene, often unexpectedly and at times completely detached from the plot. And these scenes do startle you. Film makers seem to delight in throwing in the most shocking scenes out of the blue, no warning, little buildup.

The truth of the matter is, “spanking-startle films” already exist, are freely available and cannot be erased from filmography – and honestly, we like it that way. Films with spanking scenes from every decade and culture are already forever archived in the vault of spanko minds, no matter how many new films are released with or without spankings. However, that doesn’t mean that newly released films couldn’t help spankos out by not treating spanking scenes like the equivalent of surprise jumpscares in horror films.

Film, TV, media is incredibly formative and powerful, at any age, and the scenes we see – especially when they unlock a part of our sexuality that previously was out of bounds – stay with us for years to come after the first viewing; which begs the question, do filmmakers know the power they yield when they throw spanking scenes into a film without a second thought?

“Hollywood is a Little Hard on the Hand”

Is Hollywood Full of Secret Spankos?

A lot of people ponder whether the creators of these spanking scenes are indeed kinky, or repressing a spanking obsession. Why else has spanking always been a recurring trope throughout the history of film?

I have often wondered to myself if Diana Gabaldon is secret spanko? I kind of hope so. (Her Outlander Series is rife with detailed spanking accounts for a reason, right? Not just historical accuracy?) In a way, it would be reassuring and even endearing if there were spankos in the highest echelons of the film industry with our obsessions, sneaking in spanking scenes wherever they dream under the radar of suspicion.

Or, a rather more bleak, perhaps realistic take: there’s a load of creatives in Hollywood permanently trapped in the spanko closet. They suspect it might be social and career suicide to profess their spanko identity, so they are forever tapping out a desperate SOS in the form of spanking scenes in media.

However … I feel it might be unlikely that Hollywood is actually a spanking-obsessed utopia. If it was, wouldn’t there be more scenes that accurately reflect the life of the modern spanko? Why in spanking scenes are women and children still primarily the main targets, the victims or the literal “butt of the joke”? If spankos are already in Hollywood, where are the consensual, loving spanking relationships between adults? The absence of positive, healthy depictions of BDSM in film suggests that kinksters and spankos are not the ones penning every movie script with a spanking scene.

So if Hollywood isn’t formed of spankos creating spanking content for like-minded people, why are spanking scenes still prevalent in the industry? Why have spankings always featured so regularly in film since as early as the 1920s?

“Star Slaps So Hard She Can’t Sit Down”

The Prevalent History of Spankings on Screen

It could be argued that filmmakers in the Golden Age of Hollywood and into the 60s were unlikely to have had any hidden agenda of exploiting a fetish, due to the attitude surrounding the act of spanking in that era. Scenes in old movies often slip seamlessly and harmlessly into a spanking – like a girl being hauled over Elvis’ knee at the end of Blue Hawaii, or a quick spanking in The Magnificent Seven or True Grit – and then afterwards it is largely forgotten about or laughed off. Spanking was a normalised part of social culture at the time (with wives, children and basically anyone being at risk of getting spanked, although usually in a misogynistic, non-consensual way), so it makes sense that their films were saturated with spankings.

Actually, spankings seemed so normalised that actresses at the time were allegedly just as likely to be spanked off screen during rehearsals as they were when the cameras were rolling! According to multiple accounts from various sets, it is rumoured that stars like Ann Sheridan, Diana Barrymore, Hedy Lamarr and Nancy Carroll were often at risk of being spanked by directors and co-stars for a poor attitude, speaking to the press or messing up lines. (In Sheridan’s case, it was reported in newspapers that she messed up a scene in Naughty but Nice where she had to slap her co-stars so many times that the director decided she’d be spanked by himself and her co-stars for every ruined take – which would be a HR nightmare for 21st Century sets.) Whether factually accurate or not, these audacious stories of spanked actresses speak to a casual culture towards spanking where outrage and lawsuits weren’t the expected reaction on or off set.

This lighthearted approach to spankings in the mid 20th Century reflects in the scenes produced. To their credit, spanking scenes in old movies often had a lot of charm, charisma and class. They were often quite gentle, brief and rarely traumatic or set to horror music. Often, it was played for comic relief, a way for the audience to laugh at the absurdity, like in I Love Lucy or Kiss Me, Kate. Even if you argue these scenes were problematic for a casual portrayal of men spanking non-consenting women – while everyone stands around laughing and making jokes at the woman’s expense – at least these scenes didn’t have a sinister or exploitative undertone. Instead, there was an overall blissful ignorance from all parties that spankings could have a harmful effect on the recipient; quite the contrary, it was “for her own good” and she was “better off for the discipline” in the eyes of many movie-goers at the time!

Between 1934 and 1968, all movie scripts had to adhere to the Hays Code, which promoted “traditional values” and “high morality” and be approved by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA). This implies that every spanking scene produced at the time was individually deemed to be suitable family viewing. One value from the Hays Code was that all criminal or immoral actions by fictional characters had to be unsympathetically punished on screen; perhaps spankings featured regularly in films as a less violent retribution for heroines and an alternative to other less family-friendly forms of on screen punishment and comeuppance during a time of censorship. (Another cynical opinion is that the appeal of seeing your favourite pretty young star being spanked on film posters and the subsequent increase in ticket sales was enough to convince the MPPDA to approve dozens of spanking scenes from the 30s to the 60s.)

But one plausible theory in particular suggests that the reason why spankings remained in films – despite censorship against “brutality” – is that spanking was commonplace in American homes, therefore it was considered a “traditional value” that was acceptable to be shown to audiences.

However, this brings me to the point that spanking isn’t commonplace now, nor is it an acceptable value that society encourages us to uphold … So why have spanking scenes never truly left the big screen?

“We Can’t Consent To This”

The Dark Context of Modern Spanking Scenes

For western society, spanking is no longer a universally accepted form of discipline in the home, workplace or wider society for men, women or children.

In regards to children, corporal punishment was largely phased out of public schools in the UK and US between the 1980s and 90s. In Britain, hitting a child hard enough to leave a mark can leave parents at risk for being charged with assault or child abuse, but American law is still fairly lenient, despite public opinion veering to the belief that harming a child is not reasonable or effective discipline. Many consider it abusive, if not predatory to physically discipline children.

Outside of special cases, such as Christian Domestic Discipline, it is no longer considered a husband’s right or duty to spank his wife within the confines of the law if she displays behaviour that he does not approve of. In regards to any adult, physical violence in domestic relationships is illegal, and although spanking is rarely cited directly, it can be considered assault. In fact, in order to defend abuse victims against prosecutors using the ‘Rough Sex gone wrong’ defence, British law goes as far as stating that ‘no one can consent to being injured or harmed’ and a person can still be charged with assault ‘even if their partner consented to being harmed for sexual gratification’. This essentially means that BDSM practices in the UK that involve the infliction of pain on a consenting adult are technically illegal. By extension, spanking a consenting adult in the UK is technically illegal.

Of course, in the BDSM Community, we believe that we can consent to being hurt, if it is freely negotiated and if both parties are above the age of consent. In short, we believe consenting adults can and should be spanked to satisfy sexual or personal desires.

With this serious social context in mind, you would think that this would mean a decrease or eradication of spanking scenes in the media, or even just a re-evaluation of the standards of how spanking scenes are filmed and portrayed, but this is not the case.

If anything, modern spankings tend to be even more graphic and morally questionable than ever before, without the happy shiny glean of old Hollywood censorship ensuring every spanking scene is “family friendly”. If society now views spanking as unlawful, abusive and morally wrong, why are we being shown increasingly violent spanking scenes in film? I suspect the reality might be disappointing – and far from wholesome. I honestly think the inclusion of spanking scenes in modern media is for shock value, rather than artistic necessity.

You don’t need to be a spanko to recognise how to exploit someone’s fetish in the media. In fact, you don’t need to have any fetish at all to exploit a kinkster’s deepest desires for your own profit.

I mean … surely someone has noticed that obscure spanking scenes from ridiculously old movies still have a loyal viewership? Did someone put two and two together at some point and realise: “If we put a spanking scene in a movie, people will watch it. Don’t ask me why, but they will.” I suppose film makers have to dig into what viewers find appealing, or appalling, or shocking. Whether you are a spanko glued to the screen or a disturbed vanilla turning off the TV asking “why did they have to include that??” we have to admit, it gets a reaction from the audience.

On the whole, modern scenes are often a lot more jarring, and ultimately upsetting. It is usually accompanied with startling, loud music and an abrupt cut during an unsettling montage, like a spanko jumpscare. And usually, it is a child being abused by their parents. You see it often in biopics, like the hairbrush scene in I, Tonya.

(In fact, I think Margot Robbie is in on it. After all, at least two of her films include a spanking scene. For Christ’s sake, she even has that unreasonably kink-saturated moment of orgasm denial in The Wolf of Wall Street where she calls DiCaprio “Daddy” while literally sitting in a nursery, taunting him about her lack of panties. Come on now, they must have known what they were doing!)

Robbie related tangent aside, modern films love to shock us with … essentially trauma porn. Perhaps this is intentional, a way for filmmakers to reinforce the unacceptable nature of spanking on non-consenting recipients?

One example of this is a scene from The Black Phone, a recent thriller about a boy kidnapped by a serial killer. He escapes with help and guidance from the ghosts of previous victims. The Black Phone includes a scene where a little girl is abusively and mercilessly beaten with a belt, screaming and crying, by her drunk, neglectful, frankly disgusting father, while he interrogates her about a traumatic event in the neighbourhood. It is a horrible scene to watch. I would argue that for the sake of the plot, it is necessary … but did they need to show it in its entirety? Could they not have had us listen to the audio instead of witnessing it? Why do abusive spankings need to be shown in gratuitous detail? Why are consensual spankings between adults never given the spotlight in their full glory, but child abuse and assault gets a close up?

It is bad enough to be startled into watching a horribly abusive spanking scene in a film. But at the very least these scenes, like those in A Handmaid’s Tale, serve a purpose for the plot or expose an abusive character to the audience.

It is a whole other, disturbing problem when these gratuitous abusive spanking scenes are sexualised or glorified instead. This is where the lines blur, and the vanilla world gets a warped perspective on kinksters, spanking and its place in the modern world. And to be honest, even educated spankos can be misled, feeling conflicted between watching spanking scenes that are deeply problematic yet speak to their fantasies.

What is frustrating about portrayals of adult spanking in media is that it comes close to representation for kinky people – but often butchers what safe kink practice is and implies that spanking among adults is either abusive, non-consensual or fundamentally problematic. For a lot of vanilla people, a scene in a movie will be their first, and maybe even their only exposure to Spanko or BDSM culture.

Spanking Scenes Hurt Me More Than It Hurts You

The Sexualisation and Glorification of Abusive Spanking Scenes

You might have heard of The Idol, as it is currently being circulated as a “bad show”, to say the least. Recently viewing confirmed this TV show showcases a lot of controversial, problematic yet common themes and content: the over-sexualisation of female characters, gratuitous sex and masturbation, toxic managers exploiting a young vulnerable star, trauma, abuse and pseudo cults … It is basically a checklist of everything that gets audiences to stream it in outrage … or as a guilty pleasure.

But what shocked me was the spanking startle in this TV show. The premise is a young upcoming pop star, Jocelyn, (played by Lily-Rose Depp) mourning the death of her abusive mother and struggling to produce music. Pretty much immediately, she is enamoured with a new manager, Tedros, (played by The Weeknd), who essentially runs a pseudo cult. Tedros likes to use traumatic physical pain and torture to increase productivity among his clients, like electrocuting one of his singers to train him how to dance and sing simultaneously.

This culminates in the main character admitting in front of their whole entourage that her mother used to spank her with a hairbrush constantly, for not performing well enough, not exercising, eating too much, etc. This is clearly an abusive and traumatic memory, and it haunts her while she is trying to mourn her mother. However, the response from her new manager is “but it motivated you” and “you miss it”. Tedros asks her to fetch her mother’s hairbrush (which she has probably kept because of the lingering trauma the abuse caused) and he spanks her with it. In front of a room of people. Until she cries. And he precedes it by saying “This is really gonna hurt, but if you push through the pain, it will be beautiful.” The show frames this as a vehicle for the main character to unlock creative prowess by recreating her abusive memories and using it to fuel her music.

We don’t witness her actually being hit, we don’t hear the impact sounds, the cries or screams. But in a way, not directly seeing the horror of this scene is almost worse. Instead, the scene is set to romantic, loud music, and the footage is cut like a music video. We see the silent reaction shots, the horrified faces of Depp and the witnesses interspersed with clips of Depp and The Weeknd in a bathtub cuddling, or them in bed together. It is put together like a bizarre romanticisation, when actually it is just a glorification of abuse. And that is almost more disgusting entirely.

I think part of the disturbing nature of this scene in The Idol is the way it misconstrues fantasies that actual spankos have. Which spanko hasn’t fantasised about being spanked in front of a room of people, or being spanked with “their mother’s hairbrush” or spanked as motivation to complete projects? These are all pretty normal fantasies within the spanko community. Even I recently indulged in my fantasy of being consensually spanked in my childhood bedroom by my Dominant. I don’t think there is anything wrong with genuine spankos living out any fantasy or roleplay they desire, as long as it is consensual and doesn’t cause any additional emotional pain. If that’s your way of processing past trauma, or even just what your sexuality calls for to be satisfied, there’s nothing wrong with these fantasies.

But spankos also operate with a code of safe, sane consensual kink. Any spanko can realise how traumatic it would be for a manipulative romantic partner to spank you non-consensually in front of a room of people to reenact trauma from your childhood. It would be devastating. I can’t imagine the toll that would have on someone’s mental health. The Idol portrays this just as casually as it would show yet another sex scene. The sequence ends with Jocelyn thanking Tedros for “taking care of me”, despite clear evidence of Tedros abusing his power over her throughout the series. Spankos often thank each other for consensually practising their kink together, but the depiction in The Idol is not a healthy, consensual dynamic – although how many vanilla audience members will be aware of the nuance to be able to tell the difference between abuse and kink?

The idea that vanilla audiences could watch this scene from The Idol and in any way attach this to BDSM or culture – that we are all just “romanticising an abusive act”, or traumatised victims reenacting abuse – is irritating, to say the least. It glorifies consent violations instead of teaching audiences how to differentiate kink and abuse. It romanticises controlling, manipulative behaviour from Dominants and perpetuates the message that kinky people must have been abused and traumatised – or else forced into it by a partner.

And let’s be honest here, the creators of this show are not doing this to create any meaningful portrayal of kink. They also aren’t championing some kind of sensitive, understanding portrayal of an actual victim’s story. It isn’t a personal experience from one of the producers that they are trying to bring awareness to or make sense of. It is shock value. They made this abusive, shocking spanking scene with profit in their sights. It is an exploitative portrayal of victims of childhood abuse and of people who actually consent to and enjoy spanking. They made this so people would watch and talk and be outraged – and honestly, for good reason!

We’re in an age where shock value and outrage is a big incentive for media production, because it results in huge profits. This is ultimately what I mean when I say that modern portrayals of spanking seem more exploitative than beneficial to our culture.

And that’s not to say there’s any shame in enjoying and rewatching any and all spanking scenes, whatever the context, that fulfil your fantasies. It’s just an observation on the current overuse of spanking scenes, but often in the wrong context.

I have to question when we see these portrayals: are we being trained to turn away in disgust from kink? Are we being trained to sexualise unhealthy or disturbing portrayals?

Kinky People Getting What They Truly Deserve

We Need More Kink-Positive Representation

If Hollywood was truly a spanko-utopia, the BDSM belief system would likely be applied to spanking scenes in films, meaning we would only see on screen spankings between consenting adults. By extension, there would be no depictions of abusive spankings on the unwilling or underage, or if these did occur, it would be clearly framed as something that the BDSM Community and spankos denounce. However, vanilla filmmakers do not currently adhere to this ideology. Sometimes, BDSM spankings for sexual gratification are equated in film to being the same as spankings given to non-consenting parties, such as the portrayals in Fifty Shades of Grey.

In fairness, there are some modern spanking scenes that are comical, lighthearted and relatively harmless. For example, the climatic end to Everything, Everywhere, All at Once has a hilarious use of a spanking that mixes in seamlessly as yet another ridiculous aspect of a ridiculous, chaotic movie. Or you have the cute, consensual portrayals, like Amy practically begging for a spanking from Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. These scenes hold some innocence, and even elements of consent, which is monumental in comparison to previous generations!

But consensual, positive depictions of kink are not the norm, or the majority. We want and need more ethical, consensual depictions of spankings and kink that accurately represent the BDSM Community as it truly exists, instead of the fetishized version peddled to sell tickets to outraged and intrigued vanillas.

If spanking scenes have to be forever included in films, I’d rather they be meaningful, well-choreographed, realistic and literally ‘impactful’. I’d rather they were consensual and genuine instead of a half-hearted attempt at humour or a dig at the BDSM community for how weird, abusive or unhinged vanillas perceive us to be.

Where are the healthy portrayals of D/s dynamics? Where’s the healthy, consensual spanking scenes – both the sexual and the non-sexual? If we have to see spanking in our media, why can’t it be on our terms? Why does it have to startle us and make us aroused or uncomfortable unexpectedly? Why does it have to be abusive, cruel, disturbing and gratuitous? Why does it have to be glorified in all the wrong ways?

Where’s our romantic dramas, where domestic discipline is negotiated and enjoyed by both parties? Where’s our quirky, charming comedies about spankos going to ridiculous lengths to fulfil their fantasies? When will vanilla and spanko audiences be educated publicly that spanking can be done in a positive, harmless kink context?

Maybe once we break all of those obsessed Hollywood spankos out from their closets.

Helena Faye

By Helena Faye

Helena is a kinky freelance writer, polyamorous bisexual, mischievous brat type and a dedicated owned submissive living in the UK. As a part-time Little, Helena applies her passion for teddies and stuffies to vanilla life writing for a teddy bear company. She is a frequent roleplayer and spanking party regular, who loves bringing kinky fantasies to life and getting lost in them. In 2020, she entered a discipline-focused D/s dynamic with her Dominant and indulges in her 24/7 obsession with spanking among other kinks.

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