The news flew around the internet that Gen-Z was less interested now in seeing sex on screen. Reading the study more carefully, from the Hollywood Reporter, this sentence:
A new study conducted by UCLA found that American viewers between the ages of 10 and 24 wanted to see less sex onscreen.
So, first off, 10 year-olds? We’re asking them if they want more sex on screen? And we’re meant to see that as legit? How about 18-24 and I’d take it more seriously. I’m not sure what the point was in traumatizing poor little adolescents about sex on screen.
That’s the first point. Nothing in this study should be taken seriously because they’re talking to babies. Kids. What do they know? Drawing such a dramatic conclusion out of that is, well, content for the churn.
But let’s take it at face-value, let’s ignore the more disturbing results like:
— Racial stereotypes in shows were intensely disliked. In fact, just having a person of color portraying a villain, or portraying a character with negative traits, was also disliked.
— Gen Z considers social media to be “authentic media,” with TikTok considered the most authentic platform (even though its search feature delivers far more misinformation than, say, Google, according to a report).
— Their favorite theme in stories was “hopeful, uplifting content with people beating the odds” and “people with lives like my own.”
Let’s say we agree with the results (and that they weren’t asking ten year olds):
In fact, a slight majority (51 percent of the 1,500 surveyed) said they wanted to see more content about platonic relationships and friendships. While 47.5 percent said sex “isn’t needed” for most TV shows and movies, with 44 percent feeling romance is “overused.” Also, 44 percent agree with a statement saying they “would rather clean the toilet” than go on an online date.
Overview: helicopter parents like me, after all of that fear-mongering and psychotherapy of the 1990s, shut our children inside to protect them from “stranger danger,” giving them nowhere to escape but online. There, they began to build their own imaginary world, a utopia of sorts, where they could really be anyone they wanted to be, fanfiction was all the rage, and needless to say the “gender ideology” took off like wildfire. If you are that separate from your own biology, if you are not riding off with a guy on his motorcycle and having your first kiss in a olive orchard (guilty), or groping and “wrestling” with your peers at parties and sleepovers and whatnot, how is your sexuality going to develop? If you are mostly existing in sanitized, overly monitored activities from dusk until dawn, how do you have the opportunity to explore and evolve sexually?
The answer: you don’t. Instead, sexuality becomes just part of your ever-evolving ‘identity’ category online. Thus, TV shows that try to speak to this oddly evolved generation often do so by overdoing the non-hetero, non-romantic, non-hot sex. They believe they’re appealing to people who aren’t into the traditional heteronormative sex movies used to provide.
But when I was growing up and coming of age, I did see fairly graphic sex scenes in movies without anyone really thinking about it. Movies and content were made for kids. They were made for adults. Kids had to tag along. So I saw sex. I learned about sex. I learned about kissing, about romance, about seduction all from the movies.
I am not surprised if younger people say sex is not necessary in film because what do they know of it by now?
This list of best sex scenes in Time Out is the best film critics could come up with, but I don’t think they really get it, save for a few titles here and there. A lot of it is just strange or weird or violent or funny. But that isn’t the value of a good sex scene.
They know all of the weird ways our bodies and our sexuality has been deconstructed to suit some bizarre new religion such that “top surgery” is a term people actually use, much less “bottom surgery.” I would even add how we talk about abortion now, like the baby inside you isn’t important to serve the ideology. I’m not saying it should be regulated by the government but there is a huge chasm between that and pretending like you’re getting your ears pierced or a tattoo.
So, to that end, I will show you some of the sex in movies that has, over the years, made me swoon. When you see these kinds of movies you think: yeah that. That’s what I want. Movie sex. Movie love. And maybe once in a while, you’ll actually find that.
Here are a few that come to mind.
Shakespeare in Love
Probably more than any movie in the modern-ish era, Shakespeare in Love shows you the kind of movie sex to beat all other scenes of movie sex. They get it exactly right, the eternal ache that means you have to have this person.
The Year of Living Dangerously and this scene in particular
Sex can be “hot” in movies but the really great sex scenes are full of something else: passion. That is hard to capture on screen well. It doesn’t even have to be graphic, but it should be sensual. I know all of these words coming out of my mouth right now are cringe — but roll with it.
–Full of very hot sex scenes (which is why it’s called Body Heat) but this scene in particular is how it’s done, my friends. And there’s no sex in it. Arousal, Seduction, desire.
The Postman Always Rings Twice
Of course, Jack and Jessica burning it up in a film that wasn’t really liked that much at the time, and today it would be seen as justifying or excusing sexual assault, but you know — we are animals, when it comes down to it, and sometimes…
You can’t talk about sex in movies without talking about the French film that so many of us back then looked to for inspiration, shall we say. Obviously I can’t post the more graphic scenes but…
9 1/2 Weeks
This film would not be seen the same way today and it, too, is full of graphic scenes but the sexiest scene in the movie is when Mickey Rourke is feeding Kim Basinger all manner of food.
Not to mention a good old fashioned striptease:
This movie doesn’t have any graphic sexuality but it is sensual and kind of drives you crazy with their desire for each other. The best sex scenes in movies build that tension to its release, ahem. Peter Weir does this especially well.
This is obviously a weird movie with a lot of weird sex in it, but they get this particular kind of affair exactly right. Not the TV series, of course.
I have always loved the interplay between Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in Bugsy — and that’s because they were falling in love with each other on set and the energy between them is evident…
The English Patient
This might not be the best movie overall, but it gets the sex scenes right, I always believed.
When they finally get together, it is sublime.
Obviously, this is not a great film but… come on.
This is obviously just a sampling of what my generation thought of as sexy. Maybe generations now would see it differently. I don’t blame them for not wanting more sex in movies if they’re not getting the kind of great sex they used to have in movies.
How in the world could any of that exist today? The best they can do is offer up a by-rote sanitized version of sexuality where the person is separate from “the act.” 9 1/2 Weeks is a film about an abusive relationship, but it does have great on-screen sex scenes. You can’t have one without the other, I would imagine. Where can you go if you can’t even explore our darker, more complex natures?
Great sex in movies has to be part of the plot and the character. Who they are before, whom they become afterwards — their insecurities, their secret selves — all of that is why some sex on screen works and some doesn’t.
Given the kind of sex we see in movies now, I don’t blame them for not wanting to see more of it. After all, that kind of sex is everywhere online. They can access it with ease. Graphic sexuality especially. Capturing the magic between two people and putting that on screen is not an easy thing to do.
And yes, I get that these are all “white heteronormative” choices. It is what it is. What movies do you think fit the bill?