Some like it raw

There's a problem with sex in the movies: there's not enough. Crotchety old people complain about nudity a lot, which is amusing--do these people not shower?--but if anything, sex is drastically underrepresented on film. Here at No Film School, I declare that we do not see enough cellulite on celluloid. Well, not that I WANT to see more cellulite, although that would probably be a good thing for body image, realism, etc.

The point is this: I normally vehemently disagree with people who point fingers at sex in the movies as a bad thing, and there are plenty of people Republicans who do so... just before they return to their office, and do their interns over a desk. Democrats also get in on the action, I should note; intern-doingship is a bipartisan activity, and in some cases may even be a bisexual activity. But this new study makes a pretty good point, which is:

[They studied] 87 films, in which there were 53 episodes of sex. Only once in those sex scenes did a condom feature, and that was a reference to birth control, they say. In 98% of sexual episodes, which could have resulted in pregnancy, no form of birth control was used or suggested.

That's true. When's the last time you saw a sex scene where someone actually went to the nightstand drawer?

There are a lot of places one could go in analyzing this. Should it be assumed that when you see Charlize Theron riding Ben Affleck, that the movie just skipped the application process, and that he's wrapped? Certainly no amount of diffused lighting and romantic music can smooth over the graceless pause that accompanies safe sex. But the fact is, if they did have a scene where our stars go through the prophylactic process, it would just be awkward. Oh wait--it is awkward--in real life.

The general, unspoken rule in sex scenes seems to be to cut out all the unpolished parts. In Hollywood movies in general, and relationship movies in particular, this is the case: instead of showing what the guy actually did to get the object of his affection, romantic comedies just cut to a montage sequence where the guy and girl playfully tackle each other on the beach, buy each other cotton candy, and wear sweaters. This way the filmmakers avoid any potentially not-funny jokes that the man may make in the courting stage. All awkwardness is excised. Nowhere is this rule of cutting followed more closely than in physical lovemaking. Indeed, take a moment and think about all the things that have happened in your own sex life that you never see portrayed on the screen; when's the last time you saw Heather Graham clean up?

Part of the mainstream appeal of movies has always been that the characters on screen don't have to deal with the annoyances inherent to the real world: job problems, health problems, birth-control problems. Certainly there are some films that portray these things, but in general, this "excise the inconvenience" rule explains why you don't see baby-control portrayed on the screen.

Basically: there's an obvious dichotomy between real-life sex and on-screen sex, and contraceptive use is only one of many differences. Many people go to the theater to escape the awkwardness of real life, and the last thing they want to see is Russell Crowe sheathing himself in latex--his box-office appeal barely held up to becoming a Cinderella Man, much less a Trojan Man.

Not included in the published study: the dichotomy between the hotness of people having simulated sex on-screen, and the hotness of people having actual sex in real life.

Your Comment


i wish one time they would show a scene with affleck and theron where, benny boy pulls it out and gives it a nice "porno style" ending ... that's more like real life. porn style ... the other white meat.

October 4, 2005 at 9:16PM, Edited September 4, 7:12AM

peter north

I agree with the porno style ending comment.

what do you think of these films? (my friend)

April 5, 2006 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM


Thank you, thank you, thank you! I don't know how many times I've complained about this to friends and just gotten blank looks in return. I almost always roll my eyes when there's a sex scene in a movie. It is one of the most boring kinds of scenes (as usually done) in movies. By the way, also covered this a bit.

Again, thanks for unknowingly agreeing w/ me and inflating my ego a little more.

December 15, 2006 at 4:03PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM