Sunday, February 24, 2008

Please Respond

I've just gotten out of the shower (the place where everyone does their best thinking) and I'd like some opinions on what I was thinking about while shampooing my hair. Now please read this as a neutral question, not judging one way or the other. I'm not asking this with the intention of bringing out fists, I am just curious about what other people think.

Okay. So everyone is always super hypersensitive to sex scenes in movies, right? (Okay, not everyone, but the conservative sort of people, you know what I mean.) They think they are wrong because sex outside of marriage is immoral and imagining other people committing that sin is an occasion of sin for you, right? Do people think sex scenes are related to pornography? I don't know. But my question is, what's the big difference between watching a movie with a sex scene in it and watching an action movie in which everyone is blowing everyone else up? Couldn't a movie that shows normal people expressing their anger by shooting their enemy bring out the same level of sinful emotions as a movie with implied sex? And why do people refer to sex scenes as "bad" scenes? Think about it: If someone is reviewing a movie for you and says "there were ___ many bad scenes" you know they're talking about sex scenes. What's so good about violence? What's so not-bad about people pretending to kill each other for petty reasons compared to people pretending to engage in actions that should be reserved for marriage? It's all just pretend. It's not like the actors are really doing any of those things. So what makes the sex scenes so taboo and the violence so accepted?

I had never thought about this before today. But now that I have, I'd like the opinions of other people on this issue. Please, comment away.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll start the ball rolling.
I agree with you in part, Annie. But both the gratuitous sex and the violence disturb me. That's why I can't even watch movies like Gladiator. And, in my opinion, SOME movies could actually be classified as soft-core pornography. That does not mean that movies should have absolutely no sexual content at all....just that it should be in context (not just thrown in there so that they could get an R rating. And not so terribly graphic that it makes the viewer feel like a voyeur. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a difference. If not, why do the so many of the actors lead promiscuous lives but don't go around killing each other?

Joannie said...

It's funny, I was just talking about this a few days ago with the group over here in Rome. I think one big difference between the violence in movies and the sex in movies is that the sex ISN'T pretend. It IS "as if the actors are really doing those things." I hadn't really thought about it before hearing Eduardo Verastegui speak about his conversion and why he won't be in movies with sex scenes in them anymore. I guess I tended to think of the characters as fictitious, forgetting that the actors are real and are really there having sex. It's strange to think about-- actors engaging in sex while thirty people stand around watching and filming it. But that's really what happens. Can you imagine being the prop guy holding the boom while a sex scene is being filmed? Awkward!! And the fact that those scenes aren't done in one or two takes-- but might take all day?! We just don't think about those things when we watch a movie!

I think that's why, as anonymous pointed out, actors lead promiscuous lives (but don't go around killing each other). If you've had sex with some actresses on set, why not have sex with some other people that you barely know?

Those are just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add that I think one of the sexiest scenes on screen had no sex in it at all. It is at the end of "It Happened One Night". There is a shot of the moon and the little cabin and you hear a trumpet blowing and you know. But, also, they were married by that time, too. It was just so cute. You need to see the movie to understand, but I still think it's the best. Also, perhaps we need to clarify exactly what is being discussed....not a nice kiss or something, but something that would make you feel "slimy" if you were peeking in someone's window and watching. And Joannie gave us all something to think about....I hadn't even thought that those scenes were real....I don't think most people do when they are watching movies. So, here is another question.....if it is the real deal for those actors and actresses, is that fornication or, if they are married, adultery?
PS Annie, I know you must be horrified that your mother is in on this discussion.....but you knew that I am a faithful reader of your blog.

Anonymous said...

PPS I am not the Anonymous who left the short post. I never leave short posts.....and I never fail to sign my name.

Anna said...

I think more people object to sex because it is a more private issue that speaks to the very basic instinct of our humanity, to love and to be loved. Wheras we don't all have a basic instinct to go around killing people or animals, (well, MOST of us don't.



Anonymous said...

I don't get to go to movies near as frequently as I used to. Living 40 miles from the nearest theater puts a huge damper (and a huge price on a kid sitter) on the movie going experience. So, when we do go, it is usually to G or PG (and sometimes PG13 now that the kids are older).

I must say though, that if I have to have too much of anything, I prefer seeing too much sex. I even prefer too much sex to awful language. I don't like super-violent films. I have to say, I used to see them (I liked Rambo way back when, but won't be seeing the new one (the trailer made me squirm)).

That didn't answer anything did it?


Anonymous said...

OK, Mama and I have been bouncing this one around and I must say, Annie, you've brought up a question that is much more complex than it seems on the surface.

I will readily agree that it's neither healthy nor morally safe to watch graphic sex or graphic violence. It seems both can be occasions of sin and both, as Mama says, can desensitize you...which is a bad thing.

I still see a difference. There may be cooks out there who will fanticize about violence, but for the most part I think the human reaction to violence is different from the human reaction to graphic sex, as it's more difficult to "skim over" the sex scenes and get on with the show. There is just a purient reaction to sex that just doesn't accompany violence, at least in a normal person.

Bottom line, though: I agree with you that we'd all be better off if they left both out of the movies. In most instances, I see the presence of this stuff as an indication that the people responsible don't possess the artistic skill to impart an emotion without hitting us over the head. That's the real shame.


Anonymous said...

Both are what's the difference? Isn't there a sin in there, regardless of which you watch? So, drop the question and don't watch either.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Daddy meant KOOKS, not cooks...although I have known some pretty nutty cooks! But, who exactly is Anonymous? Please have the courtesy to sign your name if you want to join in the discussion. And that is just what it is, a discussion, something to think about. Don't just drop in a comment like "drop the question" instead of joining in a rational and courteous discussion.

M LO said...

Well, I guess I'm getting into this late, but both sex and violence in movies are pornographic- in the sense that both are so sensational that they incite certain emotions. "Kill Bill" ,for all intents and purposes, is pornographic. And yes, I read all the reviews and know that it was in imitation of Japanese movies of the same genre, but that does not make it any less likely to lead a person to sin. Many movies, whether violent or sexual in nature, can and do cross over into pornographic material. But perhaps no one will ever see this.

Caitie B said...

I saw it, Monica! And completely agree. How about the evil in horror films? I would sit through 10 sex scenes before I would sit through a horror movie! At least the sex could be based on love.

Re: Joannie's comment:

We're talking Hollywood movies, right? Not pornos? Cuz if we're talking pornos, then they're really having sex. But just your run of the mill, Hollywood movie? Sorry, but they are not having sex. They might be doing a lot of "rubbing around", God bless 'em, but no sex. :)

P.S. Annie: Love the post! Mrs. Hatke: TOTALLY agree with the rating thing.

Martin Schap said...

Agree with Caitie's comment about sex in film, and have to add a bit gleaned from reading the Arts and Culture section of the NY Times (I just read it for the puzzle), plus Entertainment weekly in the doctor's office, etc. I remember a few years ago that people (including people in Hollywood (and they ARE people let's not forget, as opposed to the animals that some commenters would have us believe that they are)) were shocked by an indie film that included real scenes of oral sex. However, I must stress that this is the EXCEPTION rather than the rule. In most sex scenes in your standard Hollywood picture, the characters are not even completely nude if it can be avoided. Common practice is for the men to wear a sock on their appendage, and many actors and actresses stipulate that they won't do any nudity in their films. If it is deemed essential to the story, then they use a body double.
Also, promiscuity is not a crime that carries a possible death sentence. Is it possible that this (in addition to the social consequences) is why actors and actresses have sex with people other than their spouses and do not hold the same casual views about taking a human life?
The last thing that I would add is that movies tell a story within a compressed timeline. Sometimes plot elements, be they sex, offing the bad guy, or what have you, are just that. Plot elements. Sex is a simple way to tell the audience that two people are now in love, or that someone is a jerk or whatever other point is being conveyed. Killing is justice, the utimate act of evil, and so forth. Obviously we all have free will regarding what movies we watch, and in this age of information none of us have an excuse to enter a theater not knowing what to expect, but aside from certain extremes (like porn or gore for the sake of gore) I think a lot of things in film can be gotten around by right thinking people. We live in an imperfect world, and if the "sin" in film is the worst influence we are exposed to we should count ourselves lucky. If you can't watch a film with a moderate amount of sex and violence and maintain your own values and beliefs, then your faith is already in trouble, so don't blame Spielberg.

Martin Schap said...

One more thing and then I'm done. I forgot to say this above, but Mel Gibson does sex scenes. His sex scenes look just like all the other Hollywood sex scenes out there. Does this mean all of the things I've heard about him being a staunch Catholic aren't true? I once read a whole article about how he is known in Hollywood for remaining faithful to his wife even though he is a good looking guy and has had every opportunity to sleep with a lot of women.

To make a blanket statement that all the sex in movies is real is defamatory, and anyone who makes or repeats this charge without VERY good evidence (i.e. the film in question explicitly shows the sex act) should be ashamed of him or herself.
P.S. There is a name for explicitly showing the sex act in film, and it is pornography (XXX rating). An above post references soft-core pornography (X rating). The legal distinction between the two is that soft-core cannot show genitalia in the context of the sex act itself. This is not to be confused with frontal nudity, which is enough for an R or sometimes an NC-17 rating.

Clare said...

I think many sex scenes are unneccessary for the plot of a movie and are often put in to invoke a certain sensual reaction. It seems that implying that sex happened is not really all that complicated to do. Thats what they did way back when sex in movies was Taboo.

Too often violence is the plot of many movies. I think what scares me the most about violent movies is the reaction it invokes in individuals who are unstable. Take Cho at VA Tech and the many others who do the same sort of thing on any scale. Human life in these flicks are so disposable... they don't portray most of the people being killed as having feelings, family and a life worth living. They are more like a pawn that must be sacrificed for the good of the film and thats it.
I can't help but wonder if some violent films don't give the wrong people "good ideas" for a rampage or just a single murder.

I don't know exactly the point I am trying to make... except that I am glad there is a fast forward function on the DVD player. There are not always clear lines between fact and fiction with a lot of people... and when watching any movie, it is important not to forget where those lines are.

Ben Hatke said...

I think there is a difference. If not, why do the so many of the actors lead promiscuous lives but don't go around killing each other?

Because you go to jail if you kill somebody.

Anna said...

Well abortion doctors don't and apparently politicians don't either. . . but that's a whole other debate. . . .


Martin Schap said...

Politicians and abortion doctors may be morally wrong in what they do, but they are not breaking the law. While we are at it, let's add soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen to that list. And judges, juries and executioners. Right or wrong, some forms of killing are not classified as murder under the law. Some actors become politicians, some even join the service in wartime, but few of them kill in ways that are currently against the law.

The fact is, far fewer than 1/150 people are violent criminals. If you take as given that celebrities are about the same as the rest of the population in this regard (and indeed, based on what we know about the socioeconomic profile of violent criminals it stands to reason that celebrities would be underrepresented in this area) then it only makes sense that we would very rarely hear about celebrities killing people.

Now consider our national divorce rate. Is it starting to make sense why celebrities are more likely to sleep around than commit a mortal crime? I submit it has little to do with the roles they play in film, and quite a bit to do with the fact that they follow more or less the same patterns as the rest of society. There may be a chicken or egg thing happening here, but I doubt it.

Caitie B said...

True story, Martin!