found good news/bad news in a report
about the latest finding of the Hollywood movie business appearing on news sites
on Tuesday. It seems the "industry" has discovered that "most American
moviegoers don't want much sex in their movies." That seemed like good news
on its face, especially as it was a follow-up on reports a week or two ago that
R-rated movies have been on a steady decline while more "family-friendly"
PG and PG-13 releases have been gaining dominance. This kind of news is of interest
to me only as a cultural barometer, as I haven't been averaging a single in-theater
movie-a-year for some time now. "The old adage 'sex sells' no longer applies
to the movies. 'Sex will not make something that is otherwise not entertaining
sell,' producer Tom Pollock says. 'Movies work because they make you laugh, cry,
or (be) scared. Audiences won't go to a movie because of sex.'"
first this seemed a good sign for those looking for encouragement for the conservative
side of the cultural divide. But working down to the nitty gritty, the trend isn't
all positive: "'If you spell sex in marketing materials, it doesn't sell,'
producer Peter Guber says. 'If you spell fun, it sells. Sex inside a comedy candy-coats
sex and allows the audience to feel comfortable. Laughter covers up insecurity.
'Sex sells, but not serious sex. Films can be sexy, but they can't portray the
sexual intimacy most people crave. In the movies, you have to have safe sex palatable
to a younger audience. The portrayal has to be violent or funny.' Which is
why vulgar, dumb, funny sex plays in such movies as 'There's Something About Mary,'
'American Pie,' and 'Road Trip.'"
That's the bad
news. All my life I've refused to laugh at dirty jokes, and more recently I refuse
to watch TV shows built on an attitude of snide acceptance of sexual hijinxvulgarityas
a main subtext in shows like Friends, which I watched once, thought maybe
it was the Laverne and Shirley of the '90s and gave it a second chance,
but then turned off by the first commercial break on realizing it was really about
the joys of singles sex in the city. Speaking of which, it's almost a cultural
must that everyone know what the show with that name (Sex In the City)
is all about, but even now that it's rerunning on a basic cable channel I receive,
I've never tuned it in. Nor have I looked in on this year's most discussed new
show, Desperate Housewives, and don't expect I will. Its reputation alone
turns me off.
I'm not a prude. I had Last
Tango in Paris (originally released with an X rating in 1972) on my Best
Movies of My Life list for many years and still appreciate it as worth discussing.
Like the sleasy TV fare mentioned above that would be rated PG or PG-13 if shown
theatrically, that most famous Marlon Brando movie is much about sex, too, but
it's not playing it for laughs or easy entertainment. It doesn't, as the write-up
in Tuesday's news outlets says, "sugar-coat" anything but tries to get
at a bit of truth. Most of my
best movie reviews (when film critic was one of the hats I was wearing) are
of R-rated films. Most of them are somewhat graphic, almost all are gritty, but
they aren't sugar-coated portrayals of sex as just fun or funny.
sex funny? Let's look at that question in a bit more depth. Meanwhile, I leave
you with these thoughts...
Shun profane and vain babblings:
for they will increase unto more ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16).
Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he who commits fornication
sins against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).
A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005