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Good Morning Nanty Glo!


Friday, May 13 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Is sex funny?

About six weeks ago I put down some thoughts about the way sex is treated in the movies, television, and pop culture (even the way the younger generation regards it). My reflections were inspired by a report that appeared that day which some news media headlined: "most American moviegoers don't want much sex in their movies." And though that seems like good news from a "family values" perspective, the back story turned out to be that movies and TV shows built around the premise that sex is fun and "funny," especially when scripted to get PG-13 rather than R ratings, are major winners in the box office and, as the popularity of the late Friends sitcom demonstrated year after year, on big-network TV. My concluding thesis turned out to be that "sugarcoating sex" as Hollywood calls it in movies likeThere's Something About Mary, American Pie, and Road Trip is more harmful —spiritually—than treating sex as dangerous, sometimes sublime but even more often in today's sex-obsessed world, ugly and destructive.

I said I'd take up the question, "is sex funny?" in a subsequent Jonal, but I later realized the next Jonal was coming out on the Western churches' Good Friday, I was in the midst of the Eastern churches' Lent, and it would be better to "fast" from that topic for a while. So now halfway between Pascha and Pentecost, we find ourselves back at the question.

The question is one I was startled to find raised in the writings of C. S. Lewis a few years back. Though his whole literary oeuvre is by turns theologically astute, charmingly whimsical, intellectually challenging, and spiritually uplifting, I've never found anything in it that suggested banality or vulgarity. But in The Four Loves, he raises the question of the humorous side of sex, which at first glance made me wonder if he might be giving a wink and a nudge to bawdy or ribald jokes and conversation. But as described (and quoted from Lewis) here in an essay by Lewis scholar Kathryn Lindskoog, Lewis is making a more serious point:

Regarding sex within marriage, Lewis reminded us not to forget the funny side of the thing. Sex no doubt has its serious moment, but to take it seriously all the time is to mis-handle her ["her" here referring to sex or what Lewis is calling "Venus"] to our own harm. "Venus is a partly comic spirit." We wrong her (and ourselves) if we don't play her game. "When all external circumstances are fittest for her service she will leave one or both lovers totally indisposed for it. When every overt act is impossible and even glances cannot be exchanged...she will assail them with all her force. An hour later, when time and place agree, she will have mysteriously withdrawn; perhaps from only one of them." Those who deifies her and thinks her all-important will no doubt be filled with resentments, self-pities and wounded vanities when this happens. But sensible lovers laugh and laugh the whole thing away. Just play catch-as-catch-can with her; there is no need to solemnly consult the complete works of Freud, Kraft-Ebbing, Havelock Ellis or Dr. Stopes (or have expensive sessions with long-faced therapists of whatever persuasion) over her mischief. Following the cheery old Ovid would be more to the point; "nothing is more needed than a roar of old-fashioned laughter."

As always, your thoughts, questions, and comments are welcome.


A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005


A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...but, a true friend will be sitting next to you saying, "Dang...that was fun!"

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Thought for today

Without the aid of trained emotions, the intellect is powerless against the animal organism.

C.S. Lewis  
The Abolition of Man

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