August 29, 1996 · Cavalier Daily


This opinion article discusses sex scenes in movies, asserting that many films leave nothing to the imagination, showing every detail of sexual activity because "sex sells." However, she argues that a recent trend in film capitalizes on the appeal of sexual suggestion that leaves the act of sex to the viewer's imagination. She maintains that such an approach acknowledges that overexposure to sex will make it uninteresting for the viewer.


1996-08-29 Cavalier Daily Underexposed.pdf
Julia Miller
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Julie Floryan
THE YOUNG, buff hero just single-handedly demolished a small army of angry third-world cocaine dealers. You are astonished at how he can glare at the modern equivalent of Hercules and knock him dead while he survives bombs, bullet wounds and knife gashes. You aren't the only one who's impressed. The impetus for this mass destruction is enjoying the show from her privileged hostage seat.
In ten minutes. Mr. Muscle is left standing knee-deep the carnage he created. He looks triumphantly at his damsel in distress. Suddenly, the background music jumps from the "mass murder" track to the “love scene" track. The once-injured warrior revitalizes and forgets about that dagger sucking out of his left shoulder as he strolls suavely to his heroine.
That cliched combination of long glances, sappy saxophones and heavy breathing is a warning sign to moviegoers that a detailed sex scene is to follow. Many moue watchers have been left unfulfilled, however, by a recent trend in sex scenes.
The mind is one of a person's most potent erogenous [sic[ zones. Filmmakers frequently avoid employing the imagination by splashing every sexual detail you could possibly hope ror on the screen for you, transforming movie watchers into voyeurs.
Sex sells, but the suggestion of sex can be just as lucrative. When a film builds up the scene successfully with all the glances, touches and suggestive one-liners that every romp should include, the audience surprisingly does not mind missing the act itself.
“That was a really good moue, but there was something different about .”
"Hmm, what could that be?"
“I’m not sure, just this feeling I get like something was missing.”
"Oh. I've got it. Not one bare breast."
Shockingly enough, I have had the equivalent of this conversation several times during the past summer. With the freedom of summer schedules, I was able to catch movies before their old, decrepit reputations were converted to VHS. After watching such Hollywood creations as "A Time To Kill" and "Mission: Impossible," I came to notice that sex indeed was becoming more suggestive.
These films build up the scene as effectively as any other. The requisite breathing, dim lighting and skin exposure, however, suddenly cuts to the morning after where everyone is dressed in different clothes and going about their everyday lives.
"Golly," you think. "l don't know what to do with this subtly suggestive information.” That's right, it is time to use your own imagination. Better than a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, implied sexuality lets you manipulate the actors in your head, creating the best sex scene ever.
What a brilliant scam on the part of movie directors everywhere. Parents and children can watch the same film side by side. At that infamous warning sign, parents start smiling as children save their emotional displays for the fight scenes.
Popular culture usually acts like an adolescent older brother, shoving sex in our face with an impish grin as he watches our innocence crumble. Any magazine sporting a model on the cover devotes at least two thirds of its print space to making its readers better lovers. When we are not reading about "How to make your man happy in 5 easy steps," we are watching those steps play out in movies.
Such knowledge overload transforms from an intensely personal act to a recipe on how to make an orgasm. Although knowledge can be helpful and healthy, overexposure has the tendency to make something mundane. Ironically enough, many modern movies have put the spice back into sex scenes by taking the sex scenes out.
(Julie Floryan’s column usually appears Wednesdays in the Cavalier Daily.)
Date Added June 11, 2016
Date Modifed December 24, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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