Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Does Sex Sell?

Who knows? And this article from CNN.com certainly won't enlighten you. There are so many laugh lines in this thing, it's hard to know where to start. First of all, though, when your article's theme is that movies about serious adult sexual relationships can't sell, maybe you shouldn't start off by citing Striptease, Showgirls, and Crash (a movie about people with an amputee fetish! Not that there's anything wrong with that). These movies flopped for a reason: they stunk. The only heavy-on-the sex movie the article cites that was actually good was Boogie Nights, a personal favorite of mine. And while that movie had an great script and cast, given its subject matter, is it really that surprising that it didn't do well at the theater? The problem with this article is that its evidence doesn't support its conclusion. The author is trying to argue that we have a prudish society (we are all Puritans, even those of us who are Polish, Irish, and Catholic) that doesn't like sex in movies. Now, this is manifestly untrue. As the article mentions, Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction were big hits, and there are plenty of other examples like this. The article attempts to dismiss them by saying that it is an exception to the rule that you can get away with sex in action movies. But I think that is the rule: generally, movies with sexual content will sell, if there is something else in the movie worth seeing. Movies like Boogie Nights run into difficult because their sexual content overwhelms the rest of the movie, but pretty much all the rest of the flops cited tried to get away with having sex carry a movie with bad plots and acting. If you wanted that, and the article barely brushes on this point, you could get a porn movie with real sex that doesn't waste your time pretending to be a real movie.

And lastly, I am pretty sure that the reason why a viewer would want to watch this last type of movie in his own home is not because he is a "Puritan." Ask Pee Wee Herman if you need a further explanation.


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