More Sex Please - We're Cinephiles!



   Sex, it seems, is something we will be seeing less of at the movies. Hollywood have, this week, decided to wave goodbye to some of their steamier scenes as they have begun to take notice of marketing groups who state that with the "pornification" of mainstream culture and adult content easier to get hold of than ever, the multiplex is no longer somewhere people want to watch erotica at.

   Anyone with Instagram can see most of Rihanna's internal organs as she posts lurid attention seeking self-taken pictures over and over so why, the logic goes, would anyone want to pay to see this kind of thing at the cinema when they can view it in the comfort of their own home with just a click or two on their computer? Instead, Hollywood will concentrate on giving their viewers more "larger than life" experiences - those of you who enjoy explosions and overwrought CGI should be thrilled by this news.

   Yet, despite the big shock that went with this announcement, its been clear that (since at least the 1980s) Hollywood has begun to place the emphasis on action sequences as, to many hypocritical American audiences and the censors who rate the films, incredible violence is much more tolerable than the act of two human beings making love. Take, for example, the polemic treatment of films such as the movies Boys Don't Cry and Sam Raimi's Spiderman: whilst the former was forced to trim a couple of seconds of a woman's face in the throes of passion (female enjoyment being too much for the average audience to pallet apparently) the latter was granted a (then) unique cinema classification in the UK as it became the first 12A film. So whilst adults of any age where not permitted to watch a female's facial expression (on the off chance it corrupted them), children of any age were allowed to watch a man be graphically thrown through a window as long as they were with an adult.

   The modern approach to sex at the cinema seems reductive but I do agree that simply getting a celebrity to appear topless or in a non-essential sex scene is no longer going to get the audiences parting with their money at multiplexes. Instead, a great approach might be to approach sex in a way which might engage audiences. Take Don't Look Now as a great example - despite, for all intents and purposes, being a psychological horror movie, the sequence which everyone remembers is the graphic montage which appears at the beginning between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. It's tender, passionate and, in a lot of ways, sets in place the journey the two protagonists are about to go on; it defines character and tone and, rather than being exploitative, is a beautiful way to put the picture in motion. If the film industry focused on approaching sex in the mature manner this film did then movie audiences too might be able to see such sequences as vital to films.

   Hollywood doesn't need to say goodbye to sex scenes. It just needs to get better at them.

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