The first question to ask is: Why is there so much sex in movies and TV? Is it necessary? Moral and societal implications aside, graphic sex scenes are not pertinent to most stories. In fact, most plots on television and in movies still retain every bit of their integrity and lose very little substantial material without sex. Many people have even called such scenes filler as they do not contribute directly to the tensions in the story. They can be implied or cut short without being as detailed and obvious. All adults can connect the dots, it is not something that we have to see in order to understand.
Obviously there are reasons that sex, despite being clearly unnecessary, is put into so many movies and television shows—it sells. It draws interest from audiences and often bumps up viewers. This is not always the case, however. Many great classics and well-loved TV shows and movies did not have any graphic sexuality in them. The Harry Potter series, You’ve Got Mail, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Bucket List, Body of Lies, Yes Man, August Rush, A Few Good Men, The Pursuit of Happyness, to name just a few titles that focus on the plot of the film and left out any graphic material. There are movies in virtually every genre that can be found without sex. Although they may be increasingly hard to find, it is still proof that a good movie does not need sex to be worth watching or to still be a good movie.
When plot and character development must be sacrificed for graphic scenes, we must ask if perhaps the plot itself would not be as interesting if not for the sexuality. Perhaps sex is making up for the absence of good acting or story-telling that could not otherwise stand on its own. Good quality movies should be able to keep us on the edge of our seats without showing us two people in the throes of passion, shouldn’t they? Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, is frequently used to describe this theory. Although the overall plot of Fifty Shades might be somewhat interesting, the movie and book certainly can’t exist as a whole without the graphic sexuality, because that is half of the story. Many people would say that the film and book are pornography with a slightly more substantial plot than most other porn.
Are we sacrificing the merits of literature for porn? Once good stories dove into the ugliness and beauty of the human spirit, exploring ideas, concepts, and complex human relationships. Good stories were about plot twists, imagination, quick-wit, and beautiful words. All of these elements, whether they exist in science-fiction, romance, fantasy, or drama, all depict and explore the things which make us human, and often, the things that make humans—even with all our flaws—beautiful and brilliant.
Once, people read The Republic by Plato, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and Call of the Wild by Jack London, and this was our entertainment. We read about human nature and the struggle to better ourselves (and the lives of our children and society) through story and philosophy and that was the standard of good entertainment.
Sure, sex is a way to bump up ratings and attract attention, even though most people would admit it is a rather cheap and talentless way of doing so. Anyone can take their clothes off and get people to turn heads, but how many people can tell something engaging and fantastic that people will want to hear? How many stories inspire the heart and mind and not just the eyes? It is, at best, unnecessary, junk food like soda and potato chips when we really, truly yearn for food that will sustain us and give nutrients to our bodies rather than clog and erode our insides.
Is it worth it, however? It may not be necessary, but are the cheap ratings worth the consequences of incorporating sex in basically everything our culture sees? We are ever walking farther and farther away from the complex, substantial elements which define us as human, neglecting our willingness to dream, think, and question, as we make our way to sex-saturated entertainment. Although sex is natural and human, we are putting it in place where we once held philosophy and imagination. By making something that is meant to be intimate public, and obliterating the deeper implications (creativity, compassion, reason) that separate us from animals, we are glorifying our primal instincts above our human hearts and minds.
We are becoming ever more friendly with the concepts of pornography as TV and movies become more openly explicit and graphic. We can see from each passing generation that culture is becoming more casual and loose with sex. In this day and age we have the research and the studies to understand what pornography does to society, so why do we coat everything we watch in soft porn and say it okay? Why do we give up plot for sex?
The average age many people are exposed to porn is 11. By putting it in TV and movies we are making it even more accessible to our children, and in the next generation that may be even more true. Most teenagers learn a great deal about sex through television. Many women are mistreated and hurt in the porn industry because it is so brutal and the concepts behind it are often dehumanizing, especially towards women. Pornography changes the way men think about women and how they think of themselves. The more they watch it, the more they think like it.
It also acts like a drug so that people build up a tolerance to it, making viewers need more graphic content. It works as an addiction by changing the brain to make up for overexposure to pleasure chemicals and ultimately changes healthy, normal perceptions of sexuality. Porn has lead to many broken relationships and broken men, women, and children. Why, then, do we put graphic sex scenes in so many movies and TV shows when it isn’t even necessary or pertinent to the plot? We are ever blurring the lines between pornography and acceptable entertainment. When you stream video and television with a subscription to Time Warner Internet, you can control what your children watch.