There is a malady running rife throughout the entertainment industry today. It was there when I was a kid, and it unfortunately remains there today. I’m talking about the unrealistic, disturbing, and sometimes just plain ridiculous portrayals of sex by so much of today’s popular TV shows, movies, and songs. These portrayals can have negative effects on many people, particularly on the youth.
I’ll start with James Bond. This iconic action hero is arguably the most famous figure from all the secret agent action movies that have ever existed. It is easy to see why he would have a powerful impact on the youth, especially on the male sex. He’s cool, athletic, and confident. He’s typically quick-witted, versatile, and extraordinarily skilled in combat. He also can apparently have whatever woman he wants to right after introducing himself: “The name’s Bond, James Bond.”
Yes, I understand that this is meant to contribute to his persona and characterization, but it’s just so ridiculous. The James Bond series exemplifies the poor presentations of sex that much of popular media has so readily adapted. The problem with these poor presentations is that they can lead to young people developing unrealistic expectations regarding sex. With these unrealistic expectations in mind, many become disillusioned with their sex lives. Some may have a wonderful partner but still end up feeling disappointed.
I don’t mean to single out James Bond. The portrayal of unrealistic sex in the entertainment industry is extensive.
The TV shows “New Girl” with the character ‘Schmidt’ and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” with the character ‘Dennis’ are both guilty of unrealistic portrayals of sex with both respective character’s ridiculously long lists of random lovers. The movies What’s Your Number, The Notebook, and Crazy Stupid Love as well as many Hip Hop/Rap songs all contain these same kinds of unrealistic portrayals. And I’m not just talking about hook-ups. Even the representations of ‘love- making’ are often preposterous. The kissing is often ridiculously slow and as Leila Brillson mentions in her article, “10 Ways the Movies Get Sex Wrong”, the movie industry seems to believe that the only acceptable position for genuine love- making is missionary (9). She states, “…when any other position is used, it tends to communicate [to the audience] a degrading relationship, an interaction that is pleasure only, or a meaningless encounter” (9).
People often feel uncomfortable talking about sex.
In the South, many taboos about sex that originated in the Victorian Era continue to linger on. Some young people are not well educated about sex, and the media may be one of the only sources of sexual education they have. The media has a significant effect on the way people think about sex. Those in the media and entertainment industry need to keep this in mind when they choose to portray sex.
The important thing to take away from this article is the importance of observation. I’m not talking about the Sherlock Holmes kind of observation. I’m talking about observing what is real and what isn’t and observing what you have and being grateful for it. This is the key to true happiness. Your outlook is crucial to how happy of a person you are, and the problem with the unrealistic portrayals of sex by the entertainment industry is that they can negatively alter the way people view their sex lives.
I understand the media isn’t always going to be realistic and that fantasy is often a big part of what we watch. I also did overall enjoy every show and movie I described, and I’m not trying to be negative. These are good films, but they can be better. The media should aim to make people feel good about their sex lives. If it can do a better job of mixing reality with fantasy, more people will view their sex lives in a positive way and the media will have achieved a feat worth celebrating.