EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: SEX IN THE CINEMA

French movies are erotic. Japanese films are playfully naughty. German films are perverse. American films are like two fourteen-year old virgins exploring their uncharted territories while being utterly terrified that their parents will barge into the room. There, I said it. American films just aren’t very sexy.

There are some sexy films that come from this country, but most of the stuff meant to be “erotic” is painful to watch. A bare breast here. A hint of sadism there. Maybe a casual line about a blow job. Yawn. And then there are the actors.

I don’t find many American actors all that sexy. You’ve got the model types like countless female actors, the “girl next door” like Sandra Bullock, and the hunks like Tom Cruise, but there’s not a single one I can point to and say, “See him/her. That’s sex in human form.” Oddly enough, though, it’s two of the pretty faces that starred in “Eyes Wide Shut,” a truly erotic film which, as to be expected, didn’t come from this country.

Typically I don’t even care for erotic films; I prefer porno to anything Hollywood would deem erotic. There are times, however, that I’m in the mood for something with more story than ejaculation, and that’s when I find that Hollywood’s definition of the word “erotic” is used solely to capture a more adult audience with the promise of your favorite actress’ nipple. I’m constantly disappointed by that, but it seems that most Americans like their movies that way. It’s a symbol of the country’s puritanical roots from which we never matured.

In America, sex is used to sell everything from cars to movies. It’s on our television shows, and in our magazines. But what most people don’t understand is that it is sex-lite. What you see in mainstream film and television is what more conservative people consider to be wild. Hell, you can’t even show a breast at nine p.m. on ABC, and yet the porno industry rakes in more money than Disney. What does that say about us?

It makes us hypocrites and fundamentally confused. We want our sex to sell us aspirin, and we want our porno nasty as all hell, but don’t show us anything even remotely erotic in an erotic movie. That’s too much.

Keep all of this in mind next time you go to see the latest American erotic thriller. You won’t view anything on the screen that really pushes the boundaries of sexual cinema, but you will witness hints of what could be and illusions of what is. After you watch that film, go rent the French flick “Romance.” It’s not the most erotic of movies, but it shows how erotic films could look if the two countries ever merged styles. Penises are shown, and they are shown going into mouths. Ejaculation is shown. The sex looks raw. And no, it isn’t porno. There’s actually something called a “story.” (Though in the case of “Romance” it is awfully thin.)

I hope one day we will grow up and wonder why we ever lived like this. We’ll wonder why American films that claimed to be erotic refused to be the slightest bit sexy. If the status quo has its way, though, we’ll continue on this course of using sex to sell everything but eroticism. Now that’s the real perversion.

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Posted on August 26, 2004 in Features by
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